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Brides and White Wedding Dresses: A Love Story

Updated: Mar 23, 2023

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 who could afford to have their white dresses professionally cleaned. White dresses soon emerged as a symbol of wealth in upper-class circles.

Tumultuous times slow down its rise

While white wedding gowns were growing in popularity, the scarcity of fine fabrics during the Great Recession and World War II led to changes in style as a necessity. Many brides were once again married in a dress they already owned, and the ones who wore white would later dye it a different color for everyday use.

And they lived happily ever after

Once the recession and war ended, white gowns were once again in vogue. The style evolved from tea-length dresses inspired by Audrey Hepburn to longer dresses—culminating in 1981 when Princess Diana married Prince Charles wearing an ivory silk taffeta and lace gown, forever linking flowing white gowns with blushing brides.

Whether you’ve decided to carry on the tradition and say your vows in white or to go off the beaten path with the growing trend of colorful wedding gowns, make your big day your best day with the perfect venue: Contact the experts at Crest Hollow Country Club and start planning today.

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