What could be more romantic than wedding gowns? Last week the heroine in the novel I'm finishing had to buy a wedding dress in Gaborone, Bostwana (Africa). Because my 2008 tour in Botswana didn't include shopping at bridal boutiques, it was off to the Internet to do research.
All I needed was one picture and a word or two of description, but as with most research, I found a lot of interesting material that should never show up in a novel. So here it is in a blog instead.
The first thing I noticed, when I searched "bridal wear, Gaborone, Botswana", were some unusual names for bridal shops, including:
Mad Dog Weddings and Bridal Wear
My heroine eliminated visits to those three boutiques right off the bat.
Color the Bride in White
In western cultures, we tend to use white or off white for bridal gowns, and use the symbolic colors for bridesmaids' dresses, flowers, and decorations. But this isn't necessarily true for other cultures, and many others use more colorful dresses as bridal attire.
According to The Bride's Book of Etiquette, white has been the color symbolizing celebration since Roman times. In the Victorian era, the white/off-white gown symbolized wealth, since it meant that the bride could afford a dress which would be worn only once or twice before it was soiled. That was considered frivolous. Most wedding attire was practical; embellished for the wedding, and then altered for special events or even everyday use.
Veils were originally intended to protect the bride from evil, jealous spirits and stares from outsiders, and they varied in color. Red was worn to confuse the devil. Red also symbolized defiance. Blue symbolized consistency. Greek and Roman brides often wore yellow, the classic color of Hymen, the god of marriage. Early Christian brides wore white, symbolizing celebration, youth and purity.
Whether wedding colors are chosen for bridesmaids' dresses and decorations, or for the
bride and groom's attire, colors have symbolic meanings when it comes to weddings. However, nearly every article I read gave a different interpretation of the symbolism in general and as the color relates to weddings. Most admitted that wedding colors are selected for mood and effect and not symbolic meaning.
● White The color of innocence, purity, youth
● Ivory The color of elegance and nostalgia
● Red The color of love, romance, drama
● Black The color of authority, rebellion, sophistication
● Pink The color of happiness, youth, femininity, harmony, fidelity
● Hot pink The color of passion, power, and glamor
● Gold The color of wealth, wholesomeness, and tradition
● Silver The color of wealth and tradition
● Purple The color of nobility, luxury, inspiration, and spirituality
● Blue The color of tranquility, truthfulness, faithfulness
● Green The color of nature, fertility, growth, rebirth
According to the Unique Wedding Dresses website, it was the pale blue wedding dress that denoted purity (not white) until Queen Victoria wed Prince Albert in 1840. That was when white became the symbol of a bride's purity, and it has been used in western tradition ever since.
But since my heroine was in Botswana, I started with African attire. While there are plenty of traditional white gowns to choose from, African wedding dresses, more often than not, boast deep rich colors in unique patterns alongside the white. Grooms often wear suits which match the color and design. Colors in African bridal attire include:
● Mustard Yellow ● Red
● Gold ● Royal Blue
● Orange ● Royal Purple
● Emerald Green
African wedding dresses generally have straight, slightly A-line, or trumpet skirts, short or floor-length. The most traditional include a wrap skirt and separate top, sometimes showing off a section of midriff, sometimes not. They are not always embellished but may have contrasting colors. While not everyone goes for yellow, Africans tend to like colorful garb for this event.
Indian weddings are grand and colorful events that last for several days, sometimes even a week or more. Like many countries where there is cultural and religious diversity, the wedding traditions also vary. Red has always been a favorite color in India, symbolizing an auspicious event (and according to another source, meaning purity). Today styles and colors are more varied than ever..
A Muslin marriage weaves together two families, two souls, and two destinies. It is a big and auspicious occasion. Different Muslin cultures have different traditions, and their wedding customs and rituals vary as well. But they follow the traditions of how women
In Russia, the traditional color of wedding dresses is blue. Royalty married in silver, and
ladies wore their best attire to wed in. Today, the choices in blue are endless, from pastelJapan
In Japan, a wedding may be Shinto, Christian, Buddhist, or non-religious styles. Couples choose the style of the ceremony, and it doesn't have to match with one's religion.
In Japan, the Shinto style wedding the bride's garment is the white kimono called a shiromuku. Grooms wear a black formal kimono called a montsuki, a kimono jacket (haori), and kimono pants (hakama).
It's not unusual that only family members and close relatives attend Shinto-style ceremonies. There are neither bridesmaids nor a best man.
Red means good luck and happiness in China, so it's not surprising that even among the modern wedding dresses red prevails. Particularly, since white means death in the Chinese culture.
Wedding garb from other countries and cultures
The black wedding dress, traditional in Spain, symbolizes faithfulness until death.
I don't know if this is supposed to be traditional or contemporary.
Whether contemporary or traditional, nothing makes a bride immune to bad taste. Here are a couple of the runners up for the worst.And the winner is:↓
I had to share this.