Wedding Favors

History of the White Wedding Dress

Posted on November 28th, 2007 by Amber in Wedding Attire, Wedding Etiquette, Wedding History, Wedding Traditions 2 Comments

queen victoriaYou’ve dreamed about your pale confection since your favorite Barbie doll zoomed through the kitchen in her pink Malibu convertible. You chose the sleeves by third grade, the train length by fifth, and the groom by sixth (that one didn’t work out). But have you ever parsed out why you want a white wedding dress with seventeen layers?

It’s because of Queen Victoria. Yes, she who reigned during one of the most prudish eras in history. She who allegedly proclaimed “Lie back and think of England” during the marital duty. This might lead you to the natural conclusion that Queen Victoria wore white to her wedding in 1840 to demonstrate her purity and blushing innocence. Actually, she wore white to show that she was really, really rich. White was highly impractical in the 19th century. Few women could afford a dress they would wear only once, and the likelihood of dripping wedding supper roast fowl on a white bodice was high.

Women continued to wear more somber shades after Queen Victoria donned her white gown, but the domination of white had attached its grasping claws to the collective minds of the marriage-minded public. When the Industrial Revolution brought on the rise of the middle class, giving women more money and spare time, white started to bloom again. In 1890, Ladies Home Journal set their stamp of approval on the white wedding dress with a heartfelt but inaccurate “From time immemorial, the bride’s gown has been white.”

Cementing the trend was Coco Chanel who created the first short wedding dress in the 1920s. In white. Thanks to the vagaries of history and economics, you no longer need to be royalty to afford a white wedding dress. Just have a sturdy Visa card.

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Comments (2)

  1. 1Melissa

    Very interesting, I guess you learn something every day!

  2. 2Angela

    Boy, I didn’t know that 50 years was time immemorial! Its funny, in a way, because she wore the dress to show that she could afford to wear a dress only once, and then EVERYONE stared doing it.

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