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This morning we are bringing you the final post in our Wedding Traditions series, how the past month has flown by! Of course we saved the most important tradition until last, so let’s talk some more about wedding dresses for our final Monday morning history lesson.
Before weddings became all about love and commitment, they were seen as a bit like a business deal between two families, particularly amongst the royals and higher social classes. The wedding dress was chosen to cast the bride’s family in the most favourable light, especially in terms of wealth and social status. Brides from wealthy families often wore rich colours and expensive fabrics such as fur, velvet and silk.
The poorest brides would wear their best church dress on their wedding day, even if it was a dark colour. Black was quite a popular choice for a wedding dress during this time, however blue was most common as it represented purity and a connection to the Virgin Mary, and most importantly the dark colour hid stains easily so it could be worn again!
The colour white wasn’t popular for a wedding dress until 1840 when Queen Victoria wore a white wedding dress for her marriage to Albert of Saxe-Coburg. People saw her dress and thought it was a sign of wealth, class and style. This sparked a trend amongst the upper class who had their dresses made from expensive white fabrics. The white colour meant the material was difficult to clean, this allowed only the wealthy to wear white wedding dresses as they could afford to only wear it once. The rest of the population continued to wear coloured wedding dresses that they could wear again for many years to come.
During the Industrial Revolution, more brides were able to buy a brand new white wedding dress. The popularity of department stores meant fabrics and styles were more accessible, and the price dropped so it wasn’t only the rich that could afford a new dress.
However, this is all changed during the Great Depression when times were hard. Brides couldn’t afford a big wedding, nevermind a white wedding gown that they would never wear again. Instead, they returned to the tradition of wearing their ‘Sunday Best’, which was usually a darker colour instead of white.
After the war, the economic boom made it possible for most to have their dream wedding, with the perfect white wedding gown. It was around this time, in the 1950’s, when the tradition of the ‘white wedding dress’ got set in stone, as seen on Grace Kelly, and Princess Diana who married around this time.
Nowadays, traditional white and light coloured dresses are still most popular, as many today view the white wedding dress as a symbol of purity and virtue, rather than wealth. Dresses also now come in millions of lengths, styles and fabrics and are designed to fit the wedding themes and personalities.
Are you going for a traditional white gown, or mixing it up with a colourful dress?