The goth and the groom: 7 macabre wedding trends to embrace ‘until death do us part’

Pictured: Alex Illest and Setenio Borges. Photo by Honey & Lux and courtesy of Alex Illest and Setenio Borges.

Editor’s note: This article is from the Communication Department’s award-winning Echo magazine.

Wedding trends come and go, but the mysterious, the melancholic and the macabre will never go out of style. Explore the darker side of weddings with tricks and trends to give you the ceremony of your dreams. 

The concept of a white gown was not born until Queen Victoria’s 19th century reign, as a symbol of purity, status and wealth. Eastern cultures have worn red for centuries, while Spanish tradition favors black gowns as a symbol of a love that will last until death. 

A gothic wedding is mixed with themes of darkness, glamor and a flair for dramatic hues, making for a mystical fairytale day. Dark and moody color palettes embrace a new world of fantasy, especially during this wedding season, where lace, pearls and velvet are in. We outline  everything a bride needs — from vintage influences to spike-heeled shoes to black velvet — to pull off their own one-of-a-kind celebration.

Talia Barribeau, who was engaged to her partner in a cemetery on Halloween, had an elegant, goth-inspired photoshoot to celebrate their elopement. The couple set the scene with a black helicopter (complete with red carpet), and a black wedding cake. Needless to say, Barribeau was wearing a black body-con dress.

“Us as a couple, we’re just kind of different,” Barribeau says. “I didn’t want a traditional wedding because I feel like a lot of people do weddings for other people and not really themselves. I wanted something for myself.”

1. The Dress: Stark white, A-line gowns are being traded in for inky tulles, snowy chiffons and chartreuse organza dresses. Amp up the romance with long, lacy sleeves, crimson accents, royal ballerina skirts and Victorian-style embellishments. For the perfect finishing touch, add a black Russian net veil, Parisian-inspired Venetian needle lace detailing, and teardrop-crystal necklace and earrings.  

Gianna Gaspar, a seamstress who alters wedding gowns at Chicago’s Ultimate Bride, says brides are opting for added design elements, such as longer sleeves or extended necklines, for added drama. “I have seen straight-up black dresses or a lot of dark, purple hues,” says Gaspar. To create a gothic gown, Gaspar says you can keep the lace and beading of a traditional gown, but you can alter the color. 

2. The Tux: This season, goth grooms are opting for onyx ties, crimson boutonnières, dark lapels and black tuxedos. Black is an obvious choice for groomswear, so pairing a black shirt with deep red or gold accessories adds a romantic flair that will be trending beyond the grave. For a more classic look, opt for traditional black-tie with a tie embellished with a sterling-silver skull.

3. The Invitations: Looking for an edgy and dramatic wedding stationery suite? Invitations draw inspiration from antique tarot cards, images of coffins and Victorian-style calligraphy. The future looks bright with tarot card styles that feature custom hand-illustrated designs and dates. Customize tarot cards with The Lovers motif or a magical crystal ball. Add gold, ornate detailing or gothic, letterpress blood drips on the card.

4. The Venue: Venue ideas range from cathedrals, manors, castles and, for couples who are not easily spooked, cemeteries such as Uptown’s Graceland Cemetery and Ravenswood Avenue’s Rosehill Cemetery. Historic, Gilded Age mansions make their home in Chicago, such as the Stan Mansion, with its elaborate ballroom, and the landmark-status Colvin House, which features stained-glass windows, crystal chandeliers and ornate exterior detailing.

5. The Decor: Wedding decor goes goth with Romanesque architecture, including birdcage chandeliers, stained wood, fireplaces and sharp spires. Think thrifted candles, dried blood-oranges and pomegranates, floor-length curtains and a stocked “potion” bar with libations spanning Bordeaux, merlot and petit verdot. 

6. The Color Palette: Dark and moody velvet, satin and lace, accented by touches of burgundy and jewel tones are replacing traditional blush, white and peach hues. Couples are taking inspiration from muted fall shades, winter skies and medieval design elements to cultivate decadent gowns, architecture and decor. 

7. Cocktails: Treat yourself to an elegantly gothic drink menu. We suggest pouring shots into spell jars or blood bags. For an extra flair, instead of doing the classic Champagne tower, place the drinks in a coffin. Guests can experience a spooky twist on their favorite flavorful cocktails, such as Vampire’s Kiss, Apple Cinnamon Whiskey Smash or Pumpkin Spice Latte Martini. 

The Western fashion industry has seen an influx of gothic bridal fashion, a trend that will not die, fueled by Vera Wang gowns, iconic film noir classics and, of course, Dita Von Teese, the queen of dark burlesque.

You can read the entire 2022 issue of Echo, as well as previous issues, on our website.