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To the Wedding Dress

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With Royal Wedding fever only now beginning to subside I feel compelled to write a wedding inspired piece and so have decided to tell the tale of that centre piece to every wedding; the wedding dress. Nowadays the average wedding dress is white but for the main percentage of western history this has not been the case, the bride who set off the white wedding trend which has lasted for more than a century, was that most well known of British monarchs, Queen Victoria at her marriage to the German Prince Albert. As news of the white wedding filtered through Europe and beyond white wedding dresses became a societal norm but before this, the world of the wedding dress was a very different place indeed. Red was the most usual colour, a colour associated with youth, fertility, love and royalty. Other popular colours included yellow, blue, black and even brown; more sober colours intending to show maturity and constancy.
Perhaps the most important influencing factor in the design of wedding dresses is the fact that wedding dresses present the most fantastic opportunity to show of and boy do brides take advantage of it. In previous centuries and also today the best way to show off wealth and social status was to be generous on the material front, to show extravagance with metre long trains, flowing sleeves and full, puffed, meringue like skirts. Some past century brides actually had to be carried in to church, their dresses so heavy with encrusted jewels that they made movement an impossible feat. Even today, we have not lost our obsession with the wedding dress, look at Princess Diana's hideously expensive gown and at the hype and extreme interest that followed the mystery of Kate Middleton's dress who reportedly bought three to keep everyone guessing before going with a one of a kind gown designed by Sarah Burton with sleeves of delicate chantilly lace.
However, I don't really see the point in pouring vast sums of money into a garment that most women wear only once in their lives. If I ever marry I like to think I would be practical and restrained, and purchase an elegant dress that I could wear again and again, but maybe I will fall prey to societies romantic love affair with the once in a lifetime wedding dress and leave my spouse to be gasping and spluttering with suppressed horror at an obscene price tag.





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bookmouse said...
Jul. 15, 2013 at 6:06 pm
Interesting. Not usually a topic I think a lot about, but I enjoyed reading this. I especially liked the historical perspective. Now I want to wear red if/when I get married! I would like to point out that sometimes fancy wedding dresses are passed down in families, so even if it is only worn once per person, then it may be worn by two, three or even four people as it gets passed from generation to generation if it is a well made dress of a timeless style.
 
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