Last week, one of the hottest searches on the internet was "colored wedding dresses
." Heh, heh, we thought, a long-awaited break from white. But who are these brides bucking tradition (at least since Queen Victoria traipsed down the aisle in 1840, ushering in the lily-white trend
) and going Rainbow Brite? And, if they do, what hues are they choosing?
So we asked two: As little girls, both brides had their sights set on getting married in a bright red dress. Both had visions of looking like fiery literary heroines wearing them -- Scarlett O'Hara
and Elizabeth Bennet
, to be precise. But, as adults, once they met the love of their lives, they both wound up in silk dupioni -- only, one wore red, and, in the end, one wore white.
After the jump, get a peek at why -- and how -- each wound up saying "I do" to her particular dress.
Erin: "I've wanted to wear red on my wedding day since I was 12."
When I told friends and family that I planned to get married in a scarlet gown, they assumed I was making some kind of statement. They thought I was scorning tradition, exalting feminism or attempting to upend the institution of marriage.
The truth was much simpler. My choice in attire was less about revolution, and more about this: I look terrible in white.
White brings out the pallid in my very pale skin. It drains my face of healthy color, transforming me into a washed-out apparition of eyebrows and hair. Add to that my habit of spilling wine and food on myself, of sitting down on dirty benches, and it quickly became obvious that cloaking myself in delicate sheaths of angel-fresh whites on a day when everyone would be staring at me – when everyone would be taking my picture – was an outrageously awful idea.
And so, red.
Red is the color of celebration. It's the color of love and of all the best flavors of Starbursts, jelly beans and lollipops. It's the color of the carpet I adored in my childhood bedroom and of the hot vinyl pants I wore to the greatest party I've ever thrown.
Red is the color that, at 12 years old, I announced to my family I would wear on my wedding day. And it's the color I wore, 24 years later, on a sunny Saturday in August, in a lush grassy field in the Catskills, when I made good on that promise.
The dress wasn't easy to find. They don't have monstrous, temple-like wedding emporiums filled with nothing but scarlet gowns. They don't publish 5-pound magazines full of rosy red frocks. If the stores I visited had any red dresses at all, they were for bridesmaids – cheaply made and, as every bridesmaid knows, sadly disappointing.
One store wouldn't even let me look at its red dresses on the weekend.
"We only show bridesmaid dresses on Wednesdays and Thursdays," a scolding saleswoman told me on the phone.
"But I'm a bride," I objected. It didn't matter. Only white-wearing women could shop in her store on a Saturday.
In the end, I hired a seamstress to recreate a gown I'd seen in white in that woman's store. I'd gone in on a Saturday, hoping to sweet-talk my way into the Wednesday and Thursday collection, but was directed instead to the traditional whites. I found a dress that suited me (it was actually kind of silvery) and asked a friend take a dozen pictures from every conceivable angle.
The dressmaker reproduced it in red for roughly the same price. My future husband I made a trip to garment district to choose the perfect material. We sifted through candy-colored ruby taffetas – so bright they made our teeth hurt – and heavy, rich fabrics that seemed more suited for curtains, until we found a feather-weight stretch of red silk that seemed to say "summer wedding."
The dress was a Victorian design, with tiny buttons up the front and a bustle in back. Wearing it, I felt like a character in a costume drama, like Elizabeth Bennett stepping up to marry Mr. Darcy after a complicated and interesting courtship. Dramatic literature seemed a better metaphor for marriage than a Cinderella bride riding off with her prince.
If anyone objected to my dress or thought its color inappropriate, they kept that to themselves. If anyone thought I was casting myself as a harlot – unworthy of the bridal whites – it certainly didn't get back to me. And I can't say I would have cared.
I'm not sure I ever asked David what he thought of marrying a scarlet bride, but we've been together for nearly a decade, and he knows me better than anyone ever has: He proposed with a ruby ring.
Erin Einhorn is the author of The Pages In Between: A Holocaust Legacy of Two Families, One Home.
Cat: "I had my heart set on scarlet ... but instead, I chose white."
I had plenty of big costume fantasies as a kid, but a white wedding wasn't one of them. Even as a six-year-old, I thought those boring fairytale princesses and their dumb pastel weddings sucked. I was -- and still am -- much more attracted to the Disney Villainess Aesthetic: Crimson Lips! Big Hair! The ability to magically kill your enemies!
If you told me I'd get married -- in a church! -- wearing a white silk dupioni, strapless gown, I would have laughed at you. But that's exactly what I wound up doing, and what's more, I'm glad I did!
Around our fourth anniversary, my then-boyfriend, Jeff
and I decided to make it official. We both agreed a big wedding was a waste of money. Instead, I'd get a cool vintage party dress, he'd find a cool vintage suit, and we'd go to City Hall and have a cool wedding.
Then, unexpectedly I found myself experiencing pangs of traditionalism.
"I need to have my family at our wedding," I sobbed to Jeff.
Our afternoon at City Hall became a small ceremony and reception at the beautiful Swedenborgian Church in San Francisco
. It was the perfect locale.
This more elaborate event required a more elaborate dress, and I knew the one I wanted: the red dress that Rhett Butler made Scarlett O'Hara wear
to Ashley's birthday party. It was a lot of dress, but hey, I was (almost definitely) only getting married once!
"I found my wedding dress, and it's red," I told my mother.
"That's fine," she said.
"Don't try to talk me out of it. Just because we're getting married in a church doesn't mean I'm going to become a conformist. And I'm certainly not going to wear a veil, like some 16 year-old virgin sacrifice," I said.
"You'll look beautiful whatever you wear," she said. Then she paused. Loudly.
"But are you sure you want to wear red for your wedding?" she asked.
I slammed down the phone and called my best friend, Stefania, who let me rant about individuality for twenty minutes, before gently saying:
"Think about it. You can wear a red dress for a lot of reasons, at lots of different times, but this is the only occasion in your life that you get to wear a special white dress."
I let her take me to a bridal store. To my surprise, trying on wedding gowns was fun! And I did feel special in a $4,000, rhinestone-encrusted, whipped-cream dream of a dress! In fact, when Stefania sent the sales woman to get a veil, I didn't even protest.
The veil turned out to be kick-ass. It felt like a very light wig, giving me the feeling of long, cascading locks, without the scalp-yanking weight of extensions.
"Only time I can wear it?" I asked Stefania.
"Exactly," she answered.
In the end I wore a waist-length veil and a simple but elegant white silk dupioni gown. It didn't have a train, but it did require a floor-length crinoline, which though utterly impractical for everyday life, was totally fun to wear to a party.
My dress was unlike any other I've ever worn, before or since -- and it was perfect for a day that was so incredibly special, unlike any other day in my life.
Of course, I still think about that Scarlett dress. But as Stefania said, there will be other days when a theatrical red gown makes sense ... like my brother's "black- tie optional" wedding this fall.
Cat Lincoln is a co-founder and principal of Clever Girls Collective, a social media marketing firm. In addition to writing for several AOL Lifestyle sites, including Lemondrop, Aisledash, Holidash and GreenDaily, she is also the co-creator of the collaborative entertainment blogs wishbone clover and 40whatever.
Which dress do you like better, the white or the red? Or check out more colored wedding dress options below.
Wedding Dresses With Color
Not white is the new white.