June Brides - What Brides Looked Like In The Past

Updated on Jun 21, 2019.   Originally added on Jun 09, 2016 by Kathy Pinna
From the Middle Ages on, marriages - especially among the upper class - were considered more of a business or social alliance than a matter of romance. So what the bride wore often needed to be a reflection of the high status of the family. Furs, velvet, silk, and bold color were the fashion for centuries. Rich and luxurious, these dresses made the family look prosperous. In poorer families, the bride would simply wear her best dress - often her "go to church" dress.

Until Queen Victoria married in 1840, dresses were rarely white (some were even black). Stories vary as to why Victoria wore white - because of some beautiful lace she had? to honor a custom in her husband's homeland? - but once her wedding picture was published, it became the height of fashion to wear white as a bride.

Today, some variation of white - or ivory, ecru, or eggshell - is the most common color for a bride's dress in the West. In the East, red is considered a color of good luck and bride's dresses (when not copying Western style) are most often a variation of red. Not only color, but also styles have also changed - to reflect the fashion of the day. Seventy-five percent of bride's dresses now sold in the U.S. are strapless or sleeveless. But when Kate Middleton married Prince William in 2011, sleeves made a comeback - especially in the United Kingdom. Another "royal" influencing wedding dresses!

These are 40 photos of brides over the past 100+ years - all before 1960. We think that these brides (and their gowns) are more beautiful than most you see nowadays. Do you agree? Which are your favorites?

Do you know when these photos were taken? Test yourself based on the fashion and bridal style. You can click on any photo to see the names and exact dates of when these photos were taken.

Browse thousands more vintage wedding photos here.

Moments in Time

View all
Back to Top