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Wedding Wednesday: the tradition of the white wedding dress

I always assumed that the white wedding dress was an old one based on notions of purity and virginity but actually it originated with Queen Victoria!

In the Western world it was usual for a bride to wear her most elaborate and expensive dress at her wedding as a sign of her social standing. This could be white but was other colours more frequently.
There are 2 examples of royal brides choosing white wedding dresses: Philippa, daughter of Henry IV, in 1406 and Mary Queen of Scots in 1559. The latter chose white because it was her favourite colour.

It wasn’t until 1840, when Queen Victoria chose white for her wedding dress, that her subjects began to copy her style.
Wedding dresses then followed fashion trends, with shorter skirts developing in the inter war period and then returning to a long length in the late 60s in contrast to the popular miniskirt.

Today’s dresses are often strapless as this style requires less alteration to get a good fit (I didn’t realise that!)

I have a major dilemma.
Yes, I know my wedding day is only a month away but I still haven’t picked my dress.
You see, I don’t wear white. EVER. It simply isn’t a practical colour especially now I’m a mum and there is food and bodily fluids flying all over the place.

I bought a purple dress during the first month of our engagement but there has been a little worry since then. White stands out at a wedding and whilst I don’t like being the centre of attention, I want people to know I’m the bride.
Then I tried a white wedding dress and fell completely in love.

I have never been a girly girl or particularly princessy so I was astonished at my own reaction!
Now I have a dilemma: do I stay true to myself and wear my favourite colour purple or do I stick with tradition and go for white now that I know how special it feels…?


  1. I am sure you will look lovely on your wedding day, no matter which dress you pick! Have a great time deciding and you could wear both if you wanted. It is your special day after all! 🙂

  2. Totally enjoyed reading your post and there is so much information about the white wedding dress which I did not know. I think you should wear white for the ceremony and purple for the dinner reception.

  3. Marian Kirby

    Aha! Now I understand about the purple at the wedding! Go for the wedding dress you love (white) for the ceremony, feel like a real bride, there is nothing like it! Then change into the putple for the reception (when kids will be hanging all over you with cake and all). The dress isn’t just for a few moments…it is in every picture, memory and emotion for years to come.

  4. I think the key thing to finding the right dress is how you feel when you try it on. You can see so many beautiful dresses, but until you actually have it on and it feels right, you will never know. So really, I think it is about how you feel in either dress. What is making you feel like the bride? You’ll be fabulous, regardless, and I hope it all goes wonderfully for you.

  5. This is interesting, I always assumed it was to do with virginity too! And I didn’t know about strapless dresses being easier to alter. I wouldn’t go for strapless, I don’t think, because then you have that little bit of arm/armpit fat — well I would anyway!! I don’t think wearing white isn’t “being true to yourself”. Being true to yourself would be accepting that you can change your mind if you want to, but if you don’t want to and you want to wear purple, that’s great too! Not long to go now! I bet you’re excited.

  6. Jem

    It took me a while to find my dress, but when I did I knew it was the one. Could you not accessories with purple shoes\accessories?

  7. Helen

    I vote for white too, but love the idea of purple accessories or changing in to a purple dress later. I always thought white was a symbol of virginity too so I’ve learnt something new!

  8. Pingback: #Project365 week 28: still waiting for the rain! | Musings of a tired mummy…zzz…

  9. Go for the white for the ceremony! It makes you feel special and you might regret not doing it one day. Then if you want to wear the purple, dance the night away in your purple gown without worry of spillages and you have the best of both! ( I totally get the hating being centre of attention though. I am engaged and not even excited at the thought of a wedding ceremony at all!)

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