From Queen Victoria to Lady Diana Spencer, Royal brides have influenced wedding fashions for years after the nuptials.

No single person or event in history has influenced the wedding ceremony more than the marriage in 1840 of Queen Victoria of England to her cousin Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, and that influence continued until World War II. Victoria married for love, and her wedding idealized romance and asserted a woman’s right to choose her own husband. From her reign, the Victorian style emerged and influenced both European and American cultures.

With her ivory-hued satin gown, Victoria helped set the ideal of white weddings and single-handedly changed the wedding styles not only in Europe but also in America. Seemingly austere and even bordering on the plain by Royal standards, Victoria’s gown was actually exquisite and of great value. Its simply elegant style was described as “rich white satin trimmed with orange flower blossoms. On her head, she wore a wreath of the same blossoms over which, but not so to conceal her face, a beautiful veil of Honiton lace was thrown.”

More than 100 years later, the 1981 wedding of Lady Diana Spencer to Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, also influenced wedding styles. The nuptials, broadcast live globally, brought large, lavish weddings back in style and also revitalized the wedding industry, which had suffered through the 1970s and its era of disco and leisure suits.

Diana’s dress was yards and yards of white silk taffeta covered with thousands of hand-embroidered pearls and beads. It featured puffy sleeves, a frilly neckline and a 25-foot-long train. Her dress helped define the fashion of the 1980s and inspired replicas and adaptations by brides for years after.

Source: Holly Money-Collins, AIFD, A Centennial History of the American Florist

Click here to watch a BBC slideshow of past Royal wedding dresses, and listen to Senior Curator Joanna Marschner at Historic Royal Palaces describe how royal wedding fashions have changed through the decades.

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