Rwanda : Fascinating history of the white wedding dresses
It’s your wedding day and all your invited guests expect to see you in white as you walk down the aisle and at the reception amidst the cheers of your guests as you dance the wedding match towards the special table (high table). You don’t think of Mikenyero or other local fabrics.
A wedding dress or wedding gown is the clothing worn by a bride during a wedding ceremony. In Rwanda, wedding gowns are popularly white but all colours are now worn on wedding days. The colour and design of the gown has become an individual preference in Rwanda like other countries.
Most people in Rwanda prefer ivory colour, others wear white and others incorporate those colours on a white gown. Bridal shops have variety of gowns imported from western countries and a few that are made locally.
Whether imported or tailored in Rwanda, white gowns are the popular on Rwandan many weddings and although white is believed by many to symbolize virginity, it’s not the original intention as according to the origin of the white wedding gown.
It is said that early Christians preferred blue colour that was connected to faithfulness, purity, religious and depictions of Virgin Mary.
Right up until the late 19th century, brides wore just about any color for their wedding gown, including black if the intended bridegroom was a widower. For example, in early Celtic cultures, red was the bridal color of choice, worn to invoke fertility.
In Western cultures, white wedding gown was made popular by Queen Victoria in the 19th century. Before Queen Victoria wore white on her wedding to Albert of Saxe-Coburg in 1840, white gowns were worn as the token of the bride’s purity and innocence by royalty and the wealthy.
Brides from wealthy families often wore rich colors and exclusive fabrics like bold colours and layers of fur, velvet and silk. They dressed in the height of current fashion, with the richest materials money could buy.
However, the poorest of brides wore their best church dress on their wedding day. The amount and the price of material a wedding dress contained was a reflection of the bride’s social standing and indicated the extent of the family’s wealth to wedding guests.
The first princess to wear a white wedding gown for a royal wedding ceremony is Philippa of England who wore a tunic with a cloak in white silk edged with velvet and ermine, at her marriage to Eric of Pomerania (modern Scandinavia) in 1406.
From 1929 until late 1960s, wedding dresses reflected the styles of the day but they have been based on Victorian styles ever since to date.