Why are wedding gowns white?

It is perhaps the most iconic scene from any wedding day, the white wedding gown adorning the beaming bride. But why are wedding gowns white? There is a huge number reasons, not in the least the fact that white is the brightest of colours, further enhancing the bride’s visibility on her big day, but it’s a tradition that has evolved over hundreds of years for a variety of reasons.

Why are wedding gowns white?

To be perfectly pedantic, the traditional colour of a modern wedding gown isn’t actually white, it’s more “Candlelight,” “Ivory,” “Ecru” or “Frost” when putting my graphic designer hat on.. But to the common layman, they all look pretty white, right? Anyway, the answer to the question of why are wedding gowns white all has to do with the popularity of some people who happened to wear white on their wedding day, and as a species who like to copy our idols, the fashion caught on and became tradition.

Queen Victoria of England who reigned from 1837-1901 was the first to make white wedding gowns fashionable by wearing a pale gown trimmed in orange blossoms for her 1840 wedding to her first cousin, Prince Albert. Naturally, because she was the queen and the center of all things high society at the time, whatever she wore, everyone tried to copy. Kind of like how it is now with everything Kate Middleton, or any red carpet celebrity wears being reported on. As a bit of a side note here, Anne of Brittany also made white wedding gowns popular all the way back in 1499, believing that white was a symbol of virginity – despite being married once before.

Before modern wedding gowns were made to be white by Queen Victoria, it was quite common for wedding gowns to be any colour. In biblical times, blue (not white) represented purity, and the bride and groom would wear a blue band around the bottom of their wedding attire, contributing to the poem of ‘Something old, something new, something borrowed, something BLUE’.

Generally though, before Queen Victoria made it a tradition to wear a white wedding gown as a bride, the most common item of clothing a bride would wear was simply what her favourite, or best garment she had available to her and could be any color, even black. To convince her groom that she came from a wealthy family, brides would also pile on layers of fur, silk and velvet. This was partly due to the fact that the more layers of clothing one wore meant the less body odor people were able to smell, being that bathing was not something people did often in those days.

Today though, the answer to the question of ‘why are wedding gowns white?’ seems to be primarily because in modern society the colour symbolises innocence, purity and certainly makes the bride stand out in a crowd, like the princess she’s made out to be on her wedding day. It may also be just ‘because’, as that’s what everyone else does right? It’s tradition! 🙂

Wedding dress shopping tips

As I’m currently getting ready for my own wedding this October, I’ve been in an interesting position where I’ve been putting all my experience and knowledge that’s come from years of being a professional wedding photographer into planning my own wedding. Today I’d like to share some tips concerning wedding dress shopping. Now obviously I’m not completely privy to what goes on in the mostly female domain that is wedding dress shopping, but I do know what my own fiance and plenty of my clients have said and commented on in regards to the subject.

Wedding dress shopping tips

Wedding dress shopping is very exciting for the bride and her family so you’ve really got to take time and prepare for the decision. Before you go out and start trying on gowns and getting attached, please keep these tips in the back of your mind.

Don’t take too many people

Everyone has their own opinion, but the only opinion that should matter would be your own, and perhaps your mother as she’d probably be just as invested in your choice as you are. Dragging along your entire bridal party, your friends and their dogs aren’t going to help the decision process at all. in fact it will hamper it. If you like something and it’s obtainable, go for it, don’t let too many people have a say in your decision.

Don’t decide too early, but also don’t leave it too late!

If you find a gown that you love 12 months out from your wedding, that’s great! But just be aware the more dresses and styles you discover and look at will influence your tastes further down the road. What happens if they change so much you don’t like it on the big day? Take your time, and just make sure you have enough time between now and your wedding day for alterations. On that point don’t leave your gown shopping too late! Alterations on wedding gowns can take a crazy long time and it’s no good unfinished.

Make appointments

Many in-demand bridal boutiques are appointment only, so make sure the store you’re planning on visiting takes appointments and make one if need be. These places take appointments for the same reason doctors do, so as to devote their time to you and you alone. Make sure you inform them on how many people will be attending also, just so they can cater to your party as best they can. Also try to paint a picture on the style of gown you’d be after. That way they can sort out a small pre selection of gowns for you to try, streamlining the process.


