I’ve blogged on this subject before, but myths persist. The release of Royal Weddings, containing my short story set on the eve of Queen Victoria’s wedding in February 1840, is an appropriate occasion for examining the myth about Her Majesty starting the fashion for white wedding dresses.
So let’s look at some primary sources, complete with pictures, illustrating white wedding dresses before 1840.
This costume is remarkable for its richness, and exceeding simplicity; it is composed of a white satin dress; the corsage uni, cut very low on the bust, finished with a double cordon of gold and satin rouleaux twisted alternately. The bosom is shaded by a tucker of tulle, à la vierge. The skirt is very ample, and set round the waist in deep double folds; it is cut of an ordinary length in front, but gradually increasing on the sides, so as to form a sort of train behind. Its only trimming is a cordon, similar to that round the bust, and sleeves. Zone of mosaic gold and plain gold bracelets. The coiffure is of a corresponding simplicity, merely dressed in full bows and braids; with a wreath of white roses, and mantilla of blonde.
—The Royal lady's magazine, and archives of the court of St. James's, 1832
And, from the U.S.—
THE LATEST FASHIONS.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PLATE.
FIG. 1.—Bridal Costume, &c.—A robe of the finest Indian muslin over white satin, embroidered round the skirt with a garland of roses; two flounces worked to correspond; and the same pattern on the corsage, in the form of a stomacher. Another row of work round the neck, just under the blond coleret; pointed corsage; a bow of white satin, with long ends in front; full sleeves, with a very narrow cuff. The hair arranged in reversed braids; a coronet of red roses and orange blossom round the head; pearl chain across the forehead, and a lace veil, very gracefully fastened to the bows of hair behind ; white lace stockings, satin shoes, and kid gloves.
--Atkinson's Casket, 1835
As part of my shameless self-promotion of Royal Weddings, look for more on wedding dresses at my other blog.