The black and white wedding theme hummed along for years, occasionally dipping just below the radar. But as every wedding planner knows, it never really left us — and it’s coming back up in a big way. Still, we’re not talking yesterday’s black and white wedding. We’re talking one that reflects today’s greater sophistication in combining shades, textures, prints. And at its best, it leaves guests with the sense that your event was a full-fledged experience.

That’s why we asked two prominent wedding planners you’ve seen on Style Network’s Whose Wedding Is It Anyway?, Baltimore’s Linnyette Richardson-Hall and Philadelphia’s Mark Kingsdorf, to give us the scoop on “Black and White Weddings 2.0.”

More: What’s Old is New: The All-White Wedding | Find Black & White Themed Wedding Favors

“Ten years ago,” says Richardson-Hall, “there was no concept of textural interest, and no depth. Today, everything’s about depth and texture: looking beyond the obvious, digging down, thinking outside the box.

“With a black and white wedding done right, you can knock it right out of the park. But done wrong, the look can be stark and boring. White tablecloths and chair covers, black chair sashes and table runners, red roses on the table — there’s nothing fascinating about that. You want to turn that around: for example, zoot suits and pinstripes instead of the usual tuxes.”

A Star is Born: Black & White Hits the Big Time

If you’ve paid attention to wedding palettes, the question probably crossed your mind: why black and white? How did this retro palette ever manage to muscle in on an endless sea of chocolate brown?

“It’s fun, clean and contemporary,” says Mark Kingsdorf, chief planner at Queen of Hearts Weddings. “Brides are drifting away from that very frilly look, and if you’re looking for another direction and want something almost Deco, this is it.”

It’s all about a stylized blast to the past, confirms Richardson-Hall. “The 40s craze, the return to high glamour, that retro look — you’ve seen it on runways, and it’s definitely driving event planning.”

More: What’s Old is New: The All-White Wedding | Find Black & White Themed Wedding Favors

Sultry Sirens and Classic Cars

Both Kingsdorf and Richardson-Hall agree: the black and white trend leans heavily toward old Hollywood, 40’s Harlem, smoky jazz clubs and sultry stars. They also suggest that when going for this look, keep it pure. Skip the accents, except for shimmer — and maybe the most classic of reds.

“When I’m designing around a retro, Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie type of thing, I’d never suggest color,” says Richardson-Hall. “This is all about the absence and presence of light. I’d blend in metallics, though. And if the client really felt a color, I’d bring in red roses, for a very, very classic look.

“My ultimate black and white wedding re-creates the 40s, and not just the look, but the feel. I’d be thinking timeless elegance: elegant women in hats, gloves, jewels, classic pumps, cocktail dresses with the crinolines. And the men in white dinner jackets and black bow ties, like Casablanca — or in pinstripes. Even the transportation is part of it: you can show up and leave in vintage cars.

“As far as the bride, you probably want a classic, sleek gown cut on the bias. You want to get away from pooffy, and lean toward the sleek chignon with a gardenia in the hair — and sultry red lips.”

But picking the right venue is critical, reminds Richardson-Hall. “Your average hotel ballroom won’t cut it.” Instead, she suggests ornate, traditional nightclubs or restaurants. “Lots of heavy molding, starched white table linens, even jeweled table lamps.”

Of course, you can hold a big wedding in the traditional ballroom, she says — but skip the chair covers, which disrupt the feel. “Stick with the black Chiavari chairs, or gorgeous velour-back chairs.” Then, bring in a 10 piece (big) band or a jazz band, a hefty dance floor, and you’re well on your way.

More: What’s Old is New: The All-White Wedding | Find Black & White Themed Wedding Favors

All Deco’d Up and Someplace to Go

While Richardson-Hall envisions a glammed-up fantasy straight from the jazz age, Mark sees an event fusing strong classic roots with fresh flourishes. “Black and white offer a huge advantage when dealing with a typical ballroom,” he says, since ballrooms tend to be both colorful and patterned. “If you do black accents and white flowers, you’re not fighting your surroundings.”

But don’t run too rampant with black, he warns. “You can use black chair covers and tablecloths, and set them off with red sashes and flowers. But you need to pick the right room, and you need to watch your light levels.”

