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A wedding dress or wedding gown is clothing worn by a bride during a wedding ceremony. color, style and ceremonial importance of the gown can depend on the religion and culture of the wedding participants.

Western culture

Weddings performed during and immediately following the medieval era were often more than just a union between two people. They could be a union between two families, two businesses or even two countries. Many weddings were more a matter of politics than love, particularly within nobility and the higher social classes. Brides were expected to dress in a manner that cast their families in the most favorable light, for they weren't representing only themselves during the ceremony. Brides of an elevated social standing often wore rich colors and expensive fabrics. It was common to see such brides wearing bold colors and layers of furs, velvet and silk. Brides of a lower social standing often copied the elegant styles of wealthier brides as best they could.

Throughout the years, brides continued to dress in a manner befitting their social status---always in the height of fashion, with the richest, boldest materials money could buy. The poorest of brides wore their best church dress on their wedding day. The amount of material a wedding dress contained was a reflection of the bride's social standing. The amount of material used in the dress and the length of the dresses' train usually indicated the extent of the wealth of the bride's family to wedding guests. In modern tradition, the color of western-culture wedding dresses is white. Used in this sense, 'white' or 'wedding white' includes creamy shades such as eggshell, ecru and ivory. One of the first women to wear white at her wedding was Mary Queen of Scots, when she married Francois II of France. However, the choice was seen as very inauspicious, as the color white was the official color of mourning in France during the time. The color became a popular choice in 1840 with the marriage of Queen Victoria to Albert of Saxe-Coburg. The Queen chose to wear a white gown for the event. The official wedding portrait photograph was widely published and many brides opted for a similar dress in honor of that choice. The tradition continues today in the form of a white wedding. Prior to the Victorian era a bride was married in any color except black (the color of mourning) or red (which was connected with prostitutes). The white dress came to symbolize happiness, purity of heart, and the innocence of childhood. Later attribution suggested that the color white symbolized virginity, however, this symbolism is slowly fading in favor of simply having a traditional and popular white wedding, regardless of the couple's circumstances. It was originally the color blue that was connected to purity.

Eastern culture

Many wedding dresses in China are colored red, the traditional color of good luck. In modern Chinese weddings, particularly in Western countries, the bride usually opts for the white Western dress or changes from a white gown to a red gown later in the day and sometimes a gold colored gown later on. In northern parts of India the traditional color of women's wedding garments is red, a color symbolizing auspiciousness. Green, a color symbolizing fertility, is also commonly used. Nowadays many women opt not to wear red, and choose other colors. South Indian weddings traditionally use white or cream colored saris. Indian brides in Western countries often wear the sari at the wedding ceremony and change into traditional Indian wear afterwards (like lehnga, choli, et cetera).

You can discuss wedding dresses at the Bridal Fashion Group at the Fashion Industry Network.

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The above article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (  ).  Modified by Apparel Search 6/7/07
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