The Most Iconic Royal Wedding Dresses of All Time
Nothing quite compares to royal nuptials, especially when it comes to the wedding gowns. We've seen plenty of dazzling royal wedding dresses over the years, from Princess Diana's unforgettable ball gown to Grace Kelly's trend-setting long sleeve-stunner. The glamorous pomp and circumstance surrounding royal weddings is unlike anything else, so it's no surprise that the world still becomes captivated every time a noble couple ties the knot.
But of all the royal wedding dresses worn in history, a select few are simply unforgettable—and to this day, they continue to influence bridal fashion trends. Of course, while many associate princess wedding dresses with figures like Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton, the best royal wedding gowns go beyond the British royal family too. Here, we've rounded up the most iconic royal wedding dresses of all time, worn by queens, princesses, and aristocratic figures all around the globe.
Meghan Markle's Wedding Dress
For months, fans and royal watchers speculated about what Meghan Markle's wedding dress would look like, taking bets on whether she'd follow in the steps of the Windsor family brides that preceded her. But to the surprise of many, she opted for a completely different silhouette for her 2018 nuptials to Prince Harry. The bride stunned in a pure-white silk cady gown created by British designer Clare Waight Keller, the first female artistic director of the famed French fashion house Givenchy. The minimalist design featured a simple A-line silhouette, boat neckline and long sleeves, and was complemented by a stunning 16-foot lace veil.
For the reception, she stepped out wearing a slinky, sleeveless Stella McCartney gown with a regal high-neck—notably, accessorized with a turquoise ring that belonged to her late mother-in-law, Princess Diana.
Princess Diana's Wedding Dress
Speaking of Princess Di, we'll never tire of talking about her wedding to Prince Charles back in 1981. Famously, fans and journalists were so desperate to know what her dress would look like that the gown's designers, husband-and-wife duo David and Elizabeth Emanuel, had to plant fake fabric scraps in their trash to ward off leaks. Even in their wildest dreams, no one could have imagined this unforgettable princess wedding dress. Her ivory silk taffeta and lace gown featured a jaw-dropping 20-foot train, puffed sleeves and a full skirt. Hand-embroidered with pearls and sequins, Princess Diana's wedding dress was a symbol of luxury and bridal fashion for years to come.
Queen Elizabeth II's Wedding Dress
For her marriage to Philip Mountbatten on November 20, 1947, then-Princess Elizabeth wore a white satin wedding gown designed by British designer Norman Hartnell, who's known for his embroidery techniques. Believe it or not, the tailored long-sleeve dress was purchased with ration coupons—not even royalty was exempt from the rationing of clothing in the aftermath of World War II. The dress was inspired by Botticelli's famed "Primavera" painting and served as a symbol of hope for UK citizens recovering from the war.
Queen Victoria's Wedding Dress
We can't talk about iconic wedding dresses without mentioning Queen Victoria's. In fact, many historians agree that her gown inspired the Western tradition to wear white bridal attire. Before Queen Victoria's nuptials, it was common for brides to wear dresses that could be re-worn or re-purposed after the wedding day. It's for this reason that wedding dresses were typically colorful and practical.
But Queen Victoria's wedding gown changed the trajectory of history. For her 1840 wedding to Prince Albert, she opted to wear an eight-piece white satin dress. The ornate creation featured short off-the-shoulder puffed lace sleeves and a deep pointed V waistline that led into a full pleated skirt. During the ceremony, the bride accessorized with a train that was six yards long, requiring 12 attendants to help carry it down the aisle.
Grace Kelly's Wedding Dress
Gracy Kelly didn't only wear an iconic royal wedding dress. Her gown would ultimately go on to be one of the most recognizable historical wedding dresses of all time. In April 1956, the actress wed Prince Rainier III of Monaco at St. Nicholas Cathedral. An elegant combination of taffeta and lace, Kelly's high-neck princess wedding gown was designed by Edith Head, a renowned costume designer for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM). Her look would inspire brides for generations—including future royal Kate Middleton.
Kate Middleton's Wedding Dress
For one of the most anticipated weddings of the 21st Century, Alexander McQueen creative director Sarah Burton designed a royal wedding dress for Kate Middleton that didn't disappoint. Still to this day, it continues to inspire gorgeous lookalikes. Incorporating a full pleated skirt and stunning lace embroideries, Burton's long-sleeve design was modern with some traditional flair, even incorporating light padding at the hips to evoke Victorian corsetry.
Proving that even royal brides are just like us, Kate changed into a second reception dress for the after-party. She donned a silk A-line gown with a sweetheart neckline and a sparkly belt—a style staple of the time. Like her first look, Kate Middleton's reception gown was also designed by Sarah Burton. To complete her outfit change, the bride accessorized with a fuzzy white cardigan.
Princess Eugenie's Wedding Dress
The story behind Princess Eugenie's royal gown is one that'll tug at your heartstrings. The granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth wed Jack Brooksbank on October 12, 2018, at Windsor Castle. She wore a long sleeve Peter Pilotto dress with a corseted bodice with a full pleated skirt. It had an elegant folded portrait neckline, which led into the statement detail: a low-cut open back that intentionally showed off a scar the princess has from scoliosis surgery.
