Trending Global Bridal Wear

The Developing Ubiquity of the White Wedding Gown Around the World…and the Burgeoning American Trend to Not Wear White.

Example of Nigerian wedding fashion

Between my obsession with textiles and a love of global culture it’s no surprise that trends in bridal wear are on my radar these days.

I’ve spent the last week scouring the internet for images and let me tell you there is a plethora of pictures detailing the prevalent styles from country to country. It all had me drooling.

According to WeddingWire.com, 82% of American women still choose a variance of white for their nuptials. That still leaves a full 1 in 5 women opting for something else.

David’s Bridal, red wedding dress.

I spoke with a store manager at a David’s Bridal in Arizona where we speculated on this. She told me that for the last few years the biggest trend for brides has been shades of ivory, blush, and champagne but that more recently they’re departing even more from the standard. The boutique gets several requests per month, on average, for black, red, and purple wedding gowns.

She mentioned Pinterest as a source of inspiration, that it isn’t uncommon for women to come in with saved pics from our favorite obsession launching website as ideas. But even they must have their origins…

David’s Bridal, pantsuit.

Outside of the question as to what celebrity started this?? she mentioned that for the last few years there’s been a trend for bridesmaids to wear elegant black and that it’s quite possible brides have begun to consider their own sartorial expression, deciding on the same flavor of elegance for themselves, be it their personal style.

Per a source outside of the industry, there are second weddings to consider. If it’s not your first trip up the aisle, there’s more freedom to deviate from the traditional. As well, people are getting married slightly older than in previous decades, the implication being that brides and grooms are paying for more of their own nuptial expenses and, in that, are more apt to feel free to forgo tradition when every dollar spent is their own.

Whatever the reason, there are more options than ever when preparing for your “I do” moment. David’s Bridal is my pick for a great go-to. They have a range of affordable price options, sizes that go from 0 to 30, a plethora of styles and colors to choose from, and in-house seamstresses ready to alter away if the garment you purchase there is perfect EXCEPT for that neckline.

What’s intriguing that’s come up in my research: the increased prevalence of white dresses in cultures around the world where that was previously not the norm.

Example of Ghanaian wedding fashion.

So, what drives this trend? Is it a lovely, shared global design commonality or the homogenization of wedding wear reflecting a lean toward following Western trends?

Example of Taiwanese wedding fashion

There are a number of factors at play here. Firstly, throughout time there is the pendulum swing of honoring or rejecting long held cultural traditions by each new generation of young people.

Then, there’s conspicuous consumption. Weddings are turning into grander, more extravagant productions every year. This enables the bride (and groom) to go with clothing changes throughout the day in order to include a variety of designs.

What also must be factored in are responsibilities and rituals observed around the world during extensive wedding events. For an explanation, I reached out to dress designer Jenny Chou of Jenny Chou Couture boutique in Taipei, Taiwan. She said,

“In Taiwan, the couples and their families have the “WenDing” (similar to an engagement ceremony) and the wedding dinner to announce this good news to friends.

“Taiwanese WenDing ceremony is the time to exchange gifts between two families. The couple usually invites family and close friends to participate in this process. Brides wear the red dress. Some brides like the western design red dresses, some choose the traditional style red dress to ingratiate the Chinese cultural wedding process with their families. It’s commonly seen in Chinese society such as Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and China.

“However, talking about the wedding dinner, most of the brides in Taiwan choose 2–3 dresses in this special night(yes, they keep changing dresses in one night); the 1st dress they mostly choose a white gown, the 2nd or 3rd will change to different colors.”

She cited this article for a detailed account as to how it all plays out between the engagement ceremony and the wedding itself. There are some lovely fashion examples (English translation upon clicking into article):

From Scottish kilts to Peruvian marinera inspired petticoat, to the Nigerian gele headpiece, this culture lover is in love. The differences in sartorial design from culture to culture thrill me and I’d hate to see it ever meld into a global ubiquitous white wedding gown for everybody with nothing else to show for our individual heritage and history. Our different modes of expression are part of what make us so beautiful and interesting.

Peruvian wedding fashion with marinera, or sailor, style petticoat

But time does not stand still and neither does style. The fashion world, including bridal wear, is an ever evolving, shifting beast.

Plunging necklines, backless, lace, no lace, diamante white, blush, obsidian. It’s a gorgeous cornucopia of options no matter where you live. I look forward to what 2021 will bring for the engaged. Brilliant lavender anyone?

Yours truly,

Vivie Valentina M.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Vivie Valentina

Writer, fashion maker, baseball lover….dreamer. Big fan of old cathedrals, perfume history, the Middle Ages, and rare flora.