Chanel, Audrey and Jackie knew it before everyone else. Black is chic. It’s classy, sexy and elegant all at once. And everyone looks good in it. So why not incorporate a little black magic into your wedding?
“Black is definitely a trend,” said Tracy Koven, director of catering and conference services for the Beverly Hills Hotel, which turns 100 next year. “Because of the hotel’s history, we get a lot of old Hollywood glamour weddings that incorporate black,” she said. “I used to rarely see black at weddings, but now I see it all the time.”
You don’t have to paint your whole wedding black, but event planners from New York to L.A. have some unique ideas on how to use black to infuse it with elegance and style.
Little black dress
Your best friend will love you for choosing a black bridesmaid dress that she can wear again. However, some brides are making a stir by wearing black themselves.
“White gowns will never go out of style,” said Colin Cowie, celebrity event planner, author and founder of ColinCowieWeddings.com, “but black wedding dresses are the latest trend.” On the heels of attending the usual blinding white wedding fashion shows, Cowie was thrilled in October with Vera Wang’s collection, which included not one, but eight black wedding gowns. “Vera’s black dresses were seriously chic,” Cowie said. “For a girl with confidence and style, these dresses are chic, elegant and incredibly sexy — not dark or witchy at all.”
“Everyone loves a little black dress – so why not a little black wedding dress?” added Kristin Banta of Kristin Banta Events in Los Angeles, who has one client wearing a black Vera Wang dress in November and another who wore a white gown with chic black detailing in August. “I’m seeing brides taking risks and moving away from white,” she said.
That noir effect
Black is also showing up in wedding décor, said Banta, who is becoming an expert at creating noir events. In August, she created a dark, romantic and sexy wedding for Fontine and Stephen Garcia of Los Angeles, using elements such as black urns, black candelabras and tables draped in black rosette linens. “Butlers holding black trays of Bellinis greeted guests as they entered through large black bird cages flanked by black candelabras dripping in red amaranthus,” she said.
Though black is dramatic, Banta warns that it can be tricky at night. “You lose the impact if you’re in a sea of black,” she said. She suggested countering dark hues with various textures in linens and bringing in reflectives such as mercury glass and mirrors. “Lighting is crucial,” she added, noting that every surface should be washed with light so that everything doesn’t fade to black.
Cowie suggests using black as an accent color rather than the primary color of the wedding. “Think back to the Art Deco era,” he said. Black dance floors, modern furniture in black, and materials such as mirrors and glitter paper can recreate the glamour of a bygone era.
For flowers, Banta prefers dark blooms that “read black,” such as eggplant-colored calla lilies, black-red roses or floral anemones with black centers.
Sweet and dark
Black foods such as squid ink pasta can be fun, but don’t overdo it, Banta warned. “I back away from the food thing,” she said, conceding that “we will be serving black water [BLK Water, a black mineral-enhanced water] at an upcoming wedding.
The wedding cake is a great place to incorporate the theme. “Black details on a white background are striking and elegant,” said Leigh Grode of Cake Divas, who has created cakes adorned with black vintage damask, modern bands of black and Spanish lace.
“Black wedding cakes can be stunning,” noted Jane Lockhart of Sweet Lady Jane, who has created her share of dark confections. “But you have to be careful with the black food coloring so that your guests don’t wind up with purple lips and teeth.” Rather than use a large amount of black food dye in basic butter cream, Lockhart starts with dark chocolate and adds a few drops to create the blackest black.
While white diamonds may still be a girl’s best friend, black diamonds may soon be a man’s, according to Cowie. “A black diamond ring on a man is hot,” he said, noting that he wears one himself, “on the other hand.”
Black is best when it doesn’t overpower, and it’s in the details that you can infuse drama and elegance.Whether it’s the dress, décor or an accessory such as a black umbrella on a rainy-day wedding, it’s fun to explore the possibilities.
For bride Fontine Garcia, who wore a black birdcage veil with an ostrich feather and diamond headpiece with her Monique Lhuillier gown, having a white wedding was never an option. “I’ve always been drawn to the dark and dramatic,” she said. “I couldn’t have imagined my wedding any other way.”
—Jennifer Evans Gardner