Royal Wedding Dresses: Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip smiling on their wedding day.
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33 Iconic Royal Wedding Dresses Throughout History

Our Favorite Fit-for-Royalty Frocks
BY HALEY JENA / 11 17 22
Photo c/o Royal UK

If “heavy is the head that wears the crown,” then “stunning is the bride who wears the royal wedding dress.” (That’s a saying, right?) For decades, royal weddings have captivated the attention of millions around the globe.

With so many people consuming these significant celebrations, it’s easy to understand why the royal wedding dresses that brides have worn captivate so many of us, even long after the ceremony ends. These gowns are more than memorable looks to walk down the aisle in—they’re cultural touchpoints that serve as fashion inspiration for decades, if not centuries, to come.

That’s why we wanted to round up some of the most iconic royal wedding dresses throughout the world. Whether you’re looking for wedding dress inspiration of your own or simply want to gawk at time-surpassing royal wedding fashion (we know we do!), we assembled some of the most breathtaking looks throughout history. From Princess Diana’s wedding dress, complete with a 25-foot train, to actress-turned-princess Grace Kelly’s elegant lace-embellished ensemble, there’s no shortage of iconic royal wedding dresses to admire.

Royal wedding dress trends

While every royal wedding dress is unique in its own memorable way, it’s easy to find some shared trends between the styles. For instance, Kate Middleton’s wedding dress seems to take cues from Grace Kelly’s wedding look, with long lace sleeves and a flowing skirt. Meanwhile, tons of royal wedding dresses sported chic off-shoulder moments, from Princess Charlene of Monaco’s gown to Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden’s dress. And let’s not forget about one of the most iconic elements spotted in royal wedding dresses everywhere: a long, flowy train.

There are some traditions that dictate royal wedding dresses and influence trends from decade to decade. For instance, when it comes to British royal wedding dresses, brides typically wear a white, long-sleeved gown, and often top off the look with a tiara. For instance, Princess Anne, Princess Beatrice, and Queen Elizabeth all wore Queen Mary’s diamond fringe tiara to say “I do.”

Ready to see these trends in action? Keep reading to find royal wedding pictures and fun facts for even more inspo.

Royal wedding dresses

We’ve rounded up 35 of the most iconic royal wedding dresses throughout history that are sure to inspire you. You can scroll through the royal wedding pictures to find which styles speak to you, from the modern minimalism of Meghan Markle’s wedding dress to the iconic gown from Princess Diana’s wedding.

If you’re looking for even more inspiration for your own ceremony, you can look through our directory of real weddings to see the styles worn by other brides and grooms, including plenty of royalty-inspired looks. And if you want to make your day even more royalty-inspired, check out our favorite castle and ballroom wedding venues to find an enchanting ceremony space worthy of your big day.

In the meantime, we’ve hand-selected some of the most influential, fairy tale-worthy royal wedding dresses of all time. (Of course, it goes without saying that there are many more influential royal wedding dresses besides the styles listed below, but this selection should hopefully provide all of the royal bridal inspiration you need.)

Wallis, Duchess of Windsor, 1937

Since Edward VIII abdicated the British throne so that he could marry Wallis Simpson, an American divorcée, traditional practices likely weren't a huge priority for her wedding day look. Most royal wedding dresses are white or ivory in color, but Wallis made her “something blue” her Mainbocher wedding gown, a unique take on royal wedding fashion. The frock had a straight silhouette, which was fitted around the waist and adorned with small button details.

Rita Hayworth, 1949

A-list American actress Rita Hayworth married Prince Aly Khan in 1949, wearing a periwinkle gown that showcased a more laid-back aesthetic than most other royal wedding dresses by comparison. While the two eventually split up, the distinct and memorable look will always make waves when it comes to royal wedding fashion.

