The white wedding dress, however, is a recent tradition popularized by Queen Victoria’s wedding to Prince Albert in 1840. Queen Victoria requested her seamstress to make her gown out of the white lace material they had on hand. This request shocked the seamstress as white was not a common choice for a wedding gown during this time.
Before the queen’s wedding, white was an uncommon choice of wedding dress color for various reasons. One of the biggest reasons was largely due to white being difficult to keep clean and only the wealthiest could afford a white dress that would only be worn once. Most families would have their daughters wedding gowns made in a color that depicted her age and purity to her betrothed. Plus, if this expensive gown was made in color, the chances of it being re-worn over the years for events was very likely.
Queen Victoria’s style and color of her gown was copied across continents as women aspired to look like the queen. Wearing white became a sign of wealth and status rather than virginity. Attaching white to purity was sentimental and traditional because the color white only became associated with purity as it gained more dominance. The white wedding dress has only become a standard fashion statement in the last 80 years.
While white wedding dresses are the most common option for Western weddings, they are by no means the only option.
A white wedding dress does not lend itself to practicality: it is difficult to keep clean and is therefore not ideal for many situations even in today’s world. How often do we wear an all white outfit out and about? The impracticality of the color makes it hard to wear because it will attract dirt and stains and will no longer look tidy and crisp.
According to The Washington Post, back in the 1700s and 1800s the color white was associated with mourning and funerals; no bride wants to be reminded of grief on their wedding day. In today’s western world, the same thought process applies if a bride is seen wearing a black wedding dress.
TIME magazine reported brides were more likely to wear red when they tied the knot. Wealthy brides would have jewel-toned dresses edged in fur and embroidered golds and silvers to make a splash. These details were important to families of wealth as it showed off their status to all those who came to the wedding.
Also in China, red was a common color choice as it represented luck and wealth over the centuries. Currently red is still the common color for a bridal saree in India. In ancient Morocco the color green was common for similar reasons of luck and wealth as well as Yellow. Yellow was the color of protection and they believed that it would keep away any evil eyes set on the bride.
Another color option that was popular for wealthy families was blue. If we take a look back at history the color blue was always associated with the Virgin Mary. Most religious icon images of her are depicted with Mary wearing a blue shawl, thus creating the mindset that blue represents purity. Before Christianity, we see the color blue portrayed on brides back in ancient Rome where it represented modesty, fidelity and love. Even in ancient Israel the color blue represented similar virtues as christianity.
In the 16th century it was common for Roman Catholic brides in Spain to wear black wedding gowns with dramatic mantilla lace veils. For them, this represented to the groom and his family that his soon to be bride would be with him and devoted to her husband until death. This look is becoming more popularized in western culture in the last couple of years. Engaged couples are opting into the wedding theme of ‘Til Death do us part’. Some say this is morbid, while others see the underlying romanticism that this phrase represents.
Brides are also choosing other colors than white for sustainability purposes; many brides will reuse their wedding dress for special occasions. Whether you have a formal banquet, a cruise planned with a formal dress night or you have a formal dinner planned at a restaurant for your anniversary, the options are endless. No matter the reason, having a wedding dress in any color other than white will allow you to wear it again when the time comes.
Couples are viewing a wedding gown in the same mindset as a groom's wedding suit. It has become more common for a groom to wear a colored suit for the wedding to not only show their personality but it will allow them to reuse the suit for any formal occasion. If a suit can be colorful and rewearable, why can’t a wedding gown? Just like 27 Dresses, “the best part about a wedding dress is you can chop it and wear it again!”