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Where does the wedding dress originate from?

The wedding dress is one of the most iconic outfits in the world. It is a symbol of purity, beauty, and elegance that has been adorning the brides for centuries. Every country, culture, and era has its unique style of the wedding dress. But have you ever wondered where this tradition of wearing a special gown on your wedding day originated from?

In this blog post, we will explore the history of the wedding dress and discover how this timeless tradition came into being.

The origins of the wedding dress

According to historians, the concept of donning a special garment for the purposes of marriage is thought to have originated in Chinese fable, where a princess was dressed in a phoenix dress and crown which would bring her luck and fortitude in the marriage.

However, the Western world has a different story to tell. It is believed that the tradition of the wedding dress can be traced back to ancient Rome, where the bride would wear a long white tunic made of wool or linen, known as a tunica recta. The color white was chosen to symbolize her purity and virginity.

In the Middle Ages, brides would wear dresses in rich colors such as red, blue, and green. It was only in the 16th century that the white wedding dress made a comeback. The first documented occurrence of a white wedding dress was for the wedding of Mary, Queen of Scots, to her first husband Francis II of France in 1558.

The rise of the white wedding dress

The white wedding dress became popular in the 19th century, when Queen Victoria wore a lacy, white gown for her wedding to Prince Albert in 1840. At the time, white was not considered a traditional wedding color, and many brides opted for colorful dresses.

However, after the wedding of Queen Victoria, the white wedding dress became a symbol of wealth and status. Only the wealthy could afford a white wedding dress, as it was difficult and expensive to clean. The middle class began to copy the trend, and by the end of the 19th century, the tradition of the white wedding dress had spread all over the Western world.

Regional variations

The white wedding dress may be popular in the Western world, but other cultures have their traditions. In India, for example, the bride wears a red sari or lehenga, while in China, the bride wears a red qipao. In Japan, the bride wears a white kimono for the wedding ceremony, and a colorful one for the reception.

In Africa, the bride wears a brightly colored dress known as the Kente or Shweshwe. In the Middle East, the bride wears a thobe or kaftan in rich colors, while in some parts of Europe, the bride wears a black wedding dress.


The wedding dress is an integral part of the wedding ceremony. While the tradition of wearing a special dress on the wedding day may have originated in ancient Rome or China, the white wedding dress has become the symbol of purity and elegance in the Western world. The regional variations of the wedding dress serve as a reminder of the diversity of cultures around the world which all celebrate the union of two people in their own unique way.


What does a wedding dress symbolize?

A wedding dress is no ordinary outfit. It is a piece of clothing that holds tremendous significance. It is a garment that a bride wears on one of the most important days of her life. In many cultures, the wedding dress tends to be a reflection of the culture and customs that it represents. Traditionally, a wedding dress symbolizes the purity of the bride as well as her commitment to the marriage.

For many centuries in the Western world, white has been the traditional color for a wedding dress. The color white is seen as a symbol of purity, innocence, and virginity. This tradition can be traced back to the Victorian era, where the white wedding dress was popularized as a symbol of the bride’s virginity and purity. Back then, the bride’s dress would often be made from expensive materials like silk or satin, indicating the wealth and status of the bride’s family.

However, in many other cultures, different colors are used to represent different meanings. For example, in Indian culture, the color red is the traditional color for a wedding dress. Red is a symbol of love, passion, and fertility. Similarly, in Chinese culture, the color red is also used for wedding dresses, but it is seen as a symbol of good luck.

Aside from color, the wedding dress can also symbolize the bride’s personality and style. Some brides opt for a traditional, classic look, while others choose a modern, trendy style. Some brides prefer a simple, understated design, while others go for a grand, elaborate dress.

In some cultures, the wedding dress may also hold religious significance. For example, in the Jewish tradition, the bride typically wears a veil over her face during the wedding ceremony. This symbolizes the modesty and humility of the bride, who is not showing off her beauty to anyone except her husband.

The wedding dress symbolizes a lot of things: purity, virginity, love, passion, fertility, and much more. However, ultimately, the meaning of the dress depends on the culture and customs of the people wearing it. What is consistent, though, is that the wedding dress is a symbol of the bride’s commitment to her marriage, and of the love and affection that she has for her partner.

What did brides wear before white?

For many centuries, the color of a bride’s wedding dress was not necessarily the pure white or ivory that we associate with modern Western weddings. Before Queen Victoria’s influential white wedding dress in 1840, brides from various cultures and backgrounds opted for a wide range of colors and styles for their bridal gowns.

In medieval Europe, for example, brides typically wore richly pattered and brightly colored gowns, often made from luxurious fabrics like silk and velvet. In fact, red was an incredibly popular color for bridal gowns in medieval Europe, as it was associated with fertility, passion, and wealth. Blue was also a popular choice for brides, as it was a symbol of purity and innocence.

In other parts of the world, such as India and China, brides have long worn brightly colored gowns that feature intricate embroidery and beading. In India, for example, brides often wear red saris, which symbolize fertility and prosperity. Meanwhile, in China, the color red is also a popular choice for bridal gowns because it is associated with good luck and happiness.

Even in Western cultures before Queen Victoria’s wedding, brides have worn a variety of colors for their wedding gowns. Some would wear their Sunday best, which would be a gown of their favorite color. Some would wear white or ivory, but it would not be due to it being a traditional color for brides. Instead, it was simply a practical option to choose a less costly dress that could later be dyed and worn for other occasions.

While white wedding dresses are now the norm in modern Western weddings, it wasn’t always the case. Brides from different cultures and backgrounds have worn a variety of colors and styles for their bridal gowns throughout history, and the tradition of wearing white or ivory is relatively new to the wedding customs.

What is the oldest wedding dress in the world?

The world has seen countless wedding dresses over the centuries, but the oldest surviving wedding dress is believed to be getting close to two centuries old. This historic garment was worn by Princess Charlotte when she married her husband Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in May 1816.

Princess Charlotte’s wedding dress was made from silver lamé silk and was adorned with blooms of orange blossom. The dress featured a fitted bodice with an off-the-shoulder neckline and puffed sleeves. The billowing, floor-length skirt was gathered at the waist, giving it a flattering shape. Though the dress is now yellowed with age, it retains its intricate details and is considered a valuable piece of history.

The wedding ceremony of Princess Charlotte was held at the Chapels Royal in St. James Palace in London, England. It was a grand occasion attended by dignitaries and important guests, as Princess Charlotte was the only child of King George IV and heir to the throne. Sadly, her life was cut tragically short when she died less than a year after her wedding due to complications from childbirth.

Today, the historic wedding dress of Princess Charlotte is displayed at the Museum of London, where it serves as an example of fashion from the early 19th century. It is a tangible reminder of a bygone era, and a testament to the enduring appeal of wedding dresses as symbols of love and commitment.