Why are wedding dresses white?

Written By Coby Bull


Why are wedding dresses white?

White. It’s clean and highly transformable. It goes with everything and is used in various distinct industries as a colour that depicts style and simplicity

So, why do brides crave the colour white for their wedding dress?

Is it because of tradition? Purity? Or both?

A common scenario is one in which you're flipping through a magazine and come across a “must have” style. For instance, a picture of a beautiful top worn by Victoria Beckham, or a pair of new season Jimmy Choo heels seen on Kate Moss. You carefully cut these images out. After seeing these items on your favourite celebrities once, you decide that they're an essential purchase. It is that thirst for this new item of clothing that has made you view your entire wardrobe as old and dated in seconds - you ask yourself, “why do I have red shoes when everyone’s wearing black?”.

Well, let's take a look back at British history. In 1840, Queen Victoria married Albert of Saxe-Coburg. The Queen wore a silk satin dress embroidered with white lace, which according to tradition at that time, was  inappropriate. However, the wedding portrait was published repeatedly by journalists, and it gradually turned into bridal inspiration for young brides of that generation.

Portrait of Queen Victoria on her wedding day in 1840

Before this, it was very common for brides to wear a great deal of diverse colours -  red, for example, was a popular wedding dress choice. However, if you weren’t able to afford a new gown for your wedding, you would select your finest church dress and wear that for your big day.

Queen Victoria’s bold style choice fuelled resentment amongst English aristocrats because at that time, white  was traditionally a colour synonym for mourning. But it was too late. From that moment onwards, the style trend was set and the wedding picture had been altered forever. Today,  it's a sure bet that things like location and guestlist are not seen as quite as critical as of course, the perfect white bridal dress.

Imagine a style trend that will never change: essentially, this is the modern bridal dress. Nowadays, it is perceived as unconventional to wear any other colour other than white for your wedding dress.

Joel and Son Fabrics in London stocks every white bridal material you could possibly dream of, or think of purchasing. Our buying team has carefully curated over one hundred thousand luxury style choices. “There is an abundance of choice in the bridal market today, so when building our bridal section, we destroyed the rule book and decided to go against popular convention” Joel, founder of Joel and Son said, “our customers are all creative artists, some know what they want and some don’t, but that’s okay, we offer the tools for anyone to be able to design their dream dress."

Bridal lace from floor to ceiling at Joel and Son Fabrics

We begin your bridal journey with the basics. You are able to pick any plain fabric that you want, and, you guessed it, offer a variety of choices in white or cream, from silk satin and gazar, to chiffon and velvet.  You'll find hundreds of different plain options, all sourced from the highest quality mills in Italy, Switzerland, and France. Then, we come to laces and trims. We stock every type of lace you could possibly think of. We have found that some of our bridal clients desire a light Chantilly lace on top of a silk satin, and alternatively, we also have a different demographic who crave an Italian guipure. On top of all of this, we stock couture bridal laces that could belong on the couture runways of Ellie Saab and Ralph and Russo. Some of these laces have extremely fine and detailed hand beading, which can include simply out of this world appliquéd flowers.

Browsing the bridal section at Joel and Son Fabrics can be likened to looking at clouds. Clients spend hours,  sometimes even entire days, looking through our shop, dreaming up ideas and turning them into sketches.

It's fascinating to trace back the history of such an iconic dress that inspired a generation and resulted in an everlasting fundamental style for brides. We feel forever grateful to Queen Victoria for going against the conventional design of her time, and choosing white.