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1840/2/10 in London, United Kingdom

Wedding dress-white?

Story - told by Lilliana Grbic

Title painting - The Marriage of Queen Victoria (1840) George Hayter

It's that time of the year again, when the new year lays ahead of us, full of plans and promises. A friend of mine is over-consumed planning a wedding for her daughter and there are thousands of decisions they need to take and rethink. Take the date for example. Their first option was February 2nd. But, being the most popular date for weddings in 2020, including all Saturdays and Sundays for the next three months, their favourite church was booked. Trying to comfort her, I came to think of the saying:

 “Marry on Monday for health, Tuesday for wealth, Wednesday the best day of all, Thursday for crosses, Friday for losses, and Saturday for no luck at all” — it would have been considered bad luck to get married on a Saturday….but they are now rethinking dates.

Next big topic will be her dress. Once upon a time, the only acceptable type of wedding dress was a lavish, white princess dress that looks like something straight out of a fairy tale. However, even if we think it is a very old tradition, it really is not. For centuries, white cloth was impossible to wash and maintain white. Only women of higher social classes wore it, as a display of status.

Throughout the years, the brides' clothing was carefully chosen to reflect the significance of the occasion but were tailored to be reused. Royal brides before Queen Victoria preferred gold and silver fabrics and red was generally a very popular choice. The tradition of wearing a white wedding dress appeared in the 19th century with Queen Victoria starting the trend.

Queen Victoria was so fond of her wedding dress that she and Prince Albert dressed up in their wedding attire recreating the wedding in photographs years after.

Queen Victoria and Albert were married at the Chapel Royal in St James’s Palace at 1pm on Monday 10 February 1840. Her veil was made by Honiton lace, and that particular lace pattern was destroyed after work was completed on so that the intricate template could not be copied. The gown was decorated with orange blossoms—a symbol in combination with myrtle which has been included in every British royal wedding ever since.

Even if she did start the trend and define the colour, the tradition wasn't widespread until the Hollywood era. Elisabeth Taylor´s first wedding and Grace Kelly´s bridal dresses are iconic and will inspire us and generations ahead.

Grace Kelly

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