The Greatest Royal Wedding Dresses Throughout Recent History

Shannon Quinn - August 21, 2021
The wedding day of Prince Naruhito of Japan and Princess Masako. Credit: Getty Images

21. Crown Prince Naruhito of Japan and Princess Masako in 1993

On June 9, 1993, Princess Naruhito of Japan married Princess Masako at the Imperial Palace. The kimono she wore on her wedding day is called the juni-hito, which means “12-layered garment”. It’s exclusively worn by the aristocratic women of the court in Japan. The kimono was red and green, and it looked difficult to move in. Her husband also wore a red robe with a black hat, and the two of them carried on this historic tradition.

Later, for the First Audience Ceremony, Princess Masako wore a western style wedding dress, pictured above. They continued on with the ceremonies and photographs. Later, they drove around Tokyo waving to the crowd on their way to their home, Togu Palace. They are now officially the 126th Emperor and Empress of Japan.

The very 80’s style wedding photo of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson. Credit: Getty Images

20. Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson in 1986

On July 23, 1986, Prince Andrew married Sarah Ferguson. They were wed in Westminster Abbey. Like most royal weddings, it had a star-studded guest list, including Princess Diana and the groom’s brother, Prince Charles. Little Prince William was just 4 years old at the time, and he acted as a page boy in the wedding.

The dress was designed by a British courtier named Lindka Cierach. It was an ivory duchesse satin gown that was beaded by hand. There are many different shapes embroidered into the dress like waves and anchors to honor Andrew’s career in the Navy. And if you look closely at photos of the back, you can see that the 17 foot long train features a large beaded letter A, for her husband Andrew.

The famous wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. Credit: Getty Images

19. Prince Charles and Princess Diana in 1981

One of the most expensive and extravagant weddings of all time was the nuptials of Prince Charles and Princess Diana in 1981. The ceremony was televised to the world, with 750 million people watching. It’s also one of the most expensive and luxurious weddings in the world. Back then, the wedding cost $48 million. With modern inflation, that’s more like $125.3 million.

Princess Diana’s wedding dress is iconic. It was designed by David and Elizabeth Emanuel. The puffy princess gown was made with silk taffeta. They also included handmade Carrickmacross lace which once belonged to Queen Mary. The train was huge, spanning 25 feet long. There were also sequins, and 10,000 pearls embroidered into the gown.

Grace Kelly’s daughter, Caroline of Monaco on her wedding day to Philippe Junot. Credit: Getty Images

18. Princess Caroline of Monaco and Philippe Junot in 1978

Later on this list, we talk about the tragic ending of Grace Kelly, who married the Prince of Monaco. But on June 29, 1978, her daughter Princess Caroline was able to marry a banker named Philippe Junot. Instead of having a wedding ceremony in an outside venue, Caroline used the courtyard of her own home, the Royal Palace of Monaco. This was her first wedding, and Caroline would go on to have two more.

Caroline’s gown was designed by Marc Bohan, who was working under the Christian Dior line at the time. The bodice was made with lightly embroidered organdie and a sheer lace bodice. She also wore an adorable flower crown fitting of the 1970’s. Many people commented how this gown was very modest compared to her mother’s wedding dress decades before. One interesting tidbit about her wedding dress is that the sketches were leaked to the press just a few days before the wedding. So the House of Dior started making last-minute changes to get ahead on the story.

Queen Noor on her wedding day to King Hussein of Jordan. Credit: Getty Images

17. Queen Noor and King Hussein of Jordan in 1978

Lisa Halaby became the very first American woman to marry a king of an Arab country when she married King Hussein of Jordan in 1978. Educated at Princeton University, Lisa studied architecture and did a lot of charity work. She was working in Jordan at her father’s company called Arab Air Services, and she met her future husband at the airport. Once she was married, her name was changed to Queen Noor. At first, this was seen as being very controversial, because Jordan had never seen a white and non-Muslim become Queen. However, as time went on, she continued to do charity work and show her love for her new country.

