Check out this collection of beautiful vintage wedding dresses from the first two decades of the 1900s, as seen in various magazines and American newspapers around the turn of the century.
Vintage wedding dresses from 1902
The beautiful bride and her attendant (1902)
Her wedding bells will ring today (1902)
Vintage wedding dresses: What the new brides will be wearing
Text from the Washington Post (Washington DC) May 22, 1905
All the world is filled with beauty for the happy June bride. The brightest sunshine, the fairest flowers are for her.
Every season brings lovely things for the bride, but there are fairy-like creations especially appropriate for the one who goes into her new life in the balmy summer time.
The wedding gown is always of prime importance. Materials for this are rich and elegant in the traditional and always fashionable satins — the messaline being a favorite. Ivory tint is much in demand, but pure white and pearl are used. On aesthetic lines should this superb gown be made, and its garniture should be some very rich lace. Not a great quantity should be used, but the rare quality that lends elegance and distinction.
For those who prefer a wedding gown of lighter material, there are finest chiffons, mousselines and nets that, made over silk, are exquisite. Although fashion ordains much trimming on all costumes, the wedding gown is an exception. It admits of only the finest lace and hand embroidery.
The bridal veil, that ever-romantic feature of the bride’s array, should be worn by the June bride. It may be entirely of real lace, or it may be bordered with lace, which should match the lace on the gown. The veil of silk tulle is ever lovely, and it suits the most magnificent toilet [outfit].
Orange blossoms are the flowers that should hold the veil in place. The June bride should be crowned with these pure white flowers — emblematic of woman’s worth.
Especially appropriate for the bride are those exquisite eight-button gloves recently imported from Paris. They are in the latest tints, and should match the gown. They should fit perfectly, but not too closely, as in most marriage services, the gloves must be removed and drawn on again.
Exquisite are the silk hose for the bridal toilet. They are hand-embroidered. With these should be worn the daintiest of slippers of kid, suede, satin or lace. If of lace, they should match other lace worn. One strap is a la mode, and if a bow be desired, it should be small and formed of satin, lace and orange buds.
Bridal corsets of superb silk weaves are band-embroidered and finished with berthas of lace and ribbon.
Besides the corsets, the expert fitting them can look at the figure and make many useful suggestions of things that will make it even more perfect. A countless array of these new and lovely appurtenances is shown in the corset department.
Lace is the predominant trimming. All must be fluffy with lace. Lace berthas that can be worn with several gowns are gems of loveliness. Everything must be rich with lace, or lacy to a degree.
Bridal lingerie was never more elegant. The June bride has an extensive collection from which to choose.
One magnificent set of the French nainsook [lightweight cotton muslin] is elaborate with rich lace, which is still further enriched by being hand-embroidered in superb floral design. The embroidery on lace is something of a departure, but it is quite effective.
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The American girl as a bride – vintage wedding dresses from 1905
Vintage wedding dress from 1906
Classic vintage wedding gown (1908)
Vintage wedding dresses for the spring bride (1904)
Wedding gowns are no longer stately and stuff, as stains have given place to soft, filmy materials. Mousseline de Soie with leaves of white lace and orange blossoms of pearls now form the smartest bridal attire.
Wedding veils will hereafter be looped with orange blossoms, and white and green are the spring colors.
Three beautiful vintage wedding dresses (1904)
Three different bridal gowns from 1904
The June Bride: How to make 2 fashionable antique wedding gowns from 1906
By Mrs Osborn, creator of fashions for the fashionable women of America
A) Wedding dress with Valenciennes lace & embroidered roses
A wedding gown of embroidered mull panels, trimmed with lace and medallions
The wedding gown in Figure A illustrates a very charming lingerie dress for a summer bride. It is of embroidered mull and real Valenciennes lace.
The princess skirt is formed of alternate rows of embroidered mull in a rose pattern, and Valenciennes inserting an inch and a half in width. The embroidered panels are scarcely more than in inch wide at the lower part where each panel terminates in a scallop.
