A wedding dress or wedding gown is clothing worn by a bride during a wedding ceremony. Color, style and ceremonial importance of the gown depends on the religion and culture of the participants.
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. The popularity of this color can be traced back to 1840 and 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.
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 purity of heart and the innocence of childhood. Later attribution suggested that the color white symbolized virginity which is false. However it was originally the color blue that was connected to purity.
The term "bridal gown" originates from the word al which means party combined with bride is Bridal i.e. "Bride's Party Gown". In the middle Ages wedding parties were simply called Bride-al's. A bridal train is the part of the wedding dress that trails behind the bride, the term is derived from similar train worn by Kings & Queens, which themselves are derived from seeing a Peacock, which were used as royal birds.
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 goes for the white Western dress or changes from a red gown to a white gown later in the day.
Also in northern parts of India, the traditional color of female wedding garments is red. South Indian weddings traditionally use white or cream colored saris. With Indians in Western countries, the bride often wears the sari at the wedding ceremony and change into traditional Indian wear afterwards (like lehnga, choli, et cetera).
Current fashion was followed in the dropped waist and generally unshaped bodice, and in the way the headdress was worn low over the brow, clasping the veil to the bride's head in a way that echoed the cloche hat every woman was wearing.
We have now reached a new century, and no doubt the wedding gown will carry on changing in fabric and altering in form. But there is equally no doubt that it will remain with us. Since the civil wedding laws were relaxed in the 1990s, allowing marriages to be conducted almost anywhere; even those with no religious convictions can have a beautiful setting for a full-rig "do".
As wedding fashion continues to evolve separately from the general vogue, people have felt freer to allow full rein for their imaginations, and some wedding parties are not so much in "best" dress as fancy dress, as themed and fantasy costumes are the order of the day. Which all goes to prove that everyone likes to dress up now and again, and every girl wants her day in the sun?