Ceremony

QB Loves: Royal Weddings

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Here at QB, we’re pretty fond of a royal wedding (or ten!), so when it came time to counting down our favourite wedding dresses, we were actually stumped. How can you narrow down aeons of stunning bridal looks across the world into 10 favourites?

Luckily for our lovely readers, we managed to make our list. Have we missed any of your favourites?

10. Queen Victoria

Date of Marriage: 10th February, 1840

Spouse: Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha

While this may be a bit too old fashioned for modern sensibilities, we feel Queen Victoria deserves a mention for her gown nevertheless. Although many think she was the first to don a white gown, white was a popular colour for upper-class brides across the ages – Queen Victoria just had timing on her side (and an excellent seamstress). Resplendent in her white gown and wearing a wreath of orange blossoms and myrtle, the image of the young Queen walking to meet Prince Albert at the altar was one that many fell in love with.

Instead of mixing with metallics in the royal trend of the day, Victoria chose to instead embellish her gown with handmade Honiton lace, which she describes in her journals as a “deep flounce”. Unfortunately for us, that lace was taken off the gown and used in her children’s clothing, so it’s not something we can look at today.

So how did white become the wedding trend? It’s not exactly a romantic answer, but we can thank cheaper bleaches, Queen Victoria’s daughters keeping up the trend, and our ever-continuing infatuation with emulating celebs and royals.

9. Princess Diana

Date of Marriage: 29 July, 1981

Spouse: Prince Charles

Diana’s ivory silk taffeta and antique lace gown certainly fit the brief – David and Elizabeth Emanuel, the designers who skyrocketed to fame after the soon-to-be Princess’ walk down the aisle, described the dress as something needing to “go down in history”, while also being something Diana loved. The dress had to make an impression – after all, it was to compete with St Paul’s Cathedral’s imposing surrounds.

With puffy sleeves, handmade Carrickmacross lace and a nearly 8-metre long train, it made the impression the young bride desired. Even now, Elizabeth Emanuel reportedly receives requests for replicas of the gown!

Whether you think this dress is dated or not, there’s no denying the impact this gown made on the wedding-sphere.

8. Wallis Warfield

Date of Marriage: 3 June 1937

Spouse: Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor (formerly King Edward VIII)

She’s a royal who experienced her fair share of controversy over the years – after all, she was a commoner, the king’s mistress, and divorced twice before marrying the former King of England (who abdicated to call the glamorous socialite his bride). Although the royal family was disapproving of the union, it didn’t stop Wallis from looking drop-dead gorgeous on her wedding day. Tying the knot at the picturesque Château de Candé, the bride wore a Mainbocher gown in her signature colour, ‘Wallis blue’. The blue silk crepe gown nipped in at the waist with a subtle button feature, while gentle pin tucks added a flattering contrast on her bust line compared to the clinging fabric elsewhere. And, in true royal form, the bride seriously stunned with her headpiece. A Caroline Reboux creation, the straw hat was in a coordinating blue, creating a halo effect with pale blue tulle.

The gown can be seen at the Metropolitan Museum (Wallis donated it back in 1950), and it’s still regarded as one of the world’s most copied gowns. It’s faded to ivory now, but the lining still holds glimpses of the gown’s former hue.

7. Queen Elizabeth

Date of Marriage: 20 November 1947

Spouse: Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

A post-war wedding was on the cards for Princess Elizabeth (as she was known as at the time), and the savvy princess saved up her ration cards and put them all towards the ivory duchesse satin for her gown. Choosing Norman Hartnell for the designs, the extravagant gown took its inspiration from the florals of spring and, naturally, all the necessary royal symbols. Embroidered with seed pearls, silver thread, crystals and tulle appliqués, the overall effect is simply stunning.

Not to be outdone, the train, too, is a work of art. The nearly four-metre long train started at Elizabeth’s shoulders, featuring embroidery in a beautiful star pattern that simply shone in the church. We love how one fashion blogger phrases it: “The overall effect is… like a halo of tulle surrounding the bride.”

Crowned in a diamond fringe tiara loaned to her by her mother, Princess Elizabeth was certainly the bride the public needed after all those sombre years, and we love how happy she looks to be tying the knot. She’s simply glowing, don’t you think?

6. Princess Mary

Date of Marriage: 14 May 2004

Spouse: Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark

Oh, the fairytale romance – girl meets boy at bar, the two fall in love, and lo, she literally becomes royalty. Such was the case for Mary Donaldson, who needed to strike the perfect balance between demure and couture when she married her real-life Prince Charming.

Created by Danish designer Uffe Frank, the dress was made from ivory duchess satin with a mother of pearl sheen, fully lined with silk organza. The dress’s elbow-length sleeves wrapped Mary’s arm in a detail the designer dubbed “callasleeves” in homage to the iconic lily. And that bodice, oh my – a wide scoop neckline resting along the shoulders, with a gorgeous sentimental touch inside. Stitched on the gown near Mary’s heart was her mother’s wedding ring, honouring her passing in 1997. The skirt’s long panels were sewn to reveal glimpses of 100 year old lace, the same age of Mary’s veil. Both were made by nuns in Connaught, Ireland.

