Do you know how wedding dresses have evolved with time? How wedding dresses have changed through history? How did this ‘change to white”happen? The wedding dress is the best kept secret during the wedding preparations ; its style, its fabric, its model, is not revealed, is not known or seen, until the day of the ceremony; moment in which the bride will appear radiant, splendid, wearing it, causing surprise and admiration. Every stitch, every cut, every ornament, is thought for that, for the bride to have her moment, the one she’s been waiting for for so long. Every dress has its own story, its course, its journey; it is the result of a dream. What girl has not ever dreamt of her wedding dress? A dream that normally remains in childhood and is later recovered in life. Then that girl grows up, becomes an adolescent and finally a woman. It will be then the moment to recover that forgotten dream which has been left behind in her childhood's drawer; a dream recovered with the arrival of love and wedding plans.
A wedding dress is a language in itself. It has symbolized, represented beliefs, superstitions, the bride and groom's family power and it has expressed society's changes and events. For example, at the beginning of the 20th century we see very ostentatious dresses with very long trains; the length of the train was associated with the duration of the marriage, the longer it was, the more years of married life (your marriage would last). Everything about the wedding dress has transformed and evolved through time, from the color to the design, adapting to changes in the world.
It seems that already in the first civilization of history, the Sumerian, discovered only in the middle of the 20th century, they found indications of a specific dress for the wedding ceremony; this could be the beginning of the wedding dress’s history. This civilization was very important. It arose in southern Mesopotamia between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers about 3500 years BC. It was formed by the Sumerian, Assyrian and Babylonian peoples. It is considered the first civilization in history and among other things they invented writing and beer (what would we do without beer? LOL).
The first to define a wedding outfit were the Chinese, some 3000 years ago. The Zhon Dynasty defined a range of permitted colors. The colors changed with the Han Dynasty that introduced the use of colors according to the seasons: green in spring, red in summer, yellow in autumn and black in winter.
In the West, the current tradition has its origin in the Renaissance. At that time, women chose one of their best suits of bright colors and gold embroidery for the wedding. The custom was to go from her home to her husband's on a white horse. This was a way families had of boasting; the more ostentatious the dress, the more flamboyant the procession and the more power the family manifested .
The moment that changed wedding dress’ history is undoubtedly that of Queen Victoria of England, when in 1840 she married Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. It is not the first time that a royalty member got married in white, but that dress, her dress, changed history.
The first royal lady to marry in white was Princess Philippa of England in 1406, at her wedding to King Eric of Scandinavia. In 1558 Mary Queen of Scots, in an act of rebellion, married the future King of France in white. At that time in the French court white was considered mourning. In 1816 Princess Charlotte of Wales married in white; it was a silver lamé dress of the Empire court that she wore at her wedding to Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. White was a synonym of luxury because of the high cost of bleaching the fabric.
Let's go back to 1840 to the wedding of Queen Victoria and the history or legend behind her wedding dress. It is said that she wanted to help, and in fact she helped the embroiderers of the kingdom, who with the arrival of the industrial revolution, had lost their way of subsisting, because the arrival of the machines had practically eliminated the artisans work methodology and value.
The queen was very fond of Honiton lace, which was very well known and famous, thus she decided that her wedding dress should be made with that lace, and it had to be white to be worn in all its splendor. Mary Bettans was in charge of making it and we already know the result.
It was a majestic dress with a five meter train that caused sensation and envy among women. They all wanted to imitate her and this is the main reason why the color white is found in all bridal fashion catalogs nowadays.
The 20th century leaves us with several trends that change according to the decade. The first half is a sadder and less prosperous period, with less creativity. In Spain, for example, during the recession brides married in black, because doing it in white was a luxury they couldn’t afford.
1947. Christian Dior seeks to recover the sophistication of the previous century and introduces very marked waists and very vaporous skirts.
1970. The influence of the hippie movement is noticeable; floral details, V neckline, more freedom of movement.
The 21st century is marked by the brides´ total freedom for brides to express, define and reinvent themselves in their wedding dress. There are many new fabrics to choose from and personal taste takes over. It is a unique opportunity to choose what suits you best and what expresses your personality.
Globalization means that nothing and nobody is far away and we find wonderful designers everywhere in the world. Some examples:
- LAURA ESCRIBANO Spanish. Handmade bridal, vintage. https://www.lauraescribanoatelier.com/en/
- KRIKOR JABOTIAN Lebanese. Classic language with innovative forms of expression. http://krikorjabotian.com
- ANTONIO RIVA Italian. Known for the wonderful frills on his dresses. https://www.antonioriva.com
- MICHAEL CINCO Filipino in Dubai. Princess style extravagant couture dresses of tales of the Queen of the Ice. https://www.michaelcinco.com
The wedding dress is a dream rescued recovered from childhood and like every dream it has its symbolism, which is none other than: joy, triumph, glory and the immortality of love. Was your childhood dream dress similar to your real life wedding dress? We would love to read your story!