These panels extend to below the knees in front, each one becoming shorter toward the back, the difference in length not being very marked.
Near the lower portion of the panels, the lace inserting which borders them becomes double. This double insertion separates near the curve of the panels and is gathered to their scallops in order that the lower edges of the lace may lie flat upon the flounce of mull below them.
The upper part of this flounce is in irregular scallops and fan-shaped pieces of material, with the shaped pieces of material outlined by Valenciennes inserting about three-quarters an inch in width.
MORE: The etiquette of marriage: The ceremony & after (1850)
Those irregular circles of material between the two second rows of inserting have in their centers large medallions of embroidered mull in wreath patterns edged with a frill of lace where the medallions are sewed to the material.
Below this part of the decoration an irregular band of embroidery is inserted in long shallow points. Trailing sprays of roses are embroidered in this band, droop across the lace inserting below it and fill the tiny panels between inserted medallions of embroidery shaped something like a horseshoe.
The lower part of each of these decorations is filled in with a medallion edged with a lace ruffle and about half the size of the medallions around the middle band.
Two rows of Valenciennes ruffles, the second wider than the first, outline shallow points around the bottom of the dress whose edge is trimmed with Valenciennes edging put on as a ruffle. The embroidered points at the bottom of the skirt rest softly upon this ruffle.
B) Bridal gown with lace & raised-hand embroidery
Lingerie wedding gown of sheer lawn, trimmed with two kinds of lace and raised-hand embroidery
Another filmy and beautiful lingerie wedding gown is shown in B.
The top of its bodice is with a little yoke of lace square at the throat and quite irregular in form. The lace extends down in the top of the bodice in little irregular figures intermingled with embroidery.
The front of the bodice has an inserted lace galloon* on each side of narrow band of shirring, with irregular blossoms of lace extending out on each side of the galloon into the sheer linen lawn** which forms the sides. These are decorated with flowers and foliage in partly open and partly outlined embroidery, and are given the effect of panels by means of inserted slips of open, heavy lace.
Small diamond-shaped medallions of the same lace are inserted in the lower portion of the bodice and sides of the skirt. A shaped piece of lace secures the fullness of the blouse at the waist and gives a princess outline to the gown.
A bit of shirred lawn is introduced into this lace at the sides to repeat the trimming in front and also to strengthen the filmy fabric. The blouse and skirt button in the back and of course are all one piece.
The sleeve tops are of intermingled lace and embroidery, finished with a cuff of three upstanding ruffles of lace at the elbow. Soft white satin ribbon is caught upon this cuff in little bows here and there, slanting from the front upward toward the back.
A shirred band extends down the front of the skirt beginning in a narrow strip at the top and widening toward the bottom. It is bordered by the same sort of lace galloon as that upon the waist, but without the projecting motifs of lace.
** Lawn cloth, or lawn, is a plain weave textile, originally of linen and designed using fine, high count yarns, which results in a silky, untextured feel.
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Vintage wedding dress from 1910
Antique bridal gowns: Real wedding fashions from 1911
Fashionable, stunning and stylish vintage wedding dresses from 1914
A tradition that is now absolute is that the bride’s gown should have a court train and a high neck and long sleeves, or elbow sleeves. The paucity of evening weddings is no doubt responsible for these details. Long gloves cover the arms to the elbow sleeves now, and the decollete is so demure that there is nothing to shock the conventional.
The most elaborate bridal gowns that have been worn this season have all had court trains. Many wedding gowns worn by brides in the “400” were intended to be worn afterwards by the young matron at one of the English courts held at Buckingham Palace.
At the royal courts, there are certain stringent regulations concerning the length and breadth of the presentation trains that must be observed, so for gowns that will be worn at these functions, the mantle-like train is considered the handsomest appendage and the stateliest mien.
