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Choosing Your Wedding Dress


There was a time when a marriage was not simply a union between two people, more often it was a union of two families or even two businesses. The wedding gowns often worn by the bride were a status symbol to depict the status and position of the bride’s family. The type of material and colors of the wedding dress, especially among nobility, were meant to show the importance of the families.

Brides were generally adorned in silk, satin and furs along with many bold colors as a depiction of the social status. Those of lesser stature continued to wear gowns of similar design made of materials of lesser value. The length of the train often determined the wealth of the bride’s family, as well as the amount of material used in wedding dress.

The color of wedding gowns prior to the wedding of Mary, Queen of Scots would have been bold colors of purple and reds. When she married Francois II of France she became the first to wear white. It was almost considered a slap at the French at that time as white was the official national color of mourning in France.

However, white wedding gowns did not catch on until the wedding of Queen Victoria and Albert of Saxe-Coburg. Her official wedding picture wearing a white gown was widely publicized and prompted many brides to opt for the color of their own gown. The amount of material used in the gown remained a symbol of the bride’s status in life with many of the poorer families choosing simple church dresses in white.

The trend of brides wearing wedding gowns designed after those of popular culture continued until after the turn of the 20th century. For example, during the 1920’s a bride would wear a short gown, resembling the dresses of the so-called “Roaring 20’s” with a long train in the back.

Since that time, brides began to shun the practice of wearing a wedding dress that copied the designs of popular culture and around 1940 wedding gowns reverted back to the designs of the Victorian age, made of white material with more elaborate and ornate designs.

Through history white wedding gowns were considered a sign of innocence and purity and somewhere along the line was thought to symbolize virginity. This notion has slowly faded and most brides choose white wedding gowns regardless of the circumstance of the couple. It is not unusual for white to be worn during second and even third weddings to allow the bride to experience a white-themed wedding.

Research Goes a Long Way
Many brides-to-be will head off to the store and sort through racks of wedding dress designs without a clear picture of what they are looking for in a gown. Before spending a lot of time in a dress shop, the bride should picture in their mind what they hope to look like on their wedding day. With that picture in mind, consider the different style available in a wedding dress and learn a little of the language involved to better relay your desired style to the shop.

Most wedding dress styles are determined what many call the silhouette. This describes the cut of the wedding dress and how it falls to the floor. For example, ball gowns will look good on everyone but the very short person, on whom the gown may seem overwhelming. Crinolines will also be part of most ball gowns and they usually have a lot of fabric requiring extra care while wearing them.

For a wedding dress that isn’t as full as a ball gown yet has the material flow, an “A” line gown can fit most everyone. The fitted bodice flows from the waist and can be useful in hiding lower-body irregularities. With an empire gown, the skirt begins right under the breasts and falls from there to the floor. Empire style dresses are better suited for less formal weddings and provide extra fit at the stomach.

A sheath style wedding dress is usually made of thinner fabric and will not hide any flaws on any part of the body. Typically worn by brides with a slender, consistent build they are not recommended for those who may have flaws from the waist down.

Ultimately, a primary factor in the choice of a wedding dress will be the bride's budget. With some gowns costing in the hundreds and even thousands of dollars, it is important the bride look their very best on their wedding day, but it should also be remembered that this is a garment that a person will usually wear only once.


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