Queen Victoria was the first person to wear a white wedding dress. Before this, white had been used as a color of mourning.
Many now-traditional practices harken back fewer than 200 years, even among the extraordinarily rich elites. Take, for instance, the white wedding dress.
Though white is now seen as a symbol of virginity and purity, in the mid-19th century, white was the color of mourning, not a color in which to be wed. A queen from 1837 to her death in 1901, Victoria was the first to wear white at a wedding and was seen as stylish but too conservative for doing so.
So, when fashion-forward Queen Victoria donned a white dress for her wedding to Prince Albert in 1840, she met with criticism. (In addition to the color faux pas, "Victoria's attire was considered far too restrained by royal standards, with no jewels, crown, or velvet robes trimmed with ermine," the Washington Post says.)
After Queen Victoria's white dress, however, the trend caught on. Before her, women would wear a dress that fit the day's fashions. Now it's rare to find a wedding dress that isn't white, though they do exist.