The British Royal Family does weddings well. From the security to the flowers and the modes of transportation used, a lot of money is spent on regal nuptials.
While the final figure is never revealed, it’s thought one of the most recent royal weddings – Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s big day in May 2018 – cost about £32m ($40m).
A sizeable chunk of that will have been spent on the former actresses’ custom Givenchy dress, designed by British designer Clare Waight Keller, just as the Duchess of Cambridge splashed out on a bespoke Alexander McQueen gown by Sarah Burton for her own ceremony in April 2011.
Like most brides – royal or otherwise – both women spent time with their designers ensuring the finished dresses reflected what they wanted.
“[Meghan] was modern, with a fresh approach, warm and welcoming, completely disarming and joyful in every way,” Waight Keller recently captioned an Instagram post.
“We struck it off instantly and a friendship began. Fittings were always a special time to chat, just us, it was a time of getting to know each other’s history and there are many memorable moments.”
Meanwhile, Burton spoke to the New York Times Style magazine in 2014 about her experience designing for a future queen of England. “I loved making the dress, I loved adapting my ideas to suit the person and the occasion, and we put our hearts into it,” she told the publication.
Meghan and Kate are by no means the only royal brides to have commissioned special dresses for their weddings.
Most recently, in October 2018, Princess Eugenie turned to Austrian-born, British-based designer Peter Pilotto for her off-the-shoulder look.
Featuring a fitted bodice and full-pleated skirt, the backless design exposed the royal’s back scar: a result of major surgery conducted when Eugenie was 12 to correct the curvature of her spine.
Prior to that, Princess Anne’s daughter Zara Tindall, née Phillips, opted for a gown by one of the Queen’s go-to dressmakers, Stewart Parvin, for her July 2011 wedding to rugby star Mike Tindall.
Sophie, Countess of Wessex wed in a dress by Samantha Shaw in June 1999 and Sarah, Duchess of York sported a bespoke design by British couturier Lindka Cierach in July 1986.
Most famously, Princess Diana turned to designer duo David and Elizabeth Emanuel for her statement July 1981 wedding dress.
The Queen’s only daughter, Princess Anne, wed Mark Phillips in November 1973 in a custom Maureen Baker, while the monarch herself opted for a intricate design by Norman Hartnell in November 1947.
The fabric for the latter’s dress was paid for using clothing ration coupons in the post-war era. The government allowed the Queen – then Princess Elizabeth –- 200 extra coupons and additional coupons were donated by people across the country, too.
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