A white wedding for mommies-to-be?

Maternity-wear bridal gown lines expand.


Erin Renzas
September 17, 2007 10:30PM (UTC)

Apparently, "Saying 'I do' while eating for two" has become a "trend," made ever more popular by the plethora of celebrities tying the knot while expecting. Or, at least that's what A Pea in the Pod and Mimi Maternity would like you to think, because they just announced the most recent additions to their maternity-wear bridal gown line.

Their joint press release announces that the new designs feature a "strapless all over lace trim" number -- "the perfect picture of grace and sophistication" -- and a "long silk sleeveless dress with back bow detail" that "creates a classic, traditional look that every bride loves." The stores, both owned by Philadelphia-based Mothers Work, first started churning out the bridal line nearly four years ago and have continued to expand the lines.

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As the press release boasts, "Even celebrities have made getting married while expecting a trend. In the past, these women rarely wanted to be photographed with a baby bump. Now, they feel confident and proud to show off their bellies, even in a wedding dress." While picking through scientific and cultural studies, journals and trend data didn't turn up any statistical information to confirm or deny the claim that getting married while expecting has in fact become more common, an informal survey by Maternity Bride, an online business that designs wedding gowns for pregnant brides, suggests that nearly one in six American brides is expecting.

Even if the survey is subject to substantial criticism and scrutiny, one has to say that walking down the aisle while preggers is something that has been publicized more in recent years. Just think back to Amanda Peet's or Jennifer Garner's wedding. Even former <a href= http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/1/ WTA No. 1 tennis star Kim Clijsters tied the knot with a baby on the way.

I respect and understand the desire of women, pregnant or not, to embody "beauty and elegance" on their wedding days. And don't get me wrong, it's great that we have begun to more readily accept the idea that, yes, it is OK and sometimes even preferable that life should go in some other progression than "marriage, then baby." Still, I can't help wondering if all this "breaking of traditional notions" stuff is somehow undermined by the equal desire to wear a big, white dress -- the epitome of conventional Western femininity. Why is it that as women so many of us seem to be willing to break with tradition, but only up to a certain point?

According to some sources, white became popular as a wedding dress color only after the 1840 marriage of Queen Victoria to Albert of Saxe-Coburg. Other sources suggest that the tradition arose in 19th and early 20th century America because homespun white linen was simply one of the more common fabrics available to brides-to-be. The white wedding dress was also intended to represent childlike innocence and purity, which is an odd symbol for a pregnant woman to adopt -- not because she is impure but because she's not so much childlike as with child.

Even if you believe a white wedding dress simply allows women to embrace tradition -- as opposed to, say, their virginity -- on their wedding day, I still find myself being slightly put off by the idea. If the purpose of a wedding is to celebrate the decision to embrace a new chapter in one's life, what's the point in doing it while dressed up as a picture of old-fashioned perfection?


Erin Renzas

Erin Renzas is an editorial fellow at Salon.

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