Introducing Wedding Gowns

A Bridal Gown is something that a bride wore during a wedding ceremony. Colour and style are usually dependent on individual culture. In Western cultures, brides often choose a white Bridal Gown, which was made popular by Queen Victoria in the 19th century. For Asian (Eastern cultures), brides often choose a brighter colour to symbolize auspiciousness. Chinese tradition followed a red wedding dress with a phoenix crown, whereas in India it's a wedding sari, Vietnam; red ao dai, Japan; wedding kimono, and so on.

In a metropolitan country like Singapore, we can enjoy the best of both Eastern and Western cultures. 

Brides in Singapore commonly wear a Western white bridal gown during a church wedding or their reception walk-ins, while wearing their traditional attire for any traditional portions in the day.

In the beginning, bridal gowns were worn as a representation of the wealthiest of families. Hence, wearing rich colours and exclusive fabrics was a reflection of the bride's social standing. One of the first few documented records in 1560 was, Mary, Queen of Scots, wearing a white wedding gown because white was her favourite colour. Interestingly, white was not a widespread trend back in the days and a bride can choose to wear any colour, even black; being especially popular in Scandinavia.

In 1840, when Queen Victoria wore a white satin and lace bridal gown that portrayed a fairy-tale image, a white bridal gown became the first choice of Western brides ever since - “Being a princess for that special day.”

Although not originally intended, many currently assume the colour white was intended to symbolize virginity and purity. Nowadays, Western bridal gowns are usually white or “off-white” including shades such as “ivory”, “seashell” (pale-pink), and “old lace” (pale yellowish-orange) to darker shades like “ecru” (light gray-yellow-brown).

Let’s take a moment to commemorate the evolution of bridal gowns!

(Photos abstracted from “100 Years of Fashion: Wedding Dresses” – from Youtube Account "Glam,Inc.")


An ivory white short-sleeved bridal gown, with forearms being covered by long white gloves, and draping a long lace veil to cover her neck, shoulders, back, and cleavage. Matching the more “conservative” year, yet still radiating femininity.

The veil used is long that reaches below the waist, and placed gently over the head with a laced edge. 


Brides in this era gradually become more confident and switched out the fully conservative veil to something that shows the neck, shoulder, and forearm.  However, the front portion of the bridal gown cutting remains moderately high to still remain conservative to an extent.

A Pearl necklace is commonly used to add a flare to the simpler-looking upper portion of the gown. Some brides in this era also opt for a shorter dress, choosing a mid-calf length with layers of lace trimming the bottom.

Long white hand gloves still remain popular while accessories are added to the veil such as pearls or flowers.


In the 1930s, lace was the central attraction for bridal gowns and brides were commonly dressed in a full lace bridal gown covering from top to tail. 

The gowns in this era were usually either a simple satin sleeveless gown or a long straight dress with a laced fabric on top. The veil remains long, but loses its lace edge to give a contrast between the already laced-gown and veil.

Tiaras were also introduced to give off a more princess look. Smaller-sized hand floral bouquets were also gradually becoming more common, which is adapted even till today.


From a heavily laced gown, it went to the other extreme end in the 1940s.,

Here, the lace has been removed from the gown totally, leaving a simple plain satin in its wake. It was speculated this trend was influenced by the difficult time during the World Wars years when fine luxury materials were scarce.   

Gowns in this era generally adorned a “Queen Anne” neckline, where a collar is higher in the back and the shoulders are covered. The sleeves are also slightly puffed. 

The tiaras were also replaced by elegant hair bands. This simple satin design has continued to inspire modern designers.


1950s - The return of the lace! This gowns in this era typically showcases a sleeveless satin as the inner layer, and a full lace outer layer with a big ribbon in the back.

Petticoats were also worn to give a desired shape and/or silhouette, allowing for more volume in the lower portion of the gown instead of a straight shape (“Sheath” silhouettes).

The veil remains the same, with an elegant white band to hold the veil.


Instead of the "French" lace used leading up to this era, this decade's designers instead started to use "Italian" lace. The main reason being that "Italian" lace explores the beauty of lace, embroidered with beads and other accessories.

As for the silhouette, the back of the lower portion is more elaborated - giving “bubble” with “tiered” look to the gown.

Although Tiffany & Co. was established in the 1830s, American fashion and trends was heavily influenced by Tiffany’s designs in the 1960s era. A ribbon as a headdress to pin down the veil was very typical back then.


This is a fun (hippies) era and also a kind of fashion revolution. Instead of silk or satin, the choice of material and fabric used is either polyester or cotton.

The overall design of gowns in the 70s seems to be more of a “medieval” look. 

The trend dropped the long traditional veil and replaced it with either a hat or wreath instead. The trend also removed elegant pearl necklaces and replaced them with high neckline dresses or cotton lace chokers instead.


The 80s has always been deemed the era of funk and disco.

In these years, brides usually wore very strong makeup. Whereas in terms of the gowns, the most distinct feature was the over-exaggerated and loud shoulder pads. Such shoulder pad (sleeves) designs were also known as “petal” or “lapped sleeve”. 

The lace in the bridal gowns were also heavily decorated with beads. Furthermore, the gowns were designed with a “tunic” top and a long second layer that “sweeps” at the back.


Similar to the 1940s, lace was again dropped in this era and gowns went back to the more “simple” look.  

They typically had a bateau neckline, displaying a plain bare neck & shoulders. The skirts are “court” length (slightly longer than “sweep” length). Brides would also wear a petticoat or have more fabric layers added to the lower portion of their gowns to give slightly more volume, forming an “A-line” silhouette.


Even when fashion and trends crossed the millennium, the “simple” look managed to hold on.  

However though, the necklines had changed to a “sweetheart” design, with necklaces worn to give an overall classier look. The gowns in the 2000s adorned a “Sheath” silhouette, instead of the popular “A-line” just 10 years ago. The hind side of the gowns had “Fanback" or "Fishtail” to separate a wedding gown from a typical evening gown.


After being absent from demand, lace is slowly making a comeback and the trend seemed to be heading towards "French" lace, with little to no accessories embroidered on the lace. It maintains the “simple” look, yet still sophisticated with the lace integrated.   

The necklines here are deep “V-necks” with voile in between. A belt and sash are used to complete the look, but still keeping the trend of a “Fanback or Fishtail” back.

It is indeed amazing to see how the trend changes throughout the years! However, one thing is for sure -

Bridal gowns are and have been used as a fashion statement that reflects a particular era. 

Today, bridal gown fashion and trends continue to evolve; In early 2010s, there was also a trend where actresses and singers choose to tie the knot in bright coloured gowns instead of white. Renounced designers like Vera Wang has also recently debuted non-white bridal gown collections. 

Luna Bianca - Italian collections also have their fair share of non-white bridal gowns.