Nineteenth-century wedding dresses weren't exactly "white." The absence of chemicals to bleach fabrics made the hue more of a cream color. Today, dyes are used to create shades like buttercream, French vanilla, oyster, champagne and alabaster. And because different dressmakers often use alternative names for the same color tone, one woman's champagne could be another woman's light gold.
Make sure to consider your hair and skin tones when you pick your wedding-dress color. For instance, stark white can appear nearly blue, and works best with a dark-haired, dark-eyed, dark-skinned bride. Ivory -- which some in the industry don't include under the umbrella of white colors -- works well with redheads and fair skin.
As far as alternative colors, while red wedding dresses are common in China (the color is said to bring wealth), it's usually white or bust in the United States. When a bride does decide to wear pink, red, black or some other nonwhite dress, she's just revealing her personality, Tiedemann says. "It's usually that kind of girl that just wants to stand out that much more, and goes for something that's pink or has red in it."