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Charles & Diana's Beach Wedding

A Brief History of Wedding Dresses

Throughout history, women have made their wedding dresses a special and exquisite prop to suit this sacred occasion and make themselves as beautiful as princesses. Wedding dresses have existed for as long as weddings have, but wedding gowns as we know them today are a recent invention. In medieval times, royal marriages were of great political importance and were often arranged to seal alliances between the ruling families of countries often economically troubled because of seemingly endless wars, border disputes and trade rivalries. Accordingly, it was incumbent upon a bride of royal heritage to look magnificent on her wedding day, in order to uphold the prestige of her country and impress the groom’s family.

Thus, medieval wedding gowns were of the most expensive fabrics; velvet, damask silk, satin, fur, and fabrics woven with gold and silver thread. Colors were rich in hues, as only the wealthy could afford expensive red, purple, and black dyes. Skirts were full and gathered, the sleeves would sweep the floor, and trains were several yards long. Precious gems such as diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, and pearls were sewn into the fabric, so the bride would sparkle in the sunlight. Fifteenth century Margaret of Flanders had such a heavily laden wedding gown she had to be carried into the church by two gentlemen attendants.

White has always symbolized a bride’s virginity and innocence in the face of her imminent change of status, but it has not always been the favorite choice. Blue, with its associations with the Virgin Mary, is another strong symbol of purity, fidelity, and eternal love (hence the popularity of sapphire in engagement rings). Brides who wore something blue believed their husbands would always be true to them, a tradition which has survived to this day.

In our world today, most of us are too busy to give romance and elegance its due attention, but weddings have a way of transforming those of us whose standard attire are jeans and T-shirts into modern-day princesses draped in satin, silk, and lace with accessories such as pearls, glimmering tiaras, and a cascading flower bouquet. Men who cannot bare to wear a necktie stand gallantly as noble gentlemen decorated and adorned with ascots and French cuffs.

Jacqueline Kennedy’s Wedding Dress

Jackie Kennedy Wedding DayWhen the time came to plan my own wedding I was fascinated with Jackie Kennedy’s style. Her sophisticated, simple yet elegant dresses always had me visualizing myself in a wedding dress that had empire lines, a lightly pearl beaded bodice, long sleeves, pleated in the back, and just wide enough at the bottom to attach a seven foot veil. I knew that if I found this dress, I would probably not be able to afford it. Much to my surprise, one of my very close friends who was a dress designer, told me she had been thinking of gifting me with creating my wedding dress!

The accessories were easy to pick: simple off white pearl earrings and necklace that would match the bodice of my dress. The bouquet was made up with white orchids and some tuberose often made into flower leis that had a haunting fragrance. The shoes were very affordable elegant satin semi high heels. The wedding went off without a hitch, and after the very large reception, I was off to a honeymoon on Kauai. A dream come true!

Choosing Your Wedding Dress

Even on a budget, brides can find a gown to compliment their figure. Even though I choose an empire style, there are a multitude of styles available, even if your budget is less than $1000, and the option of renting wedding apparel, from the wedding dress to the tuxedos and bridesmaid dresses, is also an option.

White satin is the most popular fabric, but beautiful wedding gowns are also available in tulle, chiffon, crepe, and silk shantung. If you must stay within a budget and have a wedding consultant, be sure to share this information with him or her. There are endless web sites that you can visit to select various styles that interest you, as well as magazines geared towards the bride to be. After selecting different styles, you can visit retail stores to select the specific style, color, and fabric for the dress of your dreams. Be sure to try on several different styles. This is the one day of your life that you want to look your very best. Does the dress accent your curves? Does it make you feel like a queen?

While the bride is the center of attention, the bridesmaid’s dresses are also very important. Their dresses usually complement the bride’s gown. Many brides choose bridesmaid dresses that are of the same fabrics and colors with shades of the main color that complement each individual person. Again, you can go online to view different collections and then visit retail stores to select the specific style, color, and fabric.

Don’t forget the groom. It’s his day, too. Even though the groom is not supposed to see what the bride is wearing until their wedding day, they can share information. The main factors to consider in choosing the groom’s attire are the formality of the wedding and the time of day of the wedding ceremony. If the wedding is after six, white tie and tails are appropriate for a formal wedding.

Ideas for a Beach Wedding Dress

About the Author

Curtis McCoscoCurtis McCosco lives on the island of Kauai, Hawaii with his wife of over 20 years, KatRama Brooks. Together they own and operate Rainbow Weddings on Kauai. A professional wedding photographer for over 15 years, he is also a video documentarian, writer, and masseur. A practicing Buddhist, he also does Qigong on a daily basis.View all posts by Curtis McCosco

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