In the earliest of days, marriage was only deemed as a union that would result in sexual release of the man, household labor and procreation. There was no such concept of communion and emotional commitment between two people who wanted to get married. Women has largely no say in the matter, and would often by ‘bought’ by men visiting their villages in exchange for paying cash, livestock or land to the household to which the woman belonged. Neither was the concept of divorce and a woman’s consent to marriage made common until the Roman era.

In the early American history, weddings were deemed as private affairs, where it was considered appropriate to only invite the closest of family relatives and friends to the wedding. The wedding would often take place in an intimate matter at the home of the parents of either the groom or the bride. Following a bride’s nuptials, she would be recognized at Sunday church services publicly.  This procedure began to evolve slowly by the 1820s and 1830s, so that people from at least the upper class started expanding their customs and traditions. The American wedding remained private and small scaled but things like dinner receptions, cake cutting and toasts to the couple were introduced. The Industrial Revolution led to a middle class springing up. These, in turn led to the American wedding becoming more intricate and elaborate over all.

Since simplicity was the norm in the early 1800s, many brides had only one good dress. Since they had to use this dress for other occasions as well, such as funerals, it was quite common for the brides to be wedding in black or dark colors such as navy. The turning point came when the newly crowned queen of Great Britain, Victoria, married Prince Albert in 1840. She chose to be clad in a white satin grown, unlike the queen before her. This led to many young women in England as well as America to copy her style and grew enthusiastic about this new trend. The fact that white gowns were also associated with luxury and wealth was also one reason why aspiring commoners would take to this trend as their choice of color for wedding dresses.

The business of wedding vendors began to boom as soon the Jazz Age came into existence. By the 1950s, catered weddings and photographers for hire, coupled with stores selling merchandize like engraved invitations, flowers etc became something that people other than the elite could also afford.

The concept of ‘destination weddings’ came into being in the 1970s in the American wedding traditions and it quickly replaced the cookie-cutter standards of the weddings hosted in the 1950s.  However, the wedding of Princess Diana to Prince Charles in 1981 brought along with it a fairytale touch to it, and encouraged people to put extra effort into their big day. No expenses were spared for the ‘perfect, dream like wedding.’ Today a couple spends around 20,000 dollars on average on their wedding to give it a professionalized and perfect look.

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