In 1406, Princess Philippa of England wore the first documented wedding dress when she wed Erik of Denmark. But during this era you didn't show your wealth with a white Vera Wang, but rather by wearing ornate wedding gowns in rich fabrics and vibrant colors: the more fabric and color, the better.
We have the Renaissance period to thank for the wedding dress train and the garter-toss tradition, which began during this era as a symbol of good luck and faithfulness. And while Reese Witherspoon's blush frock may usher in a new hued-dress trend, in 1662 Catherine of Braganza was mocked for her pink gown at her wedding to Charles II of Britain. First bridal trendsetter?
During the roaring '20s, constricting wedding dresses were replaced with shapeless frocks that dared to show ankles, then knees. And hemlines weren't the only thing women were being liberated from: the 19th Amendment gave new brides the same voting rights as their husbands.
Drawing inspiration from the military uniforms of the war-torn 1940s, bridal gowns became much more structured and strong shouldered, with sleek, boxier shapes.
Source: Flickr User sflovestory
The wedding dresses of the 1950s included a lot lace, thanks to the end of wartime restrictions on fabric. They were fashioned after the popular qualities (for women) of the day: sensibility, modesty, and femininity, all of which were embodied in Jacqueline Bouvier's gown at her 1953 wedding to JFK.
Bridal fashion boundaries were pushed in the swingin' '60s with minidresses worn by such celebs as Mia Farrow at her 1966 wedding to Frank Sinatra and Yoko Ono at her 1969 wedding to John Lennon. Then even more so with gender-bending bridal pantsuits and polyester 'fits groovy enough for a disco dance floor à la Bianca Jagger.
After the extravagant, poufy-sleeved, Princess Di-inspired concoctions of the '80s came pared-down, sleek dresses in the '90s, and most importantly, the true royalty in the wedding biz: Vera Wang. But today we really have an everything-goes mentality when it comes to bridal fashion, with bits and pieces pulled from all the eras to suit your personal taste and needs. With the Internet age and wedding blogs galore, we can gather inspiration from an infinite amount of sources at our fingertips, and we are free to make our wedding gown an unique expression of who we are.