In other words, if you turn the lights down to low or the walls are too dark, the black “just sucks all the light out of the room.” So turn up the lights, he advises, use plenty of red or white, and load up the tables with candles.

“Red works really well with black and white. Red roses are classic, and bring a lot of depth to the room, in addition to having a great velvety texture. I’ve also seen black and white done well with silver and gold.

“The other thing that works beautifully — and it’s just a little twist, but still a very clean line — is black and ivory instead of white. The bride goes with an ivory or champagne gown, and ivory china, and avoids stark white.” In that case, he suggests, good choices for the flowers include creamy hydrangeas, lisianthus, and stock, which in this case transcends its “always a bridesmaid” status as a filler flower.

A bonus to the black and white scheme, says Mark — plenty of bridesmaids are using it to raise the fashionista quotient of their bridesmaids’ gowns.

“Brides are telling bridesmaids, ‘It’s a black tie, nighttime affair. Go find a little black dress that flatters you.’ Then they give them the little restrictions involved: it needs to be floor-length, or the chapel wants the shoulders covered. The bridesmaids go to any boutique they like and buy a dress that works for them. They can wear it anywhere, and have it shortened afterward.

“Most of these kinds of dresses have an interesting cut, a bit of glittery ornamentation on the straps, and very clean lines. The final look is completely tailored and elegant.”

My, How Times Have Changed

We decided to really press Kingsdorf on what sets today’s black and white wedding apart from the ones we saw ten years ago. (Of course, he was up to the challenge.)

For one, he says, he’s seeing a lot more patterns — toile, for example. “In a room that’s a blank canvas, a toile overlay on a white cloth adds a lot of character.” He’s also seeing black and white checkerboard prints and stripes.

“We have a popular venue here that’s an old warehouse with huge windows and huge white walls. It’s perfect for bold solids and polka dot accents.”

The wedding cake is an especially fun place to mod it up, he says. “The round white cakes with round black dots: they’re sleek, modern, and Deco-y. So are the black satin bands on a bright white cake — it doesn’t look like everyone else’s. And it matches the type of sleek silhouettes you see in couture gowns — I’m thinking of an A-line gown by Vera Wang with a black satin sash.”

(A more traditional but still current look, he points out, is the bridal bodice embellished in black, and the white cake piped all over in a matching black, lacy design.)

Another plus for this theme: trendy touches like the candy buffet are a perfect match. “Monochromatic candies are gorgeous, and there are so many retro kinds of licorice.” And let’s not forget the appeal of a crisp white or black favor box paired with a dotted grosgrain ribbon.

But what about the flowers for this hipster spin on black and white? “Actually,” he laughs, “carnations. I used to be a carnations snob, but now I’m finding there are so many cool, hybrid colors of carnations. Naturally-occurring purples and greens,” he says, emphasizing the natural. “And when you bunch them up tight — pavéed — you can’t even tell what kind of flower they are — it’s just a great, super-saturated punch of color.”

More: What’s Old is New: The All-White Wedding | Find Black & White Themed Wedding Favors

Black and White Brides: Talk Back!

Now tell us about your black and white wedding: the venue, the flowers, the everything.

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583 Responses

  1. wendy stanzel

    Hi, I am getting married for the second time in Sept. So its a small simple wedding, I want black and white with a hint of red. My problem is my dress is ivory, I cant wear white. Can I get away with this

    Reply
    • staceyleah

      Wendy,
      Ivory will be fine. Lots of brides do this who cant wear white. Wishing you the best on your upcoming marriage.

      Reply
      • Jill

        just make everything ivory and black with that touch of red

  2. Michelle

    My fiance and I just got engaged on Christmas Eve, but I already know that I want a Black and White wedding with possible red or green accents. This will also be an outdoor wedding in the Fall. Any ideas how to bring all these elements together in a classic and elegant way? Thanks

    Reply
    • [email protected]

      Michelle, I was thinking black, white, and red would stand out nicely. You could add fall foliage to red roses and set against black and white. Would be nice. Some fall leaves would contain some green, so that would be added or use “green” in the greenery.
      Think you may like this…

      Pretty

      This is beautiful…

      http://staceyleah.polyvore.com/ ( You may find some ideas here)

      And last

      Reply
  3. Lauren

    Can anyone tell me the designer of the black and ivory dress at the top of the page that is on the right side of the black and white cake? It is just below the paragragh, “with a black and white wedding done right…” THank you so much!

