In the old times,the colour of the bridal gown was a popular source of luck. Before modern medicine, a long and healthy life was not very easy to achieve, but people tried to ensure good luck by following superstition. Many superstitions grew up around weddings, to bring about a girl's happiness in her new home and of course to guarantee her fertility.
White, or a variation of white, was of course always a favorite and symbolized a girl's virginity and innocence in the face of her imminent change of state. But it was not a practical shade for most purposes and it was not always the favorite choice.
Blue with its associations with the Virgin Mary, was another a strong symbol of purity, which also traditionally symbolized fidelity and eternal love (hence the popularity of the sapphire in engagement rings). Brides who wore blue believed their husbands would always be true to them, so even if their gown itself was not blue, they would be sure to wear something blue about their person. This is another tradition that has survived to this day.
Pink was another popular colour, considered most suitable for a May wedding. It is flattering to most complexions and associated with girlhood, but some superstitions held it to be unlucky - "Marry in pink and your fortunes will sink"! The deeper shade of red was definitely taboo by Victorian times, with its reference to scarlet women and hussies.
Amongst the unpopular shades was green. This was considered the fairies’ colour, and it was bad luck to call the attention of the little folk to oneself during a time of transition. Also linked with the lushness of verdant foliage, it was held to make rain spoil the big day.
Harking back to the days of homespun garments, any natural shade of brown or beige was considered very rustic. "Marry in brown you will live out of town" with the implication that you will be a hick and never make good in the city.
The bright shade of yellow has had varied popularity. In the eighteenth century it was The trendy colour for a while, and many wore it, but before that time it had been associated with heathens and non Christians and was considered an unholy shade to wear in church.
For brides of the lower classes, an extremely common shade of wedding gown was grey, because it was such a useful colour to re-use as Sunday best, being considered eminently respectable.
In Victorian times it became associated with girls in domestic service, as they would often be provided with a new grey dress each year by their employer. Its deeper shade of black was of course banned, with its permanent association with death and mourning. In fact it was considered such a bad omen that in some places even the guests were not allowed to wear it, and a recent widow would change her mourning for a red gown for the day, in deference to the bride. This in turn deepened the antipathy towards red, which was viewed as bridal mourning.
Those forced by economics into wearing a dress that would soon become regular daily wear, would adorn it for the day with temporary decorations. Up until the nineteenth century ribbons would be tied into bows, or "love knots" and loosely attached to the dress. These "bride laces" would be pulled off by the guests during the post ceremony festivities, and kept as wedding favours, or souvenirs. This custom gradually died out, being replaced by flowers instead. Guests would be given floral button-holes to wear, and the bride might wear flowers in her hair, as a corsage, or garlanded round her skirts, or else carry them in a bouquet. Tradition that continue today. Throughout Europe and North America, it is traditional for the bride to throw her bouquet at the reception and for all single women present to compete in catching it. The woman who catches the bouquet is said to be the next who will marry. Why?
In medieval Europe, a bride typically did not expect to wear her wedding dress again, and the dress was considered good luck for other women, a type of fertility charm. After the wedding, single women chased the bride and ripped pieces off her dress, leaving her in tatters. Over the years, wedding dresses became more expensive and it became traditional for women to keep them, either as a memento or to pass on to a daughter for her wedding day.
To prevent guests from ripping the wedding dress, brides began throwing other objects as a distraction, one of which was the garter. Later, the bouquet became the most traditionally thrown object. The wedding bouquet is particularly suited to this use, as flowers symbolize fertility, and as perishable items, they are not something the bride would wish to keep. The bouquet is also a safer item to toss than the garter, as unruly and impatient wedding guests were sometimes known to try to take the garter from the bride while she was still wearing it.