On her wedding day, Lisa wore a gown designed by Marc Bohan for Dior. It had cowbell sleeves, and fine lace details. Looking at the photos from the 1970’s, you can clearly see that this dress design must have been trendy at the time. Instead of bridesmaids, Queen Noor had a traditional Muslim wedding where she was the only woman present at the ceremony. When she got older, Lisa wrote a book called Leap of Faith: Memoirs of an Unexpected Life.

The beautiful wedding photo of King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden and Silvia Sommerlath. Credit: Getty Images

16. King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden and Silvia Sommerlath in 1976

On June 19, 1976, King Carl XVI Gustaf and Silvia Sommerlath said “I do” in front of the cameras. This was Sweden’s very first televised royal wedding, and the first time in 200 years that a woman married a reigning king. The couple met during the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. During interviews, they said that they “just clicked” and were inseparable ever since. 

Silvia’s white dress was very minimal, with long sleeves. She also wore the Cameo Tiara that had once been a gift from Napoleon Bonaparte to his wife Josephine in the 19th century. But this wedding was historical for so much more than the dress. ABBA performed the song “Dancing Queen” on stage for the very first time! It’s been a hit ever since.

The somber wedding photo of the Aga Khan IV and Sally Croker-Poole. Credit: Getty Images

15. Prince Shah Karim Al Hussaini, Aga Khan IV, and Sally Croker-Poole (Salimah Aga Khan) in 1969

A British supermodel named Sally Croker-Poole married Prince Shah Karim Al Hussaini, Aga Khan IV in 1969. Before marrying the Khan, Sally was married to Lord James Charles Crichton-Stuart, and received the title of “Lady”. She was even one of the very last debutantes to be introduced to the Queen back in 1958. So, since she was young, Sally was put up as a candidate for an aristocratic marriage.

Going from a Lord to a Prince was a serious upgrade! After their marriage at the prince’s house in Paris, she received the title of Salimah Aga Khan. Her wedding outfit is made of embroidered silk, and it’s very modest. There was also a headdress during the ceremony, rather than a tulle veil you’d see in western weddings. Sally and Prince Shah were married for 35 years. They had three children together, and ruled together. However, things eventually ended badly when they got a divorce in 1995.

The gorgeous wedding of fashion designer Diane von Fürtsenberg. Credit: Getty Images

14. Diane von Fürtsenberg and Prince Egon von Fürstenberg in 1969

Many of you will have heard of Diane von Fürtsenberg, because she is a famous fashion designer and icon. But did you know that she also married a Prince? On her wedding day, Diane was actually three months pregnant. But you would never be able to tell, since she chose to wear a loose cotton dress fitting of the style of the 1960’s. The dress was made of cotton, and the belt was made with colorful, beautiful ribbons. It was designed by a man named Marc Bohan, who worked with Dior.

The marriage would not last forever, unfortunately. The couple got divorced in 1981. But in an interview with People Magazine, Prince Egon said that Diane made the Von Fürtsenberg name famous. It wasn’t his royalty that did it, but rather the fact that she was such a famous fashionista. She is still known as Diane von Fürtsenberg even though they divorced so many years ago. 

Wedding ceremony of Sonja Haraldsen and Prince Harald V of Norway. Credit: Getty Images

13. Crown Prince Harald V of Norway and Sonja Haraldsen in 1968

The wedding of Crown Prince Harald V of Norway and Sonja Haraldsen could be seen as a “Cinderella Story”, because she was simply a commoner. Normally, royals only marry people who were from a noble background. So this couple paved the way for future royal couples to marry commoners as well.

After dating for 9 years, the couple was married on August 29, 1968. Sonja Haraldson’s wedding dress was considered to be very simple, but elegant. She purchased it from Molstad, which is a clothing store in Oslo. This might not be as impressive as some of the other women on this list who had famous designers create couture gowns. However, it goes to show that even budget wedding dresses can look amazing enough for a royal wedding.

