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A bride in an elaborate wedding dress, USA 1929. Bride1929.jpg
A bride in an elaborate wedding dress, USA 1929.

A bride is a woman who is about to be married or who is newlywed.


When marrying, the bride's future spouse, (if male) is usually referred to as the bridegroom or just groom. In Western culture, a bride may be attended by a maid, bridesman and one or more bridesmaids.


"bryd," an Old Anglo-Saxon word Beowulf - bryd.jpg
"brȳd," an Old Anglo-Saxon word

The word, possibly, comes from the Old English 'bryd', which in turn is derived from the Proto-Germanic verb root *brū-, meaning 'to cook, brew, or make a broth,' which was the role of the daughter-in-law in primitive families. [1] [ failed verification ]


In the early 20th century, sometimes even later as here in 1926, it was not uncommon to see a bride wearing a darker-colored dress. Des moines wedding photographers photos 1.jpg
In the early 20th century, sometimes even later as here in 1926, it was not uncommon to see a bride wearing a darker-colored dress.
The woman to the far right is wearing a typical wedding dress from 1929. Up until the late 1930s wedding dresses reflected the styles of the day. From that time onward, wedding dresses have been based on Victorian ballgowns. 1929wedding.jpg
The woman to the far right is wearing a typical wedding dress from 1929. Up until the late 1930s wedding dresses reflected the styles of the day. From that time onward, wedding dresses have been based on Victorian ballgowns.

In Europe and North America, the typical attire for a bride is a formal dress, and a veil. Usually, in the "white wedding" model, the bride's dress is bought specifically for the wedding, and is not in a style that could be worn for any subsequent events. Previously, until at least the middle of the 19th century, the bride generally wore her best dress, whatever color it was, or if the bride was well-off, she ordered a new dress in her favorite color and expected to wear it again. [2]

For first marriages in Western countries, a white wedding dress is usually worn, [3] a tradition started by Queen Victoria, who wore a white court dress for her wedding. [4] Through the earlier parts of the 20th century, Western etiquette prescribed that a white dress should not be worn for subsequent marriages, since the wearing of white was mistakenly regarded by some as an ancient symbol of virginity, despite the fact that wearing white is a fairly recent development in wedding traditions, and its origin has more to do with conspicuous consumption from an era when a white dress was luxurious, even prodigal, because of difficulties with laundering delicate clothes. [5] [6] Today, Western brides frequently wear white, cream, or ivory dresses for any number of marriages; the color of the dress is not a comment on the bride's sexual history.

Outside of Western countries, brides most commonly wear national dress. White wedding dresses are particularly uncommon in Asian traditions, because white is the color of mourning and death in those cultures. In many Asian cultures, red is usual for brides, as this colour indicates vibrance and health and has over time been associated with brides. However, in modern times other colours may be worn, or Western styles preferred. Regardless of colour in most Asian cultures bridal clothes are highly decorative, often covered with embroidery, beading or gold. In some traditions brides may wear more than one outfit, this is true for example in Japan,[ citation needed ] parts of India, and, archaically, in parts of the Arab world.

Particular styles of jewelry are often associated with bridal wear, for example wedding rings in most Western cultures, or chura (red and white bangles) in Punjabi Sikh culture. Hindu brides are presented with a mangalsutra during the wedding ceremony, which has much of the same significance as a wedding ring in other parts of the world. Wedding jewellery has traditionally been used to demonstrate the value of the bride's dowry.

In addition to the gown, brides often wear a veil and carry a bouquet of flowers, a small heirloom such as a lucky coin, a prayer book, or other token. In Western countries, a bride may wear "something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue"; a bridal purse (or money bag) is also common. [7]


The term bride appears in combination with many words, some of which are obsolete. Thus "bridegroom" is a newly married man, and "bride-bell," "bride-banquet" are old equivalents of wedding-bells, wedding-breakfast. "Bridal" (from Bride-ale), originally the wedding-feast itself, has grown into a general descriptive adjective, the bridal ceremony. The bride-cake had its origin in the Roman confarreatio , an upper-class form of marriage, the essential features of whose ceremony were the eating by the couple of a cake made of salt, water and spelt flour, and the holding by the bride of three wheat-ears, a symbol of plenty.

