Ever Wondered Why We Wear White to Our Wedding?

Coco Dietz

Today you would be hard pressed to find a bride who chooses to not wear a shade of white on their wedding day. That tradition has been so deeply ingrained into many young girls let alone young brides minds that it is difficult for many of them to imagine wearing anything other than white to get hitched. Before the tradition began brides would simply wear their best dress to get married in.

Most brides could not afford the luxury of a new dress on their wedding day so the thought of color coordination would send many of them in a frenzy based solely on the cost that would add to the start of their marriage. Even more so, white was hardly considered to wear to be married in because that was the color more commonly worn to funerals for the time period. Just as many brides chose to stay away from black for the same reasons today, the brides would tend to stay away from white as to not bring death like energy into their wedding day. To more wealthy brides they would use the opportunity of their wedding day as an excuse to show off just how much wealth they actually had by adorning themselves with many family heirlooms and jewels.

 Their dresses would be far from white, in fact many wealthy brides would choose to wear bright jeweled toned dresses. An impressive feat to behold due to the cost of the dyed material. The introduction of white into the traditional bridal fashion started, as many things do, by one very famous and important person doing it first. That person happened to be Queen Victoria when she married Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg back in 1840. Although she was only twenty years old when she was wed, she took her royal duties with grace, elegance, and maturity and wanted to convey that message in her appearance as well. So she chose a white wedding dress to hopefully portray herself as sensibly as possible.

 Not only was this choice one with a message nodding to her new royal duties, but it was also a gesture of love toward her future husband. Queen Victoria also chose to forego the crown that would generally sit atop an elaborate hairdo and instead she wore a wreath of flowers. She chose to set aside the overly indulgent and opulent traditions that would generally be expected of a queen but instead just be a young woman marrying the man she loved and portraying to the world her purity and innocence in the color she chose to wear. Her choice to wear white was especially controversial for the time period not only because it was still a color associated with morning, but because most royals of the time chose to wear red on their wedding days. Even though that is difficult for us to imagine nowadays, the image of a bride clad in white to get married is so prominent in our minds. 

Although Queen Victoria was not trying to set a precedent for other brides to adhere to more than a hundred years later, her choice quickly set a trend that other brides wanted to follow. Only nine years later a magazine, Godey’s Lady’s Book, stated in their issue “that white is the most fitting hue” also that white is an “emblem of the purity and innocence of girlhood, and the unsullied heart she now yields to the chosen one.” They could have no way of knowing just how influential this would be for future brides. So much so that most brides do not even consider wearing a different color on their wedding day.