Wedding dress or wedding gown is a dress worn by a bride during a wedding ceremony. Color, style and ceremonial importance of the gown depends on the religion and culture of the couple. Gown wedding has grown popular in Asian communities ranging from Middle East like Iraq and Syria to Far East like China and Japan.
In modern tradition, the color of western-culture wedding dresses is white. Used in this sense, the gown wedding is usually 'white' or 'wedding white' including creamy shades such as eggshell and ivory. The popularity of this color can be traced back to 1840 wedding of Queen Victoria to Prince Albert when she wore a white gown that was much publicized and hence started a popular trend. Pre-Victorian brides wore any color except black which was for mourning and red as it associated with prostitution.
It was the royalty that popularised the gown wedding. Weddings were the ostentatious displays of power and princesses wore elaborate gowns of rich colors with long trains and jewelery. An ordinary girl on the other hand would be dressed in her specially trimmed sunday best. White, pink and blue gowns became popular. The white gown dissapeared briefly during the war years. But it came back in full force during the latter years. In the new millenium wedding gowns are undergoing flashes of experimentation and variety.
Asian weddings are a variety of traditions. Many wedding dresses in China were colored red, the traditional colour symbolising good luck. Chinese bridal gowns are traditionally adorned with elaborate golden phoenixes, chrysanthemums and peonies, the symbols of wealth and good fortune. The groom traditionally wears a black silk coat. Also in Communist China, weddings were dull affairs for many workers consisting of readings taken from the 'littlIe red book' made before a picture of chairman Mao.
In Japan, purple is the color of love and a young bride may choose to wear an elaborately-embroidered silk kimono covered in purple iris flowers. Weddings are traditionally either Shinto, or it might be a Buddhist ceremony. Indonesian and Korean weddings are loud and elaborate involving many guests. In India, the traditional colour of female wedding garments is red. With Indians in Western countries, the bride often wears the red Sari at the wedding ceremony and changes into white for the reception after.
There has been a wedding revolution and gown wedding has become more popular than the traditional ceremonial weddings in many parts of the East. Gown wedding is also a multi million dollar industry in China where it has evolved into a mix of the best of the West with Asian style and elegance. A typical combination-style ceremony has the bride, dressed in white to be escorted by her father to the waiting groom with whom a ring is exchanged in front of family and friends. This is followed by a wedding banquet at which the bride switches to wearing a traditional red gown. Bridesmaid dresses are carefully chosen and wedding dress alterations are not left to the amateurs but to the professionals. Hence professional marriage agencies are popular in countries like China where they organize the unforgettable weddings.
In modern Chinese weddings, particularly in Western countries, the bride usually opts for the white Western dress or changes from a red gown to a white gown later in the day.
The bridesmaids are also an old tradition. The bridesmaids' dresses have to be color coordinated with the color theme of the wedding party. A color is usually agreed on and shades and designs usually are decided by the bridesmaids. Wedding dress alterations are done by the professional companies or tailors in sufficient time before the wedding day. The wedding gown and bridesmaids dresses are all checked for fiting and alterations are made.