In 1840, Queen Victoria decided to be married in a white gown, and thus started a fad which is still with us. She chose white because she had some lace that she was very fond of, and wanted to use it in her wedding. There was nothing traditional about it. There was at that time no tradition of being married in white. Portraits of the wedding, like the one above, were widely seen and her choice in fashion was copied. All the symbolism attributed to the white gown are later accretions.
People have, of course, always gotten dressed up for their weddings. Often the bride had spent years embroidering parts of her outfit, but generally it was a more colorful and elaborate version of the clothing she would wear on special occasions for all of her life. Very commonly traditional bridal dress incorporated flowers and a crown or wreath of some kind. There was no color considered to be specific for weddings; wedding dresses were often black, or red, but usually very colorful. They were rarely plain white. Also, while some elements, such as the crown, were reserved for weddings, most of the wedding outfit continued to be worn on special occasions. Queen Victoria could certainly afford to have a gown made for just the one occasion, but most people did not.
Many of the so called 'traditions' connected with modern western weddings are in fact recent innovations. Being of Ukrainian background, I find some of them bizarre, and very un-European, such as the veil, the sequestering of the bride from the groom on the day of the wedding, the giving away of the bride, all of which suggest more a middle-eastern mindset in which the woman is treated as chattel, rather than an egalitarian European one.
And of course, many of the 'traditions' are designed to sell things; after all, weddings are big business.
Here are some examples of Bridal outfits from around Europe which are truly traditional. If you have a strong connection to a particular ethnicity or place, I strongly urge you to research your background, and make your wedding more truly meaningful, rather than just another carbon copy of generic western culture. There ARE ways of doing things that do not involve dressing up like Queen Victoria.
Please enjoy the following selection, which, by the way, is far from exhaustive. There are many more.
I found so much material that I decided to only do a quick scan of western Europe.
A Saami bride borrows many silver brooches to wear on her silk shoulder scarf. A crown, as in other parts of Scandinavia, is also worn.
There are, of course, many other local variations.
I hope that you have found this interesting.
Debionne/Meissner, 'Die Schoensten Deutschen Trachten', Munich, 1987
Gisela Wulff, 'Luettje Burdeern von'n Doerpen', Germany, 1979
Tomaz Ribas, 'O Trajo Regional em Portugal', Braga, Portugal, 2004
Heidi Fossnes, 'Norges Bunader og Samiske Folkedrakter', Oslo, 1994
Laila Duran, 'Scandinavian Folklore vol I - III', Sweden, 2013
Caroline Brancq, 'Les Costume Regionaux d'Autrefois', Paris, 2003
Rode de Basso Prouvenco, 'Le Costume Populaire Provencal',
Radost Ivanova, 'Traditional Bulgarian Wedding', Sofia, 1987
M. Veleva, 'Bulgarski Narodni Nosii vol 1 - 4', Sofia,