Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Wedding Wednesday: The Demi-Vièrge Wore White

Why I wore a short white satin dress on my wedding day

Contrary to popular belief, brides wearing white on their wedding day has nothing to do with virginity. Of course, Americans tend to rewrite history all the time, so I'm not that surprised that the average person assumes the white wedding dress has something to do with "sexual purity." In reality, Queen Victoria started a new fashion trend among the elite when she opted to wear an off-white wedding dress in 1840. Or at least, she eventually popularized a trend that was already rising among the very wealthy.

Queen Victoria in her famous white wedding dress
From this really awesome article, "Queen Victoria's Wedding Dress: The One That Started It All."
Long before Victoria, white was a popular choice for wedding dresses, at least among the wealthy nobility... Weddings were usually more about political alliances and transfers of wealth than they were about romance, and so the wedding dress was just another excuse to show the wealth and culture of the brides family... Before the invention of effective bleaching techniques, white was a valued colour: it was both difficult to achieve, and hard to maintain. Wealthy brides, then, often wore white to demonstrate their money, not their purity.
In order to stimulate and support the lace industry [struggling due to industrialization], Victoria chose for her wedding dress a large piece of handmade Honiton lace... The rest of the dress then became a vehicle to showcase the lace, and white was chosen as the most suitable colour to do this. In the case of Victoria’s dress, white symbolised practicality and patriotism, rather than purity.
So if a white dress didn't actually represent my virginal status, why did everyone's favorite demi-vièrge choose to wear one?

I didn't always intend to wear a white wedding dress. When I was a kid, I told my parents I wanted to get married in a rainbow-colored wedding dress. In high school, when I wore a big pink poofy princess dress in the Junior Miss pageant, I told the other girls that I wanted to get married in it. 

But after my debutante ball, I assumed I would just wear my debutante dress again. Spending a lot of money on two formal white dresses to wear one time only just didn't make sense to me, and I LOVED my debutante dress. So why wouldn't I wear it to get married?
I wore a floor-length, formal wedding dress to my debutante ball
One of my formal debutante portraits

Except while I was dating Beau, I lost both weight and the desire for a big formal wedding. Even if I wanted to spend the hundreds of dollars to alter my debutante dress, the formality of the dress no longer matched my wedding vision. I still wanted to wear white, though. As much as I tried to avoid the siren voice of the Wedding Industry during my wedding planning, I still absorbed the idea that brides wear white. I still wanted a special dress that would help me look like a bride, even while I wanted to look like me. 

Last spring, when I was still working at JCP, I bought a green and blue dress that is probably familiar to regular blog readers. After wearing it several times, I suddenly realized how similar it was to other dresses in my closet. When wearing my dress at JCP, I mentioned this to my co-worker, and she pointed out the style is called "fit and flare." Basically, I like dresses with a fitted bodice, a defined waist, and a loose skirt that flares.

I spent some time looking at short white dresses online when I suddenly had an epiphany. Years ago, during the second season of Glee, I had bookmarked one of the most beautiful black dresses I had ever seen, a dress featured in Glee.  

Does this look familiar?


As soon as I realized the dress came in white, I knew I wanted it for my wedding dress. I also picked out my pink tulle petticoat from Unique Vintage. They don't have petite sizes, so my mom hemmed the dress and petticoat for me, she took up the straps, and she added pink lace to the bodice. 

Do I regret not having the whole shopping experience with my mom and girlfriends? Sometimes. I think it would have been fun to look at wedding dresses with my mom and Rose or Lauren, aka my best friends in my home state and current state, respectively. But logistically, it would not have been possible. I found my dream dress online, and my dress + petticoat still cost less than alterations of my debutante dress. I had plenty of girlie bestie time with my closest friends at both of my receptions, occasions far more important than dress shopping. 

So while I was a virgin on my wedding day, and I did wear a white dress, the former choice did not influence the latter. And while I might not have worn the rainbow-colored or pink dress of my childhood dreams, I do think my choice of hot pink accessories was an appropriate personalized bit of flair to the traditional white dress.  

Linking up with Meredith, Nancy J, and Mary for Wedding Wednesday!  


  1. Last month I was at an exhibit about wedding dresses from the 1700s to present day at the Victoria & Albert museum and some of my favourite historical ones weren't in white at all! x

  2. I love that you put your own spin on it!! I also had a certain gown I expected I would get married in from high school.... ;)

  3. I wore a champagne colored dress since none of the white ones I tried on looked good but like you I just liked that idea of the white(ish) dress on my wedding day no matter how contrived it seemed!

  4. you look amazing! I love the fit and flair style as well. I also think your debutante dress is gorgeous! I love the idea of adding a petticoat under a dress--for a fun pop of color. Your wedding looks so fun. And may I say the flowers in your hair are a nice touch?

  5. I just had this discussion with my mother. (That was fun...) I did have a white gown and the whole nine yards, but now, 17 years later, I wish I had worn a dress like my bridesmaids (simple and navy blue, and much more my color). If we ever do a vow renewal, I'm wearing blue! Anyway...she was commenting on a recent family wedding where the bride wore white while toting the 7 month old down the aisle. I pointed out that I doubted her grandmother wore white - she just wore her Sunday best, and I knew paternal grandmother hadn't worn a big poufy white gown (her groom was being shipped overseas -- ain't nobody got time to shop for poof!). Sometimes -- it's just a dress. A special occasion and party, yes...but really? It's just a dress.

  6. How interesting - I had no idea that white was more of a political/wealth statement. Thanks for sharing that! You looked beautiful in your dress! :)

  7. LOVE a Glee-inspired wedding, yay you!

  8. Hello from South San Diego's Junior Miss, Class of 2002! :)

  9. I wore white, and have never been accused of being even remotely virginal;-) Heck, I was pregnant!!!

  10. hey love! i admit i thought the white was an antiquated "rule" so i'm glad to hear it's not true! i loved learning your process of how you came to find THE dress! thinking of you always.

  11. I think your wedding dress, and your whole wedding look actually, is so YOU. I just love your pink underskirt too. For a while I really wanted one myself, but I was worried how it would look with colored shoes as well. Of course seeing your look I'm thinking I could have pulled it off, but at this point I'm not sure I would change anything about my final look.


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