Imagine living in a world where fabric was scarce, rationed and silk went for making parachutes. War brides (usually quick to marry fiances going off to war) sometimes had to make do with a best dress or a suit to tie the knot. Formal to-the-floor gowns were offered in the synthetic fabrics that were the newest thing. The classic silhouette of this era was an A-line with a V-neck and long sleeves usually in a high sheen satin.
What have we taken from this era and brought to today's wedding fashion? I'd say the screen goddess look of Lana Turner or Rita Hayworth in a white gown that had more to do with evening glam than bridal. But it all works—the red lips, long wavy hair, clean makeup. It's definitely a look that brides some 70 years later love and stalk every corner of the net to recreate.
Starting at the top, what the classic 40's bride wore on her head is telling of this decade.  Most popular was a diadem, crown, or even a kokoshnik, a version of tiara with Russian origins. These headpieces made out of pearls, lace or fabric held a flowing veil. Other headdresses of the day? Snoods, turbans, and hair jewelry. Because some weddings had to be planned literally overnight, tulle and netted turban head wraps topped off with bows or florals became the quickly assembled head chic of wartime brides. Snoods especially popular for evening wear of this era held carefully paged hair in place.  The ruffled diadems below grace the heads of movie actress, Olivia de Havilland and Gloria Vanderbilt when she married in 1941.

Above: Shorter veils sporting poufs and wraps of netting and flowers were trendy for the more informal or secular wedding. 
Below: The Silhouettes below are A-line in the highest-sheen white satin.  The dresses directly below sport peplums, graduated apron-like over skirts characteristic of the 40s.  Another clue to recognizing fashion from this era is padded shoulders.  In the images below, Ginger Rogers and Martha Scott are flaunting big shoulders with hats holding their veils. 
  • Watch old movies like Cover Girl with Rita Hayworth and study the hair. Styles back then were big on glam with every hair in place. The pin-up girl from this era inspired voluminous long locks with waves.
  • Baby Doll, peep toe, and platform shoes were the fashion, either as pumps or sandals.
  • Sweetheart necklines were born (a fave of Judy Garland & Deanna Durban, those young stars of backstage musicals). So were A-line gowns of transparent organza or chiffons worn over a slip dress.    
  • Scallops and looped cording were trendy borders for neckline, sleeves, and hemlines 
  • CREDITS   
  • Photo 1: Ginger Rogers wearing a kokoshnik via Bridal Makeovers///Photo 2: Floral Lace Diadem via Pinterest///Photo 3: Pleated Fabric Toque/Diadem via Buzzfeed//Photo 4:Ruffled Diadem via Pinterest//Photo 5:Gloria Vanderbilt in Ruffled Diadem via Vogue///Photo 6 Shirley Temple on her wedding day wearing a looped diadem via Pinterest//Photo 7:Full Length portrait of Bride in Leaf Headdress via Pinterest/// Photo 8: Bride in Lace Diadem via Pinterest//Photo 9: Full length portrait of bride in white satin and diadem via Pinterest///Photo 10: Bride in crown with halo via Tumblr///Photo11: Bride holding her veil via Revamp Vintage/ Photo12: Jeanette Mac Donald glams it up with movie hub, Nelson Eddyin florals and French net via Tumblr//// Photo13: Actress Maria Monrez wears a net veil dappled in tiny flowers via Tumblr///Photo 14:Lana Turner in Satin Aline with peplum via Pinterest///Photo 15: Bride in White Satin via Tumblr///Photo16: Ginger Rogers in pillbox hat with drop veil via Pinterest/// Photo 17: Martha Scott in hat and veil via Tumblr //Photo 18: Bride in white satin wearing crown via Flickr//Photo19: Late 40s bride in bustled Christian Dior via Tumblr ///Photo 20:Elsa Schiaparelli's daughter in the early 40s on her wedding day via Tumblr  ///Photo21: Bride in allover lace gown via Pinterest