The regulation court train measures three yards from the shoulders to the hem and spreads at the hem to 54 inches, and in order to preclude the varieties of length there might be, owing to the different attitudes of femininity, it is ordained that no train shall extend further on the ground than 54 inches.
Vintage wedding dresses: Royal bridal gowns
One of the most admired bridal gowns this season seen at St. George’s, Hanover Square, and which will be worn by the bride when presented to Queen Mary was made of ivory white satin moire and had a train exquisitely embroidered in gold arabesques.
The bridesmaids wore gold and silver embossed blue chiffon, and gold and silver lace caps. Another bride whose wedding was celebrated at St. Paul’s Cathedral wore a gown of white moire and uncut velvet, trimmed with Limerick lace.
A favorite method was used by the dressmaker in fashioning the court train, which fell from the shoulders. A broad scarf of the Limerick lace was employed, and to eke it out to the requisite width it was arranged with folds of moire.
The attachment stitching was hidden by an embroidery of diamonds. A chatelaine of orange blossoms completed this bridal toilette. The bridesmaids’ picturesque attire comprised ivory accordion-pleated chiff-fon frocks and coats of rose du Barrie satin. They carried long Empire sticks decorated with roses and ribbons.
MORE: Vintage wedding etiquette: What friends of the bride & groom needed to know (1914)
Less-elaborate vintage wedding dresses
In the less-elaborate wedding gowns, the train has been replaced by a Watteau pleat, and the tulle veil is usually the rule, unless there is an heirloom that can be used, or when a valuable one is sometimes presented as a gift.
The brides who elect to abjure lace and have a tulle veil must choose it with care and not select any kind likely to split or to absorb the damp should the temperature be moist at the time the ceremony takes place. The veil must be unhemmed, so that it mingles with the train and drapery of the gown without leaving any hard line.
The length depends on the train. Occasionally, but only very occasionally, it is bordered with Mechlin. Valenciennes or point lace. Those who like to wear lace and yet have the becoming soft tulle over the face have lace sprigs and motifs in one corner only.
Sometimes an old lace shawl — a family treasure — is combined with tulle to lengthen it. placed on the head with one point in front, and forms a couple of points at the side and one in the center at the back. Of late the veil has not covered the bride’s face, but the lace is arranged in soft pleats, these with the chaplet, or wreath, forming the semblance of a mop cap.
It is drawn back over the wreath during the service, as the necessity for the bride’s face to be shrouded is not much considered nowadays. Some brides wear divided veils made of tulle so arranged that they appear to be all in one. After the ceremony, the bride detaches the half that fell over her face and hands it to the matron of honor.
Vintage wedding dresses from 1914: The bridal bouquet
A little time ago, a couple of bouquets of orange blossoms were placed at the side of the head, a la Japonais; now a wreath, chaplet or garland, has replaced this mode. Some brides forego orange blossom altogether, and, of course, a widow does not wear it.
White roses, lilies of the valley, myrtle or heather sometimes replaces it. In ancient days, a wreath was as necessary as a ring in the marriage ceremony, and at many weddings among the poor, when several couples were married on the same day, the wreath passed from one to another.
Much in the way of startling novelty was expected from a wedding held at St. Bartholomew’s recently, but nothing came of the high hopes of those who were on the hunt for the bizarre, which they usually mistake for originality.
The bride was a beautiful girl who had too high a sense of beauty to pander to the eccentric. In her wedding dress, she looked like Botticelli, and not like a fashion plate, which did not please the persons to whom nature has denied the requisite soulfulness, the poetry and the picturesqueness to go and do likewise.
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A silver gown with Chantilly lace
She wore a magnificent cloth of silver gown, severely straight in cut, with no chiffon frills, no tulle clouds to soften it, nothing but some exquisite English point lace, and even that was worn more out of consideration for a family heirloom than out of conviction.
In her arms, this beautiful bride carried a sheaf of lilies. Her only ornament was a heavy gold cross. At this wedding, Chantilly lace, which long ago was fashionable, again made its appearance.
