"Until the late 19th century, brides generally bought the fanciest dress they could afford and then wore it throughout their marriage as an evening gown. With the rise of mass-produced clothing, white became the popular color — maximally impractical, it signified the owner would wear the dress only once. Efficient women often married in white and then dyed their dresses to wear again."
From an article on CraftBlog about how to make a truly scary wedding dress out of T-shirts. Not my ideal.
I much prefer the model that gives me a dress that I can wear again and again when time comes to dress up. It won't actually serve all that well as a true formal, it doesn't have anywhere near enough beads or sequins (ie none), but it's lovely and it's me and I'll enjoy wearing it to nice dinners, theater and that sort of thing.
Maybe, if I'm lucky, my kids will wear it to play Miss Haversham during a high school English class production of Dickens' Great Expectations. Then again it probably doesn't read enough as a wedding dress. I guess they'll just have to borrow my mom's. I did.