The importance of a wedding dress is magnified beyond it's function. It is purely the outfit you choose to wear on the day you alter your single status to a unified couple. These days, you have more likely than not been together for awhile before hand, or at least dating seriously, so you're not really altering that much. So the dress, especially if you already live together, is purely a decorative frivolity that is part of the celebration of marriage.
The wedding dress used to be a means to show the family wealth and display status in good light, important in marriages where it was more a political match, rather than love. I understand the need for an impressive dress when countries or businesses were uniting through marriage. Poor and 'unimportant' people often just wore their best church dress, the act of marriage being more important than the wedding.
Interestingly, the tradition of white came late in the day, and as often with tradition, quite by accident. Prior to 1840, wedding gowns were often bold colours. When Queen Victoria got married, she wore a white gown to incorporate her favourite lace. The wedding portrait was published and the copycat brides followed suit. Thus the most misinterpreted wedding tradition was born. (In those days, blue was the colour of purity - and dead sparrows represented loss of virginity but that's another post). Isn't it funny how traditions start and become magnified quickly after their humble beginnings?
The wedding industry in Australia generates over 2 billion dollars a year, with only 50% of weddings being first time marriages. I find this a staggering amount of money for a country this size, which indicates our enthusiasm for the act of marriage (at least for heterosexual couples, but again that's another post - maybe the wedding industry should take on the ACL because imagine the boom to the economy?!).
As for me, I didn't follow tradition. Not for a particular protest, I just don't look so great in white. I chose a beautiful dress that was really just an evening gown, but with a price tag that I would never normally spend on an item of clothing (however as a wedding dress, it would be considered a steal!). It is my only dress that ever came in a box, that detail making me feel very much like Paul Gallico's Mrs Harris. And I like that it still makes me feel that way - special, decadent and a little like a fish out of water (or an Eliza Doolittle before the transformation is complete).
The upside, I've worn it many, many times. I wore it on our honeymoon (twice). I've worn it to every ball I've been to. I hope to wear it again soon, should the occasion arise. I love this dress.
I like that my partner likes to announce to people that it's my wedding dress when they compliment it (which they do). I like that it reminds me of a day 17 years ago. I like that it reminds me of the 17 years and all the changes in my life since I first got. I like that I can still fit into it (though with degrees of appropriate body shape). I like how I feel when I wear it. I just like it.
That to me, is the perfect wedding dress. Not just for one day, for one audience. It's for a life time. A life time together and many audiences, as many people turn up later in your life. And it's timeless if you love it.
"If you wear things you adore, you just look better." —Margherita Missoni
What did you wear to your wedding?
Linking with #ConversationsoverCoffee on the prompt Wedding Dress at Always Josefa
The historic information above was discovered here. Australian Statistics here.