1940s and 50s
Royal weddings took centre stage in the ’40s and ’50s, with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip’s momentous day taking place in 1947, and Grace Kelly and Prince Rainer’s marriage the topic on everyone’s lips in 1956.
Grace Kelly’s lace wedding dress was a moment in fashion history. Made by costume designer Helen Rose for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the gown featured delicate lace and intricate pearl embroidery. The film star complemented her look with a modest Juliet cap and veil, sleek hairstyle and small posy of lilies of the valley, allowing the dress to do all the talking… which it did.
Wedding cakes were large and elaborate, with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip’s cake measuring a staggering nine feet tall and tiers separated by pillars.
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Bridalwear started to diversify, with the likes of Princess Margaret and Priscilla Presley showcasing two very different bridal looks. In 1960, Princess Margaret wore a conventional bridal ball gown by British designer Norman Hartnell, with her hair in a sleek and elegant up-do befitting of a Royal. In contrast, Priscilla wore a loose-fitting white dress encrusted with pearls and her hair in a bouffant style for her wedding to Elvis Presley in 1967.
However, there were some similarities: both dresses featured translucent sleeves and a modest neckline, and each bride wore a statement tiara. While the trends of the decade were evident, the sixties definitely saw a more marked shift towards the bride showcasing her personality in her choice of bridalwear.
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Princess Diana and Prince Charles, Madonna and Sean Penn, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, Sylvester Stallone and Brigitte Nielson, and Charlene and Scott of Neighbours fame were among the iconic weddings of the eighties. Brides opted for puff sleeves and voluminous skirts, with perms and backcombed hair concealed beneath full and trailing veils.
Tuxedos and dinner suits were commonplace for the grooms, while teardrop bouquets and smaller posies added interest and colour to the bride’s ensemble.
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When we think of weddings which characterised the nineties, there are many which spring to mind – all as individual as the bride and groom. From Celine Dion’s bedazzling headpiece in her wedding to Rene Angelil in 1994, to Posh and Becks’ wedding thrones in 1999, and Sarah Jessica Parker’s black wedding dress when she married Matthew Broderick in 1997; anything goes in the nineties.
Couples became much more experimental with colour and bridal white was replaced with champagne and ivory hues. Unstructured cascading teardrop bouquets became the norm and stacked cakes replaced the traditional pillar separators.
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More extravagant than ever before, weddings hit new heights in the late noughties. While celebrity budgets allowed amazing installations such as Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s 20ft wedding flower wall at their 2014 wedding, brides and grooms followed suit with dramatic flower ceilings, doughnut walls and cupcake towers. Bigger and bolder statements were sought and all-white weddings were back on the cards for a wedding never to be forgotten.
Personalisation was also key to this decade, with Angelina Jolie leading the way with a Versace wedding dress and veil featuring drawings by her six children for her wedding to Brad Pitt in 2014. Meghan Markle also followed suit in 2018 with a custom-made veil depicting floral details that represented the 53 countries in the Commonwealth. Personalised wedding wear began to take off.
A more diverse bridal market also emerged, with the bohemian chic trend accelerated by the wedding of Kate Moss and Jamie Hince in 2011. Delicate gowns featuring ethereal chiffons and tulle were in, and rigid, restrictive fabrics were out.
Dresses took a more demure turn when the Duchess of Cambridge stepped out in a Grace Kelly-inspired Alexander McQueen wedding gown in 2011, spurring a comeback of high necks, long sleeves and lace. More form-fitting silhouettes also came to the fore, with Hailey Bieber’s wedding dress by Virgil Abloh announced as the most searched-for bridal style of the last decade.
While the 2020s are still in their infancy, we have already seen a range of bold bridal looks. Paris Hilton wore a grand total of five dresses for her 2021 wedding to Carter Reum, and the bride looked particularly dazzling for the ceremony in a high-neck floral princess gown by Oscar de la Renta. It was reported that the Hilton heiress drew inspiration from Grace Kelly’s wedding dress for her ceremony ensemble, proving once again that it is a look that will never go out of bridal fashion.
Paris also wore a puffball mini wedding dress for the celebrations, and another Hollywood bride followed suit with a similar style for her special day.
Kourtney Kardashian’s mini wedding dress movement was a particular highlight in 2022. Not only did the bride wear a stunning Dolce & Gabbana corseted mini dress to complement her long lace veil for her Italian wedding to Travis Barker, the eldest Kardashian sister also wore a series of mini wedding dresses in the run up to the big day – all documented on Instagram.
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In the wake of the pandemic, it appears brides are overturning the rule book more than ever before in favour of non-conventional looks that are more akin to their everyday style. As such, we can but wait with bated breath and anticipate the celebrity weddings set to take place this decade – and the wedding trends that will take hold as a result.