When Queen Victoria married in a white gown, who knew it would spark such a lasting trend? In 1890—a full fifty years after Victoria said “I do”—white wedding dresses became the norm in America. Before then, practicality won out: During the time of the California Gold Rush, for example, a woman probably wouldn’t have the luxury of wearing her wedding dress only once, so something like this blue silk number from 1868 made much more sense.
I learned this and other fascinating pieces of wedding history when I went to see eleven historical wedding dresses at the “Unveiled” event in my hometown of Auburn, CA.
Individual dresses are displayed at different locations: the Bernhard Museum (where you’ll see the sweetest pink flower girl dress from the late 1800s!), and the Placer County Museum in the Auburn courthouse, where a 1929 dress is the undeniable showstopper. The lacy tiered skirt stops just below the knee, but the sheer veil cascades well beyond it, pooling in lacy loveliness at the bride’s feet. The photo shows a solemn wedding party. I hope they went on to have a better time at the reception!
You can see the collection Tuesday–Sunday, 11–4 at the Gold Country and Bernhard Museums through November 2009, and daily, 10–4 at the Placer County Museum until May of 2010. Admission is free.