Soraya Esfandiary Bakhtiary, 1951

Christian Dior was commissioned to design Soraya Esfandiary Bakhtiari’s royal wedding gown for her marriage to Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of the Imperial State of Iran. The gown was constructed with twenty meters of white silk with an abundance of gold embroidery, causing the ensemble to weigh more than 66 pounds. Unfortunately, the outfit was too heavy for Soraya to wear during her ceremony, as she had been bedridden for weeks before the ceremony from contracting typhoid. To make it easier for Soraya, the Shah and his aide cut off about eight meters of the gown right before the ceremony.

Grace Kelly, 1956

Grace Kelly’s wedding dress influenced royal wedding fashion decades after her ceremony—Kate Middleton’s gown bares a striking resemblance to the structure of Kelly’s, with book looks touting long, floral lace sleeves and a nip waist. The royal wedding gown was a gift to the American actress from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (her studio at the time) for her marriage to Prince Rainier III of Monaco. Constructed with silk faille and antique Brussels lace, this royal wedding fashion look reminds us of the fairy-tale wedding dresses you might see today.

Queen Elizabeth II, 1947

Designed by leading British couturier Norman Hartnell, Queen Elizabeth’s wedding dress design was approved just three months before she married Prince Philip. Inspired by Botticelli's Primavera painting and made with satin, the gown was completed with a 13-foot train embroidered with silk tulle. Meanwhile, the bridesmaids dresses matched a similar delicate and ethereal vibe. Queen Elizabeth’s wedding dress may have also kickstarted the public obsession with royal wedding dresses, with unprecedented interest shown in the design. (Hartnell had to whitewash and curtain the windows in his workroom to make sure the royal wedding dress design stayed private.)

Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon, 1960

Fashion icon and sister to Queen Elizabeth, Princess Margaret’s ceremonial look is framed with a stunning silhouette reminiscent of many other royal wedding dresses, with a fitted bodice and flowing, and poofy skirt. One journalist wrote that it seemed like Princess Margaret “moved in a soft white cloud” while wearing it. (High praise, literally!) The Queen’s sister married Antony Armstrong-Jones in 1960 at Westminster Abbey, where we’ve seen so many British royal wedding dresses float down the aisle.

Anne, Princess Royal, 1973

The only daughter of Queen Elizabeth, Princess Anne married Captain Mark Philips in a Tudor-style gown designed by Maureen Baker of Susan Smalls. Although the gown was made for a ceremony five decades ago, the structured gown reminds us of the many corset wedding dresses we saw during New York Bridal Fashion Week. While the couple have since divorced (a topic discussed in the latest season of The Crown), the royal wedding fashion from their 1973 celebration remains a cherished source of inspiration for many. 

Queen Silvia of Sweden, 1976

The elegant high neck and bell sleeves of Queen Silvia’s silk duchesse gown worked together to create a timeless, traditional look for royal weddings. Even better? Before the wedding began, ABBA performed “Dancing Queen” in honor of Sweden's future queen. (Talk about wedding goals!)

Princess Caroline of Monaco, 1978

The sheer sleeves! The romantic veil! The decorative embellishments! Princess Caroline of Monaco’s 1978 gown is one of the most classic royal wedding dresses on our list, providing a timeless aesthetic. It’s no surprise that her mother is icon Grace Kelly, who wore another one of our favorite royal wedding dresses.

Diana, Princess of Wales, 1981

Perhaps the most revered gown of all time, Princess Diana’s wedding dress has enraptured fans around the globe, and it’s easy to see why. This one-of-a-kind ivory taffeta gown was designed by husband-and-wife team David and Elizabeth Emanuel, and comes with a rich history and, of course, grand design. In addition to its record-breaking train, Princess Diana’s wedding dress featured 10,000 pearls, lace that once belonged to Queen Mary, and an 18-carat gold horseshoe trinket sewn in for luck. Best of all, no one knew what Princess Diana’s wedding dress looked like until she unveiled it on her wedding day, making her opulent gown even more jaw-dropping. With so many intricate yet dramatic details, it’s no surprise that this was arguably one of the most influential royal wedding dresses of all time.

