Look Back on Meghan Markle's Timeless Wedding Dress Photos & Details

The royal bride wore Givenchy and Stella McCartney to marry Prince Harry in 2018.
Meghan Markle wedding dress
Photo: Getty Images,Design: Natalie Romine
sarah hanlon entertainment and celebrity editor the knot
Sarah Hanlon
sarah hanlon entertainment and celebrity editor the knot
Sarah Hanlon
Entertainment & Celebrity Editor
  • Sarah is the Entertainment & Celebrity Editor for The Knot, with special focuses on pop culture and celebrity wedding news.
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, Sarah was a contributing writer for Bravo at NBC Universal.
  • Sarah has a degree in journalism and resides in New York City.
Updated Jan 26, 2024

We all remember where we were on May 19, 2018: the day of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's wedding. The royal nuptials were a worldwide phenomenon, drawing in over 2 billion viewers who wanted to catch a glimpse of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's historic vow exchange at Windsor Castle. One of the most anticipated elements, unsurprisingly, was Meghan Markle's wedding dress.

Leading up to the big day, there was heightened speculation about who would design the Duchess's wedding gown. Would she tap the same designer of Kate Middleton's wedding dress, Sarah Burton? Would she lean into a US designer as a nod to her California roots? Would she wear multiple dresses throughout the day? While there were many predictions about what the bride would wear, no one expected her to arrive at the ceremony in a simple silk gown with a bateau neckline and three-quarter-length sleeves.

Here, look back on all the timeless photos and details of Meghan Markle's wedding dress and reception gown. We break down everything to know about her two looks, which have become some of the most iconic celebrity wedding ensembles of all time.

In this article:

Meghan Markle's Wedding Dress Details

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry at their wedding
Photo: Ben STANSALL - WPA Pool | Getty Images

Meghan Markle's wedding dress was designed by Clare Waight Keller under the Givenchy label. In a move that defied royal wedding fashion trends, Meghan Markle's gown was incredibly simple and did not include lace, embellishments, or embroidered details. The former Suits actress stunned in her double-bonded silk Givenchy gown, which was comprised of a simple silk crepe, a bateau neckline, structured three-quarter sleeves and a sculpted waistline that fell into a train made of triple silk organza. Meghan Markle's wedding dress back was just as simple as the front and was covered by her 25-foot lace-lined veil.

Meghan Markle's wedding dress back
Photo: Andrew Matthews - WPA Pool | Getty Images

Meghan Markle's wedding dress was estimated to cost about $265,000, which the bride paid for herself. The process required 3,900 hours of design for the veil, eight fittings, and five months of collaboration between the bride and the design team. The dress was inspired by the royal's affinity for Audrey Hepburn, which the designer revealed in an interview after the big day, noting that her iconic Givenchy dress from the 1957 movie Funny Face inspired the off-the-shoulder neckline.

Interestingly enough, there was another iconic wedding dress that inspired the demure aesthetic of Meghan Markle's gown. "Both of us also loved Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy and the fact that she surprised everyone with the simplicity of what she wore for her [1996] wedding," the designer added. The '90s style icon's influence was clear, as Meghan Markle's minimal wedding dress was a stark departure from previous royal looks (like Princess Kate's long sleeve lace look, or Princess Diana's voluminous ball gown).

The Designer

Meghan Markle walking down the aisle
Photo: DANNY LAWSON/POOL/AFP | Getty Images

Shortly after Meghan and Harry's wedding, Keller spoke to reporters at Kensington Palace about the "very collaborative" design experience she had with the bride. "It was an extraordinary moment," she said. "It was an incredible thing to be part of, such an historic moment and, in fact, to have the opportunity to work with her."

The couple's attire was put on display in October 2018 at the "A Royal Wedding: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex" exhibit at Windsor Castle. As part of the immersive experience, viewers could listen to audio clips of Meghan discussing her wedding look. "I wanted a female designer, that was very important, I wanted a British designer because I wanted to embrace my new home in that way," she said of the selection process. "I wanted [a dress] that felt reflective of the world in a way."

Meghan Markle presenting Clare Waight Keller with the British Womenswear Designer of the Year award at the British Fashion Awards
Photo: Joe Maher/BFC | Getty Images

In December 2018, Markle shocked fans when she presented Keller with the British Womenswear Designer of the Year award at the British Fashion Awards. In response, Keller gushed: "This woman is so amazing. I got to know Meghan on such a personal level. To have someone like that trust you on such a personal moment in their life... I can't thank you enough because it was the most beautiful moment."

To this day, Meghan Markle and her wedding dress designer remain close friends. Keller opened up about their personal relationship while speaking at the 2023 Bazaar At Work Summit in London. "It was just a pleasure to create in this very, very private way," she recalled. "It was just the two of us for so long and it became this very personal girlfriend relationship."

The Accessories

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry in their wedding carriage
Photo: AARON CHOWN/POOL/AFP | Getty Images

Another standout component of the dress was Meghan Markle's wedding veil. The bride's trailing headpiece paid tribute to the occasion with a custom embroidery of 53 flowers, which symbolically represented the Commonwealth and its 53 countries.

Of course, it wouldn't be a royal wedding without a dazzling royal tiara too. Markle topped off her wedding look with the Queen Mary Bandeau Tiara: a diamond bandeau tiara made in 1932 with a center brooch that dates back to 1893. The piece was borrowed from Queen Elizabeth II, and previously belonged to Queen Mary. Of course, this was considered her "Something Borrowed," while her bouquet included a "Something Old." The royal wedding florist, Philippa Craddock, also subtly alluded to how the sprigs of myrtle in Markle's arrangement reportedly were plucked from a plant that grew from the myrtle used in the Queen's own 1947 wedding bouquet. A tad more symbolically, Craddock also included forget-me-nots, one of Princess Diana's favorite flowers, into the bridal bouquet.

Meghan Markle's "Something Blue" was the most sentimental detail of all, nodding to her love story with Prince Harry. In an interview with ITV, Markle showed where a piece of blue fabric was stitched into her wedding veil. "Did you see it?" she asked. "The piece of blue fabric that's stitched inside? It's my something blue… It's fabric from the dress that I wore on our first date."

Meghan Markle's Reception Dress Details

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at their wedding reception
Photo: STEVE PARSONS/POOL/AFP | Getty Images

Meghan Markle's wedding reception dress came unexpectedly—and it didn't disappoint. Her custom Stella McCartney gown for the 185-person evening reception at Frogmore House featured a sexier silhouette and a high halter neckline she paired with one of her signature piece-y updos. Fans got a brief glimpse of the second dress as the newlyweds climbed into a vintage Jaguar that transported them to the exclusive party, which was hosted by Prince Charles.

The halter neck crepe gown generated such attention that a month later, the label produced an evening gown collection called "Made With Love" that included a limited-edition piece that resembled Meghan Markle's reception dress for the evening soirée.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry on their way to their wedding reception
Photo: Steve Parsons - WPA Pool | Getty Images

As part of her late-night look, the newly-minted Duchess of Sussex sported an aquamarine ring that formerly belonged to the late Princess Diana.

Speaking with WWD about her career milestone, the UK-born designer opened up about having the esteemed honor of creating Meghan Markle's second wedding dress. "I am so proud and honored to have been chosen by the Duchess of Sussex to make her evening gown and represent British design," McCartney told the outlet. "It has truly been one of the most humbling moments of my career and I am so proud of all the team on this stunning sunny royal day."

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