What Is A White Wedding?

Story Amour
Written by Story Amour · Posted in Advice Last Updated April 6, 2023 · minute read

“It’s a nice day for a white wedding” Oh, it can’t just be us who thinks of Billy Idol and that song anytime someone mentions a white wedding. Surely?

But have you ever asked yourself what is a white wedding? No? Well, we went around the Story Amour offices and everyone had an opinion on what counts as a white wedding in 2023. So we thought we’d best let our readers know what we found out.

bride and groom doing confetti at traditional white wedding

What is a White Wedding?

In this article, we’re going to explore some of the traditions involved in white weddings. And no, it doesn’t have to be a wedding in that the bride wears white. Yes, it’s a big part of the tradition but couples are tearing up the rule book all the time. 

We found that there are a lot of nuances to understand and we’ll cover them all in this article. After that, we’ll go through some of the pros and cons of having one.

We’ll tell you about the history of white weddings and how they compare with the present day interpretations. We’ll then round up with some of the most frequently asked questions about white weddings.

So let’s get to it!

What does a white wedding mean?

So backtracking a little from what we said in the intro. Sorry, not sorry. 

The definition of a white wedding is one that is seen as a formal or semi formal occasion originating in Great Britain where the bride wears a white dress [1].

Now the dress is certainly part of it but that’s only how it got its name. In 2023 a white wedding can be called such for so many other reasons such as if the decor is white, the invitations are, or even if the groom’s suit is white. There really are no rules.

With that said though, of course, the most popular choice of color for a bride to wear remains to be white. But why is that? Let’s explore some of the histories of white weddings.

The history of white weddings

A little history lesson for you. It all started back in the Victorian era across the pond in Great Britain. Of course, it was going to be those crazy Brits coming up with these weird and wonderful traditions that we uphold years later.

Before 1840, the year Queen Victoria and Prince Albert said “I do”, brides would generally wear a dress color of their choosing. 

It was only when word got out that Queen Victoria had donned a white number that its popularity grew. 

At the time white was seen as a color more associated with mourning so this radical move took a bit of time to gain traction. Hard to think that now isn’t it?! 

How times change. What was once seen as a color more closely linked with death steadily became one that represented purity and innocence. 

In more recent times the global spectacle of Princess Diana and Prince Charle’s wedding exacerbated the idea of a white wedding further. 

Broadcast to 750 million people it was obviously the most-viewed wedding of all time. Diana chose an 8 meter train for her white dress. Just one choice that made the wedding look like a real life fairytale story. This seemed to imprint on the world so much so that a white wedding is just seen as the norm.

Films and T.V. have further pushed the ideals of a white wedding and made it the aspiration of everyone that’s looking to get married. 

Just think about where weddings would be without the rise in popularity of the white wedding. Heck, we might not even be writing this blog post…

What does a white wedding symbolize?

Colors Explained [2] suggests the color white is seen as the purest of all colors. It’s a serene and calming hue that is symbolic of new beginnings. You can see how it’s stuck around, can’t you?!

When talking about the color white and its relationship to weddings the phrases, purity, virtue, elegance, innocence, and delicacy spring to mind. 

If we tie all those things together it’s easy to see how the term white wedding has found such prominence. It can be seen as a transition point for someone starting a new life, a blank canvas if you will, going from a single life to one that is now part of a marriage.

Ultimately a white wedding symbolizes the whole idea of tradition. This is how things have been done in the past and will continue to be done. Doing things the way royalty does makes everyone involved feel special for that one amazing day.

bride wears white wedding dress while smiling with groom during ceremony

Bride wears white wedding dress

What is the difference between a white wedding and a traditional wedding?

The white wedding mainly refers to the Western style of weddings. It will involve all the typical things you associate with weddings here in the US. 

Think of the bride wearing white, exchanging wedding rings and vows, having page boys and flower girls, and having a reception and speeches.

On the other hand, a traditional wedding is one that upholds the traditions of the culture, religion, or region that the couple is from. 

For example in India it might be appropriate to dress up in colorful clothing, receive cultural blessings and have henna designs drawn on the body. In Hong Kong, it might be the door games or traditions of the Chinese tea ceremony.

We’re not saying other cultures don’t embrace a lot of the elements of a white wedding as well. Just that they also have their own rituals and ways of doing things on the day of the wedding. The term white wedding just typically refers to the Western way.

The white wedding in the present day

It is possible to have a white wedding without the bride wearing a white dress. Two grooms might be saying “I do” for starters and we’re pretty sure they can still have a white wedding.

Really a white wedding includes all those traditions and elements that have been passed down through generations.

Here are just some of the typical traditions you’ll find at a modern white wedding.

  • Invitations
  • Floral arrangements
  • Bouquet
  • White wedding dress
  • A first look
  • Bridesmaids and groomsmen
  • Vows and an exchange of rings
  • Readings
  • Hymns and choral music
  • Flower girl and page boys
  • Ring bearer
  • A white wedding cake
  • Speeches
  • The wedding breakfast

Advantages and disadvantages of a white wedding?

