What don’t you know about Princess Diana’s wedding outfit? One the perks of marrying into a royal family is getting the chance to have an enchanting wedding worthy of a fairytale, complete with a stunning gown, a regal tiara, and a breathtaking bouquet.
We all became front-row spectators of an expensive royal wedding when Prince William married Kate Middleton in 2011, as the entire event was broadcast on TV. Kate wore a beautiful white gown and held a stunning bouquet as she walked down the aisle at Westminster Abbey, according to the royal family’s website. Just a few years later, Prince Harry married Meghan Markle, allowing us to relive the fairytale all over again. Markle looked stunning in a simple white gown and a delicate bouquet of white florals.
Before these memorable ceremonies took place, however, the world was spellbound by a wedding held at St. Paul’s Cathedral in 1981 — the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. According to Biography, one billion people watched the “wedding of the century” on TV. All eyes were likely on Princess Diana, thanks to her natural beauty, her irresistible charm, and her show-stopping wedding outfit. Here’s everything we know about it.
This husband and wife team were responsible for Princess Diana's wedding outfit
Believe it or not, Princess Diana’s extravagant wedding outfit was created by a husband-and-wife designer duo that wasn’t very well-known at the time.
According to Tatler, Princess Diana — who’s undergone a stunning transformation — first approached David and Elisabeth Emanuel for several formal gowns. David explained the public was quite shocked when she first wore one of their designs. “As a kindergarten teacher, people were used to seeing her in pretty blouses and pleated skirts,” he revealed. “Then she got out of the limousine in a taffeta Emanuel gown, and that’s when everybody said ‘oh my goodness, she looks like a movie star.'”
Princess Diana got back in touch with the now-divorced couple just after her engagement. She asked them to make her wedding outfit, and needless to say, they agreed. When speaking to E! News, Emmanuel shared that some time had passed between her first phone call about her wedding dress and her second inquiry — and he began to wonder if it was all a prank! Luckily, 19-year-old Princess Diana’s second phone call eventually came, and thus began the project of a lifetime.
The Emanuels overcame a few obstacles to make Princess Diana's wedding outfit happen
Creating Princess Diana’s iconic wedding outfit wasn’t exactly easy, as the designers had to deal with all sorts of obstacles while making it, ranging from the concerning to the downright hilarious. According to Tatler, designers David and Elisabeth Emanuel had photographers camped outside their studio hoping to photograph of the future royal. That’s why they learned early on to lock everything relating to the dress in a safe, just in case.
According to the Daily Mail, the Emanuels decided to refer to Princess Diana as “Debra” and “Dorothy Cornwall,” to ensure no one got wind of any of their plans. They reportedly had to go through 15 fittings in total, and they had to keep taking in the bodice because Princess Diana was losing weight between fittings. By the time the fifth and final bodice had been cut, her waistline had shrunk by 5.5 inches.
The designers had to have “all hands on deck” towards the end to make sure the dress was finished on time. Everyone from the designer’s mom to the studio PA’s mom got involved to make sure the dress was perfect.
This detail was crucial for Princess Diana's wedding Outfit
No wedding outfit is complete without a show stopping pair of shoes, and Princess Diana’s wedding attire was certainly no different. Tatler reports that the newly-engaged Princess Diana chose “celebrity shoemaker” Clive Shilton for her wedding footwear. She was reportedly quite self-conscious about the fact that she and Prince Charles both stood at 5’10”. Thus, she requested shoes that would not add much extra height.
It reportedly took six months for Shelton and the future princess to finalize the design. It was clearly worth the wait though, because the end result was nothing short of stunning. The gorgeous shoes Princess Diana wore as she walked down the aisle were made of satin and lace, and they featured 500 sequins as well as 100 seed pearls. The suede sole arches reportedly had a tiny “C”, a small heart and a tiny “D” painted on, for “Prince Charles” and “Princess Diana.”
Princess Diana wore this perfume on her wedding day
Would you wear your favorite perfume when walking down the aisle, or would you choose a completely new scent to signify the beginning of a new chapter of your life? People reports that Princess Diana chose to wear her favorite perfume on her wedding day: Quelques Fluers. The Parisian perfume, which is reportedly made by a French perfume company named Houbigant, has been around since 1912. It features soft, enchanting floral notes like “tuberose, jasmine, and rose,” which are just perfect for a romantic occasion like a wedding.
According to ABC News, perfume was a crucial part of Princess Diana’s beauty routine. “She always, always, always wore fragrance, which is a huge thing in a woman’s life,” the Princess’ former makeup artist Mary Greenwell explained. “It’s kind of the final touch of beauty, walking out smelling divine and chic and individual.”