The cake-eating went out of fashion, but the wheat ears survived. [8] In the Middle Ages they were either worn or carried by the bride. Eventually it became the custom for the young girls to assemble outside the church porch and throw grains of wheat over the bride, and afterwards a scramble for the grains took place. In time the wheat-grains came to be cooked into thin dry biscuits, which were broken over the bride's head, as is the custom in Scotland today, an oatmeal cake being used. In Elizabeth's reign these biscuits began to take the form of small rectangular cakes made of eggs, milk, sugar, currants and spices. Every wedding guest had one at least, and the whole collection were thrown at the bride the instant she crossed the threshold. Those that lighted on her head or shoulders were most prized by the scramblers. At last these cakes became amalgamated into a large one that took on its full glories of almond paste and ornaments during Charles II's time. But even today in rural parishes, e.g. north Notts, wheat is thrown over the bridal couple with the cry "Bread for life and pudding for ever," expressive of a wish that the newly wed may be always affluent. The throwing of rice, a very ancient custom but one later than the wheat, is symbolical of the wish that the bridal may be fruitful. [9] [10]

The bride-cup was the bowl or loving-cup in which the bridegroom pledged the bride, and she him. [8] The custom of breaking this wine-cup, after the bridal couple had drained its contents, is common to both the Greek Christians and members of the Jewish faith. It is thrown against a wall or trodden under foot. The phrase "bride-cup" was also sometimes used of the bowl of spiced wine prepared at night for the bridal couple. Bride-favours, anciently called bride-lace, were at first pieces of gold, silk or other lace, used to bind up the sprigs of rosemary formerly worn at weddings. These took later the form of bunches of ribbons, which were at last metamorphosed into rosettes.

Hungarian bride's crate Bride's crate (1a).JPG
Hungarian bride's crate

The bride-wain, the wagon in which the bride was driven to her new home, gave its name to the weddings of any poor deserving couple, who drove a "wain" round the village, collecting small sums of money or articles of furniture towards their housekeeping. [8] These were called bidding-weddings, or bid-ales, which were in the nature of "benefit" feasts. So general is still the custom of "bidding-weddings" in Wales, that printers usually keep the form of invitation in type. Sometimes as many as six hundred couples will walk in the bridal procession.

The bride's wreath is a Christian substitute for the gilt coronet all Jewish brides wore. [8] The crowning of the bride is still observed by the Russians, and the Calvinists of Holland and Switzerland. The wearing of orange blossoms is said to have started with the Saracens, who regarded them as emblems of fecundity. It was introduced into Europe by the Crusaders. The bride's veil is the modern form of the flammeum or large yellow veil that completely enveloped the Greek and Roman brides during the ceremony. Such a covering is still in use among the Jews and the Persians. [11] [12]

The "bride's crate" was the bride's container to gather all the things for the wedding in Hungary. Once all the underwear and clothes were finished, the girl was ready for marriage.



In Christianity, bride, the Lamb's wife, or the Bride of Christ, is a term that generally describes the Church (followers of Christ) spiritually betrothed to Jesus Christ. The term is found in related verses in the Bible that describe a woman, in the Gospels, the Book of Revelation, the Epistles and related verses in the Old Testament. Sometimes, the Bride is implied by calling Jesus a Bridegroom to the Church. For over 1500 years, the Church was identified as the bride betrothed to Christ. However, there are instances of the interpretation of the usage of varying from church to church. Most believe that it always refers to the church. In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the bride must always wear a white dress when getting married in the church temple, and nothing but white is allowed. [13]

Examples of bridal garments

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wedding</span> Ceremony where people are united in marriage

A wedding is a ceremony where two people are united in marriage. Wedding traditions and customs vary greatly between cultures, ethnic groups, religions, countries, and social classes. Most wedding ceremonies involve an exchange of marriage vows by a couple, presentation of a gift, and a public proclamation of marriage by an authority figure or celebrant. Special wedding garments are often worn, and the ceremony is sometimes followed by a wedding reception. Music, poetry, prayers, or readings from religious texts or literature are also commonly incorporated into the ceremony, as well as superstitious customs.

A white wedding is a traditional formal or semi-formal wedding originating in Great Britain.