Sarah, Duchess of York, 1986

The Duchess of York (aka Sarah Ferguson, aka Fergie) said “I do” in a gown that’s the perfect blend of royal wedding fashion and on-trend 1980s style, with a corset-style bodice and puffy shoulder details. Like many other British royal wedding dresses, the gown was filled with symbols, such as beaded bees and thistles that represented her family’s coat of arms. In her book My Story, she shared that designer Lindka Cierach chose a creamy duchess satin material that wouldn’t wrinkle after seeing the folds in Princess Diana’s gown.

Empress Masako of Japan, 1993

Masako Owada and the then-Crown Prince Naruhito of Japan enjoyed several different royal wedding fashion looks. For their first traditional Shinto ceremony, both wore vibrant silk kimonos. Owada’s kimono weighed about 30 pounds and was constructed with 12 layers of silk, which took three hours to put on. Later on, the newlyweds changed into western-style attire for their meeting with the groom’s parents.

Sophie, Countess of Wessex and Forfar, 1999

You can’t go wrong with a classic look on your big day, proven by Sophie, Countess of Wessex and Forfar on her wedding day to Prince Edward. Like many other British royal wedding dresses, her gown was designed by a British designer, Samantha Shaw. The long-sleeve gown was embellished with hundreds of thousands of crystals and pearls.

Queen 'Masenate Mohato Seeiso of Lesotho, 2000

How stunning is this beaded beauty of a gown? For her wedding to King Letsie III of Lesotho, 'Masenate Mohato Seeiso wore a long-sleeve, sparkly dress, making it one of our favorite royal ball gown wedding dresses. The gorgeous royal wedding fashion moment was a perfect outfit for the historical wedding, as she was the first commoner to marry into the royal family of Lesotho.

Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, 2002

Máxima Zorreguieta wore an ivory mikado silk Valentino gown, complete with three-quarter length sleeves, a cowl neckline, and a long round train to exchange vows with Prince Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands. Her silk tulle veil was embroidered with flower and tendril motifs, which elegantly juxtaposed  with her glamorous minimalistic gown.

Queen Letizia of Spain, 2004

While royal wedding dresses are often known for their exceptional detailing or designer labels, Queen Letizia’s dress takes the crown for being the most expensive pick on our list, even winning a Guinness World Record for the price tag. The royal wedding gown clocked in at $10.7 million, thanks to the real gold thread embroidery woven into the dress’s silk material.

Camilla, Queen Consort of the United Kingdom, 2005

When she wed the then-Prince Charles (now King) in 2005, Camilla Parker Bowles wore a knee-length cream silk dress and elegant coordinating basket weave coat, complete with a statement hat adorned with feathers.  For the subsequent blessing, she wore a longer chiffon gown with a pale blue and gold coat overtop, and had a coordinating gold feather-inspired headpiece too. Both royal wedding dresses were designed by Philip Treacy. 

Princess Marie of Denmark, 2008

We love that the lace on the perimeter of Princess Marie of Denmark’s veil complements the sheer pattern on the back of her gown. Other decorative touches such as a button-lined back, fitted bodice, and flowing skirt made this one an ultra-elegant royal wedding fashion look.

Victoria, Crown Princess of Sweden, 2010

Adding to the list of off-the-shoulder royal wedding dresses is Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden’s gown from 2010. The understated elegance, sweeping train, and intricate veil details made for a romantic-meets-modern gown perfectly suited for royal weddings.

Princess Tatiana of Greece and Denmark, 2010

The sheer, lace short sleeves combined with the long, flowy skirt of Princess Tatiana’s wedding dress made it a decidedly classic ceremonial look that’s fit for our royal wedding fashion hall of fame.

Catherine, Princess of Wales, 2011

Kate Middleton’s wedding dress is another influential design marked in history. The Alexander McQueen gown is a perfect example of royal wedding fashion, with long lace sleeves, a long train (nine feet, to be exact), and plenty of lace appliques. Four floral designs—rose, daffodil, shamrock, and thistle—were represented on the bodice, which represent the United Kingdom’s four regions. Kate Middleton’s wedding dress also shares notable influences to Grace Kelly’s gown, making them two similar yet uniquely distinct royal wedding dresses.

