There’s a reason wedding gowns are known as “the dress”. They’re one of the most important frocks you’ll ever buy – and decisions such as colour, length, layering, material and neckline are just the beginning. To help get you inspired and excited, we’ve pulled together 15 iconic celebrity gowns that share a devotion to style, class and timeless appeal.
When a then 18-year-old Liz married Conrad ‘Nicky’ Hilton Jr in 1950, her wedding dress – the first of several – was worth considerably less than when it sold for auction at London’s Christie auction house in 2013 for more than £120,000. The pearl-clad gown took three laborious months and 15 pairs of hands to make, but that proved no omen as the marriage only lasted nine months.
Fans the world over deemed it a fairytale come to life when American actress Grace Kelly – a favourite of Alfred Hitchcock – wed Prince Rainier III of Monaco in 1956. Veiled in lace, and clutching a pearl-encrusted prayer book, the glamorous blonde’s gown was the handiwork of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer costume designer Helen Rose, who was also responsible for Elizabeth Taylor’s 1950 number (above).
A casual 25-foot train – the longest in royal history – trailed Lady Diana Spencer in 1981 as she walked down the aisle in an ivory silk taffeta creation, which was the handiwork of designers David and Elizabeth Emanuel and was then valued at £9000. In her will, the Queen of Hearts requested that the dress be turned over to her children on Prince Harry’s 30th birthday on September 15, 2014. Will it make an appearance at Harry’s wedding? Who knows.
The elegant commoner turned regal Duchess of Cambridge wowed crowds at her 2011 wedding to Prince William with a long-sleeved, Sarah Burton-designed Alexander McQueen dress. A beautiful shade of ivory, it was complimented by a veil attached to a halo tiara, kindly lent to her by Queen Elizabeth II. Kate was also said to have done her own make-up for the day, a pointer to the modern and, down-to-earth attitude she and husband have brought to the monarchy.
It might have been a backyard affair – complete with intimate candlelit ceremony and vegan red velvet wedding cake – but that was anything but an excuse to dress down for these beautiful brides, who both wore custom-made Zac Posen to tie the knot in 2008. Portia’s soft pink backless halter proved a beautiful complement to Ellen’s crisp white tuxedo.
The 28-year-old fashion icon never puts a stylish foot wrong, and her three-piece Carolina Herrera wedding outfit is sophisticated, stylish and timeless, all at the same time. A beautiful combination of fashion forward and elegant, the 2014 ensemble encompasses a cream cashmere sweater with scattered ostrich feathers, white shorts and a full tulle skirt overlay cinched at the waist in layers of satin and silk with a high slit in the front and floral details along the hem.
Female hearts the world over could be heard breaking on May 1, 1967, when The King wed his young girlfriend, Priscilla Wagner, in an eight-minute ceremony in Las Vegas. The bride found her white dress – a simple A-line silhouette with a small train and lace full-length sleeves and neckline – in a small boutique in Los Angeles. She later said: “It wasn’t extravagant, it wasn’t extreme – it was simple and, to me, beautiful.”
This list simply wouldn’t be complete without at least one Kardashian featuring somewhere, so it may as well be Kim, who obviously learned from her ill-fated first wedding when planning her 2014 nuptials with rapper Kanye West. Close friend and Givenchy creative director Riccardo Tisci is the man to thank for the chic little figure-hugging lace number she wore. It was fresh, classy and subtle, but still with that trademark flash of skin.
You get so used to seeing this much-loved actress covered up in period pieces it’s easy to forget how well she can rock a frock. But tell us – how could one wedding dress be so much fun? We’d be walking on air, too, if we owned this tea-length Chanel piece (and if we were married to musician James Righton). Too bad one of her friends accidentally bumped Keira’s red wine all over it on the 2013 wedding day. Oops.
The No Doubt front woman married her fellow rock-star sweetheart Gavin Rossdale in Covent Garden in 2002. In true offbeat style, she was never going to wander down the aisle in traditional white – instead opting for a Dior pink-dipped silk dress which she later donated to the Victoria & Albert Museum for all to enjoy.
Stylish beyond her young years, Mia Farrow was oh-so-sleek when she wed Ol’ Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra, in 1966, aged just 21. In a mini dress matched with a short boxed jacket, she was a pixie-perfect bride-to-be. And very trend setting, given the dress could just as easily be worn today as it was back then..
The English countryside played host when the ageless supermodel donned John Galliano In 2011 to wed musician Jamie Hince. Explaining her choice, Moss said she had wanted “a classic Galliano, those chiffon Thirties kind”, and the designer delivered in spades. Like other famous gowns, the dress was later exhibited in London’s Victoria & Albert Museum in 2014.
To wed her Canadian ice hockey playing boyfriend Mike Comrie in 2012, Hilary turned to dressmaker to the stars, Vera Wang, who whipped up a hand-embellished mermaid style gown. On her blog, Vera described it as “the perfect dress for Hilary – fragile, youthful, sexy garden party”.
Vera Wang again delivered a beauty in 2010 with the one-shouldered ivory silk Grecian gown Alicia wore for her Mediterranean wedding to fellow musician Swizz Beatz. A crystal headpiece from Jacob & Co. completed the goddess-like outfit, designed to enhance her pregnancy glow.
Sultry and sophisticated, this Nicaraguan-born bombshell smouldered in a white two-piece suit – with very plunging neckline – when she wed Rolling Stones’ front man Mick Jagger in St Tropez in 1971. Unsurprisingly, the union didn’t last, but countless brides since then have stolen her pared-back, fuss-free attitude.
Is there a style icon or favourite designer you turn to for wedding dress inspiration? We want to know what’s flashing up on your wedding gown radars right now!