Why do brides still wear white?

Jan 04 , 2021

Why do brides still wear white?

The wearing of a white wedding dress is the one wedding tradition that many brides still like to honour, but few brides know why the white dress is synonymous with the exchanging of vows.

White wedding dresses are more of a western tradition, and outside of this culture, brides often wear all sorts of other often vibrant colours. Interestingly, the white wedding dress is not exactly an ancient tradition, but rather one that is quite new, when you look at the timeline of wedding dress fashion.

While we might think that the white wedding dress will be around forever, fashion is forever changing and while white, and its variants, might still be enjoying popularity, colour is slowly creeping back into mainstream bridal fashion. One day, white might be the last colour a bride opts for, but for now, if you are going with the trend, here is a little look at why white is so enduring. 

The History of the White Wedding Dress

Wedding dresses were not always what they are today. Instead of being the extravagant once off outfit, dresses that were worn by brides would also be used for day to day work. White was not a versatile colour for the average person. It would dirty quickly and become quite unsightly. White material could also be quite costly.

As a result, white materials and dresses became a symbol of wealth and were worn by the rich and noble.

In the past, noble martial unions were not always a matter of falling in love and wanting to spend a lifetime together. Instead, marriage was often used to forge family and political alliances.

The weddings of nobility, now as in the past, influenced fashion on a grand scale, and since the nobility would be able to afford to make once-off dresses for their wedding day, they often chose white because it was the one colour that many wouldn’t normally wear on a day to day basis.

The first white wedding dress mentioned in history was word by Philippa of England. She was a woman who married Eric of Pomerania in the year 1406 and she would go on to become the Queen of Demark, Norway and Sweden.

But although she was the first woman to be recorded having worn a white gown, the woman who made the white wedding dress the traditional attire that it is today is Queen Victoria of England who wore white when she married Prince Albert in 1840.

Those who lived through this period saw white as a demure, feminine, and in many ways a colour associated with being subordinate. The importance of her wearing white was that as a Queen, who had the authority over the country, she was being subordinate to her husband, who would never be ranked higher than her in society, on their wedding day. The people saw this as an act of pure love and many wanted to emulate the experience.

Although Queen Victoria put the white wedding dress in the spotlight and made it highly fashionable, austerity before and during the Second World War meant brides would still opt for other, cheaper colours and only after the war did the white dress really become the traditional gown that we know today.

Another quite common belief is that the colour white is meant to symbolise purity and in particular a woman’s virginity. But in reality, women started wearing white wedding gowns because of the status attached to the colour, and because the right white wedding gown can have any bride looking angelic on her wedding day.