Brides wearing a white wedding dress is not as long-established as you might think. It wasn't until Queen Victoria's wedding, in 1840, that the trend was sent - and even then, it was only followed by wealthy women.
20 year old Queen Victoria selected a simple white dress with a full-pleated skirt, then considered a very conservative choice at a time when colours had been the norm, fabricated from heavy silk satin. The Honiton lace used for her wedding dress proved an important boost to the Devon lacemaking and to future royal wedding attire. Wearing white was quickly adopted by wealthy, fashionable brides.
Queen Victoria married her cousin, Albert, in 1840 in this wedding gown, which is here shown in a 2012 exhibition as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrating 60 years since the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. The gown, of silk trimmed with lace, was designed by Mrs. Bettans, one of Victoria's dressmakers.
Queen Victoria in her wedding dress. White satin, trimmed with Honiton lace, with Honiton long veil and a wreath of orange blossoms to represent purity. "It was then that white became the dominant, traditional choice, symbolizing purity and maidenhood." – Emma’s Wedding Diary. 1840. #royalty
Queen Victoria's white satin and Honiton lace wedding gown, British, 1840. On her wedding morning, Queen Victoria wrote in her journal: "Had my hair dressed and the wreath of orange flowers put on" (in between breakfast and receiving various visitors, including Prince Albert). "Dressed....I wore a white satin gown with a very deep flounce of Honiton, imitation of old. I wore my Turkish diamond necklace and earrings, and Albert's beautiful sapphire brooch".