Wedding dresses are much more than the ultimate fashion statement.
They are a symbol of a timeless tradition that goes back for centuries. Choosing the right dress these days is usually a personal preference, save for the occasional religious stipulation. Additionally, the decision usually involves the intimate counsel of a bride’s best friends rather than strictly family. This has not always been the case.
“While contemporary weddings are often a symbol of love and commitment between the bride and the groom, for most of history, weddings were more like a business deal in which two families joined forces for a beneficial arrangement or alliance. Wedding dresses, then, were chosen to present the bride’s family in the best light, especially in terms of wealth and social status.”
Not only were wedding dresses a statement of the family, historically they were also not a purchase for just one day. The ‘ordinary’ woman typically did not buy a dress for her wedding, but rather wore her best Sunday dress. The extravagant upper class or royal ladies wore a dress designed by multitudes of seamstresses. These gowns were often worn time and time again through their lifetime. Queen Victoria for example, “re-purposed lace from her wedding gown in the dress she wore to her Diamond Jubilee.”
While most consider white to be the standard, history shares a much different story.
Wedding dresses of times passed toted colors such as black, a prevalent tone of the era, or blue to represent purity. “Brides from wealthy families often wore rich colors and exclusive fabrics. It was common to see them wearing bold colors and layers of furs, velvet and silk.” White was also a very difficult color to clean, and keep clean. It would have been seen as a wasteful material, and dyed to a color that could more easily hide stains. Only those with pennies to spare would have chosen such a disposable hue.
The “white dress” did not become popular until after the marriage of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1840. Before this fashion-forward Queen took on the look, white was actually a color of mourning. Victoria therefore received a lot of criticism for her choice. “In addition to the color faux pas, ‘Victoria’s attire was considered far too restrained by royal standards, with no jewels, crown, or velvet robes trimmed with ermine.‘” Still, she was adamant that her dress be created with layers of lace, a rare and sought after material in her day.
The eastern culture takes a much different perspective on color.
Across Asia, red has been the popular choice on auspicious days such as a wedding day. In India, for example, “the color red is commonly associated with love and passion. […A]ccording to astrology, the planet in charge of marriages, Mars, is red in color. Therefore, Hindu brides are asked to wear red during the wedding proceedings since it stands for prosperity and fertility.” The color goes beyond wedding dresses. Varied shades may be seen in the groom’s attire, the jewelry worn by both, and the henna in pre-wedding ceremonies. Furthermore, these types of wedding festivities last for days, often with the bride wearing different dresses for each party!
At the Ashley Castle, we have seen every style of dress.
For the most part, we see the modern day, western driven white or ivory color. But as wedding dresses of history have shown, there is much more to a dress than it’s tone. From lace shrouded mermaid silhouettes, to dresses with chiffon and tulle. Cinderella-styled ballgowns with fitted bodices to swooping trains. No look is left behind. Necklines vary from Portrait to Sweetheart. Waistlines shift from Princess to Empire. And fabric treatments cover the map with Tuft to Beaded embellishments. Some brides even opt for two dresses; one at their ceremony and another for their reception.
No matter what you wear, wear it well and shine. For in your lifetime, you will most likely only be Queen of the Castle once.
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Ladies of the Castle: Brittany, Casey and Gloria. (Top to Bottom)
2018 Fashions of MoriLee
Galia Lahav 2018 Victorian Affinity
2018 Floral Bridal Dresses by Rosa Clara & Ines Di Santo
APRIL 1956 – Prince Rainier III marries Grace Kelly in Monaco.
Lady Forrest 1876, Victorian style
Queen Victoria, 1840