So, do you want a white wedding for yourself and your partner? Why don’t we look at some pros and cons of having one and then you can decide for yourself?


  • Its symbolic nature: If you look at the symbolism of a white wedding it can be a signal of new beginnings. A blank canvas for a couple to write their own story.
  • The easiest wedding to organize: Whilst there are lots of traditions that can seem complicated a white wedding is the most common type of wedding. Therefore all the suppliers you hire know the score and it’ll run like clockwork.
  • Puts your guests at ease: There are no hidden surprises at a white wedding other than singing waiters but that’s a story for another time. They’re easily understood and accepted by most guests so they’ll be happy and content all day long.
  • Timeless Classics: White weddings have been a tradition for centuries now. They’re classy and elegant and we can’t see them going out of fashion any time soon.


  • Lack of originality: With white weddings being amongst the most popular it’s difficult to make your wedding stand out from the crowd. If that’s important to you then you might want to consider organizing a less conventional day.
  • The cost: A typical white wedding in the US will run you an average of $30k. That’s a lot of money. Things like fancy designer dresses, suits, and elegant venues all amp up the costs.
  • Spilled wine and grass stains: Yes we’ve seen both! If the brides at these weddings had been wearing a black dresses no one would have batted an eyelid. 
  • Unrealistic expectations: If you’re trying to live up to the decadence of Harry and Meghan you’re likely to come up short. There are lots of traditions to adhere to and you might be left unsatisfied if you don’t quite meet them.

FAQs about white weddings

Can a divorced bride have a white wedding?

Err yeah of course they can. Maybe don’t wear the same dress you wore for your first wedding though! 

The traditions of a bride wearing white as a symbol of virginity and pureness are well out the window. If you like the way white looks and you feel it’s the right choice you wear it girl! 

The same applies to whether or not you can have a white wedding. There are no rules but you might want to do something a bit different to your first marriage. It really is up to you.

Is it disrespectful to wear white at a white wedding if you’re not the bride?

If you’re asking that question we think you already know the answer. Whilst it’s not necessarily disrespectful in Western weddings it is definitely frowned upon. In other cultures, it could be seen as a sign of disrespect so it’s best to wear another color.

The wedding is usually all about the bride. She’s usually the only person at the wedding dressed in white and as such stands out. You don’t want to diminish her shine by also wearing white, so we think it’s a big no-no. 

The only way it’s acceptable in our book is if the bride has said it’s fine. Equally, a bride may choose to have all her bridesmaids or groomsmen dress in white.

Can you have a white wedding if you have kids?

Yes, you can but keep them well back from the dress! We’ve seen a child knock a whole bottle of red wine over the bride’s dress at a wedding! OMG, it’s giving us palpitations just thinking about it now.

But seriously, no this shouldn’t stop you. Just maybe have a spare dress on standby.

Can you have a white wedding if you’re pregnant?

Yeah, you can. Whether you’re pregnant or not should have zero bearing on the type of wedding you can have. Unless you’re planning on tying the knot as you skydive or something else crazy.

There are many white dresses made to accommodate a baby bump and we’ve photographed a load of white weddings with pregnant brides. So don’t worry about it!

Can you have a white wedding if you’re eloping?

If you’re getting married without a wedding you can still have a white wedding. Wow, that was a mouthful, wasn’t it? 

A white wedding is whatever you define it as. Whether that’s just wearing a white dress in the mountains of Glencoe in Scotland or having a more traditional affair. 

At the same time, some people have an elopement photoshoot somewhere exotic and display those photos at the actual wedding. 

This means they can get awesome wedding photos where that otherwise wouldn’t be possible on the day of the wedding.

Do I have to wear a white dress to have a white wedding?

It’s not a requirement to wear a white dress. As we’ve mentioned throughout this article there are loads of traditions that make up a white wedding.

Equally, it could just be that the theme for your special day is that everything is white. 

Perhaps you choose a colorful flowery dress to stand out amongst the sea of white. 

Whatever you choose we’re sure you’ll look amazing and shouldn’t worry whether your big day is classed as a white wedding.

Will it be a white wedding if the groom’s wearing white?

Yes! As we’ve said there should be nothing stopping anyone from having a white wedding. So if you’re part of the LGBTQ+ community of course you can have a white wedding.

Two white tuxedos at the front of the aisle surrounded by your nearest and dearest, we can see it now. Swooooon!


And that’s that. We hope you’re now a little clearer on what a white wedding is.

It’s a tricky one to define as the term will mean different things to individuals. Maybe it’s right for you and your big day or maybe it’s not. That’s just something you’ll have to decide for yourself.

Obviously, by having a white wedding you’re staying true to tradition. You’re taking pieces from the way things have been done for centuries and honoring them in your own special way. 

At the same time, you might find people arguing that they’re outdated and you should make your day as unique as possible. Maybe you want to have a pink dress and get married at McDonald’s. And that’s absolutely fine by us! We’d call that a McPink wedding though!

What’s most important is that everyone has a great day and you make memories that last a lifetime.


[1] – https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/white%20wedding

[2] – https://www.colorsexplained.com/color-white-meaning-of-the-color-white/