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January 28, 2016

Victorian Wedding Dresses: 27 Stunning Vintage Photographs of Brides Before 1900

Ever since Queen Victoria wed in 1840, however, white has remained the traditional color for wedding gowns and bouquets. A woman then used her dress for Court Presentation after marriage, usually with a different bodice.

The early Victorian wedding dress had a fitted bodice, small waist, and full skirt (over hoops and petticoats). It was made of organdy, tulle, lace, gauze, silk, linen or cashmere. The veil was a fine gauze, sheer cotton or lace.

Formal weddings during this period were all white, including the bridesmaid's dresses and veils. Veils were attached to a coronet of flowers, usually orange blossoms for the bride and roses or other in-season flowers for the attendants.

For the mid-Victorian bride (1870s) there was an emergence of middle class wealth, and with it a display of their new riches. Wedding gowns fashioned by Worth in Paris were the ultimate status symbol. And if one couldn't afford an original, one copied them. Full court trains were now part of the wedding ensemble, as were long veils, a bustle, elegant details and two bodices--a modest one for the wedding and a low one for special occasions.

The late Victorians (1890s) saw the bustle disappear, a demi-train and large sleeves now in fashion. If the bride married in church, the dress must have a train, with a veil of the same length. The veil could be lace or silk tulle. From the mid-Victorian era to the 1890s, the veil covered the bride's face and was not lifted until after church. The veil was not used as a shawl after the wedding any more, however. White kid gloves were long enough to tuck under the sleeves, and had a slit in one finger to slip the ring on without removing the glove. Slippers were of white kid, satin or brocade and the heels rose to one inch.

For the widow who remarried in the early and mid-Victorian eras, she did not wear white, had no bridesmaids, no veil and no orange blossoms, (a sign of purity.) She usually wore a pearl or lavender satin gown trimmed with ostrich feathers. In the later decades, she was allowed attendants as well as pages, but no veil or orange blossoms. She could wear a shade or two away from white, preferring rose, salmon, ivory or violet.

1850s bride



A beautiful bride on her wedding day, ca. 1880s

A German bride, 1862

An Italian bride, Rome, 1875

An Victorian bride looking radiantly lovely in her elegant, feminine white dress, ca. 1850s

Baroness Christine von Linden on her wedding day, May 13, 1898

Beautiful bride in the 1880s

Bride in 1885

Bride in exquisite French wedding dress, 1877

Bride in the 1860s

Bride in the late 1860s

Bride, ca. 1860s-70s

Florence Folger married William A. Webster in 1887

Harriet Louisa Thorne on her wedding day in 1882

Lady in beautiful wedding dress in the 1890s

Luise Margaret of Prussia's wedding in 1879

Maria Feodorovna in her wedding day, ca. 1960s

New Orleans Bride, 1888

Portrait of a bride in 1890

Princess Alice married Ludwig of Hesse in July 1862

Princess Louise on her wedding day in 1871

Wedding of Princess Mary of Teck in 1893

Wedding portrait of Annie Chinery Cameron, 18 November 1869

Young bride in 1874

Young lady poses in her wedding dress, 1885


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