There’s a reason why brides white wear white wedding dresses, but it may not be what you think. Here’s why you should consider an unconventional wedding dress instead.
Spoiler alert; brides haven’t always worn white on their wedding day.
In fact before 1840, red was the most popular wedding dress colour.
So what happened in 1840?
Queen Victoria chose to wear a white gown so she could use some of her favourite lace in the design.
Yup. One royal lady decided she’d wear white, and now we all do. She married her cousin, by the way.
A few years later, Godey’s Lady’s Book proclaimed “Custom has decided, from the earliest ages, that white is the most fitting hue, whatever may be the material. It is an emblem of the purity and innocence of girlhood, and the unsullied heart she now yields to the chosen one.”
And that was it. White became the wedding dress colour of choice, as if no other colour was ever an option, apparently worn to symbolise purity.
Hmmm, so quick question: would you be taking your wedding fashion advice from Meghan Markle if it turned out Prince Harry was her cousin?
Sure, there are plenty of celebrity influencers who have the star power to kickstart new fashion trends, that’s kinda how the fashion game works, but I believe we have little more autonomy than the gals back in 1840 did.
During the Great Depression in the United States, it was actually common for brides to wear dresses they already owned to their weddings (they often didn’t even wear engagement rings either.) The reason white wedding dresses began to gain popularity again was because they were a way to present ones affluence to the world—purchasing a new dress for the wedding was one thing, but being able to afford to clean a white dress was another factor that led to its becoming a symbol of wealth. The idea that a wedding is an opportunity to present your wealth and fabulous taste to the world is a trend that continues today.
Is it Really an Unconventional Wedding Dress?
Perhaps an unconventional wedding dress shouldn’t actually be coined as “unconventional” because the convention behind it (like most of the aspects of weddings we believe to be tradition) is actually a bit of a farce.
So, if you have always dreamed of wearing a flowing, silk, floral, fierce and wild-goddess dress, a figure-hugging gold sequin stunner, or if you feel more comfortable in tailored pants or wearing something you already own, then rock on with your bad self.
Your wedding is not about pleasing other people, especially not the kind of people who wrote, or read, Godey’s Lady’s Book.
Your wedding is about celebrating you and your partner’s unique spirit, and how that binds you together and defines who you are as a couple. The wedding dress you choose should be a reflection of the way in which you choose to celebrate your marriage; if that means you wear a white wedding dress after all, then perfect. And if it’s black? Then that’s perfect too. Just know that whatever you choose it should be up to you, not some made up convention.
Just in case you need anymore convincing that wedding dress traditions are most certainly in need of a refresh, want know why we wear wedding veils?
“The lifting of the veil was part of ancient wedding ritual, symbolising the groom taking possession of the wife or the revelation of the bride by her parents to the groom for his approval. An opulent veil was supposed to enwrap the bride like a precious present.”