What Does the Bible Say About White Wedding Dresses?

White wedding dresses have become a staple in modern Western wedding traditions. However, the custom of wearing white on your wedding day is actually not based on anything in the Bible. The Bible does not specifically address wedding attire colors. Here we will explore the history of the white wedding dress, what the Bible does say about weddings more broadly, and how Christians can think biblically about their wedding style choices.


For many brides today, walking down the aisle in a stunning white gown is an essential part of the wedding experience. White dresses symbolize purity, cleanliness, and new beginnings. However, the wedding traditions we take for granted now have not always been the norm throughout history or across cultures.

The modern white wedding dress tradition only dates back to the 19th century. Before then, brides simply wore their best dress or a dress reflecting the styles of their era. White dresses did not carry any symbolic meaning. So where did today’s white wedding dress tradition originate? And what principles from the Bible can help us evaluate wedding style choices?

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Key Takeaways:

  • The Bible does not specifically address wedding attire colors or styles. Customs have varied widely throughout history and cultures.
  • The modern white wedding dress tradition emerged in the 19th century, initially among wealthy, Western families.
  • Purity and holiness metaphors in the Bible use white clothing symbolically, but this imagery is not directly connected to weddings.
  • Principles of modesty, respect for your spouse, financial stewardship, and expressing your identity in Christ should guide wedding style choices.
  • Wedding attire choices are an opportunity to reflect Christ, not just cultural trends.

With this foundation, let’s explore the history of the white wedding dress, Biblical principles for marriage, and how we can make wedding attire choices that honor God.

What Does the Bible Say About White Wedding Dresses?

The History of White Wedding Dresses

As we consider what the Bible says about wedding traditions, it’s helpful first to understand when and how those traditions developed. As mentioned above, for centuries brides simply wore their nicest clothing or followed the styles of their day. So when and why did white wedding dresses become so popular?

Victorian Era Origins

While not unheard of before the 19th century, the trend of wearing white wedding dresses took off during the Victorian Era in the Western world. Queen Victoria wore a white lace and satin gown when she married Prince Albert in 1840. As a very influential public figure, her choices sparked wedding dress trends among wealthy, privileged families.

Prior to this, white dresses were impractical to keep clean for most ordinary women. But for wealthier brides, white fabric and intricate lace details showed status and luxury. As the Victorian era idealized purity and innocence, white dresses also took on this additional symbolic meaning.

Over the following decades, the trend continued to grow. Advancements in textile manufacturing made white fabric more accessible across socioeconomic classes. Middle and lower class families could purchase simpler, more affordable white dresses.

By the early 20th century, white was an established wedding tradition across social classes in the West. It also spread to weddings in the United States. But this was never considered a religious requirement, just a widespread cultural preference.

Global Wedding Attire Variety

It’s important to note that not all cultures adopted the white wedding dress. In many parts of the world, other colors are more traditional for wedding celebrations.

For example, in India red and gold are customary wedding colors for bridal outfits. In Chinese culture, red is also preferred for its symbolism of joy and prosperity. Many eastern European brides wear elaborately embroidered national costumes passed down through generations.

Biblically speaking, there are no grounds to claim one wedding dress style or color is holier than another across all cultures. Customs widely vary, with each expressing cultural values and beauty in its own way.

Modern Wedding Dress Styles

Today white and off-white remain the most common wedding dress colors in Western culture. But new styles and silhouettes arise each season. Strapless dresses, mermaid shapes, ball gown skirts, lace overlays, and more give brides many fashion options.

Some couples are also choosing to break from tradition with colored wedding dresses. Others pick white dresses with colorful accents and accessories. Ultimately Scripture does not command a specific style. So within broad biblical principles for Christian living, freedom remains to express preferences.

Consumerism Concerns

One potential concern worth noting is the rampant consumerism and marketing often surrounding the wedding industry. In a world saturated with things, a lavish white dress can too easily become an idol. Scripture warns against lusting after status, wealth, and things that do not satisfy (Luke 12:15, Ecclesiastes 5:10).

Christians should be on guard against getting caught up in a fantasy wedding vision inflated by Pinterest, movies, and advertisements. Your identity comes from Christ, not your dress. Keeping priorities in biblical perspective is key when planning any wedding.

Biblical Principles for Marriage

The Bible does not directly mention wedding attire specifics. But it does give many principles that can help guide decisions. What matters most is that wedding plans as a whole reflect gospel truths about Christ’s love.

Marriage as a Covenant

In the Bible, marriage between a man and woman is established and blessed by God as a holy covenant relationship. This lifelong commitment between spouses is rooted in exclusive faithfulness and self-sacrificial love modeled after Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:25-33).

