Why Are Wedding Dresses White? A Look at the Tradition and Its Alternatives

Have you ever dreamt of your perfect wedding dress as a child? Can you picture the stunning silhouette, flowing fabrics, and intricate details that will catch everyone's attention as you walk down the aisle? By now, you’ve probably realized that choosing THE DRESS is a critical part of the planning process.

While traditional white wedding gowns remain popular, modern brides now have various attire options to choose from, including cultural clothing and tuxedos. This wide variety has become commonplace, but where did the white dress originate? Why is it so iconic, and do you actually need to wear one for your big day?

We’ll tackle this today. Explore the fascinating world of wedding dresses, from their origins and evolution to modern-day styles. soon-to-be brides, we’re here to answer all these questions for you! We’ll answer why are wedding dresses white and learn plenty of contemporary options beyond the traditional white gown Let’s jump into the dress that changed weddings forever!

The History Of Wedding Dresses

The history of wedding dresses is quite short – about two centuries short. Wedding used to focus on family, businesses, and political affairs, and not on the love between two people, rather than the love between the two people tying the knot. The bride and groom were expected to dress in a way that reflected their family’s social status and wealth.

This resulted in brides wearing the most expensive and luxurious fabrics available, often in bright and bold colors. It’s important to note that there weren’t any customs for the attire.

Brides often wore the finest dress they owned.

Over time, it has become custom: white is the most fitting hue for wedding dresses. The meaning behind this was still unknown. But here’s an old Middle-Age poem that covers the most colors popular at the time, as well as the meaning behind them:

Married in White, you have chosen right

Married in Grey, you will go far away

Married in Black, you will wish yourself back,

Married in Red, you will wish yourself dead,

Married in Green, ashamed to be seen,

Married in Blue, you will always be true,

Married in Pearl, you will live in a whirl,

Married in Yellow, ashamed of your fellow,

Married in Brown, you will live in the town,

Married in Pink, your spirit will sink.

This was actually the first time a white dress for marriage was officially recognized. It was also thought to ward off evil spirits.

[Note: The Bible does emphasize the importance of modesty and purity, but it doesn't specifically mention white wedding dresses.]

Black, green, and red were generally avoided – the reason behind that is clear from the poem!

When Did The White Wedding Dress First Appear?

The tradition of wearing white dresses dates back centuries, with ancient Greeks and Romans donning white for their union celebrations.

However, the person who made it a customary Western tradition was Queen Victoria of England. Her decision to wear a white gown for her 1840 wedding to Prince Albert revolutionized bridal fashion, shifting the focus from bold, colorful outfits to white’s elegance and simplicity.

The concept of wearing white for marriage wasn’t common prior to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s wedding. Even those who did opt for the color, like Philippa Of England and Mary, Queen of Scots, did only so on a whim. The former married Eric of Pomerania back in 1406 in a white tunic with silk cloak bordered with squirrel and ermine.

Philippa became the Queen of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. However, despite her influence, she was not the person that made them customary!

Mary, Queen of Scots wore white for her ceremony when she married Francis, the Dauphin of France. She chose white because it was her favorite color. But at that time, it was a color that represented mourning for French Queens.

It was Queen Victoria who equated white with purity and virginity, traits that were highly valued in Victorian society. Even though she wore luxurious red and gold robes, it was her wedding dress that influenced what future brides would wear for their big day!

Her ceremony took place on the brink of the Industrial Revolution, making it easier to carry on the tradition. Alexandra, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s daughter wore a white dress for her wedding in 1901.

They were the first royal family that was frequently photographed, so the trend caught on quickly. It has become an “emblem of the purity and innocence of girlhood and the unsullied heart she now yields to the chosen one”.

The white dress for marriage became a full-on wedding tradition after World War II. Before the 1950s, wedding attire was considered conservative and similar to everyday clothes with added flair. But in the late 1960s and 1970s, fashion became more daring and provocative.

The white gown became a ceremonial piece. It’s one that honors tradition and ritual rather than a fashion statement.

The Evolution Of The White Wedding Dress

After Queen Victoria popularized white wedding dresses in the 19th century, the styles changed with time. In the early 1900s, lace and frills were mainly used for decoration. Through the 20s, dresses were generally short in the front, accompanied by a long train in the back.

Wedding dresses have gotten more lavish over time, featuring elements like sequins, frills, and luxurious details. Even their design has significantly changed. The skirts were becoming bigger, the trains longer, and the veils more detailed. However, one feature remains prominent – you guessed it, the color!

