Guide to Choosing Historically Accurate Designer Wedding Dresses

Focusing your wedding on a particular decade can be a great way to add fun to your wedding day. While you can use period-appropriate foods and décor, wearing the right designer wedding dress can help set the right tone for the joyous occasion.

1900s Wedding Dresses

Queen Victoria married Prince Albert in 1840. Sixty years later, brides were still copying the style of her designer wedding dress style. Designers made dresses of heavy white silk material. Most have high-necked collars, ruffles down the front of the bodice and a waist sitting higher than the bride’s natural waist. The bottoms of these wedding dresses were full, and most wedding dresses had oversized sleeves.

1910s Wedding Dresses

High-waisted wedding dresses were popular in the 1910s. Especially as the decade went on, dancing at wedding receptions became more popular. The bottom of the wedding dresses became even fuller so that brides could easily move during father-daughter and their first dance. Late in the decade, wedding dresses with tiered skirts became popular. Silk wedding dresses cut in the empire style were trendy, but most brides opted to lose the full sleeves and the ruffles down the bodice. Most brides opted for a cap-style veil or opted for a cloche hat. You might have trouble seeing the wedding dress, however, as brides usually carried enormous bouquets.

1920s Wedding Dresses

Women worldwide started shouting that they were more than what they wore during the 1920s, and many brides chose to make that statement during their weddings by wearing flapper-style wedding dresses, with many having embroidery or beading. Some women who were not ready to go with a flapper-style dress made their statement by wearing dresses that stopped at the knees or just below them. Most brides in the 1920s wore a headdress.

1930s Wedding Dresses

The Great Depression affected wedding dresses, with many brides opting to forgo this luxury and wear a dress they already owned. Others insisted they have a special dress, even if it was made of cheaper material, such as rayon. Then, they chose to dye the material after the wedding to continue wearing the dress. Fashionable brides went without a veil or headdress, but they wore a stylish hat.

1940s Wedding Dresses

Weddings were often rapidly planned and executed in under a week during the 1940s because of World War II. Those who chose a designer wedding dress had padded shoulders and hips, tight gathered sleeves and a corset waist to create an hourglass look. The government rationed many fabrics at the start of the war, so brides opted for wedding dresses that ended about the knee. Designers often chose to create dresses with keyhole, V-neck or slit necklines.

1950s Wedding Dresses

When Grace Kelly married the Prince of Monaco, she set the tone for wedding dresses in the 1950s. Every fashionable bride wore a pair of fingerless gloves on her special day. Many brides chose wedding dresses with a sweetheart neckline. Brides often opted for strapless wedding dresses, but those who chose to be married in a church often chose to wear a bolero jacket as showing bare shoulders in the church as people saw showing bare skin as disrespectful. Many brides completed their attire with a birdcage veil.

1960s Wedding Dresses

Almost everyone embraced individualism during the 1960s, and brides often chose dresses because they loved the style. With new technology and space exploration, many decided to incorporate metallic fabrics and embellishments into their special gown. Following the lead set by Princess Margaret, necklines were kept high, and many wedding dresses were cut in the empire style with relatively high waistlines.

1970s Wedding Dresses

While it started in the late 1960s, the Bohemian vibe took over the wedding dress industry in a big way in the 1970s. Many designers embraced double knit fabrics, batwing sleeves and empire waists. Starting in about 1973, when Princess Anne married Mark Phillips, most wedding dresses had a square neckline, which was usually modestly high. Wedding dresses often had a 12-inch dust ruffle on the bottom.

1980s Wedding Dresses

The world talked about the beautiful wedding dress worn by Princess Diana in 1981, and designers hustled to make their version of the dress with its long flowing sleeves gathered at the waist and mandarin-collared neckline. Brides often opted for long cathedral veils. Towards the end of this decade, puffy sleeves became immensely popular. Designers often incorporated large bows on the front or back of wedding dresses.

1990s Wedding Dresses

Unlike the last decade, brides went with a minimalistic wedding dress in the 1990s. Caroline Kennedy helped set the trend of wearing wedding dresses that easily traveled when she wed Edwin A. Schlossberg. Wedding gowns usually hugged the bride’s sides and had very few embellishments. Slinky slip gowns and fitted halter gowns were seen towards the end of the decade as brides chose to spend hours in tanning booths, even in the wintertime.

2000s Wedding Dresses

The first decade of the 21st century saw weddings moving away from houses of worship. Many brides felt a new freedom to wear what they wanted, so strapless wedding dresses became very fashionable. Wedding dresses started being embellished with lace again. Many women chose to eliminate the bridal veil by wearing a tiara or putting flowers in their hair.

2010s Wedding Dresses

Mermaid-style wedding gowns were a trendy choice during the 2010s. Some brides chose asymmetrical styles instead, while others opted to combine the two types in one dress. This decade, a renewed emphasis on wedding flowers happened because brides could easily get their favorite flowers delivered, even when they were out of season.

Find Your Designer Wedding Dress

Brides looking for wedding dresses in Columbus can still find these styles. It helps when you are looking for the perfect wedding dress in Columbus, Ohio, to work with a bridal boutique that has access to many different designers. Ordering a dress far enough in advance also allows tailors time to make alterations that enhance your wedding dress look, making it even more historically accurate.