    Reply
    • [email protected]

      Lauren,
      I will keep looking but I have not found the designer so far. If I find the designer I will post the link. :thumbsup:

      Reply
    • Kim

      I actually have a dress that is very similar to the one in the picture that I bought for my wedding, but have never worn (the tags are still on the dress). It is a size 6 and runs small. The back of my dress does not button like the one in the picture, it laces up. I bought if for $79 on http://www.promdressshop.com. I saw the picture above and hunted for it and to my surprise I found one very similar. If you are interested in the dress let me know and I can post a picture.

      Reply
  4. susan

    I am planning a christmas wedding for a friend. She wants black and white with possibly some silver mixed in. She wants to wear a black dress, groom black tux and everyone else in white and black. I think it is odd. ANy suggestions>

    Reply
  5. donna

    i am having a black and white wedding and i want the bridesmaids to wear short black dresses with white heels? is that tacky?

    Reply
    • [email protected]

      Donna,
      it will look fne but if it were me, I would consider a polka dot peep toe in black and white or mostly white with some black detail. Also having the dress knee length would be perfect for the bridesmaids and more tasteful. Google image black and white peep toe heels then black and white heels. I also google imaged black and white pumps( they all were amazing. I looked at some pics and to me, it distracted to much from the person and zoned in on the feet, when white heels were paired with a black dress.

      I would have the girls do a trial run and see what they think, also you will have a visual. It can depend on the style of dress and shoes too.

      Reply
  6. Erica

    Hello ladies,
    I am in need of some help picking out flowers. My theme is going to be black and white but I need help picking out flowers. My wedding is going to be in October. My mom suggested that we do fall flowers at the church, that way it can make the colors pop out more. My mother in law suggests that we do black and white since that is our theme. Please help me. I am not good with making deciesions concerning the flowers

    Reply
    • [email protected]

      Erica,
      It depends on the venue and it depends on if you awant color. If your theme is black and white adding color will take away from it. Could I see your venue? thank you

      Reply
    • Jayne

      Hi, Go with white only flowers then to be on the safe side and google which white flowers will be in season. Anything going against the colour scheme will clash on your photo’s. Simple hand tied bouquets with black ribbon and pearl or diamond pins to hold them will work with the scheme too.

      Reply
    • miriam

      I have always wanted a black and white wedding and i always thought it would be beautiful to have deep red roses as the flowers… The red really pops with the black and white background. Just a thought.

      Reply
  7. [email protected]

    Brides,
    A new board! Phantom Of the Opera theme. It took me a while to get it right but I do hope you like it. The wedding dress is called Maria Luisa by John Galliano for Christian Dior. In past times it was not uncommon for brides to marry in black or other dark color. Actually it was tradition.

    Reply
  8. Renee

    Hello Ladies,

    Im getting married July 3 and I’m having a black & white wedding with alittle red. My problem is that for the wedding my fiancee are I are both in white. Before 😕 the reception after pictures and all he wants to change into black. I am currently looking for a black and/or white reception style dress…..is this tacky?

    Reply
    • Denise

      Hi Renee,

      I’ve been watching alot of wedding shows and it’s not tacky at all. Alot of brides are changing into a 2nd dress for the reception and it’s usually a dress they can let loose in and have a good time, but still look like a bride.

      Reply
      • [email protected]

        Denise,
        * some ideas
        * more pics
        * love th efirst dress

      • [email protected]

        Denise,
        I dont know how your dress is made, but you could always add a black sash and wear black heels, change into some great jewelry.
        * look how fun this would be
        BTW, I love this idea changing into black and white for reception. You could even both wear black( you with colored heels) and make it like a cocktail party style reception…real swanky!!

      • Denise

        Stacey…I think your response was meant for Renee, not me. I already have everything planned except for the flowers. Renee was asking about changing into a different dress. But thanks for checking.

      • [email protected]

        Denise, you are right! thank you for catching that! Have a wonderful wedding!!

