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The Royal Family Started A Wedding Trend That We All Take For Granted

It could be fair to say that Pippa Middleton's nuptials kicked off wedding season, as fashion magazines swoon over every detail from the page boy pants to the attendance of her sister, The Duchess of Cambridge, there is one detail that was on everyone's minds: the bridal gown.

It has been called the "not-quite-royal-wedding-of-the-year," but similarities were being drawn left, right and center. Especially when it came to Pippa Middleton's flowing white, Giles Deacon wedding gown.

Like her sister's wedding gown, it was a Grace Kelly inspired dream : contemporary, yet traditional without being too stuffy. The elegant high-necked, cap-sleeved gown molded to her torso and descended into a full, flowing skirt.

Believe it or not, white was not always the traditional color for Western wedding dresses. In fact, brides have only been wearing white wedding dresses since the 1840s. Before that, red was the most popular choice for wedding gowns.

In Western society today, only about 5% of wedding dresses sold at David's Bridal are colored gowns. Even though brides are free to wear whatever they choose to, most of us still prefer that classic white gown, but why?

It was the decision of one headstrong royal that launched a 175-year trend of wearing white ...

Why We Wear White

It all started with Queen Victoria's wedding to Prince Albert of Saxe-Goburg and Gotha on February 10, 1840. Like her descendents, Victoria was an independent thinker, not afraid to break with tradition.

Despite red being the most popular color for brides in her day, the young queen insisted on wearing a white, lacy gown. Not only did she ignore the color tradition, the romantic rebel Queen refused to even wear a crown - instead opting for an orange blossom wreath.

Getty Images/ Rischgitz

Although she wasn't the first royal in history to choose white, she is the one who changed the norm.

A few years after her wedding, a widely read lady's monthly called white "the most fitting hue" for a bridal gown. A trend was born and has yet to be broken on such a scale again.

Besides representing purity and simplicity, Victoria chose white to showcase two very important values: domestic commerce and economy

She used only British-made materials, and reflected traditional values of economy by reusing pieces of her dress in her wardrobe for many years later. She repurposed the lace from her dress for her Diamond Jubilee, 56 years later.

It's hard to imagine a wedding now without a white dress, it has become so ingrained in our culture.  Much like Prince William's decision not to wear a wedding band, Victoria's choice of dress speaks to just how much influence the Royal family still has on trends today.

Did you wear white to your wedding? Now you know why!

[h/t BBC Culture / Vogue / Time]