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HISTORY OF THE WEDDING DRESS

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue……..

The wearing of a white gown to get married in is an old tradition dating back to the nineteenth century but probably influenced by Queen Victoria and her family. Victoria wore a gown of white satin with Honiton lace which she then wore to subsequent royal weddings and the dress was also worn by her daughter on her own wedding day. Previous to this, white and silver were strongly associated with royal weddings and that of nobility, infact at this time it was considered unlucky for the bride to wear anything other than white!

Royal weddings in the past were of great political significance so the bride would need to look especially magnificent. In 1761 Princess Charlotte married King George III wearing a spectacular dress of silver decorated with pearls and lined with ermine. Although Princess Charlotte’s dress was white and silver, colors of the gowns of such high status weddings would be rich too with purples and reds often being used as they represented wealth. The train too,was a symbol of status but this has lost its meaning through the passage of time and the length of train is purely a personal choice in the 21st century.

Through the centuries however, several other colors have been associated with weddings. Infact white weddings were reserved only for the richest of families as many less well off girls had to choose a dress they could wear again and again. White and silver were the predominant colors, but there were dresses of pink and blue also. Blue was associated with young people, infact older ladies who wore blue in the 16th century were frowned upon as blue was a color symbolizing youth. And so blue became another color chosen for wedding gowns, often embroidered with silver. Blue (and white of course) were also symbols of purity. In addition to this, if a bride chose to wear blue it was believed that her husband would be faithful to her, hence the ‘something blue’ that most brides still traditionally include somewhere on their gown.

In the 1840s the crinoline became very popular and brides were seen in much fuller skirts -our equivalent gowns today being the ball gown ‘cinderella -style ‘ dresses. As the century moved on, crinolines were replaced with half crinolines, with what are commonly known as bustles becoming popular by the 1870s. Some of today’s designers use such styles to influence their 21st century wedding gown designs. If you are keen on a particular style of dress, or want your dress to have a certain feature such as a bustle, it is worth spending some time looking into the designs of different wedding dress makers, as each designer often has their own distinctive style. Although dresses at this time appeared to be one piece, they were often in 3 pieces; bodice, skirt and then an overskirt which was called a tablier.

1920s -By the 1920s the revolution in ladies clothing was underway leading to rising hemlines to above ankle length and the advent of the flapper style dresses. Wedding dresses, however remained full length as it was considered unsuitable for church. The tradition of using the wedding veil as part of the christening gown is still familiar today, but this dated back to the same era.

1930s -By this time waists became more fashionable with the introduction of bias cut gowns that really flattered the figure.

1960s – Weddings of the 1960s were influenced by the styles of Grace Kelly,with many dresses made of duchesse satins and lace and fitted to the figure. Shorter bridal gowns also appeared for the first time around this time. Which brings us to the present day where brides have so much choice, and even though wedding gowns still seem to be predominantly white, ivory or cream, there are so many other color combinations so it it now down to you to decide which color you would like to wear on your special day

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