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History Fight: Who Had The Best Royal Wedding Dress?

 diana 8a7ca

 

Who doesn’t love a wedding? Trick question! Everyone does. There’s cake, booze and tons of stuff to secretly judge (we all do, it's fine!). Sadly, though, there are also dull great-aunts, too-long speeches, and the simple truth that wearing heels for more than three hours is basically torture.

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And that, my friends, is why a Royal Wedding is the best kind of wedding.

You can not so secretly judge away at every little detail, free from guilt and any form of shoe-based pain. THE DREAM. So in that judgmental spirit, we’ll be pitting iconic royal wedding dresses against each other to discover which royal bride had the best (and worst) dress in history!

We'll be ranking each dress out of 10 on the following categories:

  • Dress functionality (because everyone needs to pee)

  • Poofyness (v important)

  • Sass factor (also v important)

  • Ability to look back at pictures without thinking you looked like an absolute twit

We'll also be taking away 5 points if the dress is so expensive that you need to sell your organs/firstborn to afford it.

RIGHT THEN! LET'S GET STARTED!

Women in Wedding Dresses Drinking

For much of history, wedding dresses were only available to the rich. They were a chance to show off wealth and status, because marriage was basically an exchange of goods between families and the dress was just a chance to show off how awesome those goods were (sad but true!).

Whereas poor brides would simply wear their nicest dress, rich brides would deck themselves out in jewels, embroidery, beading, and sumptuous fabrics in all colors of the rainbow. 

That's right, colors! Vivid reds and blues, yellows, even golds. This dress would serve as a girl's best dress for a while, so why waste it on a color that gets dirty easily and is hard to wear again?

Well, logic like that doesn’t matter if you’re… 

MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS

In 1558, Mary, Queen of Scots married Francis, Dauphin of France, in a no-expenses-spared ceremony in Paris. The coming together of two countries was an auspicious occasion that demanded the best in lavish excess, and Mary more than held up her end of the bargain with her dress.

Mary Queen of Scots' Wedding PhotoHooray for child weddings!

 The train of Mary’s dress was over 10 feet long and so stuffed with jewels that it required two lady's maids to hold it aloft at all times. Mary carried the theme of all of the jewels into her accessories, rocking a golden cornet and necklace, both absolutely stuffed with gems.

Yet despite all its rocks, Mary’s dress caused quite the scandal — you see, Mary…..

WORE WHITE!

Gasping Man The scandalous bitch! 

 In the 16th century, white was a color of mourning—  not really the vibe you want for a wedding. But white was Mary’s favorite color! She felt it made her look amazing and emphasized her porcelain skin and auburn hair — so haters be damned, she was wearing white if she wanted to.

But it wasn’t a smooth-sailing sartorial choice. Two years after the wedding, Mary’s groom died, which caused the French court to claim that Mary’s white dress was to blame. Her poor fashion choices must have cursed their wedding and killed her hubby!

RATING:

Functionality: 3/10
(you need two ladies to carry the dress at all times, which doesn't bode well for how likely you are to be able to pee...)

Poofyness: 6/10

Sass Factor: 10/10

Ability to look back without thinking you looked like an absolute twit: 0/10 (Sorry, but if people think your dress killed your husband, it's not great.)

And we’ll be taking away 5 points for cost—even for a royal, those gems are a bit extra. 

OVERALL: 14/40


PRINCESS CHARLOTTE

 Princess Charlotte of Wales was a hugely popular royal—heir to the throne and a bit of a fashionista. It's no surpise that her 1816 wedding to Prince Leopold (later King of Belgium) was a big fucking deal!

On the morning of the wedding, people lined the streets hoping to catch a glimpse of Charlotte. And when she finally emerged, she caused an immediate stir.

Princess Charlotte's Wedding DressThis is most likely only one part of Charlotte's dress...but still, so pretty!

 Charlotte's dress was made of woven silver thread, with intricately embroidered flowers on the hem. There was a tissue slip made of the same silver thread underneath, with a sheer silk netting on top. Charlotte’s gown had an estimated 7.4 feet train, and she was  dripping in diamonds. It’s even said that Charlotte had diamonds in her hair.

I repeat: Diamonds. In. Her. Hair.

The whole thing cost an estimated £10,000. Today, that's about £800,000, or $997,000. 

Person Looking SurprisedI'm sorry now...how much?

RATING:

Functionality: 5/10 (The fact that she didn’t need help to move is a plus, but that 7-foot gown must have made going through doors a nightmare!)

Poofyness: 7/10

Sass Factor: 8/10

Ability to look back without thinking you looked like an absolute twit: 7/10

We'll again be taking away 5 points for cost, as a wedding dress shouldn’t cost the same as a Donald Trump golfing holiday.

