The wedding dress that Emily Blunt wore in The Young Victoria (2009) was a good reproduction of the original, but more on that later.
Queen Victoria was not the first bride to wear a white dress although, by doing so, she did set a trend that caught on much, much later. Back then, wealthy brides wore fashionable dresses of the most extravagant materials and paired their expensive wedding dresses with eye-popping jewelry to reflect their wealth and social status. White was an unpopular choice for commoners but not for nobility. In fact, a white wedding dress was an even bigger statement of wealth.
Daughters of noble houses wore white to show off their family’s wealth; white cloth – in the days before bleach – was a difficult colour to achieve and – in the days before washing machines – even harder to maintain. [Source]
Princess Philippa of England wore a white gown to her wedding ceremony in 1406. Mary Queen of Scots also wore white in 1559 when she married her first husband, Francis Dauphin of France.
Victoria chose white (it was cream, actually) for very political reasons.
Victoria was crowned Queen during the Industrial Revolution. Textile making, including manufacture of lace, used to be done by hand but, by the first half of the 19th century, machines began taking the place of human hands. While machines did a faster job, the situation also led to loss of livelihood for many including the lace makers of Britain.
Victoria’s choice of color had nothing to do with symbolizing virginity and purity (blue symbolized virginity and purity); rather, it was to display handmade lace to boost the lace making industry.
Below, Queen Victoria’s dress on exhibit.
In choosing her bridal gown, Victoria dispensed with her ermine-trimmed robes, ignored the precedent set by the likes of Princess Charlotte, and chose a crinoline-style court dress in white silk-satin. Made by Mrs Mary Bettans, it became the period’s aspirational wedding dress, and set a pattern which survives to this day.
The queen and advisors had also decided the entire ensemble should be British-made and promote the arts and crafts and lace industry. Thus the silk-satin was woven in Spitalfields. The lace for the deep flounce to decorate the skirt was woven in Honiton and Beer. It detailed a pattern of exotic flowers and scrolling foliage, designed by the distinguished Scottish, pre-Raphaelite painter, William Dyce, head of the new Government School of Design, which became the Royal College of Art. [Source]
Note though that because Victoria recycled the lace flounce on the skirt on various other dresses, it has disappeared from the dress on exhibit. The lace still exists but is too fragile to be removed from storage.
For 2009’s The Young Victoria, writer Julian Fellowes (yes, the same fellow who wrote Downton Abbey) wanted the film to be as historically accurate as possible. He had the wedding dress executed by Sandy Powell (who also did the costumes for The Other Boleyn Girl and Cinderella) who was given “exclusive access to Queen Victoria’s wedding dress and Coronation robes as part of her research.”