Red, White & Blue: A Rainbow Tour of Wedding Gowns

By Vlady Peters

We’ve come a long way since Queen Victoria launched the craze for white weddings. Color’s creeping into the gowns of even the most demure brides, in the form of bright blue sashes or royal red trim, crisp black embroidery or even a dress made entirely from flame-red satin.

And yet even today, when it comes time to select the perfect color for your wedding dress, you’ll probably find your decision rests not only on your personal preferences, but the perceptions of your nearest and dearest.


Plenty of colors haven’t made much of a splash in today’s pool of bridal possibilities — not because they lack charm, but because they come loaded with certain unsavory meanings.


Marry in Gray? (Probably) No Way

For example, you won’t find many brides marrying in gray, no matter how well it sets off their olive skin or blue eyes. The reason? Its historical association with the hoi polloi. In Victorian novels, for example, a governess or house servant would typically dress in gray — not the image most brides want to evoke at their gala event.


It’s Okay to Think Pink

Other colors have recently crept onto the list, despite being “beyond the pale” not long ago. Pink was always a great favorite, but until recently it seemed a little too frivolous and girlish for wedding. Maybe a pink sash or a bit of trim was all right, but a pink gown?

Not long ago, you might get hit with a few churlish Barbie comments if you donned one. But thanks to the power of televised celebrity weddings, it’s now perfectly safe to embrace your inner pinkophile, even on your wedding day.


Raving for Red

Red recently overcame a similar prejudice, having long been associated with wanton women. But the color’s gaining steam throughout Europe and you just might see a red gown at a second, Valentine or Christmas wedding, making for a dramatic entrance.


Enter the Earth Tones: Brown and Green

Now that Celtic weddings are a permanent part of the theme landscape, we’re seeing more “nature colors” turn up in gowns: even brown is making an appearance at some rustic, woodsy or mystic weddings. You’d be far more likely to see a brown bride somewhere in Greenwich Village (or even the wide-open Rockies) than the Upper East Side … though chocolate browns and mochas are current power colors when it comes to bridesmaids’ attire.

Another attractive hue — one in the past given even a wider berth than red — is green. Plenty of lore associates green with the fairies, serpents, and even more questionable behaviors and personalities. In fact, the fairies were said to take offense if you donned their signature color on your wedding day, though why they’d object isn’t easy to understand (but then, they never were a reasonable lot).

At any rate, the occasional modern bride sees green as the color of growth and connectedness and wears it to her wedding, all the while thumbing her nose at the fairies.



Bridal in Blue


On the other hand, history shows some colors were a big hit with brides, and one of them was blue.

Apart from blue’s association with the Virgin Mary and its implication that the bride was “all she should be,” blue also involved a satisfaction-guaranteed clause concerning the fiancé. In short, according to legend, a bride in blue was sure to enjoy a faithful husband ’til death did them part. What more could you ask for?


Vlady Peters is an Australian Civil Marriage Celebrant authorized to perform marriages in Australia. She also perform general ceremonies such as Baby Naming, Renewal of Vows and Commitment Ceremonies. To learn more about her as a celebrant and an author, visit vlady at
Published by Special Permission