Engagement Promise to wed; period of preparation before marriage

An engagement or betrothal is the period of time between a marriage proposal and the marriage itself. During this period, a couple is said to be fiancés, betrothed,intended, affianced, engaged to be married, or simply engaged. Future brides and grooms may be called fiancée (feminine) or fiancé (masculine), the betrothed, a wife-to-be or husband-to-be, respectively. The duration of the courtship varies vastly, and is largely dependent on cultural norms or upon the agreement of the parties involved.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Veil</span> A hanging cloth that covers specific parts of a person or a significant object

A veil is an article of clothing or hanging cloth that is intended to cover some part of the head or face, or an object of some significance. Veiling has a long history in European, Asian, and African societies. The practice has been prominent in different forms in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The practice of veiling is especially associated with women and sacred objects, though in some cultures, it is men, rather than women, who are expected to wear a veil. Besides its enduring religious significance, veiling continues to play a role in some modern secular contexts, such as wedding customs.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wedding ring</span> Finger ring which indicates that its wearer is married

A wedding ring or wedding band is a finger ring that indicates that its wearer is married. It is usually forged from metal, and traditionally is forged of gold or another precious metal.

Bridesmaids are members of the bride's party in a Western traditional wedding ceremony. A bridesmaid is typically a young woman and often a close friend or relative. She attends to the bride on the day of a wedding or marriage ceremony. Traditionally, bridesmaids were chosen from unwed young women of marriageable age. Bridesmaids are often required to get bob haircuts in some Nordic cultures.

Wedding dress Dress worn by a bride during the wedding ceremony

A wedding dress or bridal gown is the dress worn by the bride during a wedding ceremony. The color, style and ceremonial importance of the gown can depend on the religion and culture of the wedding participants. In Western cultures and Anglo-Saxon cultural spheres, the wedding dress is most commonly white, a fashion made popular by Queen Victoria when she married in 1840. In Eastern cultures, brides often choose red to symbolize auspiciousness.

Traditional Vietnamese wedding

The traditional Vietnamese wedding is one of the most important ceremonies in Vietnamese culture, which is influenced by Confucian and Buddhist ideologies.

Punjabi wedding traditions Overview of the wedding traditions in Punjab

Punjabi wedding traditions are a strong reflection of Punjabi culture with ritual, song, dance, food, and dress that have evolved over centuries.

Ukrainian wedding is the traditional marriage ceremony in Ukrainian culture, both in Ukraine and in the Ukrainian diaspora. The traditional Ukrainian wedding featured a rich assortment of folk music and singing, dancing, and visual art, with rituals dating back to the pre-Christian era. Over time, the ancient pagan traditions and symbols were integrated into Christian ones.

Weddings in the United States and Canada follow traditions often based on religion, culture, and social norms. Most wedding traditions in the United States and Canada were assimilated from other, generally European, countries. Marriages in the U.S. and Canada are typically arranged by the participants and ceremonies may either be religious or civil. There is a tradition that the prospective bridegroom ask his future father-in-law for his blessing.

Indian wedding clothes Set of clothes worn by the bride, bridegroom and other relatives attending the wedding.

Indian wedding clothes are elaborate set of clothes worn by the bride, bridegroom and other relatives attending the wedding.

Marriage and wedding customs in the Philippines

Traditional marriage customs in the Philippines and Filipino wedding practices pertain to the characteristics of marriage and wedding traditions established and adhered by them Filipino men and women in the Philippines after a period of adoption courtship and engagement. These traditions extend to other countries around the world where Filipino communities exist. Kasalan is the Filipino word for "wedding", while its root word – kasal – means "marriage". The present-day character of marriages and weddings in the Philippines were primarily influenced by the permutation of Christian, both Catholic and Protestant, Hindu, Islam, Chinese, Spanish, and American models.

Attire of Mangalorean Catholics refers to the traditional clothing of the Mangalorean Catholics from the Mangalore Diocese on the southwestern coast of India.

Bahaghara is a wedding ceremony performed by Odia Hindu people in the Indian state of Odisha. There are subtle differences in the rites observed by different castes. In Odia marriage rituals, the mother of the bridegroom does not take part in the ceremony. The Utkala Brahmins have their weddings only in the daytime, preferably at midday or in the morning, while the other caste weddings are done during the evening or night. There is the custom of sending betel nuts to family friends for inviting them to the marriage. The first invitation is sent to the family deity as a respect to the lord. Marriages in Odisha are mostly fixed and arranged by the parents. Marriages for serving or capturing is not common. In the Odia community widow remarriage is allowed in some lower caste, in this case the younger brother is allowed to marry the deceased brother's wife. The marriage happens in three major rituals, Nirbandha, Bahaghara (wedding) and Chauthi (Chaturthi) (consummation). A marriage is not considered complete or valid until consummation. These rituals are performed either at the Duara or Tola kanias house.

