July 8, 2010

The bridal gown

The bridal gown has always been a symbol of purity, and was in history an outward sign of a maiden's worthiness. The concept of a white wedding gown dates back to Queen Victoria. Marriage was considered a union between two families and it was essential that the bride be an honor to both. Purity was valued above all else and so great care was taken to ensure that the bride be presented as an unspoiled, protected, and valuable treasure. So, the white dress became the symbol of all these things, and a symbol of the bride-to-be's innocence. The elaborate styling of modern wedding gowns can be attributed to Empress Eugenie, the bride of Napoleon III. She was quite the fashion plate of her generation and wore what was to become worldwide style, replacing the customary wedding finery of the day.

It was thought that the white wedding gown also served to ward off evil spirits. Omens and evil spirits and good luck tokens were always a part of the wedding gown tradition. It was said that the bride should never make her own dress and should wait to have the last stitch sewn until just before she entered the church. It was also a popular traditon that the bride should not try on her complete wedding outfit before the wedding day or, it was felt, she would be "counting her chickens before they hatched."

Traditional bows, or love knots, which resemble a number eight on its side, originated in the late 1500's. The sideways eight, you will note is also the sign for infinity (i.e., eternity). In years past, brides wore dresses covered with love knots and after the wedding, guests would snip them off as souvenirs.

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