Meghan Markle’s wedding dress might have been unveiled to the world four years ago but it remains one of the most iconic royal gowns of all time and features some exquisite subtle details.
Meghan Markle tied the knot with the Queen's grandson at St George’s Chapel near Windsor Castle in a ceremony that was watched across the world. In the lead-up there was huge speculation over who would create her dress. And whilst some predicted that Ralph & Russo and Carolina Herrera could be chosen, others wondered whether Sarah Burton who designed Kate Middleton’s wedding dress could receive a second royal wedding dress commission.
Ultimately, Meghan chose a very different designer for the meaningful gown and embroidered veil topped by the perfect finishing touch. Nothing screams royal wedding like Queen Elizabeth’s tiaras and Meghan’s borrowed crown was stunning.
And just like Meghan Markle's engagement ring, there is a huge amount of meaning behind every detail of her wedding look. Here we reveal the significance behind Meghan Markle’s wedding dress, her veil and her equally beautiful evening dress…
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 has regularly championed fellow women and female causes over the years and who is viewed by so many as a deeply inspirational woman herself.
Just a few months ago, Meghan Markle lent her voice to CARE's #HerVoice campaign by appearing in their video as they aimed to “celebrate the generations of women who have inspired us, taught us, and moved us to change the world”.
Meghan's passion for championing and supporting other women was also showcased in her choice of wedding dress. At the time, 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 former actor and designer were also said to have "worked closely together" on the final design of Meghan Markle's wedding dress.
The statement went on to reveal, "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."
The Duchess of Sussex's choice of wedding dress designer is something she herself has touched on in the 2018 ITV documentary, Queen of the World. Having been reunited with her breath-taking gown, Meghan revealed she especially wanted a "delicate" look with her dress but trusted Clare completely to bring her vision to life.
"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."
Not only did Clare’s design wow fans around the world, Meghan Markle's wedding dress was made all the more meaningful given that Clare also sewed an extra special hidden detail into it.
Sharing this intriguing secret with the documentary viewers, Meghan disclosed 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”.
Although very subtle and something only the Sussexes themselves likely would've known for some time, this shows just how much involvement Meghan had in her dress and the emotion and painstaking detail in the final design.
What was the meaning behind Meghan Markle’s veil?
Whilst Meghan Markle's wedding dress was a beautiful gown that epitomized the flair for elegance seen in many of Meghan Markle's stylish moments, it wasn't the only meaningful part of the overall look. After all, it's hard not to have noticed the five-metre long veil that fanned out behind her like a cloud as she walked up and down the chapel steps.
And Meghan's impressive veil contained hidden significance just like her dress. Made of silk tulle, it was carefully embroidered with 53 individual flowers which represented each of the countries of the Commonwealth of Nations.
Designer Clare reportedly spent a lot of time researching the flora specific to each country and ensured that every bloom was unique. The Duchess of Sussex reflected on how determined she was to have her veil include such a wonderful tribute to the Commonwealth as she became a new member of the extended Royal Family.
Opening up during the Queen of the World documentary, 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 as she explained, "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."
And that's not all! Apart from each of the commonwealth flowers included on her statement veil, Meghan also chose two more very close to her heart to be embroidered on to her veil.
These were reportedly wintersweet which can be found growing in Kensington Palace grounds and the California poppy, representing where she was born.
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."
How many wedding dresses did Meghan Markle have?
Meghan Markle’s wedding dress was magnificent enough to capture the hearts of the nation, but it wasn't the only dress she wore on her and Prince Harry's big day. The Duchess of Sussex also had a second wedding dress, designed by British designer Stella McCartney.
The stunning bespoke lily white crepe dress carried through a sense of elegance that was seen in her first dress, but with a fun twist. Meghan Markle's second wedding dress had a high, halter neck style and was completely sleeveless.
In recent years we've seen Meghan Markle's hair often worn up and her wedding day was no exception as she wore hers secured at the back of her head, allowing first her wedding dress and then the halter neck design of her evening dress to shine. For this occasion she wore satin Aquazzura shoes with nude mesh and baby blue soles.
Meghan also accessorized the evening dress with a beautiful aquamarine ring that was part of Princess Diana's jewelry collection and which brought another blue element to her overall look.
Meghan wore this chic outfit to her and Prince Harry’s wedding reception which was held at Frogmore House, which, like the Sussexes' UK home, Frogmore Cottage, is close to Windsor Castle. The choice to wear Stella McCartney could also perhaps be seen as another nod to her and Prince Harry’s union.
In another layer of potential meaning, Stella’s father, musician Sir Paul McCartney, is British like Prince Harry, whilst Stella's mother Linda was American, like Meghan. Although this particular connection has not been confirmed by the Duchess, it's got a lovely significance to it.
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 made from very costly materials, including double-bonded silk cady, cushioned by an underskirt in triple silk organza.
Meanwhile, her Stella McCartney second wedding dress worn by Meghan 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).
What was Meghan Markle’s wedding tiara?
Whilst Meghan Markle's wedding dress worn was breath-taking n its own right, her wedding tiara really added the final touch to the outfit. And, just like all the other aspects of Meghan's wedding outfits, there was once again great meaning behind her choice. Many people had speculated that the bride would opt for a tiara from the Spencer family collection in a sweet nod to her late mother-in-law Princess Diana.
Prince Charles and Diana's relationship began in 1980 and blossomed into 15 years of marriage, with Princess Diana choosing to walk down the aisle wearing a Spencer tiara and not one of the royal ones for her own ceremony.
Several eye-catching jewelry pieces that once belonged to Princess of Wales' have been worn by her daughters-in-law over the years, including the aquamarine ring Meghan wore with her evening wedding dress. However, Meghan's wedding tiara belongs to the Queen and the decision to offer her precious items for Meghan to choose showcases their warm relationship.
The Queen reportedly presented Meghan with a selection of her favorite tiaras and asked her to choose one to wear on the big day. The dazzling piece 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 from the County of Lincoln 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 and this beautiful option really highlighted the delicacy of Meghan Markle's wedding dress.
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 back 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 shared, before going on to explain that she knew it was the one for her thanks to its simplicity.
"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 added.
Where did Meghan Markle get ready for her wedding?
The night before Meghan Markle's wedding dress stunned the world and the ceremony delighted fans, she spent her last night as a single woman 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 since claimed that Meghan rose at 6am on the day of her wedding.
The biography, which explores Prince Harry and Meghan's "heartbreak" at Prince Philip's death in a new epilogue, reportedly goes on to explain how Daniel Martin did the Meghan 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, almost exactly four years later, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have welcomed two children, Archie and Lilibet and will celebrate their wedding anniversary on May 19th. And whilst Prince Harry and Meghan "stepped back" as senior royals in 2020, they are set to return to the UK as a family to attend the Queen's Platinum Jubilee 2022 celebrations in June.
Though Meghan Markle's wedding dress will forever be one of her best-known dresses, many will be eagerly waiting to see what she will wear during this momentous royal occasion.
Emma is a Senior Lifestyle Writer with six years of experience working in digital publishing. Her specialist areas including literature, the British Royal Family and knowing all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and every streaming service out there. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, you can find Emma cooking and watching yet more crime dramas.
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