Wedding gowns can range from $99 to $99,000, be sure to stick to your budget or you may find yourself in the ER ward once you see the bill. It’s easy to forget your budget when you’re considering your bridal gown as it’s such a emotional moment and many people will give the advice to ‘splurge’. But there’s ‘spluging’ and being downright reckless in regards to your budget, and believe me wedding gown bills can really hurt. Before you set-foot into any boutique, know how much you want to spend and tell the shop assistant your budget. This would also help with being swayed by the amazing bargain of 70% off, or the horrible cheap dresses that look good online but in reality are glorified fancy dress costumes.

Wear what you’d wear on your wedding day

Underwear lines tend to stand out quite a bit in wedding photography, and anytime really, so when wedding dress shopping, please go shopping for suitable underwear first! Try to match the colour of your dress also, whites and ivory colours usually suit, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to point it out ot a bride while being prepared. Also consider your shoes, wearing high heels will make you taller, wearing flipflops may cause the hem to get dirty. Try to wear something similar to what you’d wear on your day, if not your actual wedding shoes.

How to save on your Wedding Dress

I recently covered a wedding where the bride had managed to score her wedding dress for s measly $50. This wasn’t some horrible train wreck of a wedding dress either, like the cheap examples below, it was a lovely, elegant and well made dress. And to top it all off, she said she actually bought 3 dresses as they were so cheap! She did this by finding a closing down wedding tailor and buying out their stock before they went under. Anyway, this gave me a bit of an idea, I’m sure a lot of you brides out there would be looking for some tips on how to save on your Wedding Dress? Well as a wedding photographer, I’ve covered many dozens of weddings and I’ve come across a few simple tips on how to save on your Wedding Dress.

Tips on how to save on your Wedding Dress


1. Avoid shopping on line

Yes, on-line is cheaper, yes there’s a larger range to choose from, but just take a peek at the images below and imagine yourself in their position, and these are not isolated incidents. Occasionally I will rock up at a brides place of preparation, ready to take some rocking wedding photography when lo and behold they unwrap their bridesmaid or wedding gown, not having opened it in fear of dirtying the fabric and it wasn’t what they ordered :/ Different size, colour, style, whatever, it wasn’t what they wanted. So if you want to know how to save on your wedding dress, why don’t you first support local vendors, and then not have to pay through the nose for a last minute dress or crazy shipping costs.

2. Know your price range before you shop

Buying a wedding dress is often a highly emotional affair, which vendors can pick up on and cause you to start spending over and above what you expected, or budgeted to pay. If you’re familiar with the TV show Family Guy (s10e21), there is a scene about this exact scenario. The dress was out of their budget, but the salesman talked them into buying it all the same because he picked up on the bride’s emotions. Try to only try on dressed that you know you can afford, do not get tempted by that more expensive dress as you know once you put it on you’ll have to cut back on more important things, like a few extra nights on your honeymoon.

3. Check out ‘Trunk Shows’

Trunk Shows are wedding dress designers and vendors showcase their new styles in a bit of a fashion show, and try to offload their old designs for sometimes as much as 50% off. Adelaide holds such shows quite often in the form of the bridal fairs at the Adelaide show grounds, or even the convention centre, just keep an eye out for them.

4. Get lucky with sales and changing stock

The bride that I mentioned at the beginning of this article found that closing down store on a whim, and I’m sure you all know the feeling when you find an amazing deal in a sale and how lucky you were to find it? Well what if I told you that many brides I’ve met have had a wonderful secret on how to save on your wedding dress, and that is to purchase the floor sample of their dress. Sometimes stores will be offloading their old stock and the floor sample is always the hardest to offload, so that particular dress would more often than not go for a song.

5. Plan way ahead of your wedding

Planning months in advance of your wedding will save you money in a number of ways, first you know what you want, you have a reasonable budget and you can take your time choosing and hoping for that amazing bargain. Second if you leave it too late you may have to spring for huge express shipping fees just to make sure your gown is with you on time.

6. Use your credit card

If for no other reason than to gain more frequent flyer points when you make your wedding gown purchase so you can stretch out your honeymoon!

Disney princess wedding dresses

A trend I’ve noticed in recent weddings I’ve covered whereby brides often say their wedding dress selection was inspired by what a Disney princess wore in their movie. Now when you hear that statement it sounds fairly childish, but when you sit back and have a think about it, it makes a lot of sense. Disney movies are what we in society are brought up on. Their morals and stories are ingrained in our childhood minds and stay with us right through to adulthood. The Disney variants of the classic fairy tales such as Cinderella and Snow White have even superseded their original storylines. For example, did you know the orginal story of Notre Dame? written in 1831 would not suit a typical Disney movie… Far more death and adult scenes involved there..

