Every wedding guest waits in anticipation to get their first glimpse of the bride and that all-important Dress! We’ve followed up our Weird and Wonderful Wedding Traditions blog with a look at some interesting facts about wedding attire from years gone by.
In the west we often accept the tradition of a white wedding dress as a staple part of the wedding celebration and assume that it has always been the case.
Not so, the white wedding dress fashion was initially introduced as a protest against the effects of the industrial revolution! Below are a ten interesting facts around wedding attire…
In medieval times royal marriages were of great political importance and represented alliances between countries. Therefore, it was important to put a nation’s wealth on display and the wedding dress was often an elaborate affair with the most expensive fabrics available.
Dresses were also encrusted with jewels. In the 15th Century, Margaret of Flanders’ dress was so heavily bejewelled she had to be carried into church by two gentlemen attendants.
White wedding dresses did not always symbolize purity.
In ancient Rome, brides wore blue to symbolize love, modesty and fidelity. The art world has long time dressed the Virgin Mary in blue, so purity and fidelity became associated with the colour, as evidenced in proverbs like, “Marry in blue, lover be true”.
Today, brides still often wear ‘something blue’.
White wedding dresses became an emblem of wealth rather than purity as, prior to effective bleaching techniques, white was a difficult colour to achieve and only within the reach of a small minority of brides.
Most brides opted to use the best fabric they could afford of any colour.
In Chinese, Indian and other eastern cultures brides often wear red or a white-red combination.
In these cultures red symbolizes auspiciousness and good luck.
Queen Victoria made a strong political and social statement with her wedding
dress in 1847. The industrial revolution had destroyed the handmade lace industry causing widespread unemployment and poverty. Victoria chose a handmade Honiton lace overskirt and the rest of the outfit was chosen to complement the lace – and white was deemed the best colour for this. It had the desired effect and caused a upsurge in the demand for handmade lace and brought in the new ‘fashion’ for white wedding dresses.
Queen Victoria’s dress featured orange blossoms at the time a sign of purity
and she carried within her bouquet, myrtle signifying love and romantic happiness. A sprig of myrtle was taken from her bouquet and planted. Cuttings from the bush have been carried by every royal bride since and was included in Kate Middleton’s bouquet.
Financial restraints in all walks of life meant that once the wedding dress was worn it was never just consigned to the back of the wardrobe. It was dyed or altered and used over and over.
Even Queen Victoria herself re-cycled her dress by removing the lace overskirt and wearing it over a black silk gown. This is what she wore for her diamond jubilee 50 years later.
During World War II clothes rationing came into force and white wedding dresses virtually disappeared.
A few brides made brave attempts at white wedding dresses using parachute silk. Most brides wore their military or air force uniforms.
When Queen Elizabeth II, was married in 1947, rationing was still in force after the war.
Nobody wanted her to skimp, so clothing coupons poured in from loyal citizens.
As a result she wore a sumptuous wedding gown in flowing satin embroidered and beaded with a long train and silk net veil.
Earliest traditions in bridesmaid fashion involved dressing the bridesmaids exactly like the bride.
This was to set up a ‘lookalike’ bride so that any troublesome spirits in the area could not fixate on the bride.
If you are planning your wedding, or even just dreaming about the possibility, come along and meet our Wedding Co-ordinator, Lauren, at Lancaster Wedding Showcase on Sunday 28th February from 12pm till 4pm. Meet the wedding suppliers, taste our exciting new wedding breakfast menu and start imagining what your dream day could look like.