We are very used to seeing brides in stunning white gowns, but where does this tradition come from? Well, white wasn’t always the symbol of virginity and purity that it is today!
The history of the white wedding gown begins in the 1400s. Princess Philippa of England was the first recorded royal to wear a white wedding dress for her ceremony in 1406 - the norm at this time was for brides to wear coloured dresses of anything other than black (the colour for mourning) and red (usually associated with prostitution). White was a colour for mourning also, but more difficult to get hold of and maintain.
In the 1500s, blue dresses were the favourite to symbolise purity, then in the 1600s it was red, and in the 1700s it was purples and pinks.
Mary Queen of Scots is said to be the first high-profile bride to wear white to her wedding to her first husband in 1559. White symbolised her social standing as the fabric was difficult to bleach and keep clean; the dress would likely only be worn once. At the time, white was the colour of mourning, but she insisted her gown be white as it was her favourite colour – what a trendsetter.
Following this, Queen Victoria chose a white wedding dress in 1840. She is often credited with being the first bride to wear white but this is not true. At the time nobility wore white gowns woven with golds and silvers. However, she did make white wedding dresses popular as photos of her wedding dress were the first to be widely circulated. Who wouldn’t want to dress like the Queen?
Queen Victoria also chose to ensure that her whole outfit was British-made, which is a nice touch. The lace on her wedding dress was re-used and some made into the christening gown for royal babies - used up until 2008 when a replica was required. Isn’t that extraordinary? This reuse of the lace was perhaps a sign of Queen Victoria’s economical mind, seeing as the lace (Honiton lace) took over two hundred people nine months to make … so was rather special!
In recent times, technology has developed to enable white dresses to be more easily cleaned. Whereas in the past white gowns were a symbol of wealth, they are now the symbol of purity for brides.
What colour wedding dress is your favourite?
· Azazie.com. History of the White Wedding Dress: www.azazie.com/blog/history-of-the-white-wedding-dress
· FlipBrew.com. The First Bride To Wear A White Wedding Dress?: flipbrew.com/entertainment/englands-queen-victoria-was-the-first-bride-to-wear-a-white-wedding-dress
· Ranker.com. Weird History: www.ranker.com/list/history-of-white-wedding-dress/rachel-souerbry
· WeddingVendors.com. The History of the White Wedding Dress: www.weddingvendors.com/planning/articles/white-wedding-dress