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The Powerful Meanings of a Black Wedding Dress

In the past, the color black was perceived as a grim color and was associated with evil omens, darkness, and death. But in today’s world, such superstitions have diminished, leaving black as one of the most popular colors for celebrations, festivities, and even weddings.

Recent times have witnessed an upsurge in black themed weddings, and black wedding gowns. Brides who opt for these inky dresses want to break away from conventional norms and go for a contemporary look. Black gowns are non-traditional and represent the bride’s distinct character and style. Brides who want a bold, sensual, sophisticated, and classy look, prefer black wedding gowns over other colors.

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In this article, we will be exploring the origins of the black wedding gown, the different shades of black gowns, themed weddings, and a few practical tips for pulling off a black wedding dress.

Symbolism of a Black Wedding Dress

To understand the meaning of a black wedding dress, we need to contrast it with the white gown.

Black vs white wedding gown symbolism

A white dress represents the traditional values associated with women. Some would argue that some of these are outdated in modern times. These include:

  • Purity
  • Innocence
  • Chastity
  • Virginity
  • Light
  • Goodness
  • Flexibility
  • Submissiveness

A black dress, on the other hand, represents different concepts:

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  • Confidence
  • Independence
  • Strength
  • Courage
  • Individuality
  • Power
  • Modern sensibilities
  • Devotion until death
  • Elegance
  • Mysteriousness
  • Thoughtfulness
  • Loyalty

Neither of these colors are right or wrong, but in general, modern, women who want to get off the beaten path typically choose non-white wedding gowns. Of these, the most avant-garde opt for black.

 Origins of the Black Wedding Gown

The origins of the black wedding gown can be traced back 3,000 years ago to the Zhou Dynasty in China. Zhou rulers not only imposed laws for governance but also set the norms for attire. Only certain clothes could be worn by individuals based on their gender and socio-economic status. During their reign, brides and bridegrooms had to wear pure black robes with a red trim. These edicts were followed into the Han Dynasty and slowly fell out during the rule of the Tangs.

A relatively recent history of the black wedding gown can be traced back to Spain. It was custom in Roman Catholic traditions for a Spanish bride to wear a black gown paired with a veil, called a mantilla. The black gown symbolized the bride’s devotion to her husband until death, and ensured her loyalty.

In contemporary times, black wedding gowns are popularly desired by women who want to go for an unusual yet strong look. They are seen as fashionable, and symbolize sensuality, elegance, power, mysteriousness, and intellect.

Fifty Shades of Black Wedding Gowns

Contrary to what we believe, black is not a singular color. There are many different shades within black, and they differ on the basis of how dark they are. Black wedding gowns come in a variety of these shades and can provide plenty of options for brides who are picky about the hue they want.

Some of the most common shades of black are:

Black Swan

  • The Black Swan, as the name suggests is the color of the Black Swan bird.  
  • This shade is slightly lighter than a pitch-dark hue.


  • Charcoal is the color of burned wood.
  • This shade of black has more of a greyish tint.


  • Ebony is the color of the wood ebony, a hardwood that is  used to make furniture.
  • This shade is definitely dark, but not as black as a midnight sky.

Black Olive

  • Black Olive, as the name suggests, reflects the color of black olives.
  • This shade is quite dark and has a purplish hue.

Outer Space

  • Outer Space, reflects the deep dark color of space.
  • It is considered one of the darkest shades of black.  

Licorice Black

  • Licorice black reflects the color of Licorice.
  • It is not very dark and has a smoky hue.

Black Gowns for Themed Weddings

In recent times themed weddings are becoming increasingly popular. While the most common ones are the fairy tale, beach, and garden, there are some who prefer darker themes to personalize their weddings.

A black gown is the perfect costume for an unconventional theme, but it can also be worn for traditional weddings with a modern twist. 

  • The Halloween Theme: Halloween themed weddings are often set in historical houses or manors, and are decorated with pumpkins, candles, cobwebs, crows, and skulls. A black wedding gown is the perfect option for such a setting, to create a moody, eerie feel. The bride can also opt for antique jewellery and a black birdcage veil to look both stylish and fierce.
  • The Gothic Theme: Much like the Halloween theme, Gothic weddings are set in old cathedrals or castles. The venue is decorated with dark walls, arches, medieval mirrors, candelabras, and black furniture. A black wedding gown, paired with a black lace veil, and a beaded choker necklace would be a suitable costume for this dark setting.
  • The Casino Theme: Casino themed weddings are a classy, flamboyant affair and are decorated with exuberant chandeliers and a luxurious interior. They reflect a modern and affluent lifestyle. An elegant black gown that gives off a sensual, and mysterious vibe would be the ideal attire for such a setting. For the best effect, the gown can be paired with stone studded silver jewellery, a tiara, and black elbow gloves.

Accessories for Black Wedding Gowns

The beauty and elegance of a black wedding gown can never be complete without the right accessories. Since the black gown has become a popular choice, there are a wide range of accessories to choose from. The trick is to keep it simple and sophisticated.

  • Black Bridal Veil: Black bridal veils are the perfect match for a black wedding gown. Although veils traditionally stood as a symbol of modesty and obedience, a dark veil paired with a black wedding gown will be elegant and mysterious.   
  • Black Jewelry: Black choker necklaces made with delicate beads and intricate lace are a preferred match for black wedding gowns. They are a simple but bold choice. Cascade earrings that are studded with black stones give a stylish, antique look, and are perfect for both dark themed, and formal weddings.
  • Black Fascinator: Black fascinators are decorated with lace, flowers, or feathers. They give off a stylish, chic look, and can completely transform the look of the black gown to a whole new level.
  • Black Mask: For dark themed weddings, black masquerade masks can be an ideal accessory. They give a clandestine, elegant, and graceful appearance.  

In Brief

Black has cast away its older meanings and has become the most popular and trendy color in recent times. Breaking away from traditional conventions, many couples opt for dark themed weddings, and brides adorn black wedding gowns that are stylish, sensual, bold, and elegant.

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Dani Rhys
Dani Rhys

Dani Rhys has worked as a writer and editor for over 15 years. She holds a Masters degree in Linguistics and Education, and has also studied Political Science, Ancient History and Literature. She has a wide range of interests ranging from ancient cultures and mythology to Harry Potter and gardening. She works as the chief editor of Symbol Sage but also takes the time to write on topics that interest her.