The significance behind Meghan Markle's wedding dress

Meghan Markle's wedding dress stunned royal fans across the world back in 2018

Meghan Markle's wedding dress and veil showcased as she marries Prince Harry at St George's Chapel in Windsor, May 2018
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Meghan Markle’s wedding dress was everything royal fans were hoping for and more as they watched her walk down the aisle to marry Prince Harry at St George’s Chapel on May 19, 2018.

Prince Harry and Meghan chose to tie the knot at the Windsor-based chapel, where Harry’s cousin Princess Eugenie's wedding to Jack Brooksbank was held just months later. In the lead-up to the historic event, there was great speculation about exactly who would be behind the design of Meghan’s wedding gown. Many royal fans predicted that Erdem, Ralph & Russo and Carolina Herrera could be involved, whilst Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen the most searched. 

But though Sarah’s beautiful design of Kate Middleton’s wedding dress stunned the crowds at her own big day, Meghan opted to go for another designer entirely for her elegant ivory wedding dress and intricate veil. The look was topped off by a very special tiara, whilst evening saw the new Duchess of Sussex change into a second outfit for her and Prince Harry's wedding reception. 

From Meghan’s wedding dress, to her embroidered veil and evening gown, there was significance behind every choice. 

Who designed Meghan Markle’s wedding dress? 

Meghan Markle's wedding dress was designed by acclaimed British designer Clare Waight Keller. Clare became the first female artistic director at historic French fashion house, Givenchy, in 2017 after previously working as creative head of Pringle of Scotland and Chloe. She was a particularly perfect choice of designer for Meghan, who is well-known for championing fellow women and female causes.

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and The Duchess of Sussex leave St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle after their wedding ceremony on May 19, 2018 in Windsor, England

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Kensington Palace declared in a statement, "After meeting her earlier this year, Markle chose to work with [Waight-Keller] for her timeless and elegant aesthetic, impeccable tailoring and relaxed demeanour".

The statement continued, "Ms. Markle and Ms. Waight Keller worked closely together on the design. The dress epitomises a timeless minimal elegance referencing the codes of the iconic House of Givenchy and showcasing the expert craftsmanship of its world-renowned Parisian couture atelier founded in 1952."

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle leave St George's Chapel through the west door after their wedding in St George's Chapel

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Whilst Meghan herself opened up about choosing Clare when she was filmed reuniting with her wedding dress in the 2018 ITV documentary, Queen of the World. Here the Duchess revealed that she always wanted a “delicate” look, but that she trusted Clare to create her perfect dress.

"We had two or three meetings talking about sketches and different ideas of how this could really come to life,” Meghan explained. “We knew we wanted it to be very delicate, but then after that point, I just said I trust her implicitly with what she did."

Clare Waight Keller, a fashion designer at Givenchy, holds dress sketches during an interview at Kensington Palace in London on May 20, 2018, the day after Meghan Markle walked down the aisle of St George's Chapel

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Clare’s design wowed fans around the world, but she also sewed a very special hidden detail into the dress for Meghan. Speaking on the documentary, Meghan shared that some of the fabric from the dress she wore for her first date with Prince Harry was sewn into the final wedding gown as her “something blue”.

Whilst Meghan's wedding dress choice reportedly surprised the Queen, it certainly impressed all who saw her on her big day. 

What was the meaning behind Meghan Markle’s veil? 

Not only was the five-metre long veil the perfect finishing touch to her classic and elegant wedding dress, it also holds a special significance. Made of silk tulle, it was embroidered with 53 individual flowers representing each of the countries of the Commonwealth. 

Meghan's wedding dress designer Clare reportedly spent a lot of time researching the flora of each country and ensured that every flower was unique.

Senior Curator Caroline de Guitaut views the wedding outfits of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, as they go on display at the Palace of Holyroodhouse for a special exhibition, 'A Royal Wedding: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex'

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The Duchess of Sussex reflected on how important it was for her to include each of the 53 flowers as a new member of the Royal Family. Speaking during ITV's Queen of the World, she declared, "It was important for me, especially now being part of the royal family, to have all 53 of the commonwealth countries incorporated."

Whilst Meghan shared that even Prince Harry didn't know about this poignant touch. 

"I knew it would be a fun surprise for my now husband - he didn't know! He was really over the moon to find that I would make this choice for our day together, and I think the other members of the family had a similar reaction." 

Meghan Markle arrives at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle for her wedding to Prince Harry on May 19, 2018

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And that's not all, as Meghan also chose her two other favourite flowers to adorn the beautiful veil. Wintersweet found in Kensington Palace and the California poppy, a tribute to where she was born, also appeared on it. 

