What would you wear on your wedding day?

Many a bride-to-be dream of a white dress for its classic beauty. But the truth is, white hasn’t always been the bridal de rigueur — white only started dominating wedding fashion after Queen Victoria’s wedding, in 1840.

The wedding dress was also worn again, after the big day; most brides of the 19th century (even the well-to-do) were prudent with this expensive garment, choosing to wear it for other occasions.

Surprised? See it for yourself and find out more about this garment at The Wedding Dress exhibition. Bridal gowns in red, cream, violet and even black are on display at this National Museum of Singapore exhibition, opening on August 8.

Admire what brides wore from the 1800s to present, with over 30 wedding dresses, bridal accessories and more artefacts on loan from London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. The travelling exhibition makes its third stop worldwide in Singapore from August 8 to October 31.

Norman Hartnell wedding dress
Embroidered silk satin wedding dress by Normal Hartnell, worn by Duchess of Argyll, Marget Whigham

Delicate lace and fine embellishments of vintage wedding dresses are amazingly intact, despite their age.

The star attraction? A 1933 silk satin dress with a decadent train nearly three metres long (featured above). Donned by Margaret Whigham, the socialite literally stopped traffic with her dress on her wedding day.

Every dress tells a story: the living circumstances of each bride, and the era that she was a part of. While society belles picked spectacular gowns, the simple dresses prove to be just as fascinating.

A farmer’s wife wore a cotton dress decked with colourful bubbles, while a resourceful florist fashioned her dress out of curtain cloth.

An upper-middle class woman chose a modest flapper dress, despite her social standing. She married a widower 27 years her senior; the circumspect bride wanted an understated dress to that effect.

Another gown dated 1885 is kept in pristine condition, in memory of its wearer. Worn only once and left unaltered, the unfortunate bride passed away in a riding accident, just a year after her wedding.

Move towards the more contemporary section of this exhibition and you’ll find even more visually sumptuous bridal wear. Gawk away at decadent designer gowns, worn by celebrities and the leisure class.

Burlesque star Dita Von Teese bloomed in a vivid purple Vivienne Westwood gown at her wedding to Marilyn Manson, one of the more vibrant numbers in this exhibition.

Under the hands of contemporary designers, the white dress too becomes reinvented. Designed by John Galliano, Gwen Stefani’s asymmetrical Dior gown ended with a bright pink gradient on its skirts.

Gwen Stefani wedding gown Gwen Stefani wedding gown
Gwen Stefani’s Dior by John Galliano wedding dress

While you won’t get to view royal gowns here, you’ll get to see plenty of archival footage, detailing the most memorable wedding fashion across the years. A selection of 12 Singapore bridal costumes are also on display at the entrance of this exhibition.

So embrace the romance of weddings: make a stop at the National Museum for some bridal inspiration. We think couples won’t be the only ones entranced by these bridal beauties.

The Wedding Dress: 200 Years of Wedding Fashion from the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, will be held from August 8 to October 31, 2012 at the National Museum of Singapore.

Exclusively for the month of August, tickets are on sale from $6 for Singaporeans and Singapore permanent residents. Visit www.nationalmuseum.sg for more information.