This covenant is made before God and people as witnesses (Malachi 2:14). Biblical weddings were joyful celebrations recognizing this new covenant status, much as weddings today signify.

Marriage as an Analogy

Marriage between husband and wife is meant to serve as an analogy for the divine relationship between God and his people. This sacred metaphor appears throughout Scripture, described as a holy union and partnership (Ephesians 5:31-32, Revelation 19:7-9).

Human marriage covenants reflect the greater covenant through Christ’s relationship to the church. So marriage is intrinsically valuable in illustrating the gospel. Wedding celebrations should aesthetically capture this joyful theological metaphor.

Counsel for Husbands and Wives

Biblical authors offer practical counsel for how believing husbands and wives should relate in everyday married life. Scriptural principles focus on the heart and actions over outward appearance.

For example, wives are urged to respect their husbands while husbands are commanded to sacrificially love and cherish their wives (Ephesians 5:22-33). Both spouses are called to faithful commitment, service, and Christlike humility toward one another.

Biblically, the wedding ceremony kickstarts a marriage based on wholehearted covenant love. This reality should remain the priority over all superficial details like dresses.

Marriage as Worship

When anchored in biblical truth, Christian marriage is an act of worship toward God. Marriage exists to display the glory of the gospel. The covenant relationship models Christ’s love for the church (Revelation 19:7).

Even a couple’s wedded love participates in the larger story of redemption (Ephesians 5:31-32). Every part of the special day from attire to vows can proclaim these truths when planned with purpose. For the bride and groom, their wedding manifests a sacred vow before God.

Honoring Christ in Wedding Celebrations

Weddings provide a public testimony and unique opportunity to share the gospel. So how can we honor Christ in wedding celebrations through choices like attire? Here are several biblical principles that can guide decisions.

Principles for Wedding Attire

When considering wedding clothing, couples should prioritize the following:

Modesty – Dresses should respectfully cover the body, not flaunt sexuality (1 Timothy 2:9). You can still look beautiful and elegant while dressing modestly.

Beauty and Craftsmanship – God designed us to appreciate beauty and excellence. Well-crafted dresses can display good gifts from the Creator (Exodus 28:2, Proverbs 31:22).

Meaningful Symbolism – Some symbolic meanings, such as white representing purity in Christ, can communicate biblical truth when intentionally applied.

Honoring Your Spouse – Avoid choices that distract from your spouse or make them uncomfortable on the wedding day.

Stewardship – Make responsible financial decisions that steward resources entrusted by God (Luke 16:11). Avoid wasting money just to impress.

Cultural Appropriateness – Consider your cultural context and family background. There is freedom to follow established customs.

Expressing Your Identity in Christ – Allow choices to reflect your unique personality and identity as a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

The most important thing is keeping Christ at the center as you begin a new life joined as one under Him. All other details should flow from that biblical foundation.

Avoiding Legalism and Personal Convictions

At the same time, Christians need to show grace when preferences differ on wedding style choices not directly addressed in Scripture. Avoid binding others’ consciences to legalistic rules like “thou shalt wear white.”

Some couples today choose colored dresses, which is perfectly acceptable. Others select sleeveless or minimal styles, while some brides prefer more modest coverage. These options are not inherently right or wrong in themselves according to the Bible. Motives matter most.

Each couple can make wise, thoughtful choices guided by scriptural principles for their situation. Don’t impose your personal convictions about wedding trends onto others. Display Christlike charity when preferences differ among fellow believers.

Seeking Godly Counsel

To help in applying biblical truths when planning your wedding, seek wisdom from mature Christian mentors. Godly parents, pastors, ministry leaders, or married friends can provide guidance and accountability if needed. The Body of Christ is designed to walk together in wisdom.

Share your thought process on any choices you’re unsure about. Ask for help assessing motivations and potential stumbling blocks. This can protect against ignoring caution signs when emotions run high during wedding planning.


In closing, the Bible does not directly address wedding attire specifics like requiring brides to wear white. When this tradition emerged in the 19th century, it was not out of biblical reasoning. However, as a widespread custom today, wearing white or off-white for weddings is certainly permissible within cultural norms.

More importantly, weddings present a special opportunity to publicly embody biblical truth about Christ’s covenant love and the gospel. Through thoughtful choices guided by scriptural principles, engaged couples can prayerfully make this precious event point to divine realities that far surpass any dress color. Focus first on exalting Christ, building a strong marriage foundation, and serving others. All other wedding planning details should flow out of those central priorities.

The Lord cares far more about the condition of your heart and living out biblical ethics in marriage. So prayerfully seek to honor God with wisdom. Avoid promoting extrabiblical opinions and legalism. Display the beauty of Christ and His love to all watching your union. Let your wedding choices reflect gospel integrity from start to finish.

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