The beautiful wedding day of Princess Margrethe II of Denmark. Credit: Vogue Australia

12. Crown Princess Margrethe II of Denmark and Count Henri de Laborde de Monpezat in 1967

Later on this list, we’re going to get into the scandalous story of Princess Anne Marie of Denmark. However, her sister, Crown Princess Margrethe II, had a far more traditional wedding at a more appropriate age. The wedding ceremony of  Princess Margrethe of Denmark and Count Henri de Laborde de Monpezat took place on June 10, 1967. Henri was a French diplomat working in London, and his aristocratic background was impressive enough for him to marry a princess and future queen.

As the reigning Queen of Denmark, she chose to go with a gown designed by Jørgen Bender. He is a famous Danish designer who also worked on her sister’s wedding gown as well. The silk dress has a square neckline, with a long train. There were deep pleats at the hips, and a flared skirt. Her silk train was 20 feet long. When the ceremony was over, the couple appeared on the balcony of Amalienborg Palace to wave at 25,000 people who had showed up to celebrate her wedding day.

Wedding day of Princess Beatrix and Claus van Amsberg. Credit: Getty Images

11. Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands and Claus von Amsberg in 1966

On March 10, 1966, Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands married Claus von Amsberg, who was a German diplomat. The two said their vows in front of the Mayor of Amsterdam at Gijsbert van Hall during the civil ceremony before having the religious ceremony in a church. That very same day, Claus Amsberg received the title “Prince of the Netherlands”.

Princess Beatrix’s dress was designed by Caroline Bergé-Farwick of Maison Linette, a dressmaker who created gowns for the Dutch royal family. The silk duchesse gown had a high neckline, and a very long train. It was considered to be a very modest dress, especially by royal standards. However, its modesty is very similar to the future wedding dress of Meghan Markle.

Wedding of Princess Anne Marie of Denmark, and her husband King Constantine II. Credit: Getty Images

10. Princess Anne Marie of Denmark and King Constantine II of Greece in 1964

King Constantine II of Greece married Princess Anne Marie of Denmark on September 18, 1964. This wedding is historic, because it was the first and only time any Greek Monarch got married when he was already on the throne as King. Even though these two were from Denmark and Greece, they were actually third cousins. Another scandalous detail about the wedding is that they first met when Anne was only 13. Constantine proposed when she was only 15, and her parents withheld consent. So he waited for her to finish her High School education, and reach her 18th birthday.

The couple was married in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens. Princess Anne Marie’s dress was created by a Danish designer called Jørgen Bender. The dress has long sleeves, and is belted above the waist. It’s very modest and classic, and suits the young blushing bride. Her “borrowed” item was the veil, which belonged to Princess Margaret of Connaught, Anne Marie’s grandmother. It was made of Irish lace, and was worn at her grandmother’s wedding in 1905.

Wedding of Hope Cooke and Palden Thondup Namgyal. Credit: Getty Images

9. Hope Cooke and Palden Thondup Namgyal (The Crown Prince of Sikkim) in 1963

Hope Cooke was a beautiful American student who attended Sarah Lawerence College. She became the “Gyalmo” or Queen Consort when she married Palden Thondup Namgyal, who was the Crown Prince of Sikkim in 1963. At the time, Sikkim was considered to be the smallest country in Asia. Hope Cooke’s new title became Her Highness The Crown Princess of Sikkim. Later, she became the Gyalmo of Sikkim once her husband took his place as the King.

On her wedding day, Hope’s dress was a red Sikkimese kho, which was customary during Buddhist weddings. By 1973, Sikkim was no longer its own kingdom, and it merged with India. Because of this, the couple was no longer considered royalty. After this happened, Hope returned to the United States and enrolled their two children in New York City schools. 

