Have you ever wondered why brides wear white? Or why lace is a popular material for wedding gowns? Or perhaps why so many brides opt to wear a veil? You’re not alone. When it comes to bridal gowns and wedding traditions, there are many things we take for granted.
This is especially true for the wedding dress. To help you understand how these traditions came to be — and decide if they’re right for you — we’ll break down five of the most popular wedding dress details. Spoiler: Queen Victoria has a lot to answer for.
The Color White
The history of the white wedding dress stretches back to the Roman Republic. At the time, most women married in white to symbolize their purity. But the color fell out of favor in the Middle Ages as brides began marrying in their best dress — whatever color that was. Later, wearing white was impractical; during the down-and-dirty Industrial Revolution, only the wealthy could afford to wear it.
So, it wasn’t until the 19th century that the white wedding dress as we now know it became a thing. To lend herself gravitas as a young monarch, Queen Victoria wore a fashionable white gown to her wedding, sparking the modern trend for white wedding dresses. Queen Victoria’s gown became the new standard and would be copied by brides across Europe — and the world — for centuries to come.
Most modern brides continue to choose white dresses for the weddings, though the reasons have evolved over the years. Because of its neutrality, white is a modern choice that stands the test of time — and it looks good!
The tradition of the wedding veil can also be traced back to ancient Rome. In that superstitious time, brides were wrapped head to toe to symbolize their untouched state, and to protect them from evil spirits. But, later, as brides began choosing less ostentatious wedding outfits, the veil lost its popularity.
It became a must-have accessory again after Queen Victoria wore a veil for her wedding. Today, brides opt for veils to create a sense of drama for the wedding ceremony and their photos. The delicate tulle creates a frothy effect that creates an ethereal glow when photographed.
The Use of Lace
Like the color white, the use of lace in wedding dresses was a display of wealth and societal standing. Handmade lace was tricky to acquire and very expensive, putting it beyond the reach of most brides. Still, the delicate fabric gained popularity during the Renaissance period, and as it became easier (and more affordable) to buy, it became a classic choice for wedding dresses. The final seal of approval came when that trendsetting royal, Queen Victoria, used handmade lace for her wedding dress.
Today, the possibilities with lace are endless — from linear and geometric patterns to different hand appliquéing techniques that create layers and textures. Brides today have myriad of options for incorporating lace into their bridal gowns.
The most memorable lace moment of our time goes to Kate Middleton’s 2011 wedding dress, designed by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen. The flowers and leaves on the skirt of the dress were created and hand-appliquéd by the Royal School of Needlework, while the French lace on the bodice and sleeve was created by heritage French lace house Sophie Hallette — which, incidentally, is the same house from which we source our laces.
The Dramatic Train
Since Medieval times, trains have been used on wedding dresses to add serious “wow” factor. There was no practical function to the train — the extra cloth and longer train was a display of wealth.
Today, the train is the ultimate Insta-worthy accessory — from the dramatic, cathedral length train to bustled and removable options that allow a bride to go from black-tie ceremony to busy dancefloor with ease and style. Adding volume to the back of a dress is the ultimate statement for a bride. And, of course, unless you’re regularly climbing the steps for the Met Ball, your wedding day is the ultimate train moment.
Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue
In the superstitious Victorian era, wearing these four items was supposed to ward off the Evil Eye and protect the bride’s marriage and fertility. We may now live in a marginally less superstitious age, but the tradition largely remains.
“Something blue” represents love and fidelity and traditionally, brides wore a blue garter. Now, modern brides incorporate a lucky touch of blue through fabulous sapphire earrings, baby blue hydrangeas or delphiniums in their bouquet — or perhaps the perfect royal blue pump from Manolo Blahnik à la Carrie Bradshaw and Sex and the City.
All of these timeless wedding dress details have now lost much of their symbolic meaning and today, the inclusion of these details on a wedding dress is very much a bride’s choice.
Interested in incorporating one — or all — of these timeless wedding dress details in your dream dress? Book an appointment to explore our collection, learn more about our customization options or begin your fully bespoke design journey.