When Queen Victoria chose to forgo the royal tradition of wearing coronation robes when she wed Prince Albert, instead opting for a full skirted, highly detailed white gown, she changed the future of wedding attire as we know it. A color to represent purity, the traditional white bridal gown was born.
While we all know the old wives’ tale of ivory symbolizing an impure bride, and while we have (thankfully) moved past discussing a woman’s purity before she weds, there is still a discussion to be had over which color you want to wear on your big day.
If that means you can’t imagine getting married in anything less than a stark white gown, then stay true to that. “Take every opportunity to make each aspect of your wedding meaningful—certainly your gown,” says Heather Wiese-Alexander, etiquette expert and owner of Bell’Invito. “Feel good in it and wear the shade that flatters you, makes you feel beautiful, or serves to symbolize something to you.”
Many bridal stylists suggest finding the color best suited for your features. While some brides might need a pure white to brighten their features, others might choose a softer color to balance out their skin tone. The shade of your gown could also result from your fabric of choice, as some fabrics are able to withstand bleaching while others are too fragile.
“Oftentimes, the use of a 100 percent silk fabric resulted in an off-white gown as the natural silk fabric was too delicate to be bleached white,” says Jennifer Cline, co-owner of StarDust Celebrations. “With the advent of non-silk fabric (such as rayon and polyester), fabrics could be created in a stark white color and could fill the need for a pure white gown.”
In the late 1900s, fashion was paving a way for women to express themselves with greater freedom. The same was true for bridal fashion.
“Designers began introducing color around 1990—generally with the use of color sashes and trim in pastels,” says Jennifer.
Now, brides can choose from pastels, like blush and lavender, to more statement pieces, like red and black. For those wanting to incorporate color in a more understated way, Jennifer suggests adding it in through beading or embroidery.
This is all to say that your day is just that: your own. The most important part of finding your wedding dress is how it makes you feel.
“This is the day she can really express herself and if she wants to do that in a hot pink gown, then she should do it,” says Elle Warren of Warren Barron Bridal. “Because after all, when you feel good, you look good!”