By Dee Power
Elegance is in the eye of the beholder, much like beauty. It depends more on attitude and quality than it does on price. A simple definition of elegance is grace of movement, polished expression and refinement of beauty. If you’re determining which wedding dress style is right for you, take a look at some of the most memorable iconic wedding dresses of all time to get some inspiration.
Queen Victoria started the trend of white wedding dresses. Prior to that point, wedding dresses were every colour and meant to be worn as the woman's best dress rather than just once on her wedding day.
Even now in some cultures, white is overlooked for other traditional colours. Red is the colour of choice for Chinese brides. Indian brides choose brightly coloured and richly embroidered saris. And Japanese brides will wear a wedding kimono and often change into a western style white wedding dress for the reception.
So what did Queen Victoria's wedding dress look like? It was white satin accented by nosegays of orange blossoms at the bosom and scattered about the full skirt. Her lace veil was designed exclusively for the wedding. The pattern was later destroyed so it couldn't be used again. Nearly 200 people laboured for six weeks to produce the lace veil and lace for the trim of her dress. The neckline left her shoulders bare. Sleeves were full, starting off her shoulders and ending above the elbows.
This beautiful queen’s dress was richly embroidered ivory silk with a satin train. The ball gown had a scoop neck, full skirt and long sleeves. It was embroidered with 10,000 seed pearls. The 15-foot train was made of delicate lace embroidered in the same pattern as the dress, including flowers, the white rose of York and wheat heads, a symbol of fertility. The queen wore a veil made of white tulle attached to a diamond tiara. Around her neck she wore a double pearl necklace.
It is said that Queen Elizabeth II had two wedding dresses. The first was worn when she married Prince Phillip and the second at her coronation when she wed the people of the United Kingdom. That dress was designed by Norman Hartnell who also designed her wedding dress. While the original design called for white satin and little embroidery, the final design remained white satin but was heavily and richly embroidered with plants or flowers to represent each of the entities that make up the commonwealth. The embroidery was in pastel colours and accented by gold and silver threads with diamonds, amethysts and coloured crystals.
She was a real fairy tale princess whose gown has been a timeless inspiration for brides since her wedding day in 1956. The gown was white satin with a high neckline and long sleeves. The bodice and sleeves were antique Valenciennes rose point lace. Twenty-five yards of silk taffeta and ninety-eight yards of tulle were used. Her headpiece fit close to her head with a fingertip length veil in front and longer veil in back. Her wedding dress and veil were designed by Helen of MGM studios and given to her as a wedding gift from the studios. She carried a small bouquet of lilies of the valley over a white Bible.
Princess Diana had one of the most stunning and talked about wedding dresses ever created. Actually, there was more than one dress designed and made to keep the media guessing as to what she would wear on her wedding day. Immediately, brides all over the world wanted the full sleeved, full skirted over the top style of gown for their weddings.
This well known Canadian singer’s wedding gown was a stunning extravagance of white satin embroidered with crystals and pearls. The ball gown had a full skirt, sweetheart neckline and long sleeves and a 20-foot train. Her crowning glory was literally a crown consisting of 2000 Austrian crystals which weighed seven pounds. Attached to the headpiece was a Cathedral length veil. Before and after the wedding she wore a white fur coat to keep her warm.
When you're marrying a Trump the sky's the limit. Melania Trump's wedding dress is rumoured to cost nearly $100,000. Designed by Dior, the dress weighed close to 50 pounds and had a 13-foot train, complemented by a 16-foot veil. The veil was artistically arranged in a swirl pattern to match the swirls in her dress. The dress was in the mermaid style, fitted through the hips and flaring out starting about mid-thigh. While the bride had fittings for the dress, she had never walked in the gown until her wedding day and stumbled a bit when she first started down the aisle. Obviously, that dress was not meant for dancing. Melania changed into a simpler and much lighter dress for the wedding reception.
Wedding gowns have changed a lot since the Victorian ages, but there’s still so much inspiration we can glean from yesterday’s style icons. By blending your personal style and personality with some elements of these unforgettable wedding dresses, you’re sure to have en elegant wedding dress that you and your guests will remember forever.
Dee Power is a freelance writer who writes about weddings and fashion such as great styles of wedding dresses .