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Why Do We Wear a White Wedding Dress?

Updated: Aug 16, 2019

Row of ivory and pastel-coloured wedding dresses

Why do we wear a white wedding dress - and the answer isn’t what you think!

In Western cultures, we wear a white, or ivory/cream wedding dress because that’s just the way it is, right? In fact, this is a fairly recent tradition dating from the 19th century and, before then, white (along with black) was considered a suitable colour for mourning.

Isn’t white a symbol of innocence and purity?

Actually, no. Although this may be the case now, for centuries the colour blue was thought to symbolise purity, piety and faithfulness, largely due to its association with the Virgin Mary - hence the ‘Something Blue’ in the famous rhyme.

Statue of the Virgin Mary

So, where did the idea of a white wedding dress come from?

Although she wasn’t the first, Queen Victoria is widely credited with popularising the white wedding dress, as this is the colour she chose for her wedding to Prince Albert in February 1840.

She deliberately chose a dress covered in handmade Honiton lace from the village of Beer, as a way to support the declining lace trade. She knew that the details of her dress would be widely reported, and saw this as a way to give the lace industry a boost - amazingly forward-thinking, don’t you think?

(And, she was right as reports and illustrations of her dress were published in newspapers across the world for months after the event!)

Portrait of Queen Victoria in her wedding dress

Simply Romantic

Victoria also went against the traditions of the day in terms of the relative simplicity of the dress, as it wasn’t covered in gold embroidery, jewels or trimmed with fur, as may have been expected. It is said that this may have been because she wanted to marry Prince Albert not in the dress of a monarch, but in the dress of the woman he loved - so romantic!

She also chose to wear a floral crown of orange blossom and myrtle, rather than an actual crown - and a floral crown is another trend which is still popular today.

Be a Trendsetter, Too!

Why not be like Victoria, and go for a dress which really reflects who you are.

Smiling bride and groom in matching blue wedding dress and suit

If you don't want to go the whole hog and have a completely coloured dress, you could always opt for a glimpse of colour, by using layered petticoats, for example.

Bride in white dress with pink petticoats

Coloured wedding dresses are still not seen very often, but when they are - wow! For a bride who wants to be completely unique, there is nothing better than wearing a statement wedding dress.

Smiling bride in lilac wedding dress with lace

Whether it’s a bold, bright colour for an elegant, classic occasion, or a subtle pastel shade for a fairytale, ethereal theme, a coloured wedding dress is always a show-stopper.

Smiling bride and groom in matching pink wedding dress and suit

And, for the ultimate in a unique wedding dress, just look at this beautiful bespoke gown, in an amazing fabric: truly, one-of-a-kind.

Bespoke wedding dress in silk patterned fabric

Whatever you choose, have fun finding a dress that is truly 'You' - whatever colour it is!

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