Fun Facts About The History of White Wedding Dresses

If you’re planning a wedding, chances are that you’ve thought about what your dress will look like, and chances are, you’ve pictured it in some shade of white or ivory. But have you ever wondered about the history of white wedding dresses? Wedding dress history is intriguing to say the least. Did you know that white hasn’t always been the norm for bridal dresses, or that a bride’s gown was supposed to indicate her family’s social standing? We didn’t either! Check out our little history lesson today on My Wedding Chat!

History of White Wedding Dress on My Wedding ChatPhoto by David Grube Photography.

Wedding dress history - Wedding Shoppe style!

(To clarify, we don’t claim to be history experts, just wedding experts who happen to be extra curious about the evolution of this incredible industry.) Weddings have been occurring for centuries. In the Middle Ages, weddings were considered to be less of a romantic ideal and more of a political union between two families. This was prevalent especially in the nobility and higher social classes. Traditional bridal gowns of the time were meant to reflect a bride’s family’s social standing, and were often made with lush fabrics in rich colors (even black), if available. If a bride didn’t belong to a noble family, she often simply wore her best dress on her wedding day, as many non-nobles couldn’t justify the expense of a dress that would be worn for only one day.

History of white wedding dresses: Where it all began.

Princess Philippa of England was the first documented princess to wear white to her wedding in 1406, followed thereafter by Mary, Queen of Scots, when she married Francis Dauphin of France in 1559. But white bridal dresses did not become popular among the masses until after Queen Victoria’s marriage to Albert of Saxe-Coburg in 1840. At the time, the commercial manufacturing equipment produced as a result of the Industrial Revolution was taking a toll on local lace-making artisans, causing poverty and unemployment. In an effort to display her patriotism and practicality, Victoria chose a large piece of English handmade lace for her bridal gown, and the rest of the dress was designed to showcase that lovely lace. Victoria’s wedding portrait was widely published, inspiring brides the world over to seek out white bridal dresses (further proof that the royals are always trendsetters in bridal fashion!). Contrary to popular belief, white was not thought to be the color symbolizing purity; blue was. It wasn’t until Queen Victoria that the white bridal gown took off, and take off it did! Since then, shades of white and ivory have been the predominant colors in bridal fashion. In the 20th century, white continued to be the color of choice for traditional bridal gowns, although styles tended to follow the popular trends of the time, up until around 1940, when it became popular to wear longer bridal dresses with fuller skirts. This style, hailing back to Victorian times, continues to some extent today. Now, we wouldn’t be your “one stop wedding shoppe” without giving you a few leads on where you can find some of these period-specific styles. Although these bridal dresses are not historically accurate, they do incorporate historical elements within their fresh, modern designs.

Renaissance wedding dresses.

Renaissance wedding dresses were often characterized by the corset top, off the shoulder neckline, slim skirt, and sleeves. Sophia Tolli bridal gown Marion or Enzoani bridal gown Elena pay homage to those styles of the time.

History of White Wedding Dress on My Wedding Chat

Traditional bridal gowns.

Don’t consider yourself big on flashy trends? Consider some of these traditional bridal gowns, with their classic lines. There is a reason some things never go out of style!

History of White Wedding Dress on My Wedding Chat

How cool is that? The history of white wedding dresses is certainly full of surprises! What was your favorite piece of trivia? If you'd like to see more "bridal gowns of the past," visit our Museum page, featuring discontinued wedding dress styles. Have a question? Contact us! We'd love to hear from you.

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