The first time I walked down the aisle at 24, I wore a white wedding dress. Way back then it never dawned on me to do otherwise. My only prerequisite was that the dress be void of encrusted “barnacles;” the fancy embellishments that may have caused me to scratch the groom or snag his suit.
Personally I loved being married so much I did it a second time. It was 23 years ago when Joe and I tied the knot. Guests thought they were coming to an engagement lunch. “Surprise”… we got married on the spot. I didn’t wear a white wedding dress and nobody had to match, as the bridal party consisted of impromptu volunteers.
The Western world is completely revamping what a family looks like and how to define commitment. Single women are becoming mothers and couples are living together. Brides stand at the altar pregnant or exchange vows after their baby is born. Expectations have changed, yet the traditional white wedding dress is still in high demand, at least for first time brides. It’s a wonder how wedding white has survived all our cultural changes.
A white gown has not always been the norm in Western culture. When Queen Victoria wed Albert of Saxe-Coburg in 1840, she wore white only because it was her favorite color. The Queen must have had a big fan base, like a Kardashian style-diva, as she set the standard for white wedding gowns from the 19th century on.
Excessive white fabric has long been the wedding dress status symbol reflecting affluence as well as purity. No better example than Kate Middleton’s giant white puddle and Lady Di’s royal drop-cloth. Reality TV’s Gypsy Brides also opt for lots of puff, challenging the notion that bigger is better. One gal’s dress took up so much space she was forced to ride in the back of a pick up truck to get to the church on time. On the other extreme, body-hugging strapless gowns support the less is more theory. So many contradictions, yet brides are STILL betrothed in white.
Joe and I went to two memorable weddings this year. We choked up with “happy tears” watching our niece Katie and our friend’s daughter Alexis walk down the aisle on their special days. They were both stunning. Perhaps the vision of these competent beautiful women bathed in traditional white, reminded us of days gone by.
Recently Joe and I played with the idea of renewing our vows. If we do, maybe I’ll surprise the groom, instead of our guests, and wear traditional white. Then again, if I’m true to myself, I’ll wear pants.
Just kidding mom! On Pinterest I did find a dream wedding dress by Nilofer Shadid, for a younger fitter me, or for anyone considering an alternative to white.