By Maureen Panchen
THE BRIDE WORE WHITE – OR DID SHE?
FASHIONS FROM EAST TO WEST
With spring just around the corner, we’ve been taking a look into the history of wedding gowns.
Historically weddings were treated as business deals in which two families joined forces for a beneficial arrangement or alliance – (look no further than Henry VIII and his matches, although he argued that several were not beneficial at all!) Henry’s sister, Mary, Queen of Scots, wore a white wedding gown in 1559 when she married her first husband, Francis Dauphin of France because it was her favorite color, although white was then the colour of mourning for French Queens. The first documented instance of a princess who wore a white wedding gown for a royal wedding ceremony is that of Philippa of England, who wore a tunic with a cloak in white silk bordered with grey squirrel and ermine in 1406. Wedding dresses were chosen to present the bride’s family in the best light, especially in terms of wealth and social status.
Brides rarely purchased a dress specifically for their wedding day and would typically wear their finest dress to the ceremony, even if it was a dark color. Interestingly many
brides wore black during this time. Colors such as green were considered unlucky and were avoided. Blue, on the other hand, was popular as it represented purity, piety and
a connection to the Virgin Mary, plus the dark color easily hid stains and imperfections and could be worn again.
ALL IN WHITE
Sewing innovations brought forth by the Industrial Revolution between the 18th and 19th century ensured that excessive amounts of fabric became available and brides interested in showing off their wealth and social rank made sure to wear white dresses. However, in the 1800’s white was a hard color to obtain and preserve, so only wealthier ladies could afford such a dress.
During the Great Depression the white-dress trend grew scarce; times were hard and it was difficult for most people to justify spending money on a gown they would never wear again. Instead, brides returned to the tradition of wearing their best outfit, which was usually a darker color instead of white. Following an economic boom in the second half of the 20th century, white became a popular color once more, as seen by the weddings of Grace Kelly, Princess Diana and other iconic women who married during this time.
In Chinese, Indian, and other Eastern cultures, brides often wear red or a white-red combination, as the color red symbolizes auspiciousness and good luck.
In the 21st Century brides can choose from millions of colors, styles and fabrics for their walk down the aisle. While shape and style vary drastically from bride to bride, traditional white and light-colored dresses are still most popular, as many today view white not so much as a symbol of wealth but rather one of purity and virtue.
Unlike the many trends and traditions tied to wedding gowns, for most of history, the groom’s only requirement has been to dress in a way that matches the bride’s gown.
What a lucky man!!
We have seen many beautiful wedding dresses at Minterne, and have lost count of our personal favourites; but whatever your colour of choice, the stunning 27 acres of historic Rhododendron gardens provide a wonderful backdrop for those magical photos capturing a day to remember.
Gardens Open Daily
10am – 6pm * 11th February to 9th November * Admission Price £6.00 (Children under 12 Free)
Season Tickets Available Here
Dogs welcome on leads * Parking is FREE for visitors in the car park opposite St Andrews Church * Minterne currently offers a selection of cream teas (weather permitting - please phone ahead to confirm) * Please note: Unfortunately, Minterne Gardens feature many uneven surfaces and are therefore NOT SUITABLE for wheelchairs * Minterne House itself is a private residence and therefore not open to the public without prior consent.