Did you have a traditional wedding? This fun guest post explains some of the quirky traditions you might not have understood at the time.
Have you ever wondered why we throw our bouquets, or why our fathers ‘give us away’? Well, these quirky little marriage traditions have their roots in history, and your dress has a story all of its own too…
Before Queen Victoria married Prince Albert in the mid 1800s, brides simply wore their favourite, most expensive dress – more often than not, it was the same one they wore to church as their Sunday best. Grey was a popular colour as it was respectable, easily cleaned and readily available (as girls in domestic service were given a new grey dress every year by their employer).
Further back in history, however, and higher up the social ladder, medieval royal brides wore dresses consisting of as much material as possible: velvet, damask, silk and fur woven with golden thread were used in vast quantities for wedding days. Skirts were full, sleeves dropped to the floor, and the colour of the gowns were rich too – red, purple and blue dyes were within reach of only the wealthiest.
But of course, the majority of brides were not princesses. Instead, most were normal women and therefore couldn’t afford such a huge expense. Women of average incomes wore wedding dresses in a style that imitated a woman of a higher social class than themselves. For instance, noblewomen wore as much fur and jewellery as they could, while poor women were pleased to wear linen or fine wool instead of the usual homespun fabric. Whether hiring a team of makeup artists, sporting a sapphire stone from 77 Rings or spritzing ourselves with expensive perfume, the idea of ‘dressing up’ has perpetuated to this day.
So why do so many of us wear white wedding gowns? Well, when Queen Victoria married Prince Albert, she chose to wear white lace because it was her preferred colour and fabric. And, while Victoria probably did like it very much, white was a colour associated with wealth… only the richest could afford to have it washed afterwards, making it an obvious choice for a Queen. Brides have since imitated variations of Queen Victoria’s white wedding gown, doubtless aided by the colour’s western association for purity and virginity. For more iconic royal wedding gowns, see Harpers Bazaar’s article.
Before Queen Victoria’s trend setting gown, brides tended to wear blue, a popular colour due to its association with the Virgin Mary (and therefore symbolic of purity, fidelity and eternal love). However, yellow and pink have also moved in and out of favour with brides throughout history, so there’s no need to feel confined to only a few options!
If a white gown isn’t your idea of the perfect wedding dress, there’s no harm in breaking from tradition. In fact, a number of modern brides are moving away from white gowns, opting instead for hues and tones that represent their personality. Check out these ideas from Love My Dress if you’d like to see some real life brides ditching the white frocks in favour of something more vibrant.