For centuries, bridal gowns have been a focal point in weddings. The traditional white wedding gown became an icon at Queen Victoria’s wedding nearly 200 years ago. Since then, it’s largely dominated the scene as a staple in wedding attire.
However, more brides are moving away from the traditional gowns and toward more gender-neutral, less-elaborate attire options. This cultural shift begs the question: is the wedding dress becoming a thing of the past?
Minimalism vs. Extravagance in the Modern Era
Before Queen Victoria walked down the aisle in her white gown, wedding dresses came in all forms. For many, even in the years following, wedding dresses were any nice dress that could be used to celebrate the occasion. In other words, brides wore their Sunday best, perhaps dressed up with a bouquet and special jewelry to fit the tradition of something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue.
Over time, this flourished into extravagance. Now, bridal gowns can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Over recent years, however, there’s been a cultural shift back toward simpler times. Brides are looking for budget gowns under $1000 at shops like Azazie, and shifting their monetary resources toward the event itself or saving for other significant life events.
Furthermore, more bridal trends are highlighting simple gowns rather than layers upon layers of elaborate fabric. This aligns with lower wedding expenditure in recent years. After reaching a peak in 2016, wedding spend is slowly creeping down with the average being $34,000 USD.
Another cultural shift that’s impacting weddings is gender neutrality and the legalization of LGBT marriage in countries where it was once banned. This shift has moved away from the traditional femininity conveyed through wedding gowns and toward more gender-neutral attire options. Even outside of the LGBT community, women are becoming more empowered in choosing an outfit that they feel comfortable in rather than that which suits tradition.
However, the 2010’s aren’t the first time weddings have seen a transition from the typical gown toward something more neutral. At the height of her career, actress Angelina Jolie wowed the world with her pristine white pantsuit on the red carpet, spurning a whole new aspect of wedding fashion. The androgynous era of the early 1990’s also created a ripple effect in bridal fashion trends. Now, at the dawn of the 2020s, rompers and jumpsuits have staked a claim in both street fashion and bridal attire.
Are Wedding Dresses Dead?
While wedding attire is constantly changing, it’s unlikely that wedding dresses will ever truly die out. The average wedding dress expense is still floating around $1500. That being said, the traditional white gown could be a thing of the past as more brides move toward colored dresses, patterns, and alternative bridal wear.
That being said, more brides are becoming both environmentally and financially conscious about wedding expenses, opting for more affordable options from an online retailer, renting a designer dress for a fraction of the cost or looking at repurposing older gowns, such as family heirlooms.
Even for the experts, it’s hard to predict what the future may hold. No one foresaw the impact Queen Victoria’s gown would have on wedding culture, and it’s difficult to say what the wedding of the future may look like based on today.