Often, the importance of wedding gowns or bridal dresses in both cases was to reflect as much style and taste as the bride could possibly afford. The more wealth a bride possessed, the more extravagant and glamorous her bridal gown would be.
Layers of silk and fur were not uncommon for the wealthiest women for their wedding ceremony. Not only was this expected as a manner that was fitting of their social status but its meaning was to express the height of fashion at the time.
Although the purpose of matrimony states in the vows that it is for love that couples should marry, in many Western wedding ceremonies, politics, nobility and social class have played more of a role in the choice of a bridal gown.
The importance of the wedding gown in Eastern cultures is quite different from Western ones; both past and present. Known as a wedding sari in India and an Ao dai in Vietnam, the emphasis is on auspiciousness and good luck when the dress is a traditional red.
Because the wedding ceremonial practices are different, the meaning of the official attire is centered on tradition and norms that have existed for centuries.
South Indian brides adhere to this tradition in part, even in Western countries, by keeping the sari as a part of their gown, which may bear a Western design in style.
In the Eastern cultures, the importance and meaning of the wedding gown is often recognized by the name of the garment itself. Japanese brides often choose at least three different bridal gowns; a traditional kimono and dresses of other colors including white.
Philippine brides wear a Baro’t saya in different variations while Indonesia brides from the Javanese region don a Kebaya which is actually an gown designed somewhat like a blouse.
The third popularly recognized culture is that of the Native American culture where many different traditions are associated with the meaning of the wedding gown.
From all white wedding robes that symbolize a shroud to protect the bride on her travels through various regions to white cotton bridal gowns tied to the right shoulder and jewelry which represent a combination that shields the bride and groom against bad luck, hunger, poverty and evils.
From decadent to most modest, the meanings and importance of the wedding dress have come down through history and include many meanings from social status to tradition and superstition.