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Gothic Wedding Planning

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Drawing by TinTin Pantoja Drawing by TinTin Pantoja

Wedding planning is a stressful affair, from finding the perfect balance between being true to our goth sensibilities while avoiding the complete alienation of my conservative family.

While some gothic weddings are events held in cemeteries that feature a bride in black and bouquets of dead roses, I knew that if we were to ensure that all of our guests felt welcome, such a ceremony would be impossible. After all, a marriage isn't just between two people; it's a union between families. And when it comes to my close-knit network of traditional relatives, a black gown would have been all it took to convince them that I was the Bride of Satan and they were party to a Black Mass.

Still, we knew there had to be a way to have the gothic wedding of our dreams, so as soon as we got home, we set our plan in motion. Since my significant other is neo-pagan, getting married in a church was out of the question. A local search turned up the Old Medical College, a building created in 1806, whose cavernous interior and Classical design were reminiscent of the Pantheon where Sean had proposed.

Once the venue was set, I had to address the ceremonial centerpiece: the wedding gown. Years ago, I knew I would never find the perfect store-bought gown, so I dreamt up a blood red, velvet frock dripping with tattered lace. But after seeing the look on my mother's face upon revealing the idea, I rethought my design.

Ultimately, I decided to have my favorite corset maker make my pale pink peau de soie and black lace design come to life. I reasoned with my mom that if people could have black and white weddings, then there should be nothing controversial about a pink and black wedding. Besides, even she couldn't deny that a white gown made me look like a corpse in all the wrong ways.

Since we were planning an evening wedding, we were free to go with formal pomp which conveniently suits the goth aesthetic. Bridesmaids in black gowns? Sure! A frock coat for the groom? It's a historical look! We even managed to find invitations with black embossed roses at our local card store.

I devoured wedding magazines for ideas that could be easily gothified. The trend of veiled fascinators instead of Chantilly lace blushers appealed to my love of vintage looks, so I got a black cocktail cap and sewed on my own netting and withered roses. To break up the cascades of pink flowers in bouquets and other arrangements, I opted to have the standard curly willow branch accents painted black for a haunted garden look.

Even the cake, though iced in pearlescent pink, got a twist that my family could at least be amused by. In dark chocolate icing, I had the cake maker encircle the tiers with stylized bats with heart-like bodies. The chocolate cake and raspberry sauce interior was a Devil's Food we knew that no one could refuse.

But in the weeks before the wedding, as I hand-sewed the thousands of glass beads onto my corset and train, I got a call from my mom telling me that an aunt and uncle of mine wanted to meet with me to "have a talk."

Though they weren't unhappy with the planned look of the wedding, they were unsure if they would be able to attend the ceremony without compromising their religious beliefs. Fortunately, I had worked for months to come up with a ceremony that would not violate their beliefs but would also be true to ours.

In place of a sermon, we had our officiant speak about marriage enduring through love despite trials. We had a favorite poem read, and instead of using words like "God" or "god and goddess," we referred to "the Almighty," a universal moniker for a divine power. We were also able to subtly maintain some pagan traditions by having lit candles at the four corners and replacing the lighting of a unity candle with sharing wine from a chalice.

There were also challenges beyond my family's religious concerns. Having a custom dress made and fitted long-distance is a task I'll never forget, and finding a pink and black flower girl dress can be almost as daunting. There were also some uniquely goth wedding day annoyances like attendees dressed in inappropriate fetish wear.

On the plus side, we had no trouble finding club deejay's that were just as happy to cue Delibes' "Lakme" as I walked down the aisle as they were to spin Siouxsie and the Banshee's "The Last Beat of My Heart" for our first dance.

As the night wore on, old and conservative mingled more and more with the young and black-clad, and when our 6-year-old flower girl and I danced to a synthpop ballad, even my most critical cousin began to question my wickedness. By the end of the night, it was clear that all of it had somehow come together perfectly.

For those planning a wedding with family to consider, don't forsake all hope of self-expression. With a lot of care and a little compromise, it's still possible to feel like a dark princess (or prince) while appeasing your more traditional subjects. Weddings bury you in enough drama as it is, and drama with family will remain undead long after the big day.

Featured writer

Ruby Holiday

Ruby Holiday

Ruby is the Editor-in-Chief at Gothic Beauty Magazine.

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