In fact, it seemed to be very conspicuous. The mother of the bridegroom wore it over a foundation of pearl gray satin that was most distinguished and effective. Although the bride’s gown was simplicity itself, the same could not be said of the bridesmaids’ toilettes.
They were arrayed in lovely gowns of pale blue brocaded moire (incidentally, sky blue is again well to the fore as a favorite color) trimmed with silver lace, and they carried large shower bouquets of purple orchids and lilies of the valley.
For the bridal bouquet, white gardenias and lilies of the valley combined with farleyance tern, a new variety, is greatly favored, and bride roses with lilies of the valley is another combination. Aaron roses, white lilac and farleyance fern make a beautiful bridal bouquet.
Brides and their attendants: Vintage wedding dresses and dresses for bridesmaids for autumn of 1914
Article 1: The Pittsburgh Press (May 31, 1914); Article 2: The Washington Herald (Washington, DC) – October 11, 1914
The most modish bride of the season steps to the altar unhampered by a train. In fact, her skirt is well off the ground, and her veil, voluminous in its fullness, is decidedly abbreviated, suggesting in its silhouette the youthful veiled figure of some Normandy peasant girl going to confirmation rather than the stately wedding array worn a few years ago.
This abbreviation in skirt and veil is the newest note, but it is by no means universal. Only last spring, Mrs Kermit Roosevelt wore a court train almost four and a half yards long, hung from the shoulders, and the skirt terminated in another shorter train.
Although much attention is devoted to the subject of bridal veils this season, there will be very few face veils worn by fashionable brides, and this in spite of the fact that some prominent brides recently have worn them.
Mrs McAdoo’s bridal veil hung to the waist in front. Mrs Kermit Roosevelt struck an interesting compromise when by way of a face veil, she wore a lace frilling about her wedding cap that simply covered the eyes. But the tendency is now to discard the face veil entirely.
Vintage wedding dresses and bridal veils
The bridal veil itself was never so interesting or so varied as it is autumn. There is no longer a “conventional” or “correct” mode of wedding veil. Individuality in taste and appearance plays an important part in the selection of the veil.
The bride who would look bewitching in an old rose point veil worn shawl fashion, like a Spanish mantilla, would perhaps lose half her charm in one of the new high arrangements caught at the back of the hair by plumes of orange blossoms.
And not every bride who possesses an antique lace bridal veil chooses to wear it, for she sometimes discovers that the full profusion of tulle is infinitely more becoming. The deciding point of the veil, then, seems to be one of greatest becomingness.
Vintage wedding dresses and the bridesmaid’s gown
A bride’s dress must be designed to set off her beauty, to give her individuality and personality. The bridesmaid’s gown has no such function to perform.
The bridesmaid’s individuality, for the time being, does not exist. She is merely a lay figure, and her gown is created for the sole purpose of riving a satisfactory background — the proper touch of color.
If she chances to look her best in the mode of hat and gown selected by the bride, well and good. It really doesn’t matter if she doesn’t, so long as the gown and hat she wears are well-displayed. It is for this reason that, occasional divergence from the rule notwithstanding, the bridesmaids are usually clad all alike.
There is harmony and effect in repetition which cannot be gained in a bridal party in motley array. So the bridesmaids’ gowns should be designed after the wedding gown has been thought out, and whatever attendants — flower girls or pages — are to be or the party should be arrayed in keeping.
Like the bride’s gowns, those of the bridesmaids are made with short skirts this season, and exceedingly pleasing is the effect of the short full frocks similar line and color.
When there is to be but one attendant — a maid or matron of honor — the gown cannot so easily carry out a decorative effect. Any gown suitable for the time and place is satisfactory. That is to say, the maid of honor for a house wedding in the evening is suitably dressed in an elaborate evening gown; for a church wedding, an elaborate day costume with suitable hat and accessories is in order.
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