Wedding Gowns Around the World

Princess Diana wedding dress

Catherine Middleton's wedding dress is likely to become as iconic as Princess Diana's.

Happy wedding day to Prince William and Kate (Catherine) Middleton!

Now that we’ve finally gotten a look at her much-anticipated dress, we can stop and think about what wedding gowns mean and why they differ so much around the world.

While white or ivory wedding gowns have been the de facto bridal colors since Prince William’s great-great-great-grandmother (if my genealogy is correct) Queen Victoria chose to wear an ivory gown, in other parts of the world red, yellow, and purple are the established colors for brides to wear on their wedding days.

In China and many other Asian countries, red is a symbol of good luck so red wedding gowns with golden embroidery are common.

In southern China, a phoenix and a dragon are often embroidered on the gown to represent the balance of power in a marriage between the husband and the wife.

In Indonesia, brides and grooms wear complementary outfits and many golden accessories.

Traditional Korean wedding dresses are enormous and difficult to move around in so bridesmaids become much more critical to the bride-to-be.

In Morocco, yellow wedding gowns are thought to ward off evil. Green is another popular color meant to represent new life.

In Japan, purple is thought to be the color of love although brides may wear anything from a white, Western gown to red.

In Ireland, traditional brides wear blue, considered to be a lucky color. Green, which is heavily identified with Ireland (also known as the Emerald Isle), is considered very unlucky at a wedding.

More wedding dress photos from around the world are available here.


Filed under Africa, Asia, Europe, Learn, Middle East

6 responses to “Wedding Gowns Around the World

  1. Barbara Stanley

    Who’s the phoenix and who is the dragon in southern marriage China symbolism?
    Very interesting info, just knowing what we know is not always universal tradition.

    • Kathryn Coulibaly

      Great question! I’m not sure but I believe the dragon is the man and the phoenix is the woman. I didn’t see anything that explicitly referenced which gender went with which.

      • Aha! You are Absolutely Right!
        In the Ancient China, The Emperor was called is the true son of Heaven-the real dragon. Only the Emperor’s cloth is with the dragon pictures, so the Emperor’s clothes was called Dragon Robe. So in the ancient China, dragon is the symble of Power and Authority. And the wife of the Emperor was called Phoenix. Dragon and Phoenix is a couple.
        In fact, Dragon and Phoenix never existed. They are just the symble. Now Chinese Nation is called descendants of the dragon.
        Now on traditional wedding, you can always see the bride wear a red dress with Phoenix, and all the sheet, quilt, pillow and many other things are in red color. Red is a symble of Good Luck. And on some quilt corver, you can see the Twin Bliss pictures.
        It sounds interesting, it’s true. Chinese culture is always interesting and profound.

      • Kathryn Coulibaly

        What great information! Thank you so much for leaving this comment.

  2. You are welcome. It is my pleasure to give this comment, because I am a Chinese. : )

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