Speaking to ITV about the design choice, she said she knew exactly what she wanted her royal wedding dress to look like as soon as she got engaged. "I think you can change the way beauty is, and you can show people your scars and I think it's really special to stand up for that," she said at the time.
Similarly to Kate Middleton, Princess Eugenie also had an outfit change after the ceremony. She swapped her bridal gown for a fitted blush long-sleeve dress designed by Zac Posen.
Princess Beatrice's Wedding Dress
Like many other couples who planned 2020 weddings, Princess Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi had to pivot their original plans. Instead of a traditional ceremony, the couple swapped vows at The Royal Chapel of All Saints in Windsor on July 17, 2020, in front of an exclusive guest list, which included both of their parents, Beatrice's sister Eugenie, and her grandparents, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip. Notably, Princess Beatrice's "something borrowed" was her wedding dress. She said "I do" wearing a Normal Hartnell frock that once belonged to her grandmother, the queen.
The royal gown—which was slightly altered to look more modern—featured elegant details like ivory Peau De Soie taffeta on the body of the dress with ivory Duchess satin trim and a diamanté and crystal-encrusted bodice. It also featured of-the-moment sheer puffed sleeves and a square neckline.
Camilla Parker Bowles' Wedding Dress
Following Prince Charles and Princess Diana's divorce—and her tragic death in 1997—he went on to marry Camilla Parker Bowles. The couple, now the King and Queen of England, wed on April 9, 2005 at Windsor Guildhall. The bride wore a cream silk chiffon dress with vertical rows of Swiss-made appliqued woven disks, which she paired with a matching silk embroidered coat. One of the most interesting aspects of her ensemble, though, was her headpiece: a wide-brimmed straw hat with ivory French lace and feathers.
Princess Anne's Wedding Dress
Princess Anne was the first of Queen Elizabeth's children to marry, meaning her big day was met with global fanfare. The royal selected Westminster Abbey as the location for her November 1973 nuptials to Captain Mark Phillips, and her regal gown was most definitely fit for a princess. She wore a Tudor-style silk chiffon dress with cascading trumpet sleeves and an elegant seven-foot train. To accessorize the royal wedding dress, created by Maureen Baker, the chief designer at Susan Smalls, she donned the Queen Mary's Fringe tiara with a silk floral-embroidered veil.
Zara Phillips' Wedding Dress
Princess Anne and Mark Phillips went on to have two children—Peter and Zara—before they divorced in 1992. Unsurprisingly, her daughter Zara Phillips wore an unforgettable royal wedding dress to marry rugby star Mike Tindall in 2011. The happy couple swapped vows at Canongate Kirk Church in Edinburgh on July 30, 2011. The bride looked just like a princess in her elegant gown, designed by Stewart Parvin. It had a traditional full skirt and a fitted corset top, along with sheer cap sleeves. Her tiara was a gift supplied by her mother.
Princess Margaret's Wedding Dress
Princess Margaret—Queen Elizabeth's only sibling—was a trailblazer in so many ways, especially when it came to her wedding in May 1960. The royal was the first to have her nuptials televised, meaning the world got a front-row seat to watch her say "I do" to photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones. (The two famously met when he was commissioned to take a portrait of her.) The bride tapped Sir Norman Hartnell, who was also responsible for Queen Elizabeth's wedding gown, to create her royal wedding dress.
Her look was instantly deemed an iconic look due to its simplicity. The sleek silhouette featured long sleeves, a V-neckline, and a full skirt with about 98 feet of fabric. Princess Margaret wore a cathedral-length veil to complete the look. As for her tiara? Even that broke tradition. Instead of sourcing a glittery headpiece from the royal vault, she purchased one herself—before she was even engaged.
Queen Anne-Marie's Wedding Dress
Princess Anne-Marie of Denmark became the Queen of Greece in a timeless Jørgen Bender gown. A stunning, long lace veil complemented the modernity of the high-waisted quarter-sleeve gown to create an effortlessly classic royal wedding look.
Queen Rania's Wedding Dress
Made by British designer Bruce Oldfield, Queen Rania's elegant belted royal wedding dress featured short sleeves and a dramatic suitlike collar. Calling on the gilded embroideries and traditions of Syrian formalwear, the bride's bold look—complete with a towering updo and elegant headband in place of a tiara—has gone down in history for its originality.
Princess Claire's Wedding Dress
Claire Lademacher wore a dreamy ivory silk gown by Lebanese designer Elie Saab to marry Prince Félix of Luxembourg. While the royal couple had a civil ceremony on September 17, 2013, their grand religious ceremony took place days later on September 21 in the Basilica of Sainte Marie-Madeleine in Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume, France. Princess Claire's wedding dress featured long sleeves, signature Chantilly lace embroidery and silver threadwork, and she polished off her look with a three-meter silk tulle veil and a family tiara.
