The Most Iconic Royal Wedding Dresses

Breathtaking gowns, topped off by jaw-droppingly expensive jewels.

best royal wedding dresses princess margaret
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There's a good reason royal weddings are considered the fashion event of the year—because we love looking at gorgeous wedding dresses, not to mention some seriously expensive jewelry and crowns/tiaras. These gowns can take months, if not years to make, and can easily run into the six figures to make—into the seven figures, for at least one dress on this list!

What's also interesting here is that these royal dresses often inspire wedding gown trends, sometimes for entire decades, so this is a fun look at what's been considered "beautiful" over many decades and cultures. Here, we're using the definition of iconic to mean striking, memorable, and full of influence. We can look back on Princess Diana's wedding dress and call it over the top as much as we want, in other words, but there's no denying that thousands of brides used a similar style for long after.

Below, the 32 most iconic royal wedding dresses of all time.

Sophie Rhys-Jones

royal wedding dresses - Sophie Rhys-Jones

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Former PR consultant Sophie Wessex wed Prince Edward in a simple v-neck gown that nevertheless had 325,000 pearls and crystals (I say simple because it was a much different style than Diana's a decade earlier). She apparently changed into a gorgeous gown later, with stones dyed to match St. George’s Chapel.

Zara Phillips

royal wedding gowns Zara phillips

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Zara Phillips (cousin to Princes Harry and William) married rugby player Mike Tindall in 2011 in a silk and satin Stewart Parvin gown. Because she got married after Kate Middleton, obvious comparisons were made, but Zara explained her wedding would be totally different—as was her gorgeous a-line gown.

Rita Hayworth

royal wedding dresses rita hayworth

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Deemed by The Cut to be one of the best royal wedding gowns of all time, Rita Hayworth's wedding to Prince Aly Khan in 1949 had a big floppy hat and dress with a high-water hemline. But the coolest aspect was its light blue color.

Princess Beatrice

royal wedding dresses princess beatrice

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Princess Beatrice got married to Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi in 2020 in a very intimate ceremony (necessarily so because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is why there were no public photos of the event). The gown was actually vintage Norman Hartnell and previously worn by Queen Elizabeth.

Princess Soraya

royal wedding dresses Princess Soraya

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It's a little hard to tell in this photo, but Queen Soraya Esfandiary-Bakhtiary of Iran got married in a gorgeous and intricate dress. Per Tatler, it was Christian Dior and featured 6,000 diamonds and 37 yards of silver lamé—oh yes, and 20,000 feathers.

Lady Gabriella Windsor

royal wedding dresses Lady Gabriella Windsor

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Luisa Beccaria designed this bespoke gown—and when we say bespoke, we mean it. "It was a lot of work—and to obtain the [correct] color was really complicated...We had to put so many different layers of blush and cream organdy tulle so that it looked like just a little touch of blush," the designer told Vogue.

Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden 

royal wedding gowns Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden

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Even though their wedding took place in 2010, Princess Victoria's gown feels exceptionally modern. Pär Engsheden designed it, and it includes a detachable train (always an important feature!). The tiara descends from Napoleon Bonaparte!

Mabel Wisse Smit

royal wedding dresses Mabel Wisse Smit

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This may perhaps be a hot take, but I actually really love this bateau-neck Viktor & Rolf gown (that apparently took 600 hours to make) and features teeny bows at the neck that evolve into enormous OTT bows in the train.

Sonja Haraldsen

royal wedding gowns - Sonja Haraldsen

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Queen Sonja of Norway got married in 1968, and her gown (by Molstad) is pretty emblematic of that time. It's deeply a-line in shape, with a high neck, cape-train, and pearl embellishments, and designed to be deceptively simple.

Queen Rania of Jordan

royal wedding dresses Queen Rania of Jordan

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This pic doesn't really do Queen Rania's dress justice, but it was admittedly a quite '90s style. Bruce Oldfield designed the gold and white ballgown with matching bolero jacket and, per People, was inspired by "Syrian gowns at London's Victoria and Albert Museum."

Princess Diana

royal wedding dresses princess diana

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This might be one of the most recognizable wedding gowns...ever? This 25(!) foot train was the longest ever worn by a British royal, and the designers Elizabeth and David Emanuel later noted that the "fairy dust effect" on her veil required hand-stitching 10,000 micro-pearls. Diana literally sparkled.

Queen Elizabeth II

royal wedding dresses - queen elizabeth

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Queen Elizabeth (then a princess) married Prince Philip in a gown designed by Norman Hartnell. Using coupons she'd saved up during World War II (and given more by the government), she procured the Chinese silk for the dress and its 15-foot train that also featured more than 10,000 pearls.

Mary Donaldson

royal wedding gowns mary donaldson

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The Crown Princess of Denmark (later Queen Mary) wore a popular-for-its-time bateau-neck gown, made by Uffe Frank and featuring Duchesse satin. The 19-foot train was a standout, and the veil was first worn by Crown Princess Margareta of Sweden.

Empress Masako Owada

royal wedding dresses Crown Princess Masako

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This 12-layer silk wedding kimono was a gorgeous creation for this 1993 wedding, but apparently after the ceremony the Crown Princess changed into a Hanae Morai gown with "quarter-length sleeves, a floral print and a 3D rose petal-shaped neckline," per People.

Charlotte Wellesley

royal wedding dresses Charlotte Wellesley

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It's very unique to see such an extreme foldover neckline, but this Emilia Wickstead gown was a standout for the 2016 wedding of the daughter of the Duke of Wellington. The dress was wool(!), and green heels(!!), making this one of the most modern wedding outfits.

