Must my wedding dress be white?
It’s that time the of year where Bing Crosby reminisces soulfully about the weather, and I find myself wondering just why we consider Christmas a traditionally snowy season. Over my 27 Christmases I can only attest to experiencing one Christmas that was mildly snowy, and being as my flight was cancelled on account of the snow, I didn’t find it particularly festive.
The whiteness of wedding dresses fills a similar stylistic tradition. It’s a ‘thing’ but nobody really knows why. At least Christmas is held during winter, a time that is supposedly prone to snowy weather.
If you were to ask the general public in a survey why wedding dresses are white, I imagine most people would mumble something about innocence, purity and pre-consummation. All of which is a lot of tosh.
Her Majesty’s Legacy
Believe it or not, before the 1840s a white wedding dress was highly uncommon. And, being the practical victorians that they were, they would often tailor their dresses for further use following the wedding, a tradition that has been all but forgotten in the ‘throw-away’ culture of recent decades.
In fact, the white dress tradition wasn’t a ‘thing’ among the common people until well after the Second World War.
Many things can be said for Queen Victoria and her legacy, but I would bet quite heavily that the majority of white wedding dress wearers haven’t got the foggiest about Queen Vic’s contribution to wedding fashion.
Whilst it is unlikely that she was the first to wear a white wedding dress, she certainly popularised it among the hoy poloy of the British Empire, and that was the catalyst for a world of brides in white wedding dresses as it filtered (rather slowly) down through the middle and working classes of the world.
It’s a nice day to start again
In short, brides currently wear white because it was cool just over 150 years ago. Why it became a tradition is just about as perplexing to me as songs about white Christmasses in the rainy south of England.
Don’t get me wrong, white looks nice. And sure, it has developed a certain symbolism, but the important question here is – does it symbolise, and does it represent, you.
In accordance with my go-to advice – you need to do what you want. This is your life, it is your wedding. If you want to wear a postbox-red dress, don’t apologetically shuffle down the aisle. Wear it. Work it. Own that red dress.
White wedding dresses have been popularised by most media – rom coms and other ‘chick-fliks’ (I hate that term), dig the white dress. But one of my favourite rom coms, About Time, shows us that you needn’t conform. Rachel McAdams shows off a beautiful red dress, and she looks stunning (just don’t tell my wife).
The way I see it is, if Christmas, that traditionally white festivity, can neglect to adorn its, well, whiteness, then by God, our brides can choose their own colours too.
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