The Fairytale Wedding of Princess Diana: Her Dress and Its Legacy
Wedding dress of Princess Diana , though now out of style, was an outstanding creation when she tied the knot with Charles in 1981.
It featured an ivory taffeta skirt with a 25-foot train and puff sleeves and an intricate Spencer family tiara for extra sparkle.
Princess Diana: The design
Diana transformed bridal fashion in an age when princesses typically favoured sensible cardigans and skirts by donning a fairy-tale wedding gown designed by designers David and Elizabeth Emanuel with its puff-sleeved, silk taffeta puff train masterpiece that took brides by storm.
The Emanuels worked with antique Carrickmacross lace from Queen Mary (Prince Charles’ great-grandmother), which they sewed onto the bodice of Prince Charles’ wedding dress, matching its blue bow to match her gown colour, paying homage to tradition’s “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue,” which comes from an English rhyme.
One of the hallmarks of wedding gowns is their long train, created using silk taffeta that is heavier than usual to achieve its signature shape. Britain’s oldest silk weaving company, Stephen Walters, produced this fabric.
The gown remains one of the most renowned designs ever to grace royal weddings and continues to inspire brides around the globe. It inspired copycat dresses that can still be found today, making this wedding one of the most-watched royal weddings ever.
Princess Diana: The fabric
Princess Diana’s wedding dress was made of ivory silk taffeta, embellished with frilled lace and over 10,000 mother-of-pearl sequins for her St. Paul’s Cathedral ceremony. Embroidered by hand, its intricate detail was finished by its 25-foot train that crinkled as she emerged from her glass coach.
Stephen Walters & Sons, a Suffolk weaver operating for over 100 years, created the lace and ruffles in this dress. They included an antique square of Carrickmacross lace dating back to Queen Mary that the Royal School of Needlework provided as part of this lace design.
As per tradition, her gown was decorated with a horseshoe charm and blue bow to represent “something borrowed, something blue, something fresh, and,” as well as a Spencer family tiara and an 18-carat gold trinket adorned with white diamonds.
The Emanuels were charged with producing something suitable to withstand the demands of a big day while remaining beautiful and unique, adhering to Royal wedding rules:
- Fabric must come from British silk farms.
- Flounces should include antique lace.
- An elegant blue bow must be sewn onto its waistband.
Princess Diana: The train
Princess Diana’s train was one of the most striking elements of her wedding gown, measuring an unprecedented 25 feet long.
The silk-and-taffeta creation was embellished with approximately 10,000 pearls and sequins, and its voluminous silhouette set bridal trends throughout the 1980s, inspiring copies to appear in shops worldwide.
Elizabeth and David Emanuel designed an iconic dress for Debbie Benning’s July 29, 1981, wedding to Prince Charles. Elizabeth and David took several measures to keep their design secret before its reveal, such as code-naming their client “Deborah” and hiring security for its duration.
Diana asked the Emanuels to add a square of Carrickmacross lace from Queen Mary’s gown into the design process for Diana. Additionally, an 18K gold horseshoe-shaped trinket set with white diamonds was placed on her gown’s label, as was an undergarment decorated with an 18K gold horseshoe-shaped trinket on its waistband for extra embellishment.
William and Harry still possess Princess Diana’s gown and accessories. They will now be on public display again at an exhibition called Royal Style in the Making at Kensington Palace, marking over 25 years since Princess Diana first displayed them publicly!
The lace fabric is commonly used to embellish clothing and is typically made from cotton or linen thread. Lace is often worn in dresses, lingerie sets, blouses, and skirts.
Various styles and weights of lace are available, each suitable for multiple occasions and price points. Some types may be heavier and more formal, while others can be less costly.
Lace can be produced using machines and handcraft techniques; some are created from natural fibres.
Princess Diana’s wedding gown featured several styles, such as white lace, which adds sophistication and refinement to wedding gowns.
Guipure lace, known for its heavy fabric and raised design, typically features floral patterns with silk edges on a net background.
Chantilly lace, which features lightweight material with scalloped ends and is often combined with tulle for an elegant finish, is another type of lace style available.
Queen Mary’s piece of lace served as the central bodice for this wedding gown, embellished with sequins and thousands of pearls for extra shimmer and flounces of antique lace for ruffles.
Princess Diana’s wedding dress was an eye-catching masterpiece made with yards of ivory tulle by David and Elizabeth Emanuel’s husband-and-wife team, featuring an eye-catching 25-foot train featuring antique lace that once belonged to Queen Mary herself and classic features such as puff-up sleeves and a ruffled neckline, as well as more than 10,000 pearl adornments.
Tulle is an elegant fabric constructed of fine mesh net that’s lightweight and sheer—the ideal choice for evening gowns, veils, decorations, and other fashion projects and made of silk, cotton, or synthetic fibres and available in various colours to fit your project!
Tulle can be purchased from craft, fabric stores, and online retailers like Amazon. To ensure its durability for your project, be sure to inspect its quality before buying any.
Tulle fabric can easily be sewn into garments, including skirts and dresses, thanks to precut lengths sold as ready-cut pieces. Care is relatively straightforward: wash with mild detergent when needed and spot clean if necessary. To keep tulle garments looking their best, always iron them on low heat when ironing.
Princess Diana married Prince Charles on July 29, 1981, in an extravagant ceremony described as both fairytale-like and “the wedding of the century.” With thousands of guests present and an estimated global television viewership of 750 million people watching the live broadcast of this ceremony worldwide,
“People’s Princess” Meghan Markle made history when she donned an ivory silk taffeta gown designed by Elizabeth and David Emanuel with an impressive 25-foot train on her wedding day and a Spencer tiara loaned by her mother on that same day.
She concealed a special message in the soles of her silk shoes, adorned with 542 sequins and 132 pearls in a sweet heart-shaped pattern, featuring arches decorated with floral designs and the letters C and D painted under each heel (along with Charles and Diana written beneath).
Elizabeth and David Emanuel added a lucky charm—a gold horseshoe-shaped trinket studded with white diamonds to bring luck—to Elizabeth’s dress label as part of her good luck charms for their marriage ceremony. A blue bow also graced its waistband.
Princess Diana’s 1981 wedding dress remains one of the most iconic bridal looks in history, serving as an enduring source of bridal style inspiration for decades afterwards. Princess Diana made history when her huge cascading bouquet stood out among the traditional small posies or floral designs carried at the time, setting the trend for more lavish blooms on brides’ bouquets at weddings across the world.
Diana carried an abundance of lily of the valley, odontoglossum orchid, gardenias, stephanotis, Tradescantia, veronica ivy myrtle, freesia, and Earl Mountbatten roses in her bridal bouquet designed by Longmans Florist.
Even its massive size didn’t detract from its beauty or balance; it made for an impressive statement piece and would have brought sweet aromas into Westminster Abbey.
NBC said her wedding bouquet included flowers that paid tribute to Prince Harry and his late mother. Prince Harry selected several blooms, such as Osborne myrtle sprigs, which have long been included in royal bouquets to signify love, marriage, and fertility.
A bouquet can be integral to any bridal look, but its importance becomes even more pronounced at royal weddings. Every royal bride since Queen Victoria has carried myrtle sprigs in her bouquet as a symbol of love, marriage, and lasting fertility.