The American Wedding Dress

There are many customs which have stood the test of time; one of them is the American wedding dress. Ever wonder how the wedding dress originated or the history behind it?

The history of the American wedding dress dates back about 175 years when Great Britain’s Queen Victoria married Prince Albert of Saxe-Courg and Gotha.  She broke the status quo and insisted on a lacy white gown. Portraying purity and simplicity, this style has stayed with us throughout time.  The trend of the white wedding dress made it to the shores of America in the late 19th Century. However, it was generally the elite who wore this type of wedding dress until after World War II when more Americans became prosperous.

Though the original reasons may vary as to why Queen Victoria picked the color, the style, the lace material, and kept pieces of her dress in her wardrobe for years to come, these traditions have followed generation after generation. Most of today’s brides have kept their style with the fitted bodice, full length skirt and safekeeping the dress for the next generation to wear.

Along with this comes the veil ; a representation of the bride’s virginity, innocence and modesty. The veil can be traced back to the Roman times when a bride was covered from head to toe to keep evil spirits away. This tradition can also be seen in the Middle Eastern and Asian cultures where the bride’s face is hidden completely from the groom until the couple has been married.  The lifting of the veil symbolizes the groom has taken possession of the bride by revealing her face. In addition,  signifying the bride’s virtue and beauty to the world. In modern times, the tradition of veil has changed and is more about that the wedding day being a special event; allowing brides to feel like princesses for a day.

Before the Victorian era, brides used to dress up in brightly colored wedding garments. This tradition can be seen in the Asian cultures where the color red is very auspicious. In the American society, this has definitely changed with the portrayal of weddings in Hollywood movies to the marriage of Prince Charles and Diana Spencer, the white wedding dress has been given a significant boost throughout history.

As one can see, whether a marriage is representing a person’s status, or a person’s bond to another, the dress the bride wears plays a significant role in the special event.    Whether the dress is  elaborate versions of contemporary styles, displaying a wealth of intricate embroidery, beading, expensive fabrics, long bridal trains and dyes or something simpler, the traditions are kept with a modern twist.  The bride uses the history of the dress which initially was a status of wealth, to now present love and commitment as an inspiration and adds to it the popular styles of the time.

 

Written by Rita Shah

Edited by Keesha M Charles

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