The wedding season is just around the corner. Be it a micro-wedding before lockdowns are lifted in June or large ceremonial weddings later in the year, we are facing a summer of love and tradition like never before.
And the best thing about weddings? No, it’s not the free bubbles and canapés, but the wedding dress. And some of the best wedding dresses are those that belong to the British royal family.
For the born “commoners”, ladies, duchesses or already princesses, a royal wedding means a public and expensive wedding day that ends with a royal wedding dress. Royal wedding dresses have to be perfect in order to be examined carefully and to be remembered for an indefinite period of time.
Whether you like XL meringues like Sarah Ferguson and Princess Diana’s wedding dresses, elegant, modern dresses like Meghan Markle and Princess Margaret, completely unconventional designs like Wallis Simpsons blue dress, or economical, sustainable options like Princess Beatrices and Queen Elizabeth II Norman Hartnell – Pieces, royal wedding dresses have really come up trumps over the years.
With an emphasis on British design and an eye for tradition, royal wedding dresses are often very romantic, use a lot of symbolism in their embroidery and manufacture, and are extremely well constructed as they are sure to be photographed or filmed from every angle.
If you’re looking for inspiration for your own special day, or just daydreaming, a search within the regal wedding dresses of Queen Mary, Princess Eugenie, and everyone in between should satisfy your curiosity.
Princess Beatrice wedding dress, 2020
Princess Beatrice, the eldest daughter of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, chose to wear the old dress of her grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, for her wedding to Edoardo Alessandro Mapelli Mozzi.
For the intimate ceremony at the Royal Chapel of All Saints at Windsor’s Royal Lodge, the 32-year-old had the Norman Hartnell-designed dress changed by the royal dresser Angela Kelly and designer Stewart Parvin.
On the dress’ first foray to a state dinner in Rome in 1961, the Queen wore it with ornate shoulder straps, while Kelly and Parvin updated the design with puffed organza sleeves.
Wedding dress by Lady Gabriella Windsor, 2019
Lady Gabriella Windsor (the youngest daughter of Prince and Princess Michael of Kent) wore a lace dress by Luisa Beccaria to marry Thomas Kingston at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle.
Princess Eugenie’s wedding dress, 2018
Princess Eugenie, the sister of Princess Beatrice, looked divine at her wedding to Jack Brooksbank at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor in an ivory gown designed by Peter Pilotto and Christopher de Vos.
The dress was made from a jacquard fabric of silk, cotton and viscose that featured a symbolic flora, namely: the thistle for Scotland, a tribute to Balmoral and the Queen; a shamrock for Ireland, another tribute to Sarah Ferguson’s Irish roots; the York Rose by its title; and ivy to represent the couple’s house.
The princess asked for a low back on the textured full skirt dress to highlight her scar from scoliosis surgery.
“I think you can change the way beauty is and you can show people your scars,” she said on ITV’s This Morning before the ceremony. “It’s really something special to stand up for it.”
Meghan Markle’s wedding dress, 2018
Meghan Markle’s wedding dress, now the Duchess of Sussex, wowed the world with its typically chic and classic boat neckline design by Clare Waight Keller in Givenchy. The King married Prince Harry on May 19, 2018 at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle.
Perhaps more remarkable than the dress that Markle and Keller wanted, according to Kensington Palace: “Timeless and elegant aesthetics, flawless tailoring and relaxed demeanor,” was the bride’s veil.
As a tribute to the work she wanted to do with the Commonwealth, the five meter long white silk veil was embroidered with the national flora of the 53 Commonwealth countries. It also included Kensington Palace’s Wintersweet and California’s Poppy to represent himself and Prince Harry.
Lady Charlotte Wellesley wedding dress, 2016
Lady Charlotte Wellesley, daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Wellington, married Alejandro Santo Domingo in Íllora, Spain, in an off-the-shoulder dress by Emilia Wickstead.
Wedding dress by Zara Phillips, 2011
To marry rugby player Mike Tindall, Zara Tindall (Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips’ daughter) wore a corset dress with organza sleeves by Stewart Palvin.
Kate Middleton’s wedding dress, 2011
The Duchess of Cambridge married Prince William in a V-neckline and lace sleeve gown designed by Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen.
A celebration of British fashion, Middleton’s McQueen gown featured a handcrafted lace applique (with a multitude of flowers symbolizing Britain), a corset, and padded hip detailing for a Victoriana effect.
The bride has outfitted the dress with the Queen’s Cartier ‘Halo’ tiara and diamond earrings, which include oak leaves with a pear-shaped diamond teardrop and a pavé set diamond acorn suspended in the center, depicting the Middleton family’s coat of arms .
Lady Rose Windsor wedding dress, 2008
Lady Rose Windsor (daughter of the Queen’s cousin the Duke of Gloucester) wore a fluttering sleeve gown by Franka Couture to marry George Gilman at St. James’ Palace.
Fall Kelly’s wedding dress, 2008
Autumn Philips (née Kelly) wore a Duchess silk dress and a French lace shrug from Sassi Holford to marry the Queen’s grandson and Princess Anne’s son, Peter Philips, at St. George’s Chapel.