The final effect of dress and veil together clearly impressed Meghan's new husband, with Prince Harry said to have whispered to her as she approached, "You look amazing, absolutely gorgeous."

Who designed Meghan Markle’s second wedding dress? 

Meghan Markle’s second wedding dress was designed by British designer Stella McCartney. The stunning bespoke lily white crepe dress carried through a sense of elegance epitomised in her first dress, with a high, halter neck style. 

Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex leave Windsor Castle after their wedding to attend an evening reception at Frogmore House

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The Duchess of Sussex wore satin Aquazzura shoes with nude mesh and baby blue soles and she could be seen accessorizing the evening dress with a beautiful aquamarine ring that once belonged to her late mother-in-law Princess Diana.

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex wave as they leave Windsor Castle

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Meghan wore this chic look to her and Prince Harry’s wedding reception which was held at Frogmore House. The choice to wear Stella McCartney could also perhaps be seen as another nod to her and Prince Harry’s union, as Stella’s father is British musician Sir Paul McCartney, whilst her late mother Linda was American, like Meghan.

What did Meghan Markle’s wedding dress cost?  

Meghan Markle's wedding dress is estimated by some to have cost around $265,000 (£192,700), but it's not surprising it could have cost so much - the veil alone is said to have taken 3,900 hours to hand-embroider! Whilst the magnificent gown was certainly made from very costly materials, including double-bonded silk cady, cushioned by an underskirt in triple silk organza. 

Prince Harry looks at his bride, Meghan Markle, as she arrived accompanied by Prince Charles, Prince of Wales during their wedding in St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle

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Meanwhile, her Stella McCartney second wedding dress which Meghan wore to her and Prince Harry’s evening reception was estimated to have cost around $157,000 (£114,000). 

However, a few months after the Sussexes’ wedding in November 2018, replicas of the gown formed part of an exclusive Stella McCartney collection and came in at the more reasonable price of $4,813 (£3,500).

Meghan Markle’s tiara was loaned by the Queen  

Whilst Meghan Markle's wedding dress worn for the ceremony was certainly magnificent in its own right, the tiara the now-Duchess of Sussex wore really added the final touch to the outfit. And, just like Meghan's veil, there is great meaning behind her choice. 

Many people had speculated that the bride would opt for a tiara from the Spencer family collection belonging to Harry's late mother, Princess Diana. Princess Diana's jewelry was inherited by key royals, with many pieces being worn by her daughters-in-law, including the aquamarine ring Meghan wore with her evening wedding dress. 

However, the tiara she wore in fact belongs to the Queen and the decision to offer her precious items for Meghan to choose showcases their warm relationship.

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex travels in an Ascot Landau carriage as she & Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex begin their procession through Windsor following their wedding at St George's Chapel

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The Queen reportedly presented Meghan with a selection of her favourite tiaras and asked her to choose one to wear on the big day. The dazzling piece of jewelry Meghan chose was originally owned by Prince Harry’s great-great grandmother, Queen Mary. The Queen Mary Diamond Bandeau Tiara is a delicate diamond head piece, passed onto Queen Elizabeth II by Queen Mary. 

Queen Mary is understood to have had the piece constructed out of a brooch she had received as a gift back in 1893 when she married King George V. The Bandeau Tiara has often been worn with a sapphire as the central stone, though Meghan was reportedly lent a diamond by the Queen for her wedding day. 

Meghan Markle stands at the altar during her wedding in St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018

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As reported by Tatler, Meghan previously revealed why she chose this particular tiara in the audio recording for the royal wedding outfits exhibition at Windsor Castle in 2019.

"When it came to the tiara on the day I was very fortunate to be able to choose this very gorgeous Art Deco-style bandeau tiara," the Duchess of Sussex said. 

"That was the one that I think as we tried them on stood out; I think it was just perfect because it was so clean and simple, and I think also at that point an extension to what Clare and I had been trying to do with the dress, which was have something that could be so incredibly timeless but still feel modern," she went on to explain. 

Where did Meghan Markle get ready for her wedding?

Meghan Markle spent the night before her and Prince Harry’s wedding at Cliveden House in Berkshire. It’s understood that she and her mother Doria Ragland were the only ones to stay the night at the historic hotel. The best-selling Sussex biography by Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand, Finding Freedom, has claimed that it was here that Meghan rose at 6am on the day of her wedding. 

The biography reportedly goes on to explain how Daniel Martin did the future Duchess of Sussex and Doria’s makeup for the big day. This is something Daniel has reflected upon following the major event, revealing Prince Harry’s sweet words about his wife at their fairytale wedding.

Now, three years later, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have welcomed two children, Archie and Lilibet, and recently celebrated their third wedding anniversary.