Here comes the bride, and boy did she dazzle. Perhaps one of the biggest questions to capture the world’s imagination since “Where’s the beef?” a stunning new royal finally answered, “What will Kate wear?” Exchanging vows with a prince in front of million with all that expectation…who wouldn’t be nervous? I wanted to hold her hand through the whole thing. Luckily, dad and her new hubby handled that honor nicely.
Ok, onto the dress.
Kate went with Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen. Double thumbs up for the choice. Not only is it gorgeous and appropriate, it was created by the house of a late, great, British fashion designer. A worthy tribute to a genius gone to soon. Apparently she and Burton worked closely on the dress’s design, making sure to incorporate McQueen’s style in the process. It certainly paid off.
The dress was strikingly similar to that of Grace Kelly’s, when she left Hollywood to wed the Prince of Monaco. Coincidence or divine inspiration? Either way, we love it!
But, Kate really did make this one her own. The neckline alone is beautiful and perfect for her elegant shape.
The lace appliqué for the bodice and skirt was hand-made by the Royal School of Needlework, based at Hampton Court Palace. The lace design was hand-engineered (appliquéd) using the Carrickmacross lace-making technique, which originated in Ireland in the 1820s. Individual flowers have been hand-cut from lace and hand-engineered onto ivory silk tulle to create a unique and organic design, which incorporates the rose, thistle, daffodil and shamrock.
Hand-cut English lace and French Chantilly lace were used throughout the bodice and skirt, and has been used for the underskirt trim. With laces coming from different sources, much care was taken to ensure that each flower was the same color.
The dress is made with ivory and white satin gazar. The skirt echoes an opening flower, with white satin gazar arches and pleats. The train measured two metrers 70 centimeters. The ivory satin bodice, which is narrowed at the waist and padded at the hips, draws on the Victorian tradition of corsetry and is a hallmark of Alexander McQueen’s designs. The back is finished with 58 gazar and organza covered buttons fastened by Rouleau loops. The underskirt is made of silk tulle trimmed with Cluny lace.
The veil is made of layers of soft, ivory silk tulle with a trim of hand-embroidered flowers, which was embroidered by the Royal School of Needlework. The veil is held in place by a Cartier ‘halo’ tiara, lent to Miss Middleton by The Queen. The ‘halo’ tiara was made by Cartier in 1936 and was purchased by The Duke of York (later King George VI) for his Duchess (later Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother) three weeks before he succeeded his brother as King. The tiara was presented to Princess Elizabeth (now The Queen) by her mother on the occasion of her 18th birthday.
The Bride’s earrings, by Robinson Pelham, are diamond-set stylised oak leaves with a pear shaped diamond set drop and a pavé set diamond acorn suspended in the centre. Inspiration for the design comes from the Middleton family’s new coat of arms, which includes acorns and oak leaves. The earrings were made to echo the tiara. The earrings were a personal gift to the bride from her parents for her wedding day.
The wedding shoes were made hand-made by the team at Alexander McQueen and are made of ivory duchesse satin with lace hand-embroidered by the Royal School of Needlework.
The flowers’ meanings in the bouquet are:
Lily-of-the-valley – Return of happiness
Sweet William – Gallantry
Hyacinth – Constancy of love
Ivy: Fidelity; marriage; wedded love; friendship; affection
Myrtle: the emblem of marriage; love.
The bouquet contains stems from a myrtle planted at Osborne House, Isle of Wight, by Queen Victoria in 1845, and a sprig from a plant grown from the myrtle used in The Queen’s wedding bouquet of 1947.
The tradition of carrying myrtle begun after Queen Victoria was given a nosegay containing myrtle by Prince Albert’s grandmother during a visit to Gotha in Germany. In the same year, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert bought Osborne House as a family retreat, and a sprig from the posy was planted against the terrace walls, where it continues to thrive today.
The myrtle was first carried by Queen Victoria eldest daughter, Princess Victoria, when she married in 1858, and was used to signify the traditional innocence of a bride.
Well done, Kate. We look forward to you setting more fashion trends in years to come. Good luck, and thanks for the spectacle.
Blog post by Always a Bridesmaid Columnist Darren Elms.
Photos by Hugo Burnand, courtesy of Press Office, St James’s Palace.