Break in Tradition: Bridal Colors Fade to and from White

Mr. and Mrs. James Livingston

Customs vary, but today, white, off white and ivory remain the most popular, traditional bridal colors in the United States. However, these hues weren’t always the color of choice.

White wedding dresses did not show up until 1840, when England’s Queen Victoria married Albert of Saxe-Coburg wearing white. The story goes that white was chosen so the queen could incorporate some lace, which she treasured, into her ensemble.

Back in Minnesota, brides were wearing and choosing dresses that included nearly the full color spectrum, with brown and black seen most often, due to the large Scandinavian immigrant population. As the immigrant population changed to include more people from India, Vietnam and China, red became more common at weddings.

Unlike today, women rarely chose a dress to wear only at their wedding. Instead, they featured dresses that could be used again and again for special occasions.  One wedding dress in the Carver County Historical Society museum from about 1870 shows signs of being let out and taken in multiple times as the bride adjusted the dress to fit her changing body shape, due to pregnancy.

The color of a wedding dress may change, but one thing remains the same—the beauty of the bride and groom on their special day.

—Wendy Petersen Biorn
Executive Director, Carver County Historical Society