Do Wedding Dresses Have to be White?

Whether you're planning your own wedding or are just curious about whether or not wedding dresses have to be white, it may interest you to know that white – the color synonymous with weddings and wedding dresses – wasn't always a traditional wedding dress color? 

A Short History of the White Wedding Dress

Throughout history, lavish wedding celebrations were typically reserved for royal classes and nobility, while brides simply donned their best dress for the occasion in the rest of society. While Philippa of England was the first woman on historical record to wear a white wedding dress in 1406 when she married Eric of Pomerania, the trend didn't become fashionable until 1840 when Queen Victoria married Prince Albert. Even then, it didn't become a true Western tradition until after WWII. Before this trend, the only authentic tradition in the west was to show off as much as possible, preferably with gold and silver.

A Modern View

With today's weddings being combinations of fashion and tradition, many brides are opting to choose styles that are influenced by red carpet looks and runway shows. While wearing a white wedding dress isn't a firm custom that every bride abides by, one important tradition remains. Regardless of the wedding dress's color, choose a gown that stands out from your regular wardrobe, wear it only once, and preserve it as an heirloom for your future generations. 

Read on to debunk some more myths surrounding white wedding dresses and explore additional wedding dress colors and their meanings. 

Common Questions About White Wedding Dresses 

There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding the tradition of wearing white wedding dresses. Here, we uncover the truth about some of the most common ones. 

Do I have to wear white?

If you read the first part of this article, you'd have gathered by now that the answer to this question is a resounding N-O. Your wedding day is yours – what you choose to wear on that special day is purely a personal decision. It can be any ensemble in any color you wish, so listen to your heart and get creative.  

Can I wear a white wedding dress if…

If you do want to wear a white wedding dress on your special day but aren't sure whether or not you're "allowed" according to some common misconceptions about this auspicious color, here are the facts.

… it's not my first wedding?

Whether it's your first marriage or your tenth, what you wear on your wedding day should be a reflection of whatever it is that makes you feel unique, beautiful, and confident. Whether that means donning a black jumpsuit or a white gown is totally up to you. 

…I have kids or are pregnant?

It doesn't matter if you're seven weeks pregnant or your kids are 17 years old – the fact that you have kids or are pregnant should have nothing to do with the hue of your wedding day attire. Wear white if you want to, and wear it proud.

… I'm eloping?

No matter where you go, how you're wed, or who attends the event, your wedding is your wedding. Wear the dress of your dreams, whether it's white, purple, or rainbow-colored.

Different Wedding Dress Colors and Their Meanings

If you like the idea that different colors have different meanings when it comes to wedding dresses, check out the guide below to consider some different options. 


Regardless of the historical accuracy behind white being the traditional wedding dress color, there's no contesting the fact that it is. Considered to be the color of perfection, white symbolizes light, purity, goodness, and innocence.


While ivory is also a traditional color for wedding dresses, some people have an outdated view that it resembles tainted innocence. Don't fall for this old-school thought – go with ivory if you want to wear white, but this shade looks better on your skin tone.


Red is the traditional color of choice for brides in some Asian countries. This bold color symbolizes love, excitement, infatuation, intense emotions, energy, passion, and strength. It's an excellent choice for brides who want to make a bold statement on their special day. 


Pink is a very feminine color and is an ideal wedding gown hue for women who want to express a flirtatious personality. This soft and sweet color represents a child-like personality, innocence, purity, freshness, love, and good health. 


Look for a blue wedding gown if you want to exude calmness on your wedding day. While blue is obviously associated with water and the sea, it also symbolizes loyalty, stability, and security. Blue represents peacefulness, purity, life, and femininity. 


Black is another color with a lot of misconception surrounding it when it comes to wearing black to a wedding. Many people believe that it's disrespectful to wear black to a wedding, but this is another myth. Black wedding dresses are gaining in popularity, with the color representing elegance, class, power, and sophistication. Often the choice for evening gowns and high-class events, black is the color of wealth, depth, mystery, and sheer style. 

While many brides might feel like a black wedding gown is a little too bold – or morbid – for them, when it's done right and worn by a bride who embodies the characteristics of the color, it can be one of the most chic and stylish choices for a wedding gown. 

Wear White if You Want to – Or Don't!

These days, weddings come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Whether you're eloping in Vegas, exchanging vows at town hall, or planning the wedding of your dreams in a traditional venue, you don't have to feel pressured into wearing a white dress. 

So much about the history of white wedding dresses is hidden or misunderstood. The idea that wedding dresses always have and always should be white is outdated, with no historical basis. It all comes down to this: it's your wedding, so wear what makes you feel comfortable and represents YOU.

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