“Married in white, you will have chosen all right. Married in grey , you will go far away. Married in black, you will wish yourself back. Married in red, you’ll wish yourself dead. Married in blue, you will always be true. Married in pearl, you’ll live in a whirl. Married in green, ashamed to be seen, Married in yellow, ashamed of the fellow. Married in brown, you’ll live out of town. Married in pink, your spirits will sink.”

This old poem reflects some of the early thoughts on the colour of brides wedding dresses.  Are you thinking of not going ‘traditional’ white? Well in this blog post I hope to give you insight into the traditions and styles of dresses over the ages.

White has always symbolised virginity and purity but the impracticalities of a white dress were apparent and so dresses with colours that were acceptable as ‘best’ dresses for regular use afterwards were preferred.

The wedding of Queen Victoria to Prince Albert in 1840 was the main influence towards the current trend of white wedding dresses but even then many women continued for some time to wear different colours.

Queen Victoria was also the first bride to have bridesmaids carrying her train. I love great little facts like that!

If a bride was in mourning it was considered appropriate for her to wear grey or lilac…black was considered bad luck.

Above is a blue dress (as worn by a bride of 1870’s), it’s colour is said to have associations with the Virgin Mary. For some blue was the colour of choice as it represented faithfulness and true love but as the fashion changed a blue token was worn by the bride and retained as a symbol…something borrowed, something blue!

By the 1920s white became the universal colour and Coco Chanel introduced the knee length wedding dress worn with a long train. It was a fashion that was short lived as it was considered unsuitable wear for church and thereafter the long bridal skirt has remained no matter what length of skirt was the norm for that time!

So you could say that current fashion trends are often reflected in the royal weddings of the day. They certainly capture the era.

This is the wedding photograph of the Duke and Duchess of York on their wedding day January 13 1923. The dress was designed by Madame Handley Seymour, a former London court dressmaker to the dowager Queen Mary. The dress followed the essential fashions of the day, but has never been considered memorable for its beauty.  It had an unshaped bodice and a headdress worn well down over the brow.

WW2 brought about a change for many women as rationing restricted what the bride could buy with her coupons and often family and friends would chip in to help out . The bride may have borrowed a dress from a friend. Sometimes if she was in the services she may have married in her uniform.

In 1956 the film star Grace Kelly married Princes Rainier of Monaco. This dress was a lot more simple in style and has been compared to the most recent dress worn by Kate Middleton.

So to Princess Anne’s Tudor styled sleeves that led the way to another era of wedding dresses.

My childhood favorite however was Princess Diana’s extravagant bouffant dress with a long train.  Every little girls dream.  It was again a dress of its time and is summed up perfectly by this blog Order of splendor.

“Lady Diana Spencer was just 20 years old when she married Prince Charles in front of a congregation of 3,500 in St. Paul’s Cathedral, gathered crowds of 600,000 in the streets of London, and a television audience of 750 million around the world.  She was just 19 years old, actually, when the engagement was announced and the dress design began.

And what do you do when you are 19 years old?  You experiment with fashion.  Nineteen and twenty are prime ages for trends.  You’re much too young to have a defined personal style (at least, not one that you’ll hold on to past the next decade of your life), and you’re still too inexperienced to understand the meaning of elegance in its true, timeless form.  Of course this dress is Eighties-orrific. Of course she looked like a girl all dressed up in a fancy party dress.  That’s what she was!  We judge the dress from today’s standards (even Diana did, later on in her life), but we often forget to consider what this dress was in the context of its time.  This wedding was an event.  The dress, accordingly, was also an event.  This is one instance in which the gasp factor as she came out of the carriage was fully realized.”

Today’s you choose dresses to reflect your personalities or to fit in with a theme you have chosen and the dresses are not always white! Whatever the colour or shape, every young girl imagines her fairy tale dress!

Images: All found on my Pinterest boards