Choosing a colour for a wedding gown is a very personal thing, and many colours are available for bride’s to choose from. For many centuries, brides were married in the nicest clothes they owned. Often they made their own wedding dress or gown from the nicest fabric they could afford to purchase. The key element of the wedding ensemble was not the dress, but the fact that the bride was allowed to wear her hair loose on her wedding day. The tradition and practicality of wearing one’s hair tied back in a ponytail or braid was commonplace in everyday life, and the wedding day was the day to wear the hair loose.
In Roman times, wedding gowns were yellow in colour and they wore a yellow veil that covered them from head to toe. Other cultures have specific colours or embroidered costumes that they wore as their wedding dress—like the colour red worn in many parts of Asia. European and British ancestors often wore pale pink, yellow or blue dresses.
Traditionally, marriages were for political or social gain, and it was important to have the best wedding gown possible to show off the family status. They tended to be the height of fashion, with the richest fabrics, and the boldest colours to make a statement. Yards and yards of the finest materials—damask silk or velvet—and trimmed with furs, and gems were commonplace. Those of the lower classes would emulate the higher classes by having a bit of rabbit fur to trim their dress, or by having long sleeves and thereby using more fabric.
During the 17th century, wedding dresses became more brightly coloured and had more pattern to them. Blue was a popular colour for many brides because in paintings, the Virgin Mary’s robe was always blue, and blue denotes constancy. Traditionally, black, purple, and green were avoided because they were either mourning colours or considered unlucky.
In the 18th century, for example, one description of a Quaker bride’s dress was a light blue brocade dress with matching high heeled shoes, a short blue bodice, a white satin stomacher embroidered in multicoloured threads, and a black hood lined with white silk. The groom was dressed in a peach coloured cloth lined with quilted white silk.
Wedding dresses and gowns tend to follow the latest styles, and in the early 1900’s, all wedding dresses were dresses—knee length in front, and a longer in the back. It wasn’t until the 1940’s, that wedding dresses started to become wedding gowns, and the trend to full length dresses has continued to this day.
For a number of centuries, royalty in Britain wore silver. Over time, the silver royal gowns were trimmed with white. Queen Victoria changed this tradition by being married in a white wedding gown. This started a trend of white wedding gowns that is still alive today.
The tradition of wearing a silver wedding gown for so many centuries has continued in the tradition of wearing silver jewellery, and having silver handbags, and shoes with the white gown. Silver and cream coloured wedding gowns are still traditional along with the more popular white wedding gown.
As we move into the 21st century, the traditional “white wedding” is slowly making way for more colour in the gowns the brides are choosing. The length of wedding dresses has also changed in the last number of years. With destination weddings becoming more and more popular, shorter wedding gowns are practical for beach wedding ceremonies, and we are seeing a resurgence in popularity for the shorter wedding dress.
Today, brides are free to choose any style or colour of wedding dress they desire. Some weddings are themed medieval or renaissance, and the dresses match the theme. Some weddings are very modern, and the wedding dresses reflect that haute couture styling. Those who grew up with and love the Disney influence in our culture, often opt for the ‘fairytale princess’ theme and their wedding gown and wedding decorations reflect that theme.
No matter what colour you choose for your wedding gown, wear it with pride and style. Plan your wedding to reflect your personal style, your taste, and your personality. Whether you love tradition, or love the modern, there is the perfect wedding gown out there for you, and in the perfect colour.