  9. Denise

    Hi Ladies,
    I’m getting married Oct 15, 2011 on a “Lunch Cruise” yacht. We have also chosen black and white, kinda Old Hollywood style. I’m having a very difficult time with flowers and deciding whether or not to do center pieces. The venue is being completely renovated and it comes with white table clothes and black chair covers with white sashes, I think that they supply tea light candles, but since our reception is from Noon til 4pm, I don’t think that the candles would be enough. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. I’ve attached 2 pics of the yatch..our reception will be on the lower deck as you can see the windows are tinted.

    Reply
    • [email protected]

      Denise,
      Wow! that is great to already have the linens etc. Tinted windows and lower deck probably means it is dim light. Which means candles should work. Depending on the table room, you may not need anything but plates and stemware to fill up the table. Long tables or round tables that are narrow, are great without centerpieces. Pictures would also be a great centerpiece. Family weddings or old family pics of parents, grandparents, etc. Or throw a little whimsical elegance in there by putting old hollywood actors/actresses/couples in black frames. Here are 2 centerpiece pics.

      Reply
      • Denise

        Stacey..thanks for the input. I won’t know until March how the room is set up. The reception is buffet-style, so I’m not sure how the tables will be set as far as plates and stemware. I’m pretty sure that there will not be any round tables due to the style of the yacht.
        I will be sure to get more pics when we go in March to see the completed renovations and to taste the food and I will post them on here for some more input.

      • [email protected]

        Denise,
        I look forward to your reply!!!

  10. Lori

    hello ladies,
    my wedding is in august (just a few months away!) and i’m having a damask theme with red accent. my big problem is that my fiance really liked my dress in ivory so i went ahead and ordered it today and completely forgot that the ivory will clash with the white in my damask linens! do you think i can still make a change on my order or will the ivory be okay with the white? help! 😕

    Reply
    • [email protected]

      Lori,
      You will be fine. Just have a white and cream bouquet, or any white florals just add “shades of white and cream”, if you want. You dont have too but it is an option. Go with the dress color that is best for your skintone.
      * tips
      If you still want to change your dress color you will need to call where you ordered it from and see what their policy is, if you have not gotten it yet then you should be able to change the color. I would call asap, so they can make the necessary changes before beginning on the ivory dress, they may charge a small fee. Good luck!!

      Reply
      • Lori

        thank you for the info stacey! im fair skinned so either color would be fine, but i think i will stick with the ivory. i think i will just add some white and cream colored flowers to my centerpieces and to my bouquet like you said. thanks again! 🙂

  11. Laurie

    I just got engaged and we chose a black and white theme. It works perfect like ebony and ivory as i am white and he is black. But is it too much?? Cannot wait till our amazing wedding day comes. :love2:

    Reply
    • [email protected]

      Laurie,
      Black and white is a elegant, classic, timeless color scheme. you cannot go wrong with this combo!!

      Reply
  12. taeisha

    I have always wanted a black and white wedding with a little red in it, and a a black and white dress i have always been in love with it. Im 18 and I had just got engaged i want my wedding after collage and i just cant wait. :clapclap: Im so in love. :love2:
    :cheer:

    Reply
  13. [email protected]

    Brides, a new board!!

    Reply
  14. Lo

    I am having a black & white & red themed Wedding. My mom thinks I should have an Italian Themed Wedding with these colors. I like the theme & Ideas but, Have no idea how to make this happen. Our Wedding is 09/10/11. Any help or suggestions would be sooo great!

    Reply
    • [email protected]

      Lo,
      What things do you and your fiance like? themes can be colors, places, eras, etc. The venue can help with the theme too. Do you have a link or pic? I love the Italian idea too, I want to make sure the wedding is a glimpse of the couple. 😀 :cheer:

      Reply
  15. Tammy

    I still have this beautiful wedding dress for sale size 12. Pictures really don’t do it justice. I had my stepdaughter put it on just so you could see just how pretty it really is. Email me with any questions. Asking price 300.00 or best offer – plus shipping cost.

    Reply
      • Tammy

        Yes I still have the dress – Sorry I just seen this message. I do have someone coming to look at the dress today but not sure if she will buy it or not.

  16. Sandrda

    Hello everyone!!!!

