The White Wedding Gown
European and American brides had been wearing blue, yellow or more practical colors black, grey, or brown. Did I type that right? Black, brown and Grey? Yes, I did. The tradition of white was thought to have been started in 1840 when Queen Victoria married Prince Albert. Wearing, you guess it, a white wedding dress. Most royalty before her wore heavy brocade dresses with silver or gold embroidery, with red being a popular color.
Throughout the world white has been associated with weddings. In Ancient Greece brides not only wore white, they carried white flowers and painted their bodies white. While in other countries white was a symbol for death or spiritual significance.
Because laundry techniques were not well developed until the later 20th century, white was just not practical. White is so easily ruined by work or spill, it was worn to show the wealth that the bride’s family held. White was only for the elite.
Etiquette books turned the white dress into tradition and soon became a popular status symbol . It also carried the innocence and sexual purity aspect.
The elite on both sides of the Atlantic by the end of the 19th century were choosing to wear white. It wasn’t until after World War II that the middle class fully adopted the tradition. Weddings portrayed in movies after World War to only helped to concrete the tradition
Queen Victoria’s dressed was repurposed to wear again. However with the growing prosperity of the 20th century only wearing the dress once became tradition.
With so many brides wanting to break free from traditions, I believe we will see more of the true traditions.