The wedding of Queen Fabiola and King Baudouin of Belgium. Credit: Getty Images

8. Queen Fabiola and King Baudouin of Belgium in 1960

On December 15, 1960, Queen Fabiola married King Baudouin of Belgium. The ceremony took place in the Royal Palace of Brussels at the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula. As the story goes, the King asked an Irish nun named Sister Veronica O’Brien to help find him a perfect wife. She brought back a nurse named Fabiola, who was the perfect Catholic, Spanish, and aristocratic wife of his dreams. In 1960, TIME magazine called her “Cinderella Girl”, because of this amazing story.

Queen Fabiola’s drop-waist wedding dress was designed by Cristóbol Balenciaga. If that sounds familiar, it’s because he was the founder of the famous fashion brand Balenciaga. The ivory satin and mink trimmed dress became so famous, it’s even on display at the Balenciaga Museum in Spain. While many of us have never heard of this wedding, it’s still one that is solid in the history books of Belgium.

The wedding day of Anne Abel Smith and David Liddell-Grainger. Credit: Getty Images

7. Anne Abel Smith and David Liddell-Grainger in 1957

Many of you may have never heard of this wedding, because it involves lesser-known royals. Anne Abel Smith was the cousin of Queen Elisabeth, and the granddaughter of Princess Alice. Her sister was Princess Betrix of the Netherlands. The wedding took place in Windsor Castle in St. George’s Chapel. Anne wore a long sleeved satin ball gown on her wedding day to David Liddell-Grainer. He was formerly a member of the Scots Guards. 

According to the Associated Press Archives, the royal cousin’s wedding was filled with members of the royal family. Some of the guests included the Queen and the Queen Mother, the Duchess of Kent, and Prince Michael. Even though Anne was not a princess herself, she was still given the royal treatment. As long as you’re connected with the royal family, you’re going to have a spectacular wedding day.

Actress Grace Kelly married Prince Rainer of Monaco. Credit: Getty Images

6. Grace Kelly and Prince Rainer of Monaco in 1956

Grace Kelly was a famous actress who captured the hearts of millions. Many men dreamed of being with her, but only one could capture her heart.  Grace first met her future husband on the French Riviera in 1955 while she was filming To Catch a Thief. Grace retired from acting in favor of becoming a princess. However, she and her husband tragically died in a car accident in 1982.

On her wedding day, Grace Kelly wore a gown created by a costume designer from MGM named Helen Rose. It shouldn’t be surprising, considering that Helen designed several gorgeous dresses for Grace in movies like High Society and The Swan.  Helen Rose used antique lace, 25 yards of silk taffeta, and 100 yards of silk netting. The dress became so famous, that it inspired future wedding dresses of celebrities. Kim Kardashian, Ivanka Trump, and Kate Middleton all designed their wedding dresses to look like Grace Kelly.

The Kennedy family is considered to be apart of American Royalty. Credit: Getty Images

5. Jacqueline Onassis and John F. Kennedy in 1953

Technically, the Kennedy family doesn’t hold any royal title or wear a crown, because they’re from the United States. Here in the United States, if your family is rich and sophisticated enough, it’s just as good as being a royal. The wedding of future President John F. Kennedy to Jacqueline Onassis was an incredibly high-profile event. They were married on June 25, 1953 at St Mary’s Church in Newport, Rhode Island. It has been estimated that they had between 750 to 800 guests, but some sources claim it was as high as 1,200.

Jackie’s dress was designed by a woman named Ann Lowe, who wasn’t very well known She was an African American designer from Alabama who specialized in creating dresses for elite families. Ann was the low-key dressmaker for the likes of other American families like the Rockefellers and DuPonts. Just ten days before the wedding, the dress was almost destroyed in a flood. That could have spelled out tragedy for the Kennedy wedding, but it was saved from experiencing water damage. This was years before John F Kennedy became President of the United States, but it was clear on that day that he had a bright future ahead of him.

