Brides Did Not Always Wear a White Wedding Dress

Brides Did Not Always Wear A White Wedding Dress

By: Kelly York

Queen Victoria in her white wedding dress

Trend Setting Queen Victoria Dared to Wear a White Wedding Dress

The tradition of wearing a white wedding dress is a fairly recent one, believe it or not. It wasn’t until after World War II that women were expected to wear white on their wedding day. Up until then in the United States, there was a whole different thing going on with wedding dresses.

The Color Brides Used to Wear

The color of wedding dresses in the United States used to be any color the bride wanted it to be. It was common to have a black, brown or even red wedding dress. White was usually reserved for mourning in places like Europe, so it was worn only if the bride was still in mourning. The white wedding dress first began its popularity when Queen Victoria married Prince Albert in 1840 in a white lace gown. Generally, in Western Europe, red was the most popular color up until that day. White was a difficult dress to keep clean and cleaning a wedding dress was no easy task in that time. It wasn’t like you could just drive it over to the cleaners and drop it off. Only the wealthy could dare to wear such a color in any type of clothing. And Queen Victoria was a woman who had a staff to maintain such a dress.

The White Wedding Dress Popularity

In Europe, what the Queen wore would heavily influence what others would want to wear, but in the United States, it took a while longer for this newfangled idea to catch on completely. It wasn’t really a popular wedding dress color until after World War II. Movies were popularizing the color by that time and the American women wanted to look like a movie star at their own wedding.

The Symbol of Purity

The white wedding dress was touted as being modest and the symbol of purity of the bride starting in the 19th century. That idea became more popular as time went on, but wasn’t part of the tradition initially. It was an idea that the etiquette books came up with.

Wearing Your Wedding Dress Only Once

It wasn’t until very recently that women put their wedding dress into their trunk after the wedding and never wore it again. Traditionally, it was just a dress and nothing was very special about it. They would put their wedding dress back into their wardrobe for use on another day. Even Queen Victoria had her dress altered so that she could wear it again at other events. It was not considered something so very special that it needed to be kept in a trunk in the attic until she wanted to look at it again to remember her wedding.

Modern Wedding Dress Traditions

So, what we think of white wedding dresses and a long tradition really isn’t that long of a tradition after all. Few of us would dare to wear black or red on our wedding day, but in reality, for maybe thousands of years that is what our ancestors did! If you were looking for a great excuse to do something wild for your wedding, now you have it. You are keeping with tradition by wearing black.