Weddings typically aren’t the occasion to throw convention to the wind, but some brides are doing just that with at least one centerpiece of their nuptials — the white wedding dress.
Among wedding trends heating up, sellers have noted a surge in interest in black bridal gowns. According to Google Trends, searches for “black wedding dress” have kept pace with searches for “white wedding dress” over the past 12 months. In Sept and Oct 2021, “black wedding dress” was searched more than “white wedding dress” on Google.
“This is by far our favorite trend and we are loving it. Black gowns are chic and dramatic,” said Laura McKeever, senior manager of brand PR, philanthropy and communications with David’s Bridal, one of largest sellers of wedding gowns in the United States.
The trend has picked up so much momentum since last year that David’s Bridal, which previously only offered black wedding dresses by custom order, will offer black versions of its most popular wedding gown styles in select stores for the first time this fall. Customers can already buy those options in black on its website.
Why are brides so pumped up about ditching traditional white and travel to the dark side of edgy black?
“The concept of what’s considered traditional has evolved,” said McKeever. The pandemic has influenced this change, too, she said.
“We started to see this in 2021 with couples wanting to throw traditional wedding rules out the window,” she said. “Brides who’ve had to postpone their weddings because of the pandemic now want their special day to be unique. They want to wear want they want on their big day. They are picking unique venues, they’re wearing sneakers and having food trucks at their wedding.”
In other non-white selections, brides are also turning to blue, champagne, purple and red gown options, she said. Piggybacking off this trend, David’s Bridal has upped its selection of gowns in unconventional colors by 30% this year, up from 10% last year.
Although brides are commonly choosing a black gown for fall and winter weddings, McKeever said a black wedding dress can be a timeless year-round option.
Azazie, a large online seller of bridal and wedding party dresses and accessories, said it has already doubled the number of black wedding dresses it sold so far in 2022 compared to last year and that about 8% to 10% of its wedding gown sales currently are of black dresses.
“For some brides, white is dated, unoriginal or not the most flattering color. Black evokes old Hollywood red carpet glamor,” said Ranu Coleman, Azazie’s head of marketing. “They feel it brings extra attention and checks off all the boxes for them.”
Celebrities are partly fueling the trend, said Amber McCasland, vice president of global brand and communications with resale platform Poshmark.
“With celebs sporting sultry black dresses at the 2022 Met Gala and Selling Sunset’s Christine Quinn debuting a black wedding dress, brides are taking inspiration from their favorite celebs on how to stand out on their big day,” McCasland said.
“Sales growth and search growth for black wedding dresses on Poshmark show that brides are willing to make bigger and bolder statements at the altar, especially after dealing with wedding postponements,” she added.
Black wedding dress searches on Poshmark soared 75% in April over the prior year and sales of black bridal gowns jumped 33% for the month over the same time last year.
That’s not to say that black is poised to dethrone the white wedding dress anytime soon.
Although white is still the most popular choice, some brides want to have it both ways. “They will wear a white dress to the ceremony and a sleek black dress to the reception,” said Coleman.
NY-based based Enaura Bridal, which creates custom bridal gowns that are hand-beaded in India, is busy keeping up with demand for black bridal gowns.
Enaura founder Sohil Mistry said his customers weren’t asking for black gowns before the pandemic, although he noted that pre-Covid there was a movement toward color with brides embracing blush, and ivory with gold.
Customers are increasingly requesting black, black combined with gold, and red gowns, he said. “Brides are taking bold risks with their gowns to make a statement and to have fun. A black gown is classic and it’s something you can wear over and over again,” Mistry said.
Mistry is betting the black wedding dress isn’t just a passing fad.
“The bridal industry is pretty slow moving in terms of trends,” he said. “This is just picking up now. Trends can stay at least five to 10 years.”
How should grooms complement the black wedding dress?
Simple. Stick with the trusted tux, according to men’s suits seller Men’s Wearhouse.
“A classic black tux is always a safe bet to complement a black wedding gown. However, dinner jackets are a great way to add some chic personality to your wedding look and will complement a black bridal gown due to their inherent and simple elegance. Classic white and ivory dinner jackets are very popular at the moment and will add some welcome contrast to a black bridal gown,” said a spokesperson for the retailer.