In the U.K. we are often surprised and sometimes shocked when brides walk up the aisle wearing a red, pink or even purple dress. As a society we have become accustomed to wedding dresses being white, ivory or cream but this is only a recent tradition.
Wearing a white dress is thought of as a symbol of purity but this is not the case. It was in fact a sign of wealth. In the 18th and 19th Century, when washing was painstakingly done by hand – scrubbed on a washboard to remove stains, a white dress was virtually impossible to clean. It was simply a garment that could only be worn once so the wearers were only the very affluent and wealthy.
It was the royal wedding of Queen Victoria to Prince Albert where today’s fashion of wearing white really began. Victoria wore a white dress, which was seen as unusual at the time. It was more traditional for brides to wear colours, with gold or silver embroidery running throughout their gowns. Instead She opted for a white silk dress, made from silk spun at Spitalfields in London, and added some rather beautiful Honiton lace from Devon.
Victoria loved her wedding dress so much that she wore if many times which resulted in her dress becoming so well known. She also had a christening gown made from the same fabric for her daughter and her subsequent grandchildren to great great grandchildren wore it for their christening services.
When some society brides are spending in excess of £30,000 for their dress it is refreshing to read about weddings such as Keira Knightley’s who chose to to wear a dress she had worn (and been photographed in) already. “I’d worn the dress lots. It was my something old” she said. “I just wanted to be in something I had had a great time in, something I would have a great time in again.”
At the end of the day it really doesn’t matter how much your dress costs; whether it is old or new; white or shocking pink. Wear what you love!