ANYWAY, modern brides are more often turning to dresses they have grown up and idolised in Disney movies. The most popular by far from my experience has been Belle’s Ballroom dress she wears when first dancing with Adam aka the Beast.




I haven’t had the privilege yet of photographing a banana-yellow dress design 100% copying the style of the dress seen in the movie, but I have had more than one bride telling me they modelled their design on this disney princess dress. Little wonder why really; Belle featured in Beauty And the Beast, a film released in 1991, when then-7 year old girls would now be turning 28-29, or prime-average age to be married these days. Otherwise Belle also follows a fairly relatable life for girls in modern society (as far as I can make of it anyway); always being called pretty and beautiful while also feeling slightly different on the inside due to her ‘nerdy’ habits of never having her nose in a book. She is romantically pursued by a handsome but arrogant hunter, in whom she shows no interest because of his conceitedness. Luckily she finds her perfect match in the Beast while trying to live for her family (saving her father) and avoiding the clutches of her sexist suitor.

Sounds pretty much like a typical parallel to a modern life of a growing woman. At least from what I’ve heard, I mean I haven’t lived the life of a growing woman… but it seems to me the attractive and intelligent girls out there like the Disney princess Belle out there live a similar life. ie revelling in the popularity their beauty brings, but also feeling like an outcast due to their good grades, always the subject of an annoying or borish guy’s affection and finally finding their ‘Beast’ of a groom to whom they will be married and live happily ever after.

I think? I don’t know, I’m just trying to dissect why Belle is such a popular choice in dress design. I mean here are a couple of brides whom stated they modelled their dress on Belle’s




Cinderella of course is the archetype of Disney princess design, however quite different in personality to Belle’s. For example she is made a servant in her own home and is constantly tormented by her evil stepmother and two stepsisters. Quite different to the free range of lifestyle Belle enjoyed, while Cinderella is also shy and romantic, Belle on the other hand is quite extroverted. One can see a parallel to modern life here, where by a bride could feel like they are made to be a servant at their work, or even family with little time to look for their ‘prince charming’. Suddenly through chance, or their ‘fairy god mother’ are granted a chance to meet someone and live happily ever after, despite making social faux-pas such as leaving their shoes all over the place…

Cinderella is not as popular a Disney princess in choosing her dress to mimic as a bride’s wedding dress. Possibly due to the age of the Disney film; it was released in 1950. I wonder if photographers were telling stories of brides telling them about basing their wedding dress on a Disney princess back in the 1970s? Quite likely I would assume.




Not so much that I’ve had a few brides state that they have based their wedding dress on the Disney princess Rapunzel from the film ‘Tangled‘, I mean the film was only released on 2010. But I’m pretty sure that it’d be highly likely I’ll be hearing stories from future brides, perhaps in the next 10-15 years about how they’ve always wanted to have a dress like their favourite Disney Princess Rapunzel. Particularly with the success it’s enjoyed as the first 3D Disney princess movie. Tangled was the highest grossing DVD of the year, and the 18th highest grossing animated film of all time, which is impressive considering the number of 3D animated films being produced these days. So look out for this type of dress in the near future!

The others

While there are some traditionally conservative designs still in the line up of Disney princess dresses, one would be hard pressed to envision a dress inspired by Pocahontas, Jasmin, Esmerelda, Fa Mulan or Kida except on the most adventurous of brides. That isn’t to say that any bride who grew up idolising these Disney princesses wouldn’t look fantastic in their designs, it’s just that they aren’t traditionally wedding-type dresses.

Others though like Ariel’s from The Little Mermaid could possibly be overlooked as she isn’t often pictured in her wedding dress other than right at the end of the film, promptly followed by giant calamari-making by her prince.. Tiana from ‘The Princess and the Frog‘ wouldn’t have gained much of a following in Australia as the movie wasn’t terribly popular here. Besides her dress has a bit of an eccentric design, it’s nice, but a bit strange when compared to the more traditional shape.Aurora (or Sleeping Beauty) is possibly not overly appealing as a dress design as she is pictured more often than not asleep. Pretty boring eh? Besides, who among you knew that her name was Aurora? I had to google it :/. Finally, Snow White is probably too old fashioned, and Megara isn’t really a princess until she marries Hercules so she doesn’t really fit in this list anyway… Actually, neither is Fa Mulan.. huh. OR BELLE! oh dear there goes this whole article!

I’d live to hear what you think of the idea of modelling a wedding dress on a Disney princess design, or perhaps you already have? Do share in the comments below.

Credit for the Disney Princess images goes to Disney wikia