If you want to smell exactly like Princess Diana on your wedding day, you’re in luck. Perris Group has now acquired Houbigant, and they have released this particular perfume as part of the “Quelques Fleurs collection”.
Princess Diana accidentally spilled this on her wedding outfit before walking down the aisle
As it turns out, even princesses-to-be aren’t immune from fashion catastrophes. In a candid interview with People, Barbara Dary (who the princess chose as her makeup artist for her wedding day) spilled the beans on an unfortunate incident that involved Princess Diana’s wedding outfit and her favorite perfume.
That’s right, Princess Diana accidentally spilled some perfume on her extravagant wedding dress. The incident occurred when she tried to dab some last-minute fragrance on her wrist, after she got into her wedding gown. It left quite a visible spot on the front of the dress the entire world was waiting to admire in just a few short hours.
Dary reportedly told the bride-to-be to hold the dress in a way that covered the spot, all the while making it seem like she was just lifting it to avoid stepping on it. It’s quite easy to spot the princess trying to cover the spot in retrospect, once you know this royal secret, but Daly’s plan sure worked that day. That’s just one of the things we learned about Princess Diana after her death.
Princess Diana wore something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue at her wedding
Though Princess Diana was not the most traditional of royals, she did embrace some traditions when it came to her wedding outfit. Specifically, she took great care to ensure the outfit included something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue.
According to E! News, Princess Diana’s dress featured a lace trim, which was bought at an auction. Later on, however, Princess Diana learned that the lace was from Queen Mary’s wedding gown. This became Princess Diana’s “something old.” Additionally, Biography reports that the princess considered the newly-spun silk used for her dress to be “something new.” Her family tiara, which dates back to the 18th century, was her “something borrowed”, and she had a tiny blue bow stitched on to her dress for her “something blue.”
Princess Diana reportedly also had a tiny 18-carat gold and diamond horseshoe stitched on to the gown for a smidgen of extra good luck.
Rumour has it an extra dress was made for Princess Diana's wedding
Imagine having to pay for not just one, but two wedding gowns. If the auctioneers at Cooper Owen are to be believed, this is exactly what Princess Diana did in the lead up to her wedding day.
CBS News reports that a replica of the extravagant gown Princess Diana wore to her nuptials was made at the time, just in case something happened to the original before the princess could walk down the aisle. Princess Diana reportedly even tried on the dress at one point. Auctioneers confirmed this version of the narrative when they offered it up for auction. Though the dress was displayed at Madame Tussauds in 1981 and 2000, it was eventually auctioned off due to “a shift in the museum’s philosophy.” Cooper Owen reportedly set the reserve price at a steep $90,000 in 2005, because they were confident of the gown’s authenticity.
The gown’s co-designer Elizabeth Emmanuel, however, disputes this version of events. She claims the replica of the dress was made specifically to be displayed at the museum, and insists the princess did not try it on even once.
You'll never guess how long the train on Princess Diana's wedding outfit was
Before Princess Diana glided down the aisle in her wedding gown, the record for the longest wedding dress train (within the royal family, at least) was 20 feet. Hearing this, the gown’s designers vowed to set a new record.
According to E! News, the stunning outfit featured a 25-foot train that was “hand-embroidered with sequins and pearls.” Co-designer David Emanuel revealed that the dressmaking process was so time-consuming that at one point, the team creating the dress was worried the project wouldn’t be completed in time for the wedding. “Behind the scenes we’re thinking, ‘maybe we’ve bitten off too much…keep sewing,” he revealed.
The train was reportedly so long that it didn’t fit into the designers’ studio. To that end, team had to be creative in making sure the dress and its train were absolutely perfect. They decided to take the dress’ toile (a cotton replica sewn to test and perfect the real gown) to Buckingham Palace, make the necessary changes to the dress and its train, and then replicate these changes on the real wedding gown.
Designers went out of their way to keep Princess Diana's wedding outfit a secret
As any bride would, Princess Diana wanted details about her wedding outfit to be kept secret until just before she walked down the aisle. And according to E! News, her designers went out of their way to make this happen.
As it turns out, Princess Diana’s mother was the only person, aside from the princess and the Emmanuels, who was allowed to take a peek at the initial sketch of the dress. The sketch was reportedly ripped up immediately after the mother and daughter duo had a look at it, to ensure it didn’t end up in the hands of the press.
David Emmanuel also shared that on the day of the wedding, a reporter from Woman’s Day approached him with a sketch of a dress and asked him if it was an accurate representation of Diana’s wedding gown. Though the sketch looked nothing like the gown he designed for Princess Diana in reality, he told the reporter it did, just to throw them off the scent. “I don’t think they forgave me for one year,” he revealed about his sly prank.
