7 Royal Wedding Trends to Inspire You
— By Lorna Urwin
23 November 2016
Royals have been setting wedding trends since Queen Victoria popularised the white wedding dress way back in 1840. While fashion has changed quite a bit since then, royal outfits still garner a lot of interest, often representing timeless and elegant style as an antidote to today’s culture of ever-changing trends. Even if you don’t have a family tiara to whip out for your big day, read on for some accessible bridal trends with a royal seal of approval!
1/ Long sleeves
Images by Getty and Associated Press
Many royal brides have favoured three-quarter or full-length sleeves, even when sleeveless, summery styles were de rigueur. This look not only projects an elegant aesthetic, but lends a modest look that’s ideal for religious or traditional ceremonies. In cooler weather sleeves can be functional as well stylish, but for warmer climates light and breathable lace or tulle overlays make for a more comfortable option!
Images from V&A Collection and Metropolitan Museum of Art
These days almost all brides (royal or otherwise) follow in Queen Victoria’s footsteps by wearing a classic white wedding dress. If you’re looking for something less traditional, however, find inspiration in the opulent, gold and silver dresses of pre-Victorian royalty (like Princess Charlotte’s 1816 empire-line dress). Or look to the chic but unconventional style of Wallis Simpson, who married abdicated King Edward VIII in a soft shade of grey-blue (sadly the blue has now faded, leaving the gown looking more traditional than Wallis intended!).
Images by Getty
The Duchess of Cambridge followed in a long royal tradition of wedding gowns featuring artisanal lace. Kate’s dress was complemented by delicate lace appliqué for the bodice, skirt and train. The bodice and, sleeves in particular, were reminiscent of another royal wedding dress – the gown Grace Kelly wore for her 1956 wedding to Prince Ranier III of Monaco, which made generous use of French Alençon lace. Lace is incredibly popular to this day, lending a touch of sophistication, detail and texture to any wedding look without detracting from modern silhouettes!
4/ Appliqué and embellishments
Images from Getty and Royal Collection
Several royal brides have opted for dresses adorned with pearls, crystals and fabric appliqués. For some, this was a celebration of extravagance - Queen Soraya of Iran’s Dior dress was spectacularly elaborate, garlanded in feathers and diamonds. For others the look created was for more subtle decoration or for symbolic purposes (the floral appliqué on Princess Elizabeth’s 1947 wedding dress, for instance, was intended to signal the idea of rejuvenation after the war). Even if you don’t see the need for your dress to tell a story, floral imagery and appliqués are very much back on trend and continue to convey a sense of freshness and vitality. See big name bridal designers like Marchesa, Carolina Herrera and Oscar de la Renta for some beautifully modern floral inspiration.
5/ Clean and understated
Images by Getty
On the other end of the spectrum lie dresses with clean lines and minimal embellishment. Though this look was pioneered in decades past by dresses like Princess Margaret’s, it has been popular with an array of European royal brides in recent times. This understated look is perfect for modern minimalist brides who prefer to focus on form, shape and material rather than patterns and texture.
6/ Delicate tiaras
Images by Getty
There’s nothing that says ‘royal wedding’ quite like a tiara. And your wedding is possibly the only time in your life that, as a non-royal, it’s fine for you to wear one too! While the world’s royal families have generations of heirlooms to choose from, there’s no shortage of sparkling new diadems and embellished headbands on sites like Etsy to bring a penchant for fairy tale opulence to life.
7/ Multiple dresses
Images by Valentino, Splash News and Getty Images
Last but not least, a great way to take inspiration from royalty is to indulge in more than one wedding dress! One style for the ceremony and one for the reception is the most obvious way to introduce a costume change (à la Kate Middleton), but Beatrice Borromeo took this even further and wore four different bridal outfits over the course of her civil and religious weddings to Monaco royal Pierre Casiraghi. If fashion’s your thing and you can’t imagine choosing just one perfect dress, this might be the ideal occasion to showcase more than one gorgeous ensemble (within the budget of course!).