Many believe the white wedding dress is a long-standing tradition that has spanned centuries, but it wasn’t until the 1840’s when it became the norm (due, in part, to Queen Victoria’s white wedding). Also, although it has been strictly connected to Western wedding traditions, many Arab, South American, and other brides from various parts of the world now don the white gown on their wedding day – sometimes even changing from their traditional cultural gowns midway through the celebrations.
Despite the global popularity of the white wedding gown (which is often associated with Christianity and the notion of the bride’s purity), there are many brides around the world today who still opt to wear the traditional wedding gowns of their ancestors. Often, these dresses are anything but white, because they are in vibrant colors.
Ultimately, they symbolize various aspects such as love, fertility, and prosperity – factors that celebrate two partners finally coming together in matrimony.
Korean brides wear the Hanbok (South Korea) or Joseon-ot (North Korea). Although Korean brides are now known to wear traditional Western white gowns as their main dresses, the Hanbok/Joseon-ot is usually worn after the wedding ceremony. The gown is made up of simple lines without pockets and vibrant colors and consists of the jeogori (a short jacket with long sleeves with two long ribbons) on top of the chima (skirt).
Usually completing the outfit is a pair of boat-shaped shoes worn with white socks.
In Yemen, wedding festivities will last three or more days – and brides will have an outfit for each day leading up to their wedding day.
A few days beforehand, during the cleansing and beauty treatments, brides wear a traditional green dress, and the next day, they don a red dress with gold strings as they attend the hairdresser. Anytime they are in public, they wear distinctive gold veils and all the gold jewelry they possess.
On the wedding day, the bride usually wears gold and white and is heavily adorned with veils, jewelry, and a spectacular headpiece.
Although the Pakistani bridal look is very similar to other looks from Southeast Asia, it is very unique in comparison to a white wedding dress. Since Pakistani weddings are a few different days (similar to Yemeni weddings), there are quite a few outfits. However, the main one is the one the bride wears on the wedding day.
Usually, brides will wear a heavily embroidered lehenga or gharara in red, maroon, or pink with heavy jewelry (bracelets, necklaces, nose rings, tikkas, etc).
Elaborate henna designs adorn their hands, arms, legs, and feet.
There is no specific wedding dress look in the Czech Republic because traditional wedding dresses have distinct regional variation and their own district sense of pageantry. Although many Czech brides opt for the white wedding dress, the old tradition still runs prevalent in many parts of the country.
Many bridal looks feature beautiful embroidery and intricately spectacular headwear that include bonnets and headdresses – many of which are woven from natural fibers to signify fertility and purity.
Many Nigerian brides opt for the traditional Igbo wedding attire. The dress features a lace blouse and brightly patterned wrappers (caftan like skirts that wrap around the body). They usually accessorize with beautifully patterned head ties and vibrantly colored coral beads.
When it comes to the wedding outfit, brighter is definitely better.
Most Guatemalan brides will wear a white wedding dress on their wedding day – and so will all of her bridesmaids and flower girls in order to keep the bride safe by confusing any lurking evil spirits that might want to bring harm upon the new couple.
However, in the rural villages, brides will wear the traditional woven and patterned wedding clothes – but with the customary white veil… that should be as long as possible because the belief is that the longer the veil, the longer and happier the marriage will be.
On average, veils tend to run six feet long!
It is believed in China that wedding dresses should never include black, blue, or gray as it may bring sorrow to the new couple’s married life. Red and white are the two most prominently used colors in Chinese wedding dresses since they symbolize both love and prosperity.
Furthermore, the dresses (Qi Pao) are red Chengasm with either dragon or phoenix embroidery – usually in gold thread.
Malaysian bridal wear seems to be the most versatile of all because they vary from region to region.
Bridal gowns range in every color of the spectrum, but most wedding outfits, if not all, will include a crown-like headpiece that shows the brides for the queens that they are. Furthermore, since the country is predominantly Muslim, many brides will incorporate the hijab into their outfits.
Japanese brides wear none other than their famous kimonos for their wedding ceremonies. During the formal ceremony, brides will don a traditional pure white kimono to symbolize purity and maidenhood, but will often change into a red kimono for the events after the formal ceremony for good luck.
Over the kimono, a uchikake (an elaborate silk robe) is worn, which is embroidered with delicate designs including flowers and cranes.
The traditional wedding dress of a Macedonian bride consists of over 45 parts and weighs quite heavy – at an average of 50 pounds!
The women’s dresses are the most characteristic of the older traditions and usually revolve around the colors of black, gold, and, most importantly, crimson red – which is a specific color for the Mijaks – an ethnographic group of ethnic Macedonians. Brides will also typically wear a white veil with beautiful crowns made of flowers.
Similar to Malaysia, Indonesian bridal wear varies from region to region. Typically, the dresses include the kebaya (the national costume of Indonesia) and batik (traditional clothing patterns). The kebaya is a traditional blouse/dress combination and brides will often choose these in extremely vibrant colors. The batik patterns include flowers, dots, squares, and more.
However, perhaps the most eye-catching detail of all is the detailed headpieces brides wear, which are often gold with various jewel embellishments.
Similar to other countries, the bridal wear of Sudan varies regionally. Brides will usually wear the toub, a wrap that will often go around the body and come around to cover the head. Red and gold are often the main colors of the bridal dresses and jewelry. Gold adornments and embellishments are particularly important in Northern Sudan.
Furthermore, both the bride and groom wear headdresses, with brides often wearing full-veils depending on the regional and faith traditions being observed.
A formal version of the traditional Vietnamese dress, the ao dai, is worn, usually over loose trousers. The dress is usually made of silk and is wrapped in layers of other colorful fabrics. Traditional colors are pink or red, although some regions may favor another main color, but red, which is considered a lucky color, is always included. Furthermore, the bride will also wear a khan dong, a very elaborate headdress.
Recently, brides will wear a Western white wedding gown and change into this traditional dress during the table visits to personally thank each and every guest for attending their wedding.
Moroccan brides may change their bridal outfits up to seven times during the wedding – and yes, one of the dresses is a white wedding gown.
However, the main dress for the formal ceremony is usually a caftan, a long robe made of silk, satin, chiffon, silk, or other rich fabrics and is covered with a jacket. The dress is often open on the bottom and may have embroidery or sequined details with a wide waist belt that adds a touch of glam along with the heavy jewelry usually worn.