The White Wedding Dress Challenge

white wedding dress

An alternative to the white wedding dress by Chado Ralph Rucci

The first time I walked down the aisle at 24, I wore a white wedding dress. Way back then it never dawned on me to do otherwise. My only prerequisite was that the dress be void of encrusted “barnacles;” the fancy embellishments that may have caused me to scratch the groom or snag his suit.

white wedding dress

Sea barnacles or wedding dress embellishments?

Personally I loved being married so much I did it a second time. It was 23 years ago when Joe and I tied the knot. Guests thought they were coming to an engagement lunch. “Surprise”… we got married on the spot. I didn’t wear a white wedding dress and nobody had to match, as the bridal party consisted of impromptu volunteers.

white wedding dress

Julie in green wedding dress flanked by Husband Joe and Mom and Dad Eisenberg.

The Western world is completely revamping what a family looks like and how to define commitment. Single women are becoming mothers and couples are living together. Brides stand at the altar pregnant or exchange vows after their baby is born. Expectations have changed, yet the traditional white wedding dress is still in high demand, at least for first time brides. It’s a wonder how wedding white has survived all our cultural changes.

A white gown has not always been the norm in Western culture. When Queen Victoria wed Albert of Saxe-Coburg in 1840, she wore white only because it was her favorite color. The Queen must have had a big fan base, like a Kardashian style-diva, as she set the standard for white wedding gowns from the 19th century on.

white wedding dress

Queen Victoria in her famous white wedding dress, 1840.

Excessive white fabric has long been the wedding dress status symbol reflecting affluence as well as purity. No better example than Kate Middleton’s giant white puddle and Lady Di’s royal drop-cloth. Reality TV’s Gypsy Brides also opt for lots of puff, challenging the notion that bigger is better. One gal’s dress took up so much space she was forced to ride in the back of a pick up truck to get to the church on time. On the other extreme, body-hugging strapless gowns support the less is more theory. So many contradictions, yet brides are STILL betrothed in white.

white wedding dress

Joe and I went to two memorable weddings this year. We choked up with “happy tears” watching our niece Katie and our friend’s daughter Alexis walk down the aisle on their special days. They were both stunning. Perhaps the vision of these competent beautiful women bathed in traditional white, reminded us of days gone by.

Recently Joe and I played with the idea of renewing our vows. If we do, maybe I’ll surprise the groom, instead of our guests, and wear traditional white. Then again, if I’m true to myself, I’ll wear pants.

Just kidding mom! On Pinterest I did find a dream wedding dress by Nilofer Shadid, for a younger fitter me, or for anyone considering an alternative to white.


white wedding dress

“Bohemian Wedding Dress” by Nilofer Shadid


  1. Madi Ferencz says

    Love this post. Peter and Andrea just got married this past weekend staying with many traditions and breaking with many at the same time. All in all great weekend. Happy Anniversary to you. Loved catching up a few weeks ago. Have a wonderful summer.

  2. jennie says

    so far, I’ve only been married once, and I chose to wear a royal blue favorite dress I had hanging in my closet. It’s amazing that given our multicultural world, we haven’t seen more iconoclastic approaches to wedding dresses.

    • says

      “So far,” so good. Royal blue instead of royal white. Would like to post a photo collage of regular people wearing their not so regular wedding attire. If you, or anyonE else reading this are in…send me your wedding picture.

  3. Marc Estrich says

    I was shedding well not tears…more like a herpes viral shedding(although I myself am clean as a whistle….so far) seeing Kim Thomas Humphries West oh so impressive and understated white wedding gown. Never have the virtues of purity and class been better exemplified than by Kim who has lived up to the maxim that more is…well…MORE!!! I was also brought to tears by step dad Bruce, in 1976 the steroided out Gratest Athlete In The World (much like Mickey Rooney…who never fails to mention he was formerly the biggest box office actor “in the WORLD!!”) now reduced to holding Kim’s baby during the ceremony while looking like the winner of a Helen Gurley Brown look a like contest. I can only quote Herbert Morrison broadcasting on the radio in 1937 from Lakehurst, NJ., “Oh the HUMANITY!!”

  4. Marc Estrich says

    And by the way… “Julie in green wedding dress…” is not fair to mere mortals. There are thousands of women in Los Angeles and Dallas too for some reason who have undergone surgery to look like what God and your parents gave you naturally. Julie in 50 lb green potato sack wedding dress would look stunning on you!!! Just MY opinion. I wear glasses…but it is corrected vision baby!!!

    • says

      Thank you Marc. I have NEVER felt very “stunning”, but I have always felt “fun.” A good attitude goes a long way, while a bad attitude will dull the most beautiful of dresses.

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