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Detail from a portrait of the marriage of Princess Helena

The history of Royal weddings as seen through items in the Royal Collection

Wedding dresses

Although the ceremony involved in a royal wedding evokes long, ancient tradition, often the dress worn by the bride is reflective of contemporary fashion and the bride's personal style. For example, Queen Victoria wore a plain court dress whereas Queen Elizabeth wore a drop waist dress of ivory chiffon typical of the early 1920s fashion.

Uniting all wedding ensembles was the incorporation of incredibly fine lace. Queen Victoria commissioned Honiton lace for her wedding ensemble, reviving the flagging lace industry in Honiton Devon. She also insisted that Princess Alexandra, in her wedding to Prince Edward VII, wore Honiton rather than Brussels lace. Queen Mary continued the tradition of wearing Honiton lace; this was used for the trimming of both the bodice and skirt of her dress.

Related exhibition
The Royal Wedding Dress

The Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding dress takes centre-stage in the Ballroom at Buckingham Palace during the annual Summer Opening

Mary Bettans, Jermyn Street, London

Queen Victoria's wedding dress

Queen Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom (1819-1901)

Design for Queen Victoria's bridesmaids’ dresses

Linton and Curtis, 16 Albermarle Street

Queen Mary's Wedding Dress