14 of the Most Stunning Royal Wedding Dresses of All Time
Prince William and Kate Middleton’s 2011 nuptials will always have a special place in our heart (it wasn’t dubbed "the wedding of the century" for nothing), but when it comes to fashion, the Duchess’s Alexander McQueen number isn’t the only regal gown worth swooning over. Here, 14 royally incredible bridal dresses that have made their mark on history. Spoiler: Major style envy ahead.
OK, so they’re not exactly royals (the Duke of Windsor famously abdicated his throne in order to marry the two-time American divorcée), but this elegant creation is definitely iconic. The low-key ceremony took place in France in 1937, and the Duchess (Simpson) donned a pale blue Mainbocher dress that’s now on display at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Fun fact: After World War II, the future Queen of England used clothing ration coupons in order to pay for her wedding dress, an ivory silk gown designed by royal couturier Norman Hartnell. It featured elaborate floral embroidery, 10,000 seed pearls and was reportedly inspired by Botticelli's Primavera. Another fun fact? For Netflix’s hit series The Crown, the exact dress was replicated for a whopping $37,000.
A staggering two billion people tuned in to watch Kate Middleton walk down the aisle in this custom-made Alexander McQueen design (from the brilliant mind of McQueen creative director, Sarah Burton) for her 2011 nuptials to Prince William. Featuring a V-neckline, ivory lace bodice and long sleeves, this dress is sure to go down in bridal history.
The Queen of Hollywood became true royalty when she married Prince Rainier III of Monaco in 1956 in a gown designed by Academy Award-winning costume designer Helen Rose. This timeless wedding dress featured a high collar, corset-like waist and full-length skirt. Fairy-tale perfection.
Crown Princess Victoria
The Swedish royal opted for an elegant, off-the-shoulder silk satin number when she married her personal trainer, Daniel Westling, in 2010 (aww). She completed the look with a gold and pearl Cameo tiara that her mother, Queen Silvia, also wore to her own wedding on the same day in 1976. (Double aww.)
Have you ever seen a wedding dress more ’80s than this? Sure, it’s not exactly something that brides today might turn to for inspiration, but this puffed sleeve, ivory-silk, taffeta and lace creation is one of the most iconic wedding dresses of our time. Designed by husband and wife team David and Elizabeth Emanuel, it featured a massive 25-foot train that was created to match the scale of the wedding venue. (Princess Diana and Prince Charles married in the ginormous St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.)
For her marriage to Prince Abdullah bin Al-Hussein of Jordan in 1993, the 22-year-old bride opted for a totally original (and drop-dead gorgeous) look. Her short-sleeve gown featured gold detailing and was created by designer Bruce Oldfield (a Princess Diana favorite). The waisted belt and dramatic collar say power suit, but the white gloves and 1961 Lincoln convertible say, um, big budget.
When Grace Kelly’s son, Prince Albert II of Monaco, married the South African Olympic swimmer in 2011, she wore a stunning Armani Privé duchesse silk dress that was embellished with 40,000 Swarovski crystals, 20,000 mother of pearl teardrops and 30,000 gold stones. Wowza.
Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano
The former journalist walked down the aisle to marry the future King of Spain in an off-white, high-collared creation with a beautiful (and non-detachable) 15-foot train. The dress was designed by Manuel Pertegaz and featured delicate silver and gold threaded embroidery in shapes of fleur-de-lis, clovers, strawberry tree fruits and ears of wheat.
The British royal took a note from her sister’s fashion playbook when she married photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones in 1960, commissioning Norman Hartnell to create her simple silk organza gown. This was also the first royal wedding to be broadcast on television and more than 20 million viewers tuned in to watch it. (Real talk: What did brides do before Pinterest?)
The Duchess of Cornwall actually wore a cream-colored dress and overcoat to her 2005 civil ceremony with Prince Charles, but we think this blue and gold dress coat that she wore to the service of blessing later on at Windsor Castle is so much more striking. Extra style points for choosing a gold-feathered display instead of a crown.
The former reality TV star clearly took inspiration from Kate Middleton when she wed Swedish prince Carl Philip in 2015. (Like Middleton’s gown, Hellqvist’s Ida Sjöstedt crepe and silk organza dress also featured lace sleeves over a white bodice.) Just look at that beautiful diamond and emerald tiara, a gift from her in-laws, King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia. Oh, your “something new” wasn’t a tiara? Sigh, we all can’t marry royal.
When the heiress-turned-princess wed Prince Felix of Luxembourg in 2013, she donned a bespoke Elie Saab gown embellished with Chantilly lace.
Máxima Zorreguieta Cerruti
For her nuptials to King of the Netherlands Willem-Alexander in 2002, Máxima wore a sleek Valentino gown with lace detailing and a 16-foot train. Simple yet stunning.