Princess Diana's wedding outfit was designed to be as British as possible
Because Princess Diana was marrying a future heir to the throne, the ceremony was likely one of the most important events in Britain’s social calendar that year. Perhaps that’s why the dress designers decided to focus solely on British suppliers when designing and manufacturing Princess Diana’s wedding outfit. “Our main focus was to make it as British as possible,” co-designer Elizabeth Emmanuel shared with the Daily Mail.
The gorgeous lace sewn on to sections of the gown, including the waist, train, and hem, was reportedly sourced from a family business named Roger Watson. Costing around £1,000, it didn’t come cheap, but only the best was chosen for the future princess. The patterns on the lace were thought to have been fashioned to imitate the Spencer family’s coat of arms.
The designers also attempted to stick solely to raw silk produced by a silk farm in Kent, but they sadly ended up having to import some silk as well, due to the sheer volume of fabric the gown required.
Princess Diana's wedding tiara was from her family's collection
Though royals (and future royal brides-to-be) often wear tiaras or crowns from the royal family collection on their big day, Princess Diana instead chose to source her own tiara. 9 Honey reports that her family actually had a “family jewel vault,” from which she borrowed the Spencer family tiara for her wedding day.
The decidedly regal tiara is reportedly a fusion of various pieces of jewelry that belonged to several of Princess Diana’s esteemed ancestors, including her grandmother Lady Cynthia Hamilton, and the last Viscountess of Montagu, Frances Manby.
Several members of the Spencer family, including Princess Diana’s sisters and sister-in-law, chose to wear the elegant tiara for their nuptials. Princess Diana was photographed wearing it regularly at official events after her wedding, but the tiara wasn’t sighted in public for over two decades until her niece, Celia McCorquodale, wore it on her big day in 2018. McCorquodale donned the Spencer tiara with a stunning lace wedding dress and gorgeous diamond earrings. Though her outfit was no match to the elaborate outfit Princess Diana wore for her wedding day, the tiara was a beautiful tribute to her aunt’s memory.
This is why Princess Diana had two bouquets made for her big day
The strangest thing transpired during the wedding of the then-Princess Elizabeth and her husband, Prince Phillip. According to Good Housekeeping, Princess Elizabeth’s wedding bouquet was misplaced at some point during the wedding, so the entire bridal party had to get dressed up again on another day to take more photos with a new bouquet. Since this incident, having two bouquets made for each royal wedding has become something of royal tradition. To that end, Princess Diana had to order two bridal bouquets, though her second bouquet was just an exact replica of the main one.
Speaking of which, Princess Diana’s bouquet was nothing short of breathtaking. Designed and created by London florist Longman’s, the bouquet featured gorgeous “white gardenias, orchids, freesias and lily of the valley” which cascaded down oh-so-elegantly. Coming in at 42 inches long and weighing about two kilos, holding onto it all day must not have been an easy task. That being said, the bouquet looked breathtaking against the new Princess’ gorgeous dress, so perhaps it was worth it in the end.
Princess Diana's wedding band was quite traditional
Princess Diana’s non-traditional sapphire and diamond engagement ring made waves in the UK, because it was chosen from a jeweler’s existing range of jewelry, and was therefore available for anyone to purchase. According to History Extra, royal engagement rings are usually custom-made, so Diana likely ruffled a few feathers when she went against royal protocol.
However, Princess Diana abided by tradition when choosing her wedding band; all royals have their wedding band made from the same nugget of Welsh gold from Clogau St David’s gold mine. Famous royals including the likes of Queen Elizabeth, her mother, her sister, and her daughter all used gold from this nugget for their wedding bands.
Diana decided to get on board with this particular custom, and have her wedding band made with gold from this Welsh nugget just like the other members of her new family. Her ring did have one slight variance though — it had a sweet message from Prince Charles engraved inside of it. “I Love You, Diana” was visible to those who peeked into the inside of the wedding band.
This is what happened to Princess Diana's dress after the wedding
Believe it or not, Princess Diana’s wedding outfit is still intact, decades after she wore it down the aisle. According to E! News, Princess Diana’s brother, Charles Spencer, took care of it for several decades. He reportedly displayed it at Althorp Estate (the family’s home in Northampton) twice a year.
However, this practice came to an end in 2014. Like all good moms, Princess Diana seems to have written her will with her children in mind. The will reportedly stipulated that the dress should be passed down to her sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, once Prince Harry turned 30.
According to People, Prince Harry turned 30 on September 15, 2014, after which the two princes gained ownership of the dress. Eleri Lyn, who curated the exhibition Diana: Her Fashion Story, shared with Marie Claire that the dress is now “part of the private collection of the Dukes of Sussex and Cambridge,” and is unlikely to be seen in public anytime soon.
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