If I asked you to describe what a bride wears to her wedding, you would most likely answer something along the lines of a white gown. Correct? However, just as traditions, morals, and ideals differ all over the world, so does wedding attire. People hold unique perceptions of what a wedding gown should look like because gown trends differ globally; the archetype of a wedding dress changes as we move from country to country. In Western cultures, white is generally the color of choice whereas in Eastern cultures, red is. The style of gown also differs. Let us begin with the United States and Europe to discuss the evolution of bridal wear. Then, we can explore other traditions! Though gowns and wedding practices may vary, the idea of a wedding, a coming together of two people in love, remains the same worldwide.
U.S. and Europe
The evolution of the white wedding dress dates back to Queen Victoria’s wedding. She decided to wear a white gown, and from then on the trend stuck. Prior to this, brides wore all colors to their wedding. It was really up to them; there wasn’t a traditional color that brides wore. White became a symbol of wealth and power. Today, throughout America and Europe, brides typically wear white or ivory gowns. The silhouette varies from sheath (form-fitting) to full-skirt! Depending on the bride, she may choose the style of gown she wants. She may have embellishments such as beading, lace, or pearls. It may be strapless or have sleeves. Though colored gowns are becoming increasingly more common and we are seeing them from famous designers in 2014 collections, white is still the leading color. Brides usually wear only one dress, but some may change into a shorter or more manageable gown for the reception!
Traditionally, brides in China wore intricate gowns called qípáo. These covered the whole bride’s body except for her feet, head, and hands. Of course, the style of gown varied across China, but it was most commonly red and conservative. Red is the color of luck in China, so it makes sense for a bride to wear it on her wedding day. In northern China, brides currently wear form-fitting qípáos whereas in southern China, the bride generally wears a two-piece gown. This consists of a skirt and jacket. Some brides opt to go without the jacket; it is up to the bride! Not all brides in China today wear just red. The flexibility of wearing other colors has expanded, and depending on the bride’s preferences, she may choose to wear something other than the traditional red. This is similar to an American wedding where brides commonly wear white but can definitely spice things up by choosing a different color for the altar! Brides in China generally have three different gowns for their big day: one is more Western influenced (most likely white), another is the qípáo (red), and the third is usually a ball gown.
In India, brides tend to wear saris or lehengas (a form of a sari), depending on where they are within the country. A sari is draped fabric down to a woman’s feet that is commonly made from silk or cotton. There are several different ways to wear this garment: Gujarati, Tamil, or Bengali draping. You can easily find out how to do these styles online or at a store that sells saris. A lehenga is a ready-to-wear version of a sari. As opposed to draping fabric, a lehenga can be slipped on and zipped. It is pre-stitched, whereas a sari is not. Whether the bride opts for a lehenga or a sari, she will most likely wear red or maroon; however, brides are moving toward other colors in modern-day weddings, such as black and white. Brides will generally also have henna sketched on them to complement their attire. It is worn almost as an accessory.
We have outlined general bridal attire based on trends in a few countries. However, there are always exceptions, and each bride has her own idea of what she wants to wear on her big day. She has the right to wear any style and color. Hopefully this has helped you become informed of what other brides are wearing around the globe and the differing trends in bridal wear!