Watercolour of a wedding dress

This painting by “SF” presents a bride kneeling before an altar. Popularized by Queen Victoria’s wedding dress, wealthy brides wore white or cream as a symbol of purity and refinement. Lower classes continued to wear coloured wedding dresses because they could be reused for other events. 

Low cut dresses or bare arms were considered inappropriate during the daytime. The dress features sheer lace or net oversleeves and a chemisette to cover the shoulders. These lace pieces may have been removable for the evening. The dress resembles a bridal fashion plate from 1870. The bride also wears a locket, which may have been given by the groom to be worn for the first time on the wedding day, as per Victorian tradition.

Beeton's from 1865 states that men have “…been awarded the privilege of making the first advance towards matrimony,” but cautions women to “let neither rank nor fortune, nor the finest order of intellect, nor yet the most winning manners, induce [them] to accept the addresses of an irreligious man” (644, 646). 


Laure Noël & Paul Lacouriere, “Fashion plate,” 1870, engraving, coloured by hand, Victoria and Albert Museum, E.310-1955, https://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O580331/fashion-plate-no%C3%ABl-laure.