Westerners think of white wedding gowns as "traditional," but they've really only been in vogue for about 150 years. If you want to go with the latest in modern daring by adding a little color, you're actually going seriously old school.
Gray wedding gowns were favored by working-class women up through the Victorian era because the color was seen as "respectable," and it wore well over time, which meant a practical bride could re-use her wedding dress as her Sunday best dress for the next year or two.
But gray wedding dresses aren't all drudgery. The traditional wedding dress rhyme says
"Married in grey, you'll go far away," which suggests some exciting travel if you have a case of wanderlust. And no matter what its origins, a pearly gray wedding dress looks beautiful and luxurious.
Brown wedding dresses were for country girls, and the wedding rhyme agreed: "Married in brown, you'll live out of town." It's a great choice if you're committed to life in the fresh air, if you prefer to avoid fabric bleaches or dyes that can be harmful to the environment, or if you'd just like to set off dark eyes and hair.
Purple wedding gowns have always been rare in Europe and America - they don't even appear in the wedding gown rhyme. This is partly because purple dyes used to be the most expensive, and by extension purple clothes became associated with royalty, and royalty only. Later, deep purples were adopted by widows who were phasing out of black mourning clothes.
Both of those associations are long gone, though, so feel free to purple it up! If you're not feeling quite that avant-garde, a soft lavender gown makes for a gown that's beautiful and wonderfully unusual.
Blue is a lovely choice for a wedding dress, and it's respectable through and through. Blue is associated with fidelity, which was one of the reasons for the "something blue" you're supposed to wear or carry as you go down the aisle. The rhyme says, "Married in blue, you'll always be true," so a blue dress is a nice promise to your groom, but superstition says it helps ensure he'll only have eyes for you too.
The symbolism of Green wedding dresses is either really good or really bad, depending on who you ask. Before Christianity became widespread in Europe, green was considered a terrific color for a wedding dress because it was associated with fertility, but as Christianity spread, it fell out of favor because it was associated with Paganism. In the British Isles, green was considered a dangerous color for a wedding dress because it was the color of the fairies, and drawing their attention was asking for trouble. (Some sources say that Irish women were the exception and often wore green, and some say that Irish women found green wedding dresses especially unlucky. If you're Irish, just ask your grandma and go by whatever she says.)
The wedding dress rhyme is pretty firm on green: "Married in green, ashamed to be seen." This was because creepier wedding guests would joke that the bride's dress was green because she had been rolling around in the grass with a lover just before the wedding.
On the other hand, almost nobody in the world knows about any of this unless they've been researching wedding dress colors, so it's probably safe to give green a shot.
Yellow has had a roller-coaster ride of popularity. It was once a popular favorite because it's so cheerful, ...and then in sterner times fell out of favor because it was too cheerful and thus not appropriate for church. The wedding rhyme is also kind of a buzzkill for sunny brides: "Married in yellow, ashamed of your fellow."
Which is bad, but not as bad as "Married in red, you'll wish yourself dead." There's not much getting around that for the superstitious. Red got its bad rep from being associated with passion and sex, which the bride wasn't necessarily supposed to know about in days past. However, you may not think that's such a big deal, in which case go for it. A full-on scarlet dress may still shock people nowadays, but a dress with red detailing will go over perfectly well in all but the most conservative churches.
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