Updated: Aug 22
Once upon a time, brides wore wedding dresses of all colors. Then one special day they met the traditional white gown we still love so much today and said “I do.” We know brides and white gowns lived happily ever after, but how did they get there? While 82 percent of U.S. brides choose to walk down the aisle wearing white, few actually know how the tradition came to be (and it’s not what you’re thinking). Let’s take a closer look at the evolution of white wedding gowns.
In the beginning, there was practicality
While a non-white wedding dress nowadays may be seen as a bold, nontraditional choice, they were borne out of practicality. Up until the 19th century, brides were married in dresses they already owned, as purchasing a dress to be worn once wasn’t financially realistic. Because white would get dirty too easily for an everyday dress, their finest gown was typically a different color. In fact, many lower-class brides were married in black.
Here comes the Queen
The first well-documented instance of a bride wearing white comes courtesy of publicly distributed photographs and a failing fabric factory. When Queen Victoria married Prince Albert in 1840, it was one of the first royal weddings from which pictures were made available to the general public. She chose to wear a white dress with Honiton lace to support the struggling factory in which it was manufactured. She later ensured Princess Alexandra was also married in Honiton lace rather than Brussels lace.
A new status symbol emerges
The fascination with the royal family isn’t a new interest, so it didn’t take long for white Honiton lace to be considered the wedding dress of royalty—and emulated by brides w