Ellie Goulding, 2019
When it comes to style, Brit Award-winning singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding is known for her laid-back yet directional looks. So it’s fair to say that her decision to wear a decidedly traditional wedding dress when she married art dealer Caspar Jopling in a star- and royalty-studded ceremony at York Cathedral came as a surprise to many. However, looks can be deceiving. Inspired by myriad iconic brides, from Bianca Jagger and Princess Grace of Monaco to Jane Seymour and Princess Anne, Goulding wanted to bring all these references together to create one timeless piece. It was a tall order, but for Goulding, selecting the designer up to the task was a no-brainer. A lifelong fan of Chloé, a house known for its modern yet romantic designs, Goulding knew creative director Natacha Ramsay-Levi could bring her dream to life. Crafted from silk crepe, embellished with glass beads and hand embroidered with personal emblems such as the couple’s initials and white roses of York, the final dress – which combined a Victoriana-style silhouette with the clean lines of contemporary design – was as elegant as it was effortless.
Priyanka Chopra, 2018
Nick Jonas and Priyanka Chopra’s seemingly never-ending nuptials were a serious contender for celebrity wedding of the year. With a week’s worth of celebrations, parties and ceremonies taking place across India, it was a veritable bonanza, and, unsurprisingly, Chopra debuted more than a few show-stopping looks. However, chief amongst them must be the exquisite Ralph Lauren wedding gown she wore to the couple’s Christian blessing. Held in Jodhpur, at the Taj Umaid Bhawan Palace, Chopra’s dress was a perfect match for the fairytale surroundings. Designed by fashion luminary Ralph Lauren – whom she accompanied to the Met Gala in 2017 and who has previously made wedding gowns for only his close family – the dress featured a column gown and sheer overlay, embellished with mother-of-pearl paillettes and crystal seed beading. Chopra’s tulle veil – far from being an afterthought – came in at 75 feet long and was an integral part of her spectacular ensemble. However, it was the finest details that really set Chopra’s bridal look apart: she specifically asked that her gown be embroidered with talismanic words, a Hindu blessing, the names of her parents and, of course, her beloved.
Gwyneth Paltrow, 2018
When Academy Award-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow referred to her upcoming nuptials to TV producer Brad Falchuk as her “first wedding” (she eloped with her first husband, Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, in 2003), the media interest kicked into overdrive. Who would attend the starry wedding? What would Paltrow, health crusader and founder of Goop, serve her guests? But the biggest questions, of course, were what and who would the bride wear? As one of Hollywood’s most famous exports, her iconic roles have included Margot Tenenbaum and Pepper Potts; however, when she finally wed Falchuk in September last year, she was 100% herself. The celebration might have taken place in the Hamptons, but Paltrow is the poster girl for laid-back LA style – she looked utterly at ease in a stunning backless lace gown by Valentino, with simple, beachy waves framing her face. Courtesy of Goop
Princess Eugenie, 2018
Though Peter Pilotto has long been revered for its otherworldly prints, the London-based fashion house proved it can master monochrome elegance, too, when it was revealed as the label chosen to create Princess Eugenie’s wedding dress. Defined by a corseted silhouette with a full pleated skirt and majestic train, the dress was conceived with many sophisticated and personal touches. Symbols that are significant to Princess Eugenie – including a thistle for Scotland, the shamrock for Ireland, the York Rose for England and, representing the couple’s home, ivy – were reinterpreted in a garland of rope-like motifs woven into a jacquard. Among the many standout details was the elegant neckline, which folded around the shoulders, and the low back, which the princess had requested in order to show off her spinal surgery scar, saying she hoped it would inspire others with the condition of scoliosis. A beautiful choice.
Meghan Markle, 2018
Fashion’s best-kept secret was finally revealed on May 19 as former actress Meghan Markle wed Prince Harry in a gown designed by British designer Clare Waight Keller, the artistic director of storied French fashion house Givenchy. From the classic bateau neckline to the sculpted waist, it recalled the enduringly elegant pieces Hubert de Givenchy himself created for Audrey Hepburn, his ultimate muse. Markle’s stunning look was finished with personal elements that brought an extra layer of meaning to the big day: the 16ft-long tulle veil was embellished with flora from all 53 countries in the Commonwealth, while her dazzling diamond tiara was chosen from the Queen’s own jewelry collection. But it wasn’t just the bride’s phenomenal outfit that got people talking: she also made history by walking herself down the aisle. A truly modern-day princess.
Meghan Markle, 2018
The new Duchess of Sussex may have caught the world off-guard by opting to wear Givenchy for her wedding ceremony, but her decision to wear a gown by British designer Stella McCartney to the intimate evening reception at Frogmore House was less surprising. Both dresses were notable for their simplicity, but the liquid-silk halterneck took the theme in an entirely different direction: with its open back and bare shoulders, it oozed after-dark sophistication, perfect for dancing the night away. The bride let the dress speak for itself by keeping her accessories to a minimum, finishing simply with a pair of drop earrings and a rumored wedding-day gift from her husband as her ‘something blue’ – an extraordinary aquamarine cocktail ring that once belonged to Princess Diana.
