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While modern weddings typically celebrate the love and commitment between a bride and a groom, historically, many weddings represented a union between two families, or even two countries.

In such cases, brides were expected to dress in a fashion that honored their family—as the bride represented more than just herself in the grand ceremony.

While the wedding dress was to properly match the bride’s social status, it had to be the best it could be—but it typically was not sown of white. In those days, dark and rich colors were more commonly worn. Blue was a popular choice, as it was known to represent purity and a connection with the Mother Mary.  

The white gown did not become popular until 1840 when England’s Queen Victoria wore white in her wedding to Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg. A decade after the Queen’s wedding, the highly regarded woman’s magazine Godey’s Lady’s Book declared: “Custom has decided, from the earliest ages, that white is the most fitting hue, whatever may be the material. It is an emblem of the purity and innocence of girlhood, and the unsullied heart she now yields to the chosen one.”

The white wedding dress is as important today as it ever was. It is a Western tradition still in the making: an integral part of history, culture and fashion. 

But for the modern bride, white isn’t as simple as it used to be; there are hundreds of shades. A few general categories are “diamond white” or “silk white,” and various casts of ivory: light, medium and dark. Diamond white is a bit creamier, making it a popular choice that works well with most complexions.

Accoding to BRIDES’ 2014 American Wedding Study, 92% of brides select white and off-white for their wedding dress, which follows along with the advice of the traditional rhyme: “Married in white, you have chosen right.”

Apparently another tradition is still holding strong: most brides—84%—still incorporate “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” into their wedding day wardrobe.

In this Victorian good luck saying, something old represents the link with the bride’s family and the past. Something new represents good fortune in the bride’s future life. Something borrowed is to remind the bride that her friends and family will support her when help is needed. Something blue is the symbol of faithfulness, love and loyalty-pointing to another proverb: “Marry in blue, your love will be true. ”

Translator: Translation by Yoyo Chiang