Tradition and Inspiration
No one does spectacular weddings quite like the royals, so with the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle only a few months away, we thought we’d take you back through some of the most iconic royal wedding dresses.
The lady herself, Queen Elizabeth had to use ration coupons to buy the fabric used to make her dress. Clothing was rationed in 1947, and even though the grand occasion was witnessed by 2500 guests, Her Majesty still had to save up the cards to ensure she had the perfect dress. Made of ivory duchess satin and embellished with over 10,000 pearls, the dress had a 15-foot train, attached at the shoulders (ahead of her time on the cape front!) and a silk tulle veil. Her sparkling tiara was lent by her mother.
Travelling even further back to Queen Victoria’s wedding to Prince Albert in 1840, we see her set a very early trend for white wedding dresses. White dresses were very unusual at the time, with most brides choosing dresses of colour, but Victoria wore a heavy cream silk satin gown, embellished with Honiton lace. Her train was 18-foot long and she chose to wear a sapphire brooch from her ‘dear Albert’.
At her wedding to Prince Rainer III of Monaco in 1956, actress Grace Kelly wore a dress that has been described as one of the most elegant and best-remembered of all time. A gift from MGM Studios, it was designed by one of their costume designers and featured a high neck, long sleeves and a gorgeous full skirt. No expense was spared with the fabric – over 20 metres of silk taffeta, over 90 metres of silk net, 125 year old lace and an 80 metre tulle veil took 36 seamstresses six weeks to finish. Her dress is said to have influenced the wedding dress that the Duchess of Cambridge wore on her big day.
The Duchess of Cambridge worked closely with Alexander McQueen designer, Sarah Burton, on the design of her gown. Ivory satin with lace applique, the delicate floral motifs floated down over the bodice and onto the skirt which had a short train in comparison to other regal gowns, at only three metres. As is tradition, she was lent a beautiful Cartier scroll tiara, made in 1936 and belonging to the Queen.
As you would expect, Grace Kelly’s grandson, Pierre Casiraghi’s wedding was simply decadent. His bride, Beatrice, wore five dresses over the weekend celebrations, each as gorgeous as the next! But she saved the best until last for the final celebrations; a custom Armani Prive silk tulle gown, reminiscent of a dress worn by Elizabeth Taylor in 1966, with a deep neckline and two drapes from the shoulders, held in place by family heirlooms – two antique diamond brooches in the form of wings.
We can’t possibly forget Diana, Princess of Wales’ dress. Made of ivory silk taffeta and antique lace, the gown featured a 25-foot train, hand embroidered with sequins and pearls. Designers David and Elizabeth Emanuel wanted to make sure that as well as going down in history, Diana loved the dress. It definitely made a dramatic impression with its puffed sleeves, frilled neckline and antique lace trim and influenced bridal gowns throughout the 1980s.
With so much tradition for inspiration, we can’t wait to see what Meghan chooses for her wedding day. For more bridal gown inspiration, head over to our luxury wedding dresses page.