Musical stars Madge Elliott and Cyril Ritchard's wedding, St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney, 16 September 1935

It’s almost July, which means that wedding season is in full swing. In the US, May to October sees about 60% percent of the year’s weddings. These months are popular because they provide milder weather than the winter months, and more people take vacation time off of work.

Although 75% of today’s wedding dresses are strapless, white and strapless dresses are a fairly recent trend. In the middle ages, lavish, colourful dresses made of rich fabrics were the trend for the upper-class. The more lush the fabrics (such as velvet) and bolder the colours were on your dress, the higher your social status became. Brides would even wear furs with their gown, adding to their extravagance, while poorer women wore their best church dress on their wedding day. The silhouettes and styles of dresses followed the current trends as they progressed. The first recorded white wedding dress was worn in 1406 by Philippa of England, Queen of Denmark, Sweden and Norway. However, white wedding dresses didn’t become popular until England’s Queen Victoria wore one for her wedding to Prince Albert in 1840. Always a trendsetter, women began exclusively wearing white wedding dresses soon after Queen Victoria. For more than a century after Victoria’s wedding, bridal gowns continued to follow the day’s trends, normally in white. For example, the 1920s wedding gowns followed the trend of shorter lengths in the front than the back, and cloche-style veils. It is a common misconception that women wear white to symbolize purity or virginity; blue is actually the colour used to symbolize this, and is often associated with the Virgin Mary.

In the 1960s, wedding dress designs became more original. First revisiting ballgowns similar to those worn in the Victorian era, bridal dresses broke free from current trends. Contemporary wedding gowns come in a variety of silhouettes (such as a-line, princess and trumpet), necklines (such as scoop and halter) and lengths. Although similarities between wedding dresses and current fashion trends will always exist, wedding gowns also have their own direction. Since the 1960s, many designers have turned to bridal, either focusing exclusively on wedding gowns or releasing a line of dresses in addition to their other designs. Vera Wang is the most notable wedding dress designer today, having designed wedding gowns for Chelsea Clinton, Ivanka Trump, Khloe and Kim Kardashian and Hilary Duff. However, many other designers and brands are also capitalizing on wedding-mania. Zac Posen just released a bridal gown collection, ranging upwards of $850, joining Monique Lhuillier and Marchesa as the latest designer to venture into bridal.

With bridal’s turn to original trendsetting in the 1960s, styles have changed with the season. The bridal runways this wedding season showed old Hollywood glamour (especially bare backs), sheer and adventurous necklines, colour (particularly blush), peplum and floral. However, unless you’re wearing multiple dresses (or planning on having multiple weddings), it is better to not worry about the trends.

That said, here are some styles for you to check out before you start shopping:

Hollywood Glam | Peplum | Make You Blush | Short and Sweet | Goddess

Check back next Thursday when I talk about groom styles and this season’s wedding trends for husbands-to-be!


This piece was written by Rebecca MacDonald, Fashion Columnist at Rhetoric Magazine. Come back for more every Thursday!