Guest post by Chloe Spencer [updated version]
When we think of wedding dresses, we think white, silk, satin or lace, a train and a veil. And it feels like it has always been this way--it's just tradition. But the white wedding gown and veil didn't in fact become popular until 1840, when Queen Victoria popularized the white lace bridal gown at her wedding to Prince Albert. Brides followed suit in honor of their Queen, and ever since it's been tradition to wear a white dress and a veil on your wedding day. By 1930-1950, wedding gowns had become a fashion item, and designers started to create trends in the bridal industry.
Over the years, necklines on gowns have plunged. Sleeves and gloves for the most part have been eliminated. And among the wealthy especially, dress trains have become extra long. The longest train ever made was 2 kilometers in length, designed for a bride in China. It took over three hours to roll the dress train out before the wedding!
Modern bridal dresses in the 21st century have changed so much from the traditional gown, you may even question whether a bridal gown today really is a wedding dress, even though it is labeled as such. Compare for yourself! Modern wedding dresses of 2011 versus photos of wedding dresses from 1930-1940. What do you think? How about your wedding (or future wedding) dress? Did you wear (or will you wear) more of a traditional dress or a modern gown?
On another note, the bridal industry today is hugely impacted by celebrity weddings. Celebrity wedding dresses are often overly extravagant, created by top designers, and cost a fortune. A gown worn by the bride in many cultures has often represented wealth, especially among the higher class in the 20th century and celebrities today. Encrusted with crystals and diamonds, 20-foot dress trains, designed by Marchesa, Vera Wang, Giorgio Armani, etc.
In addition to extravagant dresses, the engagement ring also plays a huge role in representation of wealth and class, especially in the past decade, where "the bigger the better" has taken over in the media and in celebrity engagements. The beauty of love itself in a marriage between lovers is no longer all there is to a wedding, where today in western culture a big dollar sign sits on top of the word "wedding". A woman's wedding is supposed to be her dream day, yes, but how did it get to this point where most women's dream days need to involve spending bucket loads of money? It's a day of being united with your true love, surrounded by your family and loved ones; it shouldn't be a stressful and hectic event because of the grievous amount of money being spent, like it often is today. Heard of the TV show, "Bridezillas"?
Browsing through celebrity wedding photos and sites, I found some examples of outrageous celebrity wedding dresses worth noting for a few laughs; Katie Price a.k.a Jordan in a rather hideous get-up at her wedding to Peter Andre, Celine Dion and her 7 pound crystal headpiece that was sewn into her head, and behold, the worst wedding in history.