Laura Parker Bowles wedding dress, 2006
Laura Parker Bowles, the daughter of the Duchess of Cornwall, wore a 1970s-inspired boho dress by Anna Valentine to marry Harry Lopes at St. Cyriac’s Church in Wiltshire.
Wedding dress by Camilla Parker Bowles, 2005
The Duchess of Cornwall married Charles, Prince of Wales, in a gold and sky blue coat and gown by Anna Valentine. The mother of two paired the bright ensemble with a gold Philip Treacy headdress for her civil ceremony at Windsor Guildhall.
Lady Davina Windsor’s wedding dress, 2004
Lady Davina Windsor, Lady Rose Windsor’s sister, married Gary Lewis (the first known Māori descent to marry a member of the royal family) in a cream-colored lace dress in the chapel of Kensington Palace.
Sophie Rhys-Jones’ wedding dress, 1999
The Countess of Wessex married the Queen’s youngest son, Prince Edward, in a medieval dress and cloak in St. George’s Chapel.
Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones wedding dress, 1994
Lady Sarah Chatto (née Armstrong-Jones), daughter of the Queen’s sister, Princess Margaret and Antony, Earl of Snowdon, wore a square dress with a ruched top by Jasper Conran to marry Daniel Chatto.
Serena Stanhope’s wedding dress, 1993
Serena Armstrong-Jones, Countess of Snowdon (née Stanhope), married David Armstrong-Jones, 2nd Earl of Snowdon (brother of Lady Sarah Chatto and known professionally as David Linley) in a 1950s style gown by Bruce Robbins ( which many believe is a tribute to her mother-in-law (Princess Margaret) wedding dress at St. Margaret’s Church in Westminster.
Lady Helen Windsor’s wedding dress, 1992
Lady Helen Taylor (born Windsor and daughter of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, who is the Queen’s cousin) married Timothy Taylor in a Catherine Walker dress at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor.
Sarah Ferguson’s wedding dress, 1986
The Duchess of York married Prince Andrew, the Queen’s second son, in a super puff-sleeved dress from the 1980s by Lindka Cierach at Westminster Abbey.
Lady Diana Spencer’s wedding dress, 1981
One of the most famous dresses in history, Diana, Princess of Wales, wore an oversized gown designed by David and Elizabeth Emanuel to marry Prince Charles in St Paul’s Cathedral.
The ivory silk taffeta and antique lace dress featured a 25-foot train and a secret horseshoe charm sewn on the inside for good luck. It was given to Prince William and Prince Harry at their will.
Princess Anne’s wedding dress, 1973
Princess Anne (the Queen’s daughter) married Mark Philips at Westminster Abbey in a Tudor-style dress with wide sleeves and high neck by Maureen Baker in Susan Small.
Princess Margaret’s wedding dress, 1960
In order to marry the photographer Anthony Armstrong-Jones at Westminster Abbey, the Queen’s sister, Princess Margaret, wore a completely bare dress made of silk organza with a little train by the royal couturier Norman Hartnell.
Marion Stein’s wedding dress, 1949
The Countess of Harewood married the Earl of Harewood (the Queen’s cousin), who was married at St. Mark’s Church in Mayfair in a long-sleeved gown with a sweetheart neckline.
Princess Elizabeth’s wedding dress, 1947
In post-World War II Britain, the one-day queen married Philip Mountbatten in a Norman Hartnell dress bought with grocery vouchers.
The then princess and Hartnell received an additional 200 vouchers to make the dress adorned with stars. The dress was made from Chinese silk and decorated with 10,000 rocailles.
The train was covered in “jasmine, smilax, seringa and pink flowers” to symbolize “rebirth and growth” in a post-war country, according to Town & Country.
Wallis Simpsons wedding dress, 1937
To break with tradition, the Duchess of Windsor wore a pillar dress designed by Mainbocher in ‘Wallis blue’ (to match her blue eyes) instead of white to portray former King Edward VIII. At the Château de Candé in Monts, France, to marry.
Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyons wedding dress, 1923
The future Queen Mother wore a 1920s style ivory chiffon moiré gown embroidered with pearls and silver thread to marry former Prince Albert, Duke of York (later King George VI) at Westminster Abbey. The dress was designed by Queen Mary’s seamstress, Madame Handley-Seymour.
Princess Mary’s wedding dress, 1922
Princess Mary (the Queen’s aunt) wore a silver and ivory silk dress made by Messrs. Reville, Ltd. was designed to marry Henry Lascelles, 6th Earl of Harewood at Westminster Abbey.
Wedding dress of Princess Mary von Teck, 1893
Queen Mary (formerly Duchess of York, Duchess of Cornwall and Princess of Wales) married the Duke of York (who became Duke of Cornwall, Prince of Wales and eventually King George V) at the Chapel Royal at St. James’s Palace in a clothing designer by Arthur Silk of Silk Studio.
The dress was embellished with “emblems of the rose, the shamrock and the thistle” and decorated with orange blossoms according to the Royal Collection Trust. Both the dress and the train were made of “ivory silk satin woven in the silk mills of East London (Spitalfields)”.
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