1. Your Wedding Cake: Sweet Depravity
Whether you're goth to the bone or a femme fatale in training, the wedding cake is the perfect place to let you darker sensibilities come to light. Instead of accenting with fresh flowers, use dried; rather than sugar flowers, try sparkly sugar skulls. You could also use color -- shades of violet, red, ochre, or black (hello, dark chocolate!) -- to give your cake a twist. Or, keep the cake white, and choose bold, unexpected patterns that will pop. A black sugar-molded fishnet overlay, creeping sugar vines, or stenciled heraldic designs (insert monogram here!) would work nicely. Consider yourselves more goth sophisticates? Ask your cake baker to mimic the intricate decorative tracery common to legendary gothic cathedrals like Notre Dame.
2. Your Wedding Flowers: Bloom and Doom
Wedding flowers don't have to be delicate and airy. Quite to the contrary, flowers are a great way to enhance a gothic-style wedding: Just think beyond pink peonies and daisies, and look to wild, more exotic flowers like orchids or hearty dahlias. One centerpiece idea: Instead of a large cluster of orchids, which could be pricey, go for single orchid stems displayed in tall glass test tube vases. Alternately, Black Magic roses, Karma Chocolate dahlias, crimson love-lies-bleeding (aka amaranthus caudatus), and deep purple calla lilies would create a nice, textured bouquet or centerpiece -- get a darker, more modern look by substituting grapevine or ivy for the traditional "filler" greenery. Wrap bouquets with black velvet or satin ribbon; arrange your centerpieces in iron stands, bronze-finished urns, or "aged," moss-covered terra-cotta pots.
Alternately, fruit can work as tabletop accents or as stand-alone centerpieces. Bundles of grapes, black and purple figs, and pomegranates conjure up images of Bacchus and the Cult of Dionysus. Votive candles are a must, in black or white, but don't overdo it: Remember, this is a wedding, not a seance.
3. Your Reception Tables: Hex Appeal
To pull off a gothic wedding, think of it as theater. It's up to you to set the stage for a grand evening of fantasy and phantasmagoria. Rather than traditional round tables, go for the high drama of banquet-style seating. To really wow guests, choose centerpieces of antique candelabras, or feature individual pillar candles spaced along the tables. Keep things ornate. Slick, black chiavari chairs, gold-rimmed chargers and goblets, and perhaps a black skull-shaped candle or two are just a few ideas. For the ultimate in moody, gothic-chic style, accent tables with peacock and pheasant feathers, real ostrich eggs, and other slightly macabre, natural history-esque curiosities.
4. Your Wedding Stationery: Purloined Letters
Nab a professional calligrapher to add an elegant scripted look to your wedding invitations. She can use an italic, black-letter, or Spenserian script on thick parchment or linen paper for the ultimate gothic feel. Incorporate a wedding motif like a raven, an ankh, or a gargoyle -- depending on your taste and sense of humor! Seal the envelopes with wax and stamp with your monogram for the final personal touch.
Pair your wedding day guest book with a calligraphy quill and ink pot and let your guests try their hand with their own gothic calligraphy skills. Don't want to risk the trial and error of DIY calligraphy? Attach a long, black feather to a modern pen for the same effect.
5. Your Day-of Transportation: 'Til Death Do You Part
As you make your exit at the end of the night, consider hopping into a black, horse-drawn buggy. Make sure your driver plays the part in a stovepipe hat, tails, and white gloves. Two more goth-appropriate options: Rent an eerie, white hearse or a classic, late-'30s Packard. Hire a chauffeur or drive yourselves. Either way, it's an elegant end to any gothic wedding.
-- Alex Hess