Shinto weddings, Shinzen kekkon, began in Japan during the early 20th century, popularized after the marriage of Crown Prince Yoshihito and his bride, Princess Kujo Sadako. The ceremony relies heavily on Shinto themes of purification, and involves ceremonial sake drinking of three cups three times, the nan-nan-san-ku-do. Shinto weddings are in decline. Fewer Japanese people get married, and those who do often choose Western-style chapel ceremonies.

Wedding superstitions Overview about superstitions

A wedding is a celebratory ceremony where two people are brought together in matrimony. Wedding traditions and customs differ across cultures, countries, religions, and societies in terms of how a marriage is celebrated, but are strongly symbolic, and often have roots in superstitions for what makes a lucky or unlucky marriage. Superstition is often linked to practices involving luck, fate or prophecy, and while many weddings are now more focused on celebratory traditions, many are still practiced, and numerous well-known wedding traditions have roots in superstitions from previous ages. A common example of a superstition involves no one seeing the bride in her wedding dress until the ceremony.

Weddings in ancient Rome

In ancient Rome, a wedding was a sacred ritual involving many religious practices. In order for the wedding to take place the bride and the groom or their fathers needed to consent to the wedding. Generally, the wedding would take place in June due to the god Juno. Weddings would never take place on days that were considered unlucky. During the wedding the groom would pretend to kidnap the bride. This was done to convince the household guardians, or lares, that the bride did not go willingly. Afterwards, the bride and the groom had their first sexual experiences on a couch called a lectus. In a Roman wedding both sexes had to wear specific clothing. Boys had to wear the toga virillis while the bride to wear a wreath, a veil, a yellow hairnet, chaplets of roses, seni crines, and the hasta caelibaris. All of the guests would wear the same clothes as the groom and the bride. The Romans believed that if bad omens showed up during a wedding it would indicate the couple was evil or unlucky. In order for a marriage to be successful there needed to be no evil omens and everyone must follow the traditional customs.

<i>Honggaitou</i> Red veil used in Chinese wedding

A honggaitou, also shortened to gaitou and referred as red veil in English, is a traditional red-coloured bridal veil worn by the Han Chinese brides to cover their faces on their wedding ceremony before their wedding night. The honggaitou is worn along with a red wedding dress. Veils have been used in China since the Han dynasty. The custom of wearing the honggaitou for wedding ceremonies can be traced back to the Song dynasty period. The custom of wearing the honggaitou, along with the traditional red wedding dress, continues to be practiced in modern-day China. However, under the influence of Western culture and globalization, most Chinese brides nowadays wear white wedding dresses and a white veil, an imitation of Western Christian weddings, instead of the red wedding dresses and honggaitou.


  1. "Bride". Oxford Dictionary. Archived from the original on October 1, 2016. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  2. Monger, George (2004). Marriage customs of the world: from henna to honeymoons . Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO. pp.  107–108. ISBN   1-57607-987-2.
  3. "5 special occasions when you should wear white". Dec 2, 2018.
  4. "Why Do Brides Wear White?". Retrieved Sep 7, 2021.
  5. Maura Banim; Ali Guy; Green, Eileen (2003). Through the Wardrobe: Women's Relationship with Their Clothes (Dress, Body, Culture). Oxford, UK: Berg Publishers. pp. 61–62. ISBN   1-85973-388-3.
  6. Martin, Judith (2005). Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior, Freshly Updated. Kamen, Gloria. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. pp. 408–411. ISBN   0-393-05874-3.
  7. A Brief History of the Wedding Purse Archived 2010-09-27 at the Wayback Machine , Brides' Village, retrieved 28 March 2010
  8. 1 2 3 4 Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Bride"  . Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  9. ( Monger 2004 , pp. 49–52)
  10. ( Monger 2004 , p. 232)
  11. Brand, Antiquities of Great Britain (Hazlitt's ed., 1905)
  12. Rev J. Edward Vaux, Church Folklore (1894)
  13. "Temple Bridal Dress Guidelines". Jun 1, 1997.