Princess Diana, 1981
“You can’t have a discussion about wedding dresses without mentioning quite possibly the most iconic of them all, Princess Diana’s for her wedding to Prince Charles. Watched by 750 million people worldwide, the closely guarded design by Elizabeth and David Emmanuel featured a 25ft train and was made from ruffled ivory silk taffeta and antique lace. This dress epitomizes the glamour and flamboyant excess of the ’80s, and its unabashed pageantry spurred a decade of copycat trends. I feel like this was her first real moment in the spotlight, and the dawn of her transformation into a global style icon.”
Hannah Cole, digital style editor
Cindy Crawford, 1998
“Disclaimer: I’m not a wedding person. Taffeta breaks me out in hives, and I have an out-of-body experience in anything too ‘gowny’. For this reason and so many more, I love Cindy Crawford for wearing a simple John Galliano slip dress for her barefoot beach wedding in the Bahamas to Rande Gerber. Their day looked like a proper party and a true celebration of their love, which is my dream wedding – no bells, no whistles, just all my friends and family having the time of their lives. And ideally me in a custom-designed slip dress by Nicolas Ghesquière that I can dance all night in.”
Gillian Brett, fashion features associate
Grace Kelly, 1956
“I wouldn’t call myself a romantic, but the dress that Grace Kelly wore during her wedding to Prince Rainier III of Monaco is definitely one of the most elegant and best-remembered bridal gowns of all times. The creator was Helen Rose, a costume designer in the wardrobe department of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios (MGM). The dress was a wedding gift to Kelly from the MGM studio. I love the high neckline and the sleeve details, the buttons, the beautiful embroidery with hundreds of tiny pearls and the antique Brussels lace.”
Marian Nachmia, senior fashion assistant
Bianca Jagger, 1971
“Before she became the undisputed queen of Studio 54, Bianca Jagger married Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger in a sleek skirt suit and wide-brimmed hat designed by Yves Saint Laurent himself. Jagger’s decision to ditch the blouse she’d intended to wear (at four months pregnant, it no longer fitted) took a relatively traditional outfit, complete with a gossamer veil and corsage, in a whole new direction. Jagger’s ultimate look might have been a little risqué, but she exuded a sexiness and ease that means, almost 50 years later, this look still feels as modern as it did back then.”
Megan Logue, fashion features writer
Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy, 1996
“I find it most inspiring when women have a signature style that they stay true to, even on an occasion when the temptation to drift away from that is huge. Carolyn looked so chic and so ‘her’ when she married John F. Kennedy Jr. Even though she opted for a simple Narciso Rodriguez slip, there was no lack of glamor or elegance. Everything is right here: the dress is fluid and figure-hugging; long enough to cover her ankles but showing just enough of her strappy sandals; paired with sheer gloves, a minimalist veil, her bare-faced beauty and pared-back hairstyle. The epitome of chic.”
Anina Heé, associate shopping editor
Jacqueline Bouvier, 1953
“Jackie looked incredible when she married John F. Kennedy in an ivory silk, portrait-neckline dress with a bouffant skirt designed by Ann Lowe. I love that the neckline has an elegant yet sexy flare that would feel of-the-moment today. Jackie wore little jewelry, but the subtle single-strand pearl necklace that she did wear complemented the dress perfectly.”
Morgan Pilcher, fashion editor
Mia Farrow, 1966
“With her pixie crop and elfin features, Farrow was the poster girl of the ’60s mod movement. Favoring A-line dresses that revealed her lean limbs, it’s no surprise that she avoided the froth and fuss of traditional wedding dresses, and instead, when she married Frank Sinatra in 1966, chose to wear a white boxy mini-skirt suit. Accessorized with subtle jewelry and white pumps, the minimal look highlighted her modern approach to fashion, and it has perfectly stood the test of time, even if the marriage didn’t.”
Kay Barron, fashion director
Kristen McMenamy, 1997
“Such was Kristen McMenamy’s supermodel star power that she enlisted Karl Lagerfeld to not only custom-make her dress but also walk her down the aisle when she married photographer Miles Aldridge. It helped that he’d also introduced the couple. The chiffon was dyed to perfectly match her pale skin tone and draped to show off the fact that she was five months pregnant, and her incredible head-dress was conjured by Philip Treacy. With Naomi Campbell as bridesmaid and fashion’s A-list in the congregation, she looks as though she’s stepping off a runway.”
Emma Sells, fashion features editor
Celebrity wedding excitement reached fever pitch this year, which got the PORTER fashion desk thinking about their favorite wedding gowns of all time. Scroll down for our shortlist, featuring lace, taffeta, tulle and everything in between…
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