White weddings

At what time did the conventional dress for a bride at a wedding - long white dress and veil - become usual? I believe it was usual in Victorian days for a bride to use the dress she wore at her wedding subsequently as a ball dress or similar?
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  • HeavenlyannieHeavenlyannie Shipmate
    edited July 13
    The usual reason given is because Queen Victoria wore a white dress for her wedding. However, white dresses were very popular for balls during the prior regency period; fashionable dresses were unrestricting and ‘floaty’ and a white dress demonstrated enough wealth to keep it clean, especially with the new cottons available from India. I suspect white dresses were worn for posh weddings before Victoria’s own one.
    I believe newly married women would wear their wedding dresses at balls afterwards during the same season. I’m guessing some of the more frugal would then dye them after the season for re-use later. Dyeing of dresses was common during the Victorian period, especially when aniline dyes became available. If you were poorer your more simple wedding dress could become more functional as a ‘best’ dress. Similarly, day dresses were dyed black for mourning.
    The museum of childhood in Bethnal Green had a display of Victorian wedding dresses.
  • TheOrganistTheOrganist Shipmate
    The popular theory in my yoof was that the 1858 wedding of Princess Victoria to the Crown Prince of Prussia was responsible for promoting the wearing of white wedding dresses. The practice of royals at the time to get married in the evening meant a ball dress and white made the bride stand out in the crowd - voila, the white dress as standard.
  • venbedevenbede Shipmate
    It wasn't the colour I was wondering about so much as the style. A bride's dress need not be white - my mother wore a blue dress - it was during rationing - but the style would have been impossible to wear on any other occasion.
  • HeavenlyannieHeavenlyannie Shipmate
    edited July 13
    My great aunt told me my grandmother had to wear a blue dress because she was pregnant and her parents wouldn't let her wear white (lancashire mill girl dating a regular soldier in 1938).

    Veils were commonly worn by noble women on a daily basis in medieval times but they weren't worn by the tudor period. I do tudor re-enactment and we wear coifs every day, a short cloth bonnet with fancier version for the gentry which does sometimes have a veil type cloth down the back but this does not go over the face. Court wedding portraits from the period show the same style so it seems that veils weren't worn for weddings then unless they were removed for the portraits.
    This Victoria and Albert page suggests that veils were commonly worn in the 1830s for bride and female guests https://www.vam.ac.uk/blog/here-come-brides/a-romantic-frame-of-mind
  • venbedevenbede Shipmate
    I am sure my mother's choice of blue was in no way symbolic but due to shortages
  • As @Heavenlyannie so delicately hints ( :wink: ), there was (and perhaps still is?) a tradition in parts of the country for white to be worn only by a virginal bride.

    If so, when did that practice begin?
  • HeavenlyannieHeavenlyannie Shipmate
    edited July 13
    venbede wrote: »
    I am sure my mother's choice of blue was in no way symbolic but due to shortages
    I was definitely not casting aspersions on your mother :) many women in WW2 got married in suits, or even in uniform. They wore what the had.
  • As @Heavenlyannie so delicately hints ( :wink: ), there was (and perhaps still is?) a tradition in parts of the country for white to be worn only by a virginal bride.

    If so, when did that practice begin?
    I suspect it evolved from young fashionable women wearing white as their ‘coming out’ dresses in the regency. Presumably older women/widows getting married wore less youthful styles.
    I’ve just seen a portrait of Mary Queen of Scots wearing white to marry the Dauphin of France but apparently she chose it because it was her favourite colour and it caused a stir in France where it was the colour of mourning.
  • SandemaniacSandemaniac Shipmate
    I've a reasonable number of family wedding photos on the computer, but I don't think any date much before WW1 (actually, there is one from about 1908, I will have to have a look...). I think white/light coloured dresses are common throughout, though there is one from 1928 where the bride almost shows her *knees* - shocking! I blame being a Baptist... (I wonder if it led to dancing?).
  • betjemaniacbetjemaniac Shipmate
    I've got one from 1905 (Primitive Methodist - and Ramshor no less) - my great great grandmother's younger sister, and she's in white, as are the bridesmaids. All other women in dark colours, and the men an interesting combination of 'obviously very wealthy' and 'obviously a labourer straight in off off the fields'

    Mind you, the Ramshor congregation were an interesting bunch...
  • CaissaCaissa Shipmate
    Here is a video of a wedding dress exhibit put on by the King's County Museum in Hampton, New Brunswick, Canada. It discusses Queen Victoria's affect on dresses.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZs2IEFb0i8
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    Within my lifetime many brides wore their veils over the faces as they came up the aisle on their father's arm, and on reaching the front, the groom drew aside the veil. This was explained as checking that unlike Laban and Leah, he was being given the right bride, not being palmed off with her sister.

  • betjemaniacbetjemaniac Shipmate
    Enoch wrote: »
    Within my lifetime many brides wore their veils over the faces as they came up the aisle on their father's arm, and on reaching the front, the groom drew aside the veil. This was explained as checking that unlike Laban and Leah, he was being given the right bride, not being palmed off with her sister.

