The History of The Wedding Dress
The wedding dress has a much shorter history than weddings themselves and is intended to show the bride as the most beautiful choice as it ages back to when women were bought and sold. The more beautiful women were purchased for higher prices, and those who were determined not as desirable were given away, based upon Histories telling of the Babylonian marriage market.
Before Wedding Dresses Wear White
Wedding dresses were not white for the majority of history, and this recent development is attributed to more recent ideals on virginity and marriage. Marriage was, for most of history, intended to merge properties and to ensure support and protection for women as their new husband absorbs their property and belongings. Roman brides wore yellow veils to represent a flame and bringing of light, while in Athens, they wore violet or light red robes covered with a girdle. In both instances, the wedding was followed by a large meal or feast to celebrate, bringing the modern wedding and reception to life. Around the world, wedding dresses were chosen based upon what the color represents in that culture. In some cases, white was chosen to represent purity and virginity, while in others, red was used to represent the bringing of luck. White did not become the expected color for a wedding dress until 1840 with the wedding of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. At the same time, white was often related to royalty. Even royal wedding dresses were gold or blue until this time.
Wedding Represent Passage
In several cultures, the wedding still represents the same passage from childhood into adulthood for both the bride and the groom. However, when considering the bride, this is even more pointed as they pass from the virginity of childhood into the years of motherhood that is, in some cultures, grieved with rituals and lamentations for the passing of childhood.
Several cultures have more than one wedding dress for the day, changing for each of the different portions of the wedding. For example, this tradition has Japanese brides wearing several different kimonos for their day. Likewise, western brides will often change from their royal-inspired ceremony dress into an alternative dress for the reception.
Wedding Dresses Were Not Single-Use
Though currently, many brides wear their wedding dress once and then never again, but before the industrial revolution, this was not common and would be extravagant. Even royalty would wear backless wedding dresses in UK, that they already owned, their very best, or would have a new dress made for the wedding that then became their best dress and worn for all special occasions. Until the mid-nineteenth century, it was not reasonable to have a dress that only served one purpose, and the wedding dress would be worn as is or altered until it was no longer repairable or was greatly out of fashion in ways that could not be adjusted.