We can’t go without mentioning Mary’s bouquet, purely for her salute to our fab country. Eucalyptus in the bouquet was the perfect touch for the Australian-born princess, and combining it with a Danish-made dress was the ideal symbolism on her big day – the combining of two lives, and two cultures.

5-Charlene

5. Charlene

Date of Marriage: 1 July 2011

Spouse: Albert II of Monaco

An Armani gown was always going to be Charlene’s gown of choice, and the simple yet intricate design was totally befitting the star athlete turned princess. Let’s start from the top with that chic neckline, featuring a crossed-shoulder detail. The almost-off-the-shoulder design is both modern and modest, utterly perfect for a royal wedding while still being something you could see any bride striding down the aisle in. Embroidery down the front of the gown, the skirt and the train features 40,000 Swarovski crystals, 20,000 mother of pearl teardrops, 30,000 gold stones and platinum-coated thread – so, in case you weren’t too sure if this really was a royal wedding, you’re probably quite convinced now.

Choosing to forgo a tiara in favour of a simple diamond hairpiece dating from the 19th century, the focus was all on Charlene’s gown, especially those exquisite trains (that’s right, Charlene had two trains). Her tulle veil was as long as the train (even longer, in some pictures!) and she made quite the entrance on the day for all the right reasons.

4-Claire

4: Princess Claire of Luxembourg

Date of Marriage: 17 September 2013

Spouse: Prince Félix of Luxembourg

She’s not just a gorgeous face – Princess Claire is also a bioethics researcher, using her intelligence to be awarded her masters in Bioethics (even summa cum laude). While studying, she met her future husband Prince Félix. The two announced their engagement in early December before tying the knot the following year.

Claire chose an Elie Saab gown for her walk down the aisle, and it was nothing short of perfection. The ivory-coloured gown was embroidered with Chantilly lace floral motifs and shimmering silver thread, while a three-metre long train stretched down the aisle for maximum impact. Accented with crystals and pearls, the bespoke gown is a creation utterly befitting a princess. Claire’s headwear continues that floral trend. Her silk tulle veil, paired with a silver and diamond tiara, both feature floral designs that have us swooning. And in case the long sleeves and high neckline had you thinking this dress was conservative, take a look at the back of the gown – it dips low to reveal some skin.

We think HELLO mag phrased it best: “Princess Claire of Luxembourg was picture-perfect.”

3-Kate

3. Kate Middleton

Date of Marriage: 29 April 2011

Spouse: Prince William

Although this dress was inspired by Grace Kelly’s dress – v-necks, long sleeves and oodles of lace – the Sarah Burton designed gown reigns as one of our perpetual favourites. Handmade lace appliqués grace the bottom of the skirt and the bodice, adding intricate detail to the ivory and white satin gazar gown.

The bodice almost embodies a corset feel, which we love. A long stretch of tiny buttons down Kate’s back plus padded hips under the skirt (v. McQueen) equals a salute to Victorian-era gowns, enhanced only by an almost bustle at the back of the gown. Topping this off with a simple blusher veil trimmed in lace and the Halo Tiara loaned to her by the Queen herself, the new Duchess of Cambridge (and future Queen of England) made a stunning entrance indeed.

A touch we loved? Including sweet William blooms in her bouquet. What a lovely ode to her Prince!

2-Grace

2. Grace Kelly

Date of Marriage: 18-19 April, 1956

Spouse: Rainier III, Prince of Monaco

For those of you who are outraged at us now for placing this one at second, let’s get this out of the way – we love this gown with an unbridled passion. Unfortunately for us, another gown captured our hearts just a teensy bit more (and you’ll soon see why).

For her marriage into the royal family of Monaco, film star Grace Kelly went with the bombshell style her audience knew her for, with demure touches that sent her straight into the lookbooks of royals everywhere. (If you don’t agree, just look how lace bodices have persevered!) Designed by Helen Rose of MGM, the gown featured a high neck and long sleeves, the collar following the lace’s natural pattern in a subtle, chic way. The fitted torso gives way to a lovely full skirt, boosted by two petticoats and masses of fabric:

“twenty five yards of silk taffeta, one hundred yards of silk net, peau de soie, tulle and 125 year old Brussels rose point lace…”

1-Madeleine

1. Princess Madeleine

Date of Marriage: 8 June 2013

Spouse: Christopher O’Neill

Our number one place goes to one of the younger Swedish royals, who donned her lace-bedecked gown in 2013.

So why, exactly, do we love this gown? We love how youthful this gown is – and how it’s still a classic piece. Designed by Valentino, the dress’s lace overlay scoops gently across Princess Madeleine’s collar bones, subtly mimicking the dress’s neckline. Shorter sleeves give it the playful air, while the flaring skirt flows into a long, long train (four metres, to be exact!). No necklace, but chandelier earrings are on display. The veil is perched behind a simple tiara, while orange blossoms encircle the jewels in a royal take on your bohemian flower crown.

The palace’s official statement about the dress describes it as being “made from pleated silk organza with appliquéd ivory-coloured Chantilly lace”, while a deep-cut back to that lovely bodice adds interest from behind.

While Princess Madeleine didn’t have any maids on her day, she chose to surround herself with attendants as her mother and sister did before her. And her best accessory, in our opinion, was her megawatt smile. Nothing makes us happier than a bride who can’t wait to get married!

– QB x


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