Princess Charlene of Monaco, 2011

We’re noticing an off-the-shoulder trend among royal wedding dresses, and we love it. Princess Charlene of Monaco offered a fresh take on the trend with her Armani Privé duchesse silk wedding gown, with a train embroidered with a whopping 40,000 Swarovski crystals. (Hello, sparkle!) All in all, it took 2,500 hours for three seamstresses to make the gown.

Zara Phillips, 2011

For her wedding to Mark Tindall in 2011, Zara Phillips wore one of the more modern British royal wedding dresses on our list, sporting an ivory silk faille gown with a drop waist, fitted bodice, and A-line skirt. Granddaughter to Queen Elizabeth and daughter to Princess Anne, the bride married Mike Tindall at Canongate Kirk in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Queen Jetsun Pema of Bhutan, 2011

Queen Jetsun Pema of Bhutan married King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck while wearing a beautiful traditional Bhutanese kira. The couple's ceremony was held at the Punakha Dzong in Punakha, Bhutan.

Princess Madeleine, Duchess of Hälsingland and Gästrikland, 2013

An ivory gown made with silk and lace? Check. A long veil adorned with Chantilly lace? Check. A royal tiara to top off the look? Check! Princess Madeleine of Sweden’s Valentino Garavani gown had all the makings of classic royal wedding dresses and accessories.

Princess Claire of Luxembourg, 2013

When Claire Lademacher wed Prince Félix of Luxembourg, she wore a sophisticated Chantilly silk Elie Saab gown which embraced head-to-toe plant motifs. Transparent crystals and pearly sequins elevated the look, as did the accompanying ivory silk tulle veil and a Chantilly lace train. Staying in line with several other royal wedding dresses on the list, the look featured classic long sleeves.

Princess Sofia, Duchess of Värmland, 2015

This gorgeous Ida Sjöstedt gown, worn by Sofia Hellqvist (aka the Duchess of Värmland) for her wedding to Sweden's Prince Carl Philip, embraced the lace long sleeves and V-neckline reminiscent of Kate Middleton’s famous frock. The silk organza and stunning tiara completed the look.

Beatrice Borromeo, 2015

Beatrice Borromeo proved that you don’t need to limit the amount of royal wedding dresses you wear to one. When the Italian aristocrat married Monegasque royal Pierre Casiraghi (aka Grace Kelly’s grandson) in 2015, she rocked several different looks throughout her celebrations. Two of our favorites are the pale pink silk chiffon Valentino gown worn for her civil ceremony and this radiant Armani Privé white silk tulle gown for the following week’s festivities.

Princess Ariana Austin Makonnen of Ethiopia, 2017

Ariana Austin Makonnen and Prince Joel Makonnen of Ethiopia first met in a place you might not have expected: a bar! Years later, Ariana wore a sleeveless Lazaro gown with beautiful beading details on the bodice and a large skirt, making it one of our favorite royal fairytale wedding dresses ever.

Alessandra de Osma, 2018

While Alessandra de Osma and Prince Christian of Hanover officially tied the knot in 2017, they exchanged vows in Peru four months later in 2018. Like Kate Middleton’s gown, Alessandra’s dress reminds us of Grace Kelly’s wedding day look. All three royal wedding dresses glimmer with lacy long sleeves, a fitted bodice, and flowing skirt. Of course, each style is unique, with Alessandra’s gown rocking a high neckline and three quarter-length sleeves, which was designed by Jorge Vázquez.

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, 2018

Meghan Markle wowed millions when she walked down the aisle in her gorgeous, minimalistic gown, making it one of the most popular royal wedding dresses of all time. Designed by Clare Waight Keller for Givenchy, Meghan Markle’s wedding dress sported an elegant boat-neck design and silk organza. The gown was paired with a veil featuring florals from all 53 Commonwealth countries, and it was adorned with Queen Mary’s diamond bandeau tiara (lent by her grandmother-in-law, Queen Elizabeth). While it was a beautifully unique style, Meghan Markle’s wedding dress maintained the basic principles of royal wedding fashion, from its white color to long-sleeve detail.

