Fun Facts about the History of White Wedding Dresses

If you are planning a wedding, chances are you’re thinking about what your dress will look like.  With options like length, formality, and color, the choices are almost endless.  You’ve likely pictured the color being some shade of white or ivory, even though some light pastels and bolder undertones have been making an appearance in recent years. Did you know that wedding dresses weren’t always white or ivory?  

In the Middle Ages, weddings were considered less of a romantic ideal and more of a political union between families, especially among higher social classes. As a result, the bridal gowns of that time period were meant to reflect a bride’s social standing and were tailored of lush fabrics in rich colors, even black.  If a bride didn’t belong to a noble family or one of higher social standing, she would simply wear her best dress on her wedding day since her family couldn’t justify the expense of a dress only to be worn for one day.

Wedding Gown c. 1740s.

Princess Philippa of England was the first documented princess to wear white on her wedding day in 1406. She was followed by Mary, Queen of Scots, when she was married in 1559.  Despite the appearance of white in royal weddings, white bridal dresses did not become popular among the common people until after Queen Victoria married Albert of Saxe-Coburg in 1840.  In order to show her support for the artisans who made lace in her area, Queen Victoria chose a large piece of English handmade lace for her bridal gown and the rest of her dress was designed to showcase that lovely lace.  Victoria’s wedding portrait was widely published, and this inspired brides around the world to seek out white bridal dresses. Since then, shades of white and ivory have been prominent colors in bridal fashion.  

Queen Victoria 1840

Since then, white has continued to be the color of choice for traditional bridal gowns, even though the styles have followed popular fashion trends. Shorter dresses went by the wayside in the 1940s when longer bridal dresses with fuller skirts gained popularity.  A longer bridal dress style, hailing back to Victorian times, continues to some extent today.   

Whether your dress is long or short and white or another hue, we know that you took pride in choosing the exact right dress for you, and we can’t wait to see you walk down the aisle!


Sources:,, Pinterest, Berkley M. Todd photography, Ryder photography