What could be more British than a royal wedding?! The Union Jacks flying and street parties always help create a feel-good atmosphere! This year Prince Harry will tie the knot with Meghan Markle at Windsor Castle on 19th May. In the weeks and months leading up to their magical big day there are likely to be hundreds of rumours flying around about everything from the guest list to Meghan’s dress. We love a royal wedding at The Insurance Emporium and are excited for Harry and Meghan to their marital adventure. In the build up to the big day, we’ve taken a look at some of the most famous wedding dresses from history.
In 1848, the already reigning Queen Victoria wed Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. The wedding took place at St. James’s Palace on 10th February. Victoria’s choice of a white dress was considered slightly unusual at the time but is now credited with starting the tradition of white weddings. The dress was designed by Mary Bettans and made of heavy silk satin. On top of this, Victoria had Honiton lace which was designed by William Dyce. Due to the industrial revolution, the Queen choose to have her lace hand-made in Devon in order to demonstrate support for the English cottage industry of lace. Victoria had a wreath of orange blossoms which also trimmed the dress, this was to symbolise fertility. The train of the dress measured 18 feet long and was carried by her bridesmaids.
Our current reigning monarch was just a 21 year old princess when she married Philip Mountbatten, now known as Prince Philip or the Duke of Edinburgh, on 20th November 1947. The ceremony was held at Westminster Abbey in London, six years before she became Queen. Due to the war, Elizabeth had to use rationing coupons to purchase the material for her dress, which was designed by Norman Hartnell. The garment was made of ivory silk and the designer took inspiration from Botticelli’s Primavera, a 15th century painting. The train, which measured 13 feet in length and was decorated with scattered flowers, was symbolic of rebirth and growth in post-Second World War Britain. The Government even provided Elizabeth with 200 extra ration coupons to help her with her purchase!
This surely could be one of the most famous royal weddings in history! Lady Diana Spencer married Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, on 29th July 1981 at St. Pauls Cathedral. The dress for the day was designed by David and Elizabeth Emanuel and made from ivory silk taffeta and antique lace. Possibly one of the most memorable aspects of the dress was the 25 foot train which was valued at over £9,000 and had to be squeezed into the back of the wedding car with Diana and her father! It was decorated with hand embroidery, sequins and 10,000 pearls and has been credited with setting wedding trends for large puffed sleeves, full skirts and soft touch fabrics. The real drama was that Diana went from a size 14 to a size 10 in the months before the wedding, giving her designers a real headache!
Affectionately known to the British public as ‘Fergie’, Sarah Ferguson became the Duchess of York upon marrying Prince Andrew on 23rd July 1986. The dress for her big day was designed by Lindka Cierach and featured beadwork which depicted various symbols that were close to the Duchess. It included hearts for romance, anchors and waves to symbolise Andrew’s sailing background and bumblebees and thistles which were taken from her family crest. The 17 foot-long train also had the letters ‘A’ and ‘S’ intertwined in beads to represent the couples names. On the day of her nuptials, Fergie wore a floral headdress which she removed after the ceremony to reveal a tiara. Much like the big royal weddings before it, this dress helped to set the season’s most sought after styles. The ivory silk dress became highly fashionable following on from this wedding.
29th April 2011 was the date for what could be the biggest royal wedding in modern history. Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, wed Kate Middleton at Westminster Abbey. There was a huge amount of speculation around who would be designing the dress, with details not being revealed until Kate stepped out of the wedding car. Sarah Burton of the Alexander McQueen fashion house was the designer and chose both white and ivory for the satin bodice. The dress was inspired by the Victorian tradition of corsetry and featured floral motifs which were cut from machine-made lace. The lace work featured shamrock, roses and lilies which were all applied to the dress by the Royal School of Needlework. Details of the dress were so secret that the school were told that it was to be used in a TV programme! Unlike some of those before her, Kate went for an understated train which measured nine feet in length!
The royal family has a rich tradition of extravagant weddings with beautiful and trend-setting dresses. This year the Great British public might be waiting with baited breath to find out what Meghan Markle will step down the aisle wearing. If you’re planning to tie the knot yourself this year then you may want to consider insurance for your wedding. At The Insurance Emporium, we have seven choices of Wedding Insurance policy to choose from and a whole host of Elective Benefits! Head to The Insurance Emporium today to lift the veil on our cover!
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