• top frame 
  • Painting of Marie de Medici and Henri IV during their wedding ceremony.
  • Magnifying Glass

The Proxy Marriage of Marie de Medici and Henri IV, 5th October, 1600
Peter Paul Rubens, 1621-25
© Louvre, Paris/The Bridgeman Art Library

The White Wedding

The Best Dress

Although white has long been associated with purity in the West, it has not always been associated with bridal costume. Prior to the mid-19th century, the only expectation concerning bridal dress was that brides be dressed as sumptuously as their financial situation allowed.

Royalty, which made use of white for imperial weddings, used the colour more as a background for rich silver and gold embellishment rather than for any symbolic meaning. It was the rise of neo-classical fashion in the early 1800s, with its stress on white for all types of women’s clothing, which set the stage for the white wedding.