    I want a black.white wedding. I always envisioned candles as part of the decor, but the reception site does not allow candles 😥 Is there an alternatie to this so that I can still have some lighting at the tables??? Also, I’m going crazy trying to figure out if I want black linens with white china and white flowers..or if I want white table linens, black napkin and white flowers. Same issue with chair covers…white with black ribbon, or white with black ribbon… don’t know what to do 😕

    Reply
    • Jan Hall

      My daughter was going to use the 16″ Eiffel tower vases with lighting in the inside. She canceled her wedding….. now i have 26 vases that i need to figure out what to do with 😥

      Reply
      • [email protected]

        Sandrda,
        You coudl also do uplighting around the room or consider electric candles even rent table lamps. Can I see the venue link or pic to get a visual? thanks!

      • Jan Hall

        I am going to try to send pictures of the Vases. The only problem i have with selling them is that they are in a very large box, and it is quite heavy. I live in Iowa. They are a frosted vase and each one has its own string of lights with a battery. I hope the picture shows how beautiful they really are. We were going to put the white ostrich feathers in them.. :wave: (I just love all of these symbols)

      • Annemarie

        Please email me a picture of the vases and your asking price. Thanks so much.

      • Jan Hall

        Hi Annemarie, I have posted a picture in the comment above.The middle picture is the battery pack that goes into each vase. I don’t know about selling the vases. The box is very heavy and I don’t know how well it would ship. If you live in Iowa we might be able to work something out. thanks Jan

      • Carol

        How were you going to put the lights in the vases? What is your asking price? 😀

      • Jan Hall

        I still have the vases. I’m asking 250.00 plus shipping.

    • Bonnie

      Have you thought of tall vases with submersible lights, add the powder that makes a shimmery gel and interesting simple spray of a floral arrangement, such as orchids? 😉

      Reply
    • sandy

      You can by “candles” now that are actually led lights set in wax look so real you would never know the difference you can even get them scented!!!

      Reply
    • Melissa

      Hi,

      Quite a few times for weddings that I have done I have incorporated the led lights submersed in the gel. This gives a very pretty effect while not including flames. The lighting comes in various colors. Of course you can get the traditional clear(white) being that you area having a black and white wedding. Good luck and congratulations on your engagement and future wedding.

      Reply
  17. [email protected]

    Brides,
    I made this simple black andwhite board. I let the two colors make the impact, without having to overthink or puts “loads” into the decor. The pattern on the invite and cake are similar.

    Reply
  18. [email protected]

    Brides,
    A new board using fleur de lis symbols!

    Reply
  19. Danielle

    Hi Brides! I am planning a wedding for Sept 24, 2011. I ( like a few others that have commented here) have pink, black and white as my colors. my theme is stripes and polka dots. I know it may sound a little silly but so am I. It was really important to me that i have a fun themed wedding that was expressive of my personality. I really need advice and help with this. Luckily i have a year from today to make it all happen. i have found a dress that i really like but it is ivory. Do you think the ivory will be ok with the hot pink and black or should i be firm about having a white dress?? Also, i am looking for linen in black and hot pink. if someone has the stripes/polka dots that would be awesome too! Thanks!!

    Reply
    • [email protected]

      Danielle,
      No choose the right shade for your skintone, that is the guidelines i would go on with the dress.
      * look at this
      * ideas

      Reply
      • Danielle

        Stacey, thanks for the pictures!!everything is just gorgeous!

    • Joe Young

      Daniel you should really check out the Black and White Collection from Parker Court Designs. They have a line of Hostess apparel that would look great in your wedding as a gift or as part of the server outfits.

      Reply
    • [email protected]

      Jennifer,
      * ideas
      * bouquet ideas

      Reply
  20. MzIzzy

    I am having a black, white and accent with red wedding. But my fren suggested accented with green. I am at a crossroad (not using green and red together) 😀 I am from the Caribbean (trinidad) and i wud of loved to get some “cheaper” wedding decor (vases, etc). So anyone with any ideas of the green or red accents let me no. THANKS YOU ALL! (And HI from the Caribbean) 😉

    Reply
    • [email protected]

      MzIzzy,
      * black and red
      * black and green

      Reply

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