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The History of Wedding Dresses

Shopping for that perfect wedding dress often takes months of searching, budgeting, and fittings. The tradition of brides wearing white has never symbolized virginity or purity, it was about wealth. Throughout the 18th and 19th Century, women who could afford it got married in white. With wedding season fast approaching, here is a quick look at the evolution of wedding dresses.


As previously stated, wedding dresses weren’t a symbol of one’s pre-marital purity — rather, they served as a symbol of wealth. In fact, during the 1800’s, many gowns weren’t white; they were scarlet. But when the official wedding photo of Queen Victoria and her husband was published, things changed. In the image, the queen was seen wearing a white piece, which influenced the idea that colorless is the way to go.


The 1920’s was significantly influenced by the novel, The Great Gatsby. Wedding dresses during this era featured ornate jewelry, flapper caps, and were embroidered from head to toe.


According to a Vogue issued in 1942, it was the groom’s commanding officer who set the schedule for the wartime wedding: “He names the day when he grants that unexpected furlough. The 1942 schedule may run something like this: engagement announcement on Monday, invitations sent out by telegraph on Wednesday, the last handful of rice and rose petals flung on Saturday.” Men wearing wedding rings also became a thing during this time; the ring served as a link between a husband and wife while they were apart during this wartime era.


During the Atomic Age, metal-based crowns and jewelry signified a vision for the future: Weddings no longer had to adhere to tradition, but instead looked ahead, echoing the core reasons for getting married in the first place.


Model Inès de la Fressange inspired the Couture trend when she walked the runway during the Chanel Haute Couture fall 1987 show in Paris. Wedding dresses going couture offered a chance to take an item of clothing that is already extravagant to the next level — something fashion does so well.

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