In Defense of Wearing a Black Wedding Dress

Why one local bride decided to stay true to herself—instead of tradition—on her wedding day.

Christie Honigman and Brandon Mandia at the Reeds at Shelter Haven in Stone Harbor. | Black Wedding Dress

Christie Honigman and Brandon Mandia at the Reeds at Shelter Haven in Stone Harbor. Photo by HughE Dillon.

Over the weekend, I watched with anticipation as my Facebook feed filled with posts from local PR guru/Academy Ball Young Friends co-chair/Philly Voice health and wellness contributor Christie Honigman’s wedding. It took place at the Reeds at Shelter Haven in Stone Harbor (a frequent summer hangout of mine, and one of our very favorite Jersey Shore wedding venues), so the first few snaps I saw were of the space itself—but then, at long last, Philly out-and-about shutterbug and Philly mag contributor HughE Dillon came through with what I was waiting for: a picture of Christie!

I squealed a little bit when I finally saw her dress: it was black! Not all of it, but the top half (as you can see, above), and I instantly loved everything about it. First and foremost because I just think it’s a gorgeous dress—I love me a deep V, especially with a pretty illusion neckline like hers—but also I have found that without fail, if a bride is wearing or doing something non-traditional on her wedding day, it indicates that she is being true to herself in some way; that something about what people usually do didn’t feel quite right to her, and so she went ahead and did her thing anyway. And that is exactly what a bride should do on her wedding day.

I immediately wanted to hear the story about it—and wanted to share it with all of you, too, so that those of you who have been going back and forth about whether to stick with tradition with some aspect of your wedding day or stick to your guns and go with what feels right to you regardless of other people’s expectations, would know that it is always, always awesome to do the latter.

And so, I reached out to Christie who very graciously answered me, even though she is off on her honeymoon with her brand new husband. And my suspicions were confirmed! Christie felt from the very beginning that she wanted to wear something a little different. “I really wanted to wear black, but everyone would laugh me off when I told them what I was thinking,” she says, “So, I did decide to go the traditional route, and even bought an ivory wedding dress at a local bridal shop.”

In the following weeks, though, Christie felt the way no bride should feel after purchasing what should be her dream dress: unsettled—and not excited. “Everyone kept asking me, ‘Are you so excited to wear your dress? Do you love, love, love it’?’ and I kept saying ‘Yes,’ but thinking, ‘Not really.'” She got to the point where she actually broke down and even showed her now-husband Brandon the dress. His reaction made her realize she really hadn’t been true to herself when she bought it. “He told me that he was sure it would be beautiful, but was surprised that it was so traditional,” says Christie. “He said that he expected something more unique—and so that is when I finally asked him if he would mind if I wore black. It’s what I truly wanted in my heart, but I hadn’t wanted to appear irreverent to him with that choice.” But because the couple had told each other from the moment they got engaged that their wedding would truly reflect them, and that they wouldn’t just do what everyone else does, her husband-to-be told her to be herself—that that’s who he loved, after all.

The next step was a phone call to her mom to confess that she was really unsure about the dress she purchased and that she wanted to explore other options, and before she knew it, they were walking through the doors of Neiman Marcus in King of Prussia. “My mom was still saying, ‘White, ivory, cream—maybe gold—not black!” as we got to the store—but as soon as we arrived, there it was. The gown! My mom actually pulled it right off the rack and into the dressing room.”

And that’s the very dress—an ivory and black gown by Jovani*—that she wore as she and Brandon tied the knot this past weekend. “I am beyond glad that I went with my gut,” she says. ” I loved it—and I loved it even more because I felt like myself, instead of like I was in costume on my wedding day.” Perfect. {For more pictures of Christie’s dress—and her and Brandon’s wedding!—go here.} 

Christie Honigman | Black Wedding Dress

Christie Honigman and Brandon Mandia, tying the knot at the Reeds at Shelter Haven in Stone Harbor. Photo by Colleen Wolfe.

Are any of you brides-to-be facing a similar dilemma? If so, we hope the answer is a little clearer now.

*This post has been updated to reflect the correct designer of Christie’s wedding gown.

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