The institution of marriage has been around for centuries, but it wasn't until fairly recently that brides began wearing white to tie the knot. Believe it or not, those long, lacy white gowns you've seen in every rom com and Disney movie are pretty new. According to Verywell.com, the reason brides wear white on their wedding day is because the color has long been linked to purity and innocence. "In Western cultures, the color white is often associated with weddings, hospitals, and angels, and is often used to convey a sense of purity, cleanliness, and peacefulness," wrote psychosocial rehabilitation specialist Kendra Cherry on the wellness site.
Despite the color's psychological and cultural implications, the spike in popularity of white bridal wear is mainly attributed to Queen Victoria. According to Brittanica, the Queen was one of the first and most notable brides to wear white for her wedding to Prince Albert in 1840. In fact, before their nuptials, it was fairly common for brides to dress in brightly colored wedding dresses.
In the 1800s, white was associated with wealth, which is one of the reasons historians believe Victoria chose the gown. "Before bleaching techniques were mastered, white was a rare and expensive color, more a symbol of wealth than purity,” wrote biographer Julia Baird in Victoria: The Queen. “Victoria was not the first to wear it, but she made it popular by example. Lace makers across England were thrilled by the sudden surge in the popularity of their handiwork." Before the royal wedding, the British lace industry based in Honiton, Devon was suffering, noted The Royal Collection Trust. However, after the ceremony, white lace became one of the biggest global trends in bridal wear.
The Farmers' Almanac even documented a rhyme that became popular around the mid-1800s in response to Queen Victoria's snow-white gown.
Married in White, you have chosen right. Married in Grey, you will go far away. Married in Black, you will wish yourself back. Married in Red, you will wish yourself dead. Married in Green, ashamed to be seen. Married in Blue, you will always be true. Married in Pearl, you will live in a whirl. Married in Yellow, ashamed of your fellow. Married in Brown, you will live in the town. Married in Pink, your spirit will sink.
However, despite this long-standing western tradition, more and more brides are deciding to forgo white in favor of more unique colors. In 2010, one of the most popular wedding dress retailers in America, David’s Bridal, expanded its offerings to include wedding dresses in various colors. In a New York Times article published in 2014, the company’s senior vice president of design Michele Von Plato told the publication that the sales of non-white wedding dresses have doubled every year since 2010.
Ultimately, deciding what to wear on your wedding day is a very personal decision. The most important thing when it comes to choosing your nuptial attire is that it makes you feel amazing. So, whether you decide to go the more traditional route and wear white, or a more unique color that catches your eye, don't be afraid to do you.