If you love history, there’s so much to learn about the way weddings have changed over the years. The great thing is that many of these old trends and styles can be incorporated into today’s modern weddings, making them special and very personalized.
It's hard to imagine a time where weddings were anything but the elaborate events that we know and love today. But, as it turns out, many of our modern day traditions are relatively recent developments in the grand scheme of human history. From the concept of having bridesmaids and groomsmen to the idea of wearing white, these are just some of the popular wedding trends that were developed over the last century.
The 19th Century: The First Wedding Gown
Say what? You read that correctly. In the 19th century, a bride’s dress was not white.
It was actually cream or yellow. During this time period, dresses were worn until they could no longer be repaired, so many of them were handed down from mother to daughter.
After Queen Victoria ascended to the throne in 1840 wearing a white wedding dress for her marriage to Prince Albert, brides everywhere wanted to emulate her style and grace.
This trend continued through the early 20th century with flappers in the 1920s also sporting white gowns as well as shorter skirts and fringe on their dresses.
The 1910s: Bridesmaids
The very concept of having bridesmaids may seem like a tradition that dates back to ancient times - perhaps even before written records - but it was actually developed only about one hundred years ago!
The reason for this is simple enough: in order to make sure that no one tried to steal or abduct the bride on her way down the aisle, she would be surrounded by a gaggle of bridesmaids wearing matching dresses so she wouldn't stand out.
As time went on and fashion became more daring, bridesmaid dresses became less uniform and began to take on an individual style.
The 1920s: The Roaring Wedding
1920s weddings were a big deal, with a mix of formal affairs and casual events. At the time, many couples chose to wed at home or in their parents' homes.
Many brides were opting for shorter wedding dresses to save money on fabric and the veil was intended to cover most of the bride's face instead of her head.
The 1930s: Borrowed Traditions
During the Great Depression, couples didn’t have much money to spend on their wedding day, so they borrowed traditions instead of creating new ones.
The idea of wearing something borrowed became popular in this era and continues today.
Wearing something blue is another tradition that started in this era and continues today.
Wearing something blue is another tradition that started in this time period as a symbol of purity. Some brides also carried a small piece of fine cloth as their “something old."
The 1940s: Victory Rolls and Long-Sleeved Dresses
With World War II raging on , American brides had less access to European fashion.
Their gowns often featured long sleeves that were cut off after the ceremony to create a party dress for later.
The iconic victory rolls hairstyle was also popular during this era as women embraced the pin-up girl look with red lipstick and deep red nails.
The 1950s: Ball Gowns and Hourglass Figures
The 1950s saw the introduction of Dior's silhouette-shaping New Look, which emphasized an hourglass figure with a nipped waist and full skirt.
Brides followed suit by swapping out their utilitarian silhouettes for dresses with cinched waists, ball skirts and short trains.
Topped with a veil and bouffant hair, they looked like they stepped out of a modern fairy tale.
The 1960s: Mod Wedding Dresses
While the '60s are known for bold colors, brides generally stuck to white gowns punctuated with bows or lace detailing.
However, they weren't afraid to show some skin — dresses with plunging necklines were quite common in this decade.
Following the style of Jackie Kennedy , whose wedding dress is considered one of the most iconic looks in history, many brides opted for short veils instead of long ones.
The 1970s: Hippie Wedding Dresses
The '70s was a reaction against the conformity of previous decades, so it's no surprise that many brides chose to go in a completely different direction with their wedding dresses.
This included wearing intricate hippie headpieces , which often replaced the traditional veil.
Many brides also chose to wear more bohemian styles (think lots of fringe and flowy fabrics) or even adopted a pantsuit .
The 1980s: Big Wedding Dresses
The next decade had a much more whimsical approach to wedding fashion.
The '80s were all about big, bold looks.
Wedding dresses from this decade featured puffy sleeves and oversized bows . Some brides even chose to wear dresses featuring the season's hottest color: pink .
In the 1980s, wedding dresses were all about volume and excess. Puffy sleeves, oversized bows, and lace were all signature features of wedding looks in this decade.
One of the most popular trends was to wear a pink wedding dress. This was especially common for brides who were having a second wedding ceremony or a renewal of their vows.
The one thing to note about weddings in the '80s is that they weren't very private affairs. In fact, they were often televised, like when Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer in 1981.
This meant that brides-to-be had to contend with the pressure of being compared to iconic royal weddings for months on end leading up to their big day.
The 1990s: Slip Dresses
The '90s were a more subtle time in fashion, so it's no surprise that most of the wedding dresses from this era were simple slip dresses with spaghetti straps .
This was also the decade when we saw some of the most iconic celebrity wedding dresses like Carolyn Bessette Kennedy's dress by Narciso Rodriguez and Carolyn Bassette-Kennedy's dress by Narciso Rodriguez .
The 2000s: Low-Cut Wedding Gowns
While the '90s kept things demure, the 2000s took a much sexier turn for wedding gown trends.
We saw a lot of plunging necklines as well as fitted silhouettes.
This era was also known for its unique wedding dress details like sheer cutouts and lace sleeves .
Today: More Casual Wedding Dresses
Looking back at the past four decades, it's clear that our tastes in bridal fashion have changed quite a bit over the years.
After all, the wedding dresses from each decade are so different! So what does this mean for contemporary brides?
Well, we think this just goes to show that there really is no right or wrong when it comes to finding your dream wedding dress. Whether you're looking for something completely unique or that truly timeless gown, there is something out there for everyone!
Love is always in the air, but your wedding day is something special. It's one day that you'll want to make sure you remember forever. In order to do this, it's important to incorporate all of the things that you love in a way that is truly unique to you.
Wedding trends are constantly changing with each decade, but there are some styles that you can bring back and incorporate into your special day