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Wedding Traditions Un-Veiled and Repurposed

03/14/2017 Monte Durham

By Monte Durham - Fashion Director & Celebrity Wedding Planner

Monte Durham shared some of the knowledge, advice and traditions with an eager crowd at the recent {Special Edition} San Diego Wedding Party Bridal Show. Here is a glimpse into his endless understanding and passion for the wedding industry, both past and present.

I am seeing that while a bride will want to step out of the box with her wedding, she will still stay within a box.  A bride wants to be cutting edge, but remain timeless.

For instance, colored gowns aren’t anything new.  Prior to Queen Victoria’s marriage, everyone wore red or green or royal colors, or whatever good dress they happen to have.   Those gowns were sent to get repurposed. Whether that was adding more flowers to it or putting embroidery on it; they would wear those gowns throughout their lifetime, providing they could fit into them.  Because it was a very formal lifestyle, they’d wear these to balls and social events. So when Queen Victoria stepped out - first of all, with a dress above her ankle, off-the shoulder, and in white - she set tones for weddings to come. 

White was very extravagant because there wasn’t a local dry cleaner.  Not a lot of pieces were done in white or delicate fabric, because you just couldn’t take care of it, and it wouldn’t stand the test of time. Even though, she was royal it was considered opulent to have a white dress.  The royals wore velvets and brocades and heavy fabrics so they would last.  And here she is in a white silk gown, with flowers in her hair and not veiled in the front.  So she set a whole different precedence for brides to come.  Talk about a trendsetter, she really set the pace for this.  And from hence on the white wedding dress wasn’t worn again, but stored and saved for their daughters to be married in them, and they became part of their heritage.

repurposed gown

I love when I see things that are repurposed. 

Such as, what once was the blusher, over the face, now brides don’t use a blusher.  Now it’s being called a reception veil.  It’s the same length as the blusher, but they keep it on the back of their head.  They’ll remove the long beaded weighted veil, and they put on these little short veils, so they still feel and look like a bride.  You can pick them out of the crowd beautifully and easily with a veil on. So what was the blusher has now become the reception veil.

Now for flowers. June was the most popular month for weddings, and still June is a popular month, with September and October creeping up on it.  But, everyone was married in June because the fields were full of fresh flowers, so you could pluck flowers to decorate the churches and the tables.  This was before we were importing tulips from Holland! Everyone was simply using the backyard flowers or your grandmother’s rose-garden.  So June was the most prominent month, because the flowers were at their peak.  And there were all sorts of types of flowers. Plus in Victorian times, it was a time when they could actually take out all the clothing, wash it, hang it to dry, and get it ready.  The clothing wasn’t washed in the winter, it’s too cold and there are no electric dryers. 

The point is the practical purposing of things at one time has set some of the wedding industries main traditions.

monte durham profile

Monte Durham is the Fashion Director on TLC’s hit show; Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta, where he enjoys ‘jacking brides up’! He remarks, "My favorite brides are brides that will listen, and are open to my suggestions because that allows me to be the professional that I am. I am a stylist, and I own a hair salon so I know what looks good. I know how they should wear their hair. I know which veil will look good and where it should be placed. So I love brides that are open to possibilities."

In line with his passion for wedding history, Monte is the owner of a Jackie Kennedy wedding dress replica, now holding court at the Greenbrier.