Royal weddings have dominated this year’s wedding headlines. With the nuptials of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank, we’ve been offered a lot of high-profile inspiration. But hosting your very own royal wedding doesn’t have to focus on weddings from this decade. Past kings and queens might offer those timeless, elegant ideas you had in mind.
The wedding of Queen Victoria and Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha still influences weddings today. The ceremony and reception defined a number of trends that modern day brides and grooms stick by. Married in 1840 at the Chapel Royal in St James’s Palace, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert disregarded several traditions and set many more trends with their nuptials. Here we take a closer look at the royal wedding that started it all.
She made the white wedding dress popular
Before the wedding of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, it was unheard of for brides to wear white. Queen Victoria broke all the fashion rules with her choice of dress; most brides wore bright, colourful dresses at the time. Her no-nonsense approach to wedding fashion went on to inspire brides for years and years to come. Although getting married in white can be done for a variety of reasons nowadays, Queen Victoria’s decision was carefully calculated. Vanity Fair explains:
“Ironically, Victoria and her team of advisers put more thought into the symbolism of the dress’s materials than the color itself—choosing cream satin woven in the Spitalfields, the historic center of the silk industry in London, and handmade Honiton lace, selected to boost the lace industry. (Victoria’s lace pattern was said to have been destroyed after work was completed on Victoria’s gown so that the intricate template could not be copied.) The gown was further adorned with orange blossoms—a symbol of fertility that worked, considering her eventual brood of nine children—and an 18-foot-long train.”
She accessorised too
As well as putting a ban on her guests wearing white, Queen Victoria let her accessories do the talking, which was a far cry from the simple designs other brides of the era wore. She accessorised her white wedding gown with matching satin shoes, a sapphire brooch, diamond earrings, kid gloves and a floral wreath to ensure her ensemble was truly show stopping. The majority of brides today understand the importance of great accessories and use them to make their bridal look even more unique.
She chose her bridesmaids for the right reasons
Royal weddings were, and still are, status symbols. Royal nuptials generate a huge amount of money for the UK economy, with the 2011 wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton providing a £2 billion boost for tourism. Unlike many royals, Queen Victoria wanted her wedding to be a simple affair; it was the prime minister who insisted that it should be the huge and elaborate ceremony that we’re familiar with today. She did, however, take the reins when picking her bridesmaids, choosing them according to rank not reputation as suggested by her soon-to-be husband.
Queen Victoria gave each of her bridesmaids a gift too, just like most modern day brides do on their wedding days. Discover our gift ideas for maids of honour and bridesmaids for more inspiration.