Believe it or not, there was a time in relatively recent history when white was not the default color for a bridal gown. Once upon a time, brides sported more practical colors: pinks, greys, yellows, even reds. The tradition at the time was to have the gown altered after the wedding in order to re-wear it for formal occasions, such as balls and operas.
The 1840 nuptials of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert changed all that. The Queen opted for a snowy shade as an act of conspicuous consumption, meant to illustrate that she could afford something as easily ruined as an all-white dress. Even so, the tidy Queen had her gown cleaned and altered, and wore it several more times.
After more than a century of single-use, all-white gowns, modern brides are showing interest in both practicality and color (look to Vera Wang for proof—she recently sent black dresses down her wedding runway). If you’re a bride craving something beyond the pale, check out Temperley London and Ethereal by Leila Hafzi for gorgeous, super-luxe wedding dresses in dreamy shades of grey, rose, and nude.