OVERALL RATING: 22/40


QUEEN VICTORIA

Victoria wanted a lot from her dress. It was important to her that her dress reflected British industries (and also helped grow British trade…admittedly a bit of a big ask for a dress!).

More importantly, Victoria wanted to make sure it was clear that her new husband was not becoming her subject. You see, Victoria was really traditional. In marrying Albert, she wanted to become his wife—not his Queen.

So Vic dumped the red ceremonial robes and instead opted for something demure, simple, and British-made.

Queen Victoria's Wedding Dress

Keen to promote the handmade British lace industry (which was taking a bit of a battering thanks to the Industrial Revolution), Vic decided to cover her dress in delicate lace. To make said lace really stand out, Vic went rogue.

She wore an all white dress.

Victoria was the first British royal ever to wear an all-white dress. And it wasn’t to symbolize purity (she wore orange blossoms to symbolize that). The white was just to pimp out British lace.

The trend stuck. Soon, brides all over the country were copying the queen and wearing a white dress for their own weddings.

RATING:

Functionality: 10/10

Poofyness: 4/10

Sass Factor: 5/10

Ability to look back without thinking you looked an absolute twit: 10/10 (when you start a 100+ year old wedding trend, you win.)

As Victoria’s dress was used to promote British industry, we’ll be taking away no points!

OVERALL RATING: 29/40

WALLIS SIMPSON

When Wallis Simpson was picking out her wedding dress for her 1937 marriage to The Duke of Windsor (formally King Edward Vlll), she was walking a very precarious tightrope of public opinion. Everyone was still pretty pissed off that the King had abdicated to be with her.

Plus Wallis was also a two time divorcée, which people weren’t fans of. Both gossip magazines and the public thought it would be deeply inappropriate for her to wear white, as she’d been married before. 

That wasn't her only problem. She wouldn’t be getting a huge royal wedding (just as Edward wouldn’t be getting his huge royal coronation…) so if she stepped out in full frou-frou princess, well...it wouldn’t go well.

Angry Mob from The SimpsonsBasically this. But with more pitchforks. 

Luckily, Wallis wasn't the frou-frou princess type. After all, this was the lady who famously said, "you can never be too rich or too thin."* 

*not great advice, btw. 

(And though the public didn't know it at the time, she was also a Nazi sympathizer.)

Wallis Simpson's Wedding Dress

 

Wallis opted for a simple, understated dress in a bespoke pale blue (dubbed "Wallis Blue" because it matched her eyes). She followed royal protocol, covering her cleavage and arms. But bar that, it was nipped in, slinky, and a big middle finger to the monarchy.

Instead of a veil, Wallis wore a hat with a tulle halo. Sources from the time suggested the halo was to help people warm to her and see her in a less demonized way. Wearing a literal halo seems a bit on the nose; but it’s your wedding day—you do you boo.

RATING:

Functionality: 10/10

Poofyness: 0/10

Sass Factor: 7/10

Ability to look back without thinking you looked like an absolute twit: 7/10

OVERALL RATING: 24/40

DIANA, PRINCESS OF WALES

Truly the Kardashians of wedding dresses. You can’t get away from it. It’s everywhere. It’s even got its own Wikipedia page!!

Princess Diana's Wedding Dress

Designed by David and Elizabeth Emanuel, Diana’s dress was huge—both in scale of the global media attention it received (and continues to get!) and in actual size.

The train came in at 25 feet. It had thousands of pearls and sequins sewn throughout its many many layers. Estimates for the dress'S cost vary, but the latest one (from the designer) is just under £4,500 (at the current exchange rate). That seems like a bit of a steal!

Princess Diana Poses In Her Wedding DressSO. MUCH. POOF! 

Within hours of Diana appearing in the dress, brides were calling up for copies. Soon, a decade-long love of meringue dresses was born.

RATING:

Functionality: 3/10 (25-foot train…..)

Poofyness: 10/10

Sass Factor: 5/10

Ability to look back without thinking you looked like an absolute twit: 3/10 (I’m sorry!)

OVERALL RATING: 21/40


SO, THE RESULTS ARE IN!

I can reveal that official (ish) best wedding dress in history is:

Queen Victoria’s wedding dress from her 1840 wedding to Prince Albert!

The Queen, SmilingYay! Look how happy she is with her win!!

What do you think? Is this the right pick? Which dress would you wear? Let us know!

Top photo:

This post originally appeared on F Yeah History and is reprinted here with permission.

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Written by Natasha Tidd and Sara Westrop, F Yeah History is dedicated to unearthing history that's just too good for history class. From historic hangover cures to unsung historic heroes, all told with a healthy does of gifs and somewhat terrible jokes, it's history...just not as you know it. Follow F Yeah History on FYeahHistory.com and on Twitter @F_yeah_history. 

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