Queen Letizia

royal wedding dresses Queen Letizia

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Described by Brides as the most expensive royal wedding dress, the Manuel Pertegaz-designed gown reportedly cost $8(!!) million. It featured a "high-standing collar, long sleeves, and real gold embroidered into ivory silk." Wowza!

Princess Dayangku Sarah Binti Pengiran Salleh Ab Rahaman

royal wedding dresses Princess Dayangku Sarah Binti Pengiran Salleh Ab Rahaman

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Sarah, Crown Princess of Brunei, was married to Crown Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah in several ceremonies (per tradition) and thus several dresses. It was dubbed, probably appropriately, as the "Asian wedding of the year."

Michiko Shoda

royal wedding dresses Michiko Shoda

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Empress Michiko was the first commoner to marry into the Japanese royal family. Her simple but ornate ballgown featured a bow at the waist and was accompanied by jewels, including the Diamond Scroll Tiara, and the yellow sash of the Order of the Precious Crown.

Sarah Armstrong-Jones

royal wedding dresses - Sarah Armstrong-Jones

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Princess Margaret's daughter (now Lady Sarah Chatto) was married in 1994, but you might not know it from her wedding dress. It was by Jasper Conran and, per Tatler, featured ivory georgette fabric and a square bodice. She also wore the Snowdon Floral Tiara (gifted from her father to her mother at their wedding).

Princess Eugenie

royal wedding dresses Princess Eugenie

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With a foldover style you rarely see (but is super-flattering here), this Peter Pilotto and Christopher De Vos-designed gown is exceptionally detailed, and features a low back to deliberately show Eugenie's surgical scar to correct scoliosis.

Meghan Markle

royal wedding dresses meghan markle

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This simple, but immediately iconic, wedding gown instantly re-catapulted the bateau neck wedding gown into popularity. It was designed by Clare Waight Keller and inspired by none other than style icon Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy.

Princess Anne

royal wedding dresses Princess Anne

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Simple gowns have come in and out of favor, but Princess Anne's wedding gown from her first marriage was one such piece, designed by Maureen Baker and made of white silk chiffon. Fun fact: She was married on then-Prince Charles' birthday.

Princess Caroline of Monaco

royal wedding dresses Caroline of Monaco

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For her first wedding, Princess Caroline (daughter of Grace Kelly) opted for a Marc Bohan for Christian Dior gown (which, per Vogue Australia, had to be modified at the last minute because details had been leaked) and a very of-its-time floral headpiece.

Princess Salwa Aga Khan

royal wedding dresses - Princess Salwa Aga Khan

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For her wedding to Prince Rahim Aga Khan, son of Aga Khan IV, in Geneva, Switzerland, the former Kendra Spears wore a gold and ivory sari designed by Manav Gangwani that featured a low back on the top. She accessorized with relatively minimal jewelry and kept things beautifully simple.

Stephanie de Lannoy

royal wedding dresses Stephanie de Lannoy

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The Hereditary Grand Duchess of Luxembourg had a two-day wedding ceremony and had an opulent gown to match. It was Elie Saab, and, per People, featured a lace and silver gown, with a 16-foot train that spanned most of the cathedral.

Kate Middleton

royal wedding dresses kate middleton

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This Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen dress is probably one of the more memorable royal gowns of all time. It was English Cluny and French Chantilly lace and had an almost 9-foot-long train. Per People, "embroiderers were reportedly required to wash their hands every 30 minutes to keep the garment clean."

Alessandra de Osma

royal wedding dresses Alessandra de Osma

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In her 2017 wedding to Prince Christian of Hanover, Alessandra de Osma wore a Chanel coatdress (it was a civil ceremony). The following year, she wore this Jorge Vázquez gown with full lace overlay and mockneck style.

Queen Jetsun Pema of Bhutan

royal wedding dresses Queen Jetsun Pema of Bhutan

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For her wedding to King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, Queen Jetsun wore a traditional hand-woven kira that had gorgeous colors that matched the groom (who threatened to upstage her in some amazing boots).

Grace Kelly

royal wedding dresses grace kelly

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For the wedding of the decade (and probably long after), Grace Kelly's 1956 gown was an inspiring classic. Per People, "Gifted to her by her MGM studio bosses and handmade in the studio's ateliers, Kelly's longtime wardrobe designer, Helen Rose, and 30 seamstresses constructed the gown with 300 yards of antique Belgian lace, ivory faille, and silk net."

Princess Margaret

royal wedding dresses princess margaret

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Going down in history (at the time) as the simplest royal wedding dress, Princess Margaret's Norman Hartnell gown was nevertheless as classic as could be with silk organza and some crystals. Margaret apparently asked for it to not overwhelm her small frame—and it was a roaring success.

Princess Sofia of Sweden

royal wedding gowns princess sofia

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Princess Sofia married in 2015 with a Ida Sjöstedt dress (it drew comparison to the shape and construction of Kate Middleton's wedding gown), it was made of crepe and silk organza as well as handmade lace. Her star tattoo at the base of her neck was visible—and completely bad*ss, in my opinion.

Meghan Markle (Reception)

royal wedding dresses - meghan markle

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For her reception, Meghan Markle changed into a bespoke halter-neck silk crepe Stella McCartney dress that, for my money, is even more beautiful than her wedding gown. She kept it as a part of her personal collection—as you would, because it's stunning.

Katherine J. Igoe

Katherine’s a Boston-based contributor at Marie Claire who covers fashion, culture, and lifestyle—from “Clueless” to Everlane to news about Lizzo. She’s been a freelancer for 11 years and has had roles with Cosmopolitan and Bustle, with bylines in Parents, Seventeen, and elsewhere. It’s “I go to dinner,” not “Her huge ego,” but she responds to both.