Western society considers the norm for a wedding gown to be a white ballgown, and anything else is considered unusual or daring. However, things haven’t always been so strict. In fact, most brides just married in a very nice dress- one that could be used again and would be part of her daily life. From a Reader’s Digest discussion of the white gown phenomenon, we learn that “In early Celtic cultures, red was the bridal colour of choice, worn to invoke fertility; early Christians preferred blue, which was symbolic of truth and purity and used in depictions of the Virgin Mary, either for the whole dress or as a band around the hem. Right up until the late 19th century, most ordinary women were married in their ‘Sunday best’, which, adapted if necessary, could be worn again. Grey was much favoured as both modest and useful, and brown was not uncommon; white was usually just too impractical.”
In 1840, British Queen Victoria wore a white gown to her wedding, which started the white craze with well-off women all over the world. White was a clear indicator of wealth, as lower-class women could not afford to have an article of clothing that would so easily become soiled. Later, the consumerist tradition of purchasing a lavishly expensive gown to wear only once emerged.
As Western society moves back into an environmentally-conscious, reuse-minded lifestyle, choosing a wedding dress with color- or better yet, a dress that can be used for other fancy occasions- will hopefully re-enter our expectation of a bride’s pre-marriage journey. As the wedding industry moves toward this end, we as a society can only help by avoiding the stigma of the white wedding dress and changing our views about colorful gowns. Our dollars speak!
My gowns have been upcycled and are colorful! Check them out at my etsy store.