So you may be wondering – why do brides still wear white? White resembles purity and virginity in the olden times.

This meant that only pure virgins were allowed to wear the color for their ceremony. Luckily, this is a custom that is long gone in the past!

Are There Any Rules For Wearing A White Wedding Dress?

We’ve clarified why wedding dresses are white. Now, are there any rules for wearing them? The answer is no. In our modern and progressive society, the customs that went along with wearing white for your celebrations are forgotten about.

However, if you’re aiming for a more traditional experience, we’ll gladly answer some questions you may have on your mind:

Do I have to be a virgin to wear a white dress for marriage?

As we’ve mentioned, this custom is gone. Even though the color represents purity, it has no connection to the bride’s sexual activity. This is completely your private business, and no person, thing, or attire, in this case, should meddle in it!

Can I wear white, even if it’s not my first wedding?

For sure! No matter if it’s your first or fifth one, you can wear the traditional white wedding dress if it makes you happy. Be it a silk gown or a puffy-sleeved dress, you can wear whatever makes you comfortable and look your best.

Can I wear a white wedding dress if I’m opting for an elopement?

Absolutely! Whether it’s a huge wedding celebration or an intimate affair with just you and your loved one, you can wear the perfect white gown. Elopements are all about channeling your unique style, so if white is what your heart wants – white dress it shall be!

Should the dress for my reception also be white?

If you’re thinking about wearing two separate outfits for your wedding, you don’t have to match them in color – meaning, if the dress for your ceremony is white, that doesn’t mean the reception one should be too! Instead, choose something comfortable to dance in since you’ll probably be doing that for most of your celebration!

Does A Wedding Dress Have To Be White?

Another question you might be wondering about: Do I have to wear a white wedding dress? Well, the answer is a resounding no.

Wedding dress designers are becoming increasingly experimental, creating pieces with different styles, cuts, colors, and more. And it's not just dresses either—many modern brides are breaking gender stereotypes by opting for tuxedos on their wedding day.

The meaning of a white wedding dress now applies to every kind of attire that fits the bride! What’s most important is that you feel comfortable and that you look unique and most like yourself! Even if you’re opting for a traditional wedding, forget about the outdated customs - think about the future and create new traditions that will benefit the new generations that come!

Thinking about alternatives to the regular white dress, we’ve got you covered? Here are some of our suggestions to make your big day an authentic and unforgettable event:

Go For Off-Whites

Eggshell, ecru, ivory – these are several options you can go for to avoid the regular white dress! Since off-white has become quite an alluring trend recently, many designers make them in a myriad of varieties. Even black and color wheels can help you create the outfit of your dreams, ensuring everything works well together


Jumpsuits for a wedding? Absolutely! If you're someone who loves to try new fashion trends and step outside the norm, this is a great choice for you. Brides who prefer a bohemian and rustic look will love the abundance of lace. There are also plenty of strapless and sleeveless options to go for!

Go Short!

Who says that wedding dresses need to be overly long and dramatic? Achieve the same effect by wearing a perfect mini-dress! Brides who adore shoes (and love showing them off) will love this trend.

A mini-dress creates the perfect opportunity to showcase every part of your outfit. Plus, if you’re not going for something too formal, you can always wear the dress again for other formal occasions.

Lavender Haze

Have you ever heard of the term “Lavender Haze”? It comes before Taylor Swift. it’s actually slang that dates back from the 50’s meaning “being deeply in love,” Interestingly, here’s even a color that’s been named after the term - a soft, muted, amethyst purple.

That being said, it can be the perfect hue for your choice of wedding gown Your look can be graced with elegance while also conveying a deeper, symbolic meaning.

Pretty In Pink

Pink hues have achieved a modern twist to the classic gown. If you're looking for a traditional yet unique look, pink is a great option. Blush hues provide a classy, timeless appearance, while deep and bright pinks can give you a bold, regal look. For those who want to be even more daring, magenta—Pantone's 2023 color of the year—could be the ideal choice.

Well, that concludes our discussion on why are wedding dresses white. We hope to have provided some insight on the topic! Remember that it’s all about embracing your unique style and personality. Whether you go for a classic white dress or a daring ensemble, you’ll look stunning no matter what.

If you’re looking for little, but significant details that will make your wedding a once-in-a-lifetime experience, you can always head to our site and shop our collection. Our pieces are fully customizable, so we can design them to your heart's content.