Contemporary Weddings are a symbol of love and commitment between the bride and groom. However, historically weddings were more like a business transaction between two families and rarely for love. Most weddings were arranged in order to form a beneficial alliance. So therefore, since the bride was meant to represent her family the dress was meant to show her family in the best possible light. Especially in terms of their wealth and social status.
Peasant brides did not purchase a new dress, they simply wore their finest gown. They were not usually white, in fact they were often black! Brides of wealthy families wore rich fabrics in bold colors and layers of fur to show the wealth and social status of her family and guests. Blue was a rather popular color for early wedding dresses as it was said to represent purity. The dark color also hid stains and imperfections well.
Prior to the Victorian era white was not a common color for a wedding dress. Although there are a few documented instances including Phillipa of England in 1406 and Mary Queen of Scots in 1559. Wearing a white wedding dress on your wedding day did not become popular until 1840, following the marriage of Queen Victoria. She wore white to incorporate lace that she highly prized. Their official wedding portrait was widely published and inspired many other brides to choose white in accordance with the queen. A few years following Queen Victoria's marriage, early women's magazines and publications declared white was the best shade for a bride.
From then on if you were someone, you wore white to your wedding. Even still white was a hard color to achieve and preserve in that time, so only the most wealthy could afford a white dress. With that said, you could hardly consider the dresses white, or even eggshell, as bleaching technology of the day was poor.
During the great depression the white wedding dress went by the wayside, as people were hit with hard times. Often wearing just their Sunday best regardless of color. Following the economic boom of the second half of the 20th century once again white became the color of choice. Such as the iconic weddings of Grace Kelly and Princess Diana.
Today Brides can choose from hundreds of colors and styles, however in western weddings white, ecru and ivory are still the most popular. About 75% of the wedding dress market is accounted for by strapless gowns. However we are starting to see a resurgence of sleeved dresses and those more like the styles of the early 1900's.
How do you feel about a colored wedding dress? Will you go strapless or go with a sleeve? Picking the dress can feel daunting with so many choices. Just be glad that today you marry for love and you get to love the dress too!
Picone, Kiri. (2013, August 1). The Intriguing History of the Wedding Gown. http://all-that-is-interesting.com/history-of-wedding-gowns/2
Wedding dress. (2015, February 15). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 19:30, February 26, 2015, fromhttp://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Wedding_dress&oldid=647244099