Why do people traditionally marry in white?

Wedding dress trends may come and go but one staple colour tends to remain across every bridal palette. The white wedding may not be what it used to be, but apart from the odd bride, most wear white on their wedding day. It’s a tradition that at first glance has always been there. With rows and rows of white wedding gowns to peruse at every bridal shop, the majority have never questioned why brides wear white dresses on their wedding days. But is this tradition as long-standing as most of us think?

White wedding dress

It all began with Queen Victoria…

Bridal wear has evolved dramatically in recent years. The BBC recently profiled the changing face of bridal wear and how the quintessential white dress has changed to fit with fashion trends over the years. White remains a principle colour for both traditional and unconventional brides-to-be, but this hasn’t always been the case.

The white wedding gown has only been tradition since 1840, and it was the marriage of our very own Queen Victoria to Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha that changed it all. Queen Victoria wore a white silk dress, a move extremely unusual for the time. In doing so, she changed the course of bridal fashion for good. Queen Victoria’s colour choice came at a time when brides traditionally wore whatever colour they pleased to get married in. Many thought that her white wedding dress was designed to demonstrate her innocence. Others thought she chose white to showcase the dress’ ornate lace details and provide a helpful boost to England’s struggling lace industry.

Don’t forget about Mary’s white dress

Queen Victoria managed to change the traditional colour of the wedding dress, but this wasn’t the first time a royal had attempted to make a statement with white. Mary Queen of Scots picked a white dress, a colour that at the time was associated with mourning. As well as being widely slammed, the colour choice was blamed for the death of Mary’s husband a few years later.

It wasn’t the only trend Victoria bucked

Queen Victoria’s royal wedding was also iconic for several other reasons. Her choices, ceremony and reception all bucked a number of trends and created some new ones in the process. Not bad considering she wanted a fairly simple wedding! As well as making white wedding dresses popular, Queen Victoria prioritised accessorising. She also went against royal protocol when picking her bridesmaids and choosing where to marry and celebrate her reception according to Vogue:

“Victoria chose her 12 bridesmaids according to rank. Albert wanted her to pick them based off of their reputations, but Victoria ignored him… The wedding ceremony took place in St. James’s red-and-gold Chapel Royal. Victoria thought St. James was ugly, and didn’t want to have her wedding there. After the ceremony, Victoria changed into another dress and a huge bonnet for a subsequent feast. The bride and groom stayed there until around 4:00 p.m., and then traveled three hours to Windsor Castle where they stayed the night.”

The meaning of white today

White is thought to represent purity and innocence. Whether you opt for pristine white or a shade of ivory, it is also an extremely flattering colour that suits many skin colours and body types. Looking to add a splash of another colour to cement your wedding theme? There are tons of romantic colours to choose from. Here’s how to use them.

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