Beautiful Queen Soraya of Iran wore a custom Christian Dior gown on her wedding day. Credit: Getty Images

4. Shah Mohamed Reza Pahlevi and Queen Soraya of Iran in 1951

Both Shah Mohamed Reza Pahlevi and Soraya Esfandiary Bakhtiari were married once before, but that didn’t stop them from getting remarried. These two royal divorcees came together for yet another show-stopping royal wedding. According to reports, she was rushed into a second marriage, because it was necessary for her to keep her crown. Soraya became the new Queen of Iran from 1951 to 1958. Even though it was their second wedding, Soraya was given a beautiful royal wedding that she deserved. 

On her wedding day, Queen Soraya of Iran chose a custom wedding gown by fashion designer Christian Dior. The dress was made with 37 yards of silver lame, because a Queen deserves that, of course. It was embellished with 20,000 feathers, and 6,000 diamonds. The dress itself was worth more than what many people in her country had to their name. Even though the pictures make the day look idyllic, Soraya was actually sick with typhoid. She had to wear a woolen vest and socks to keep her warm up until the last minute. Years later, when doctors confirmed that she could not produce an heir to the throne, they divorced.

Rita Hayworth and Aly Khan’s wedding day. Credit: Getty Images

3. Rita Hayworth and Aly Khan in 1949

Many of you might recognize Rita Hayworth, who was a famous movie star in the 1930’s and 40’s. Her beauty and talent brought her to the attention to Prince Aly Khan. This was Rita Hayworth’s third marriage, so she chose to go with a more modest wedding dress for husband number three. This is traditional for second or third marriages, because white is supposed to be reserved for a virgin wedding. Rita’s wedding dress was inspired by Christian Dior’s 1947 New Look collection. The dress was in ice blue crepe. had long sleeves, a long skirt, and she topped it off with an elegant hat.

As you can imagine, the story was a heyday for the press. Cameras were flashing, because everyone wanted to know more about the Hollywood starlet who married a prince. If you’re curious, you can still watch the news coverage of their wedding day in front of the mayor when she became a princess. Unfortunately, this royal wedding didn’t spell out “happily ever after” for the actress. Rita was married to the prince from 1949 to 1953, which is when they divorced. She continued to act in films long after her divorce and eventual new marriages.

The wedding of King Michael and Princess Anne. Credit: Getty Images

2. King Michael of Romania and Princess Anne of Bourbon-Parma in 1948

Once upon a time, Princess Anne of Bourbon-Parma was a Macy’s sales girl. She also served her country proudly, because she volunteered for the French army in World War II. When she was married, she transformed, because she is actually a real Danish princess. She wore a gown covered with rose colored tulle with an eleven foot long train that required 3 pages to carry it down the aisle! She was married to Prince Michael of Romania, who would later become the future king.

At the time, the King and Queen of Romania was deposed by the Communist party. Because of this, they weren’t even allowed to enter their home country until 1992. Since they needed to flee the country, both of them were married in Athens, Greece. Several royals from other European nations attended the wedding to show their full support. Many people in Romania still loved the royal family, despite the fact that it was now Communist. So they were still curious to know as much as they could about the royal wedding.

It took seven weeks to make Queen Elizabeth’s dress. Credit: Getty Images

1. Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip in 1947

Last and certainly not least is the famous wedding of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip in 1947. When people in the media simply say “The Queen”, they’re always referencing Queen Elizabeth II. At least, this is true here in the United States, because our nation was once occupied by the British.) There is even the TV series about her life called The Crown on Netflix, which includes a visual retelling of her wedding day. Obviously, you can’t have an article about royal weddings without Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth.

Her Royal Majesty’s wedding gown was designed by Norman Hartnell, who created a dress made of duchesse satin as well as Chinese silk. At the time, the silk was purchased from China because it was the most politically correct thing to do. Since this happened not long after World War II, they kept away from both Japanese and Italian silks, considering that it was still far too soon to support them. The dress design was inspired by Botticelli’s painting Primavera. Queen Elizabeth even saved up her ration cards to pay for her own dress, but it was still far from normal. It took 350 women seven full weeks to work on and complete the gown.