Princess Eugenie, 2018

Designed by Peter Pilotto and Christopher De Vos, Princess Eugenie’s royal wedding gown touted long sleeves, folded shoulders, and (as is a common trend with British royal wedding dresses!), a long train. Like many other royal wedding dresses, the fabric incorporated meaningful floral symbols, such as ivy to represent the couple’s home Ivy Cottage. And in a thoughtful touch, Princess Eugenie’s gown featured a dropped back to show her scoliosis operation scar.

Princess Beatrice, 2020

Princess Beatrice’s royal wedding dress didn’t come directly from a designer's showroom—it came from her grandmother, Queen Elizabeth! That’s right: The princess wore a vintage ivory satin and taffeta Norman Hartnell gown, which the Queen first wore to a film premiere in 1962, to marry Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi in a small, private ceremony at the Royal Chapel of All Saints at Royal Lodge, Windsor. The vintage embellishments didn’t stop at the royal wedding gown, either: Princess Beatrice also Queen Mary’s diamond fringe tiara, which was also worn by Queen Elizabeth on her wedding day decades prior.

How to find a royal wedding dress-inspired look of your own

Now that you’ve scrolled through some of the most iconic royal wedding dresses, it’s understandable if you want to find a regal look of your own. While it’s probably not possible to borrow a member of a royal family’s gown for your own ceremony, there are some things you can do while shopping to find a gown suited for a royal celebration.

Pick out your favorite elements 

First, consider what trends are your favorite from other royal weddings. Do you love a long, flowing train? Are long, lacey sleeves calling your name? Think about which aspects of these quintessential royal wedding fashion looks speak to you most, and keep them in mind while you’re shopping. Beyond the specific elements, think about your overall aesthetic vision too. Ask yourself some important questions: Do A-line ball gowns resonate with your big-day vision? Are appliques and lots of sparkles a must? That way, you can better share your vision with a bridal stylist so they can help you find the style you’re looking for.

Consider your wedding venue location

It’s also important to factor in your wedding venue when you’re deciding on a look (or multiple looks) to wear on your big day. “Location is one of the main things to consider when it comes to your wedding looks, because you want to feel comfortable and appropriate in the setting of your celebration,” bridal stylist Julie Sabatino of The Stylish Bride previously shared with us. That means a dress you’d pick for a big-city celebration will probably be much different than an ensemble you’d wear for a beach affair. No matter where you choose to say “I do,” you can still wear something fit for a royal—it just might look slightly different depending on the locale.

Royal Wedding Dresses: A bride outside holding a bouquet, with her long veil blowing in the wind.
Royal Wedding Dresses: A bride walking down a grand corridor with her back to the camera. Her white wedding gown has a long, flowing train.
Royal Wedding Dresses: A bride wearing a lace long-sleeve wedding gown while holding a bouquet of flowers.
Factor in how long you’ll wear your look

Before you go shopping, consider whether you’d like to wear your gown all night long or if you’d like to change outfits throughout the evening. While a royalty-inspired gown with a seemingly endless train is an undoubtedly gorgeous addition, it might be hard to dance in it all night, for example. “A lot of people change, so thinking about how long you're going to be in your gown, where you're wearing it after the ceremony, if you're staying in it for cocktails, or are you doing your first dance and making sure that you can move and be comfortable, too, is all really important,” Micaela Erlanger, a celebrity stylist, previously shared. Know that you’re in good company if you decide to change looks: Everyone from Meghan Markle to Beatrice Borromeo enjoyed multiple wedding day styles.

Royal wedding dresses are not only a great source of fashion inspiration, but they’re reflective of important moments in history. Browsing through the many unique looks worn by different royal families throughout time is a great way to decipher your own bridal fashion vibe, as well as learn more about different traditions and cultures.

Remember, no matter which look you choose to walk down the aisle in, you’ll be royalty on your wedding day. With or without an official title, you rule!