White is the accepted traditional colour of the wedding dress, but wedding gowns have not always been white. The marriage of Queen Victoria to her cousin Albert in 1840 had more influence on weddings than any other. Queen Victoria put the wheels in motion by marrying in a white dress. Though brides continued to wed in gowns of different colours, white was now set as the colour of choice for weddings and has continued ever since.
Queen Victoria's wedding gown, 1840
Coco Chanel was a powerful force behind the change in women's fashions. She was the one who officially introduced the short wedding dress in the 1920s: a white knee length dress worn with a long train. This cemented white as the universal colour of the wedding dress.
Coco Chanel introduced the short wedding dress in the 1920s
Brides from wealthy families often wore rich colours and exclusive fabrics. It was common to see them wearing bold colours and layers of furs, beading, velvet and silk. The amount of material a wedding dress contained was a reflection of the bride's social standing and indicated to wedding guests the extent of the family's wealth.
1930's Wedding Dress
Today, there is a wide range of wedding dresses. Western traditions have relaxed to include a rainbow of colours and variety of lengths, all of which are now considered acceptable.
Vera Wang colourful wedding dresses, 2010
The big question this week is: what will Kate Middleton wear on her wedding day?! All eyes will be on her, and dress companies will no doubt be designing similar style dresses and have them on sale in time for weddings taking place later this year.
Queen Mother's Wedding Dress, 1923
The Queen's wedding dress was decorated with crystals and 10,000 seed pearls in 1947
Lady Diana's Wedding Dress, 1982