Nice Day for a White Wedding

Marisa Taylor Wedding Photography

Photo by Marisa Taylor Photography

It doesn’t take much for a wedding trend to take hold. In our fast-paced Pinterest-driven industry, we’ve seen new trends emerge overnight, and suddenly everyone you’ve ever met is giving you a tree seedling as a wedding favor so you can save us all from climate change after indulging in the open bar.

One trend, however, made its way into the core of Western weddings over centuries and stayed there. Whether it’s lace, taffeta, silk, satin, or sequins, you can’t get married in any color other than white. Sure, we’ve loosened up a little over the last few decades, and now you can find wedding dresses in blush, ivory, and cream spotting the pages of your favorite magazines, but the concept of just getting married in a dress you already have sitting in your closet seems totally barbaric.

The white dress has come to symbolize purity, innocence, and elegance, but what I worry it might really represent about our current wedding culture is wealth and excess.

In 1840, Queen Victoria married Price Albert in London wearing an extravagant cream wedding gown made of satin and lace. As a beloved monarch, future brides strove to emulate her by wearing white. There’s no arguing that she was stunning, and if you have seen Emily Blunt in Young Victoria, then it’s easy to imagine you’d be dying to get into that dress.

The white dress has come to symbolize purity, innocence, and elegance, but what I worry it might really represent about our current wedding culture is wealth and excess.

Before 1840, though, a white wedding dress just wasn’t practical for the common bride. Clothing materials were not as cheap and mass produced as they are today, and to spend a large sum of money on a dress you would only wear once was the height of frivolity. Fabric bleaches were more costly, and producing white fabric was difficult. Should you get a white dress that was sensible enough to wear again and again, then you had to worry about keeping it clean. Most sensible brides would instead sport gray, black, or a pattern to ensure that any stains would be hidden and the dress could easily be worn repeatedly.

As the middle class grew, so did the white wedding dress trend, and so did the demand for a slew of other products bought solely for the wedding day and never used again: the flowers, the centerpieces, that dearly beloved open bar. The thirty-thousand-dollar-wedding can now be found out in suburbia, when it once was reserved only for royalty.

Two weeks ago I got engaged. The chaos has already begun, and the pressure is on to have a totally over-the-top wedding celebration. Let’s face it, I will probably wear white, there will be a favor for every guest to take home, and there will definitely be an open bar. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Marriages and weddings pre-1840 were still happy, still meaningful, and still beautiful.

What’s important is that my wedding is a representation of my boyfriend’s and my relationship and commitment to one another, and for that, purple works just as well as white.

This article originally appeared in Volume One of Catalyst Wedding Magazine. Order your copy for more great articles.

Jen Siomacco


Jen Siomacco is the Creative Director of Catalyst Wedding Co., and when she isn't working to disrupt the patriarchy of the wedding industry she's designing and making jewelry in Charlottesville, VA, with her company A Pocket Novel.