    Given my wife did, two years ago, I would imagine it’s within the lifetime of everyone posting!
  • HarryCHHarryCH Shipmate
    Wikipedia describes Queen Victoria's dress as a "plain, cream-colored satin gown". That is, not a blindingly white dress.
  • PomonaPomona Shipmate
    My great aunt told me my grandmother had to wear a blue dress because she was pregnant and her parents wouldn't let her wear white (lancashire mill girl dating a regular soldier in 1938).

    Veils were commonly worn by noble women on a daily basis in medieval times but they weren't worn by the tudor period. I do tudor re-enactment and we wear coifs every day, a short cloth bonnet with fancier version for the gentry which does sometimes have a veil type cloth down the back but this does not go over the face. Court wedding portraits from the period show the same style so it seems that veils weren't worn for weddings then unless they were removed for the portraits.
    This Victoria and Albert page suggests that veils were commonly worn in the 1830s for bride and female guests https://www.vam.ac.uk/blog/here-come-brides/a-romantic-frame-of-mind

    Veils were worn by noble women in the first half of the Tudor period (you can pretty easily see them in portraits!) but not at weddings, because veils were for married women. It was symbolic of being a married woman (not dissimilar to covering the head for Orthodox Jewish women) but brides wore their hair loose and uncovered as a symbol of virginity. This was true in medieval times too, when an actual wedding took place (since for commoners, moving in together and consummating the marriage was enough to be considered married). Not hugely dissimilar to nuns adopting the veil as a sign of spiritual marriage to Christ. Elizabeth I being clearly an adult woman but also distinctly unmarried helped to end veils as a standard item of headwear for adult women (although Mary Queen of Scots *is* wearing them in her portraits).
  • SandemaniacSandemaniac Shipmate
    I have checked and the photo I mention above, of a wedding dated November 1907, shows the bride wearing a dark jacket and dress (it is possible they are a one piece outfit, but as she is seated and holding a bouquet in her lap, I really can't tell for sure, I'd guess a two-piece, while two women wearing matching jackets and white/light blouses underneath would appear to be bridesmaids, especially as one is surely the bride's sister? The bride is also wearing a dark hat - there are some spiffing titfers in eveidence!

    I suppose it is possible that the bride's outfit has been rendered a funny colour by an orthochromatic photo emulsion, but that suggests a bright yellow...

    Six months later, in May 1908, my great grandmother married in a (probably) white dress, as did her sisters in 1913 and 1919. Tangentially, I have her Bible, and tucked into the pages are a piece of fern from her bouquet and a flower from her headpiece. I find the tangible souveniers of a day 113 years ago very touching.
  • My grandmothers both married in 1932, neither wore white- both wore dresses which could be worn again. Indeed I think the norm then in NE Scotland was to wear the same dress to church when you were kirkit. (The first time a woman attended church with her husband and sat next to him in a pew- if both families attended the same church it was a symbolic move out of her family pew. This practice died out, I believe, because it became increasingly rare for couples to marry who had grown up together in the same parish.)

    We got married on a Saturday, and I wore my going-away outfit to church the next morning. I hadn't worn my glasses when I married and was keen to see what my wedding flowers looked like. There was some comment at the time, including from my minister, that it wasn't usual to turn up the day after a Saturday wedding.
  • CathscatsCathscats Shipmate
    We got married on a Saturday and the next day Mr Cats was back t his organ while I was in a completely different church where I was serving on one my pre-ordination placements. The congregation there were tickled pink and gave me a lovely bouquet. (And I didn’t wear white, because we had a very small, quiet wedding, which w both wanted, me because I had seen the stress of my sister’s small but traditional white wedding and he because he had played for so many wedding services!)
  • TheOrganistTheOrganist Shipmate
    My grandmother married in 1902 wore cream with pale violet (mauve?) embroidery. The maternal grandmother wore a hideous just below knee white dress with fringe, beads, etc and a full length veil in 1927.
  • SojournerSojourner Shipmate
    “All in mauve all in mauve f***ed by some other cove” was a ditty widely sung in the 1920s… I once heard my naughty grandmother comment at a very “white” wedding that the very pregnant bride should have worn” a touch of mauve”😂👍🙀
  • PigletPiglet All Saints Host, Circus Host
    edited July 15
    ... it wasn't usual to turn up the day after a Saturday wedding.
    Most Orkney weddings used to be on Friday evenings, so that the couple could get away the next day, and we were quite unusual in tying the knot on a Saturday afternoon.

    We turned up at the Cathedral on the Sunday morning, a carefully-measured five minutes late for choir practice (the choir had been at the reception too), and got a round of applause. :heart:
  • ZappaZappa Ecclesiantics Host
    "a touch of mauve" 😂😂😂
  • One of my grandmothers was married in a "Elizabethan frock in white silver faille" in 1936 in a formal wedding at St. Paul's Knightsbridge. My other grandmother in 1920 was married in an "oriental jumper" (almost certainly not white) and after the wedding (almost certainly registry office probably Chelsea) the couple "went home by motor 'bus" to quote one newspaper.
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