I always heard that a white wedding dress was supposed to represent purity and that a bride who didn't wear white wasn't pure. However, in studying a little bit of European history, I learned that it was actually a trend which began because an extremely important and revered Queen of England wore a white wedding dress for her wedding. Up until 1840, brides wore their nicest dresses for their weddings. It wasn't until the marriage of Queen Victoria to her cousin Albert of Saxe-Coburg that a new tradition was born.
Some historians argue, though, that long before Queen Victoria, brides of nobility were wearing white. It was a status symbol signifying that a family was wealthy enough to afford a beautiful white, lace gown for a wedding. However, Victoria and Albert's nuptials were widely publicized and she posed for numerous paintings, so her dress became famous. For more information on Queen Victorian's dress, visit The Dreamstress.
More Wedding Dress Trivia:
During the 1920's, Coco Chanel introduced the short wedding dress, which reflected women's fashions becoming shorter and more more scandalous for the time period.
In the Great Depression, poverty was so rampant that many brides wore their best dress for the wedding. If a bride was fortunate enough to wear white, she would often dye it afterward to be able to wear for other occasions. She definitely wouldn't have hung it in her closet, never to be worn again.
With the ending of WWII and prosperity for the United States again, many brides could afford to wear wedding dresses styled after the Victorian era again.
The modern bride can now wear any style and hue imaginable. I, personally, am grateful that lace and fuller gowns are making a comeback. They're my all time favorite.
Erin Joyner, Wedding Planner, Bryan/College Station, TX