Princess Sofia's Wedding Dress
In a June wedding that the adorable royal pair kept both personal and traditional, Sofia Hellqvist wore a silk crepe and organza gown by Swedish designer Ida Sjöstedt to wed Prince Carl Philip of Sweden. Incorporating three tones of white, the gown featured hand-cut, hand-stitched lace. A polished bun and diamond tiara with dazzling green emeralds finished the memorable wedding look with a regal touch.
Princess Madeleine's Wedding Dress
Princess Madeleine of Sweden wore a lovely Valentino wedding dress to marry American financier Christopher O'Neill on June 8, 2013, in Stockholm. The custom boat-neck gown had a lace neckline and cap sleeves, which led into a pleated silk organza skirt. Her train was 13 feet long, but her veil was even longer—16 feet to be exact. And because no princess wedding dress is complete without a tiara, she opted for the Modern Fringe Tiara, which was decorated with sprigs of orange blossom cascading from the bottom of the crown.
Crown Princess Marie-Chantal's Wedding Dress
Just like Princess Madeleine, Marie-Chantal Miller also wore Valentino for her wedding to Pavlos, Crown Prince of Greece. The two got married on July 1, 1995, in front of over 1,400 guests in London, England. The bride—whose fairytale day culminated with her becoming a princess—wore a stunning gown that was certainly fit for royalty. The long-sleeve creation required the attention of twenty-five designers over a span of four months. Together, they created a pearl-encrusted ivory silk dress with a tulip-shaped skirt that had a lace train nearly 15 feet long. It was valued at over $225,000. The princess topped off her look with a tiara loaned by her mother-in-law, Queen Anne-Marie of Greece.
Countess Olympia's Wedding Dress
Not all wedding dresses of royals fit into a traditional mold. This is certainly true of Countess Olympia von und zu Arco-Zinneberg, who married Jean-Christophe, Prince Napoléon in October 2019. The bride tapped famed designer Oscar de la Renta for her custom wedding gown, and the final result was simply unforgettable. The unique look featured oversized fern embroidery all over the bodice and the skirt and had a matching capelet and cathedral veil. Given the ornate intricacies of the dress, it required 10 dressmakers to work for over 1,440 hours to complete the look. The countess accessorized her royal wedding dress with a diamond bandeau tiara, a present from her grandmother, Margherita, Dowager Archduchess of Austria-Este, as well as diamond and sapphire earrings that were a wedding gift to her mother.
Queen Letizia's Wedding Dress
Spanish journalist Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano became a princess—and, later, Queen—when she married Prince Felipe of Asturias, heir to the Spanish throne. The two swapped vows on May 22, 2004, at the Almudena Cathedral at the Royal Palace of Madrid, Spain. The bride's royal gown was, of course, magnificent. She wore a silk long-sleeve wedding dress designed by Spanish creative Manuel Pertegaz. The princess wedding dress was embroidered with silver and gold threads and had a noteworthy corolla neckline.
Empress Masako's Wedding Dress
It took three proposals, but the current Emperor and Empress of Japan (then Crown Prince Naruhito and Masako) got married in June 1993 at the Tokyo Imperial Palace. The bride wore two royal wedding gowns for the celebration: first, a 12-layer silk bridal kimono, followed by a white short sleeve gown with a ruffled neckline and buttons down the front.
Queen Jetsun Pema's Wedding Dress
The wedding of Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Jetsun Pema was certainly a colorful affair. Now the current King and Queen of Bhutan, the two became husband and wife on October 13, 2011. Their ceremony was a combination of their nuptials and their coronation. For her attire, the bride chose a traditional royal wedding dress. She donned a light yellow tego (a jacket-like top) and a raw silk dress that featured shades of red, yellow, green and white.
Queen Máxima's Wedding Dress
It was only fitting that Valentino designed the wedding dress for Máxima Zorreguieta Cerruti, now the Queen of the Netherlands. She married King Willem-Alexander (then a prince) on February 2, 2002, in Amsterdam. The royal walked down the aisle in a chic three-quarter-length sleeve silk dress with a cowl neckline, which led into an empire-waist skirt with lace paneling on the sides that cascaded into a 16-foot long train. She paired her royal wedding gown with a silk tulle Valentino veil, which was covered in hand-embroidered floral accents that matched her lush bouquet. For her crown, she selected the Dutch Pearl Button Tiara, though her royal jeweler swapped its pearl buttons for five diamond stars.
Queen 'Masenate Mohato Seeiso's Wedding Dress
Queen 'Masenate Mohato Seeiso made history on her wedding day, as she was the very first commoner to marry into Lesotho's royal family. She wed Letsie III—now King of the landlocked country in South Africa—in 2000. Their nuptials took place at a football stadium and included over 40,000 guests. For the special occasion, the bride wore a sparkling long-sleeve gown covered in glittering beads and jewels.
Princess Salwa Aga Khan's Wedding Dress
Now Princess Salwa Aga Khanvwhen, she was Kendra Spears when she married Prince Rahim Aga Khan, the oldest son of Prince Karim Aga Khan and his first wife Princess Salimah Aga Khan. Their noble wedding took place in Geneva, Switzerland on August 31, 2013. For her big day, the bride wore a dazzling gold and ivory bridal look by Indian designer Manav Gangwani.