The "traditional" wedding dress as we know it today first appeared in the late 18th century. With the introduction of machine made fabrics and inexpensive muslins imported from India, and styles inspired by the ancient classical world, by 1800 the white dress with a veil was definitely the one to wear.
The color white became a popular choice in 1840 with the marriage of Queen Victoria to Albert of Saxe-Coburg. The queen chose to wear a white gown of silk and Honiton lace, unknowingly setting a standard for all future brides.
During the middle part of the 19th century, upper class brides wore gowns with full court trains, bustle, and long veils. The late Victorians of the 1880's-1890's saw the bustle disappear, with the bride wearing a demi-train and puffed sleeves accessorized with a veil of lace or silk tulle, gloves, and white satin or brocade slippers with heels.
Late Victorian Bride circa 1880's