Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Question: Queen Victoria's Wedding Dress and Bouquet

Could you tell me more about Queen Victoria's wedding dress and bouquet?
Thank you very much for your question.

On her wedding day Queen Victoria wore a shoulder-free white satin court dress. The bodice had a low, round neck and edging the neckline were narrow rows of piping and the short, full sleeves gathered into double puffs. The fullness of the skirt was taken in at the waist in a series of deep forward-facing pleats. The skirt had a deep panel of Honiton lace at the front, chosen by Victoria to support the declining lace trade. A court train, made of the same silk satin, measured 6 years in length and had a border of orange blossom sprays matching the coronet of orange blossoms from which her veil was suspended. The choice of orange blossom is significant and somewhat prophetic. In the Mediterranean, it was a symbol of fertility; Queen Victoria would later have nine children. In China it was an emblem of purity, innocence, and chastity; bywords for the Victorian era.

Queen Victoria wanted her entire ensemble to be made of materials of British manufacture. Probably the most well known aspect of her dress is the honiton lace used for her veil and for the flounce. The design of the lace is attributed to Wiliam Dyce and a colleague at the Government School of Design in London. It took more than one hundred lace makers six months to make the exquisite lace and the pattern was destroyed so that it could never be copied. Of her five daughters only her youngest, Princess Beatrice, would get to wear it on her wedding day in 1885. The veil was amongst Queen Victoria's most prized possessions and she would eventually be buried with it.

Because her gown and veil were all in white, she is credited with helping to establish a custom of wearing white, which continues to this day. Previously royal brides had worn gold and silver colors in order to express their wealth. Commoners often wore dark colors in order to use their gowns for other special days. It is said that the simplicity of her dress would set a pattern for other royal wedding dresses - although looking at some of the wedding dresses that followed, I would disagree with that. Many royal wedding dresses have been quite elaborate with beautiful embroidery - hardly simple at all. If anything it would be 120 years later that simplicity would return with Princess Margaret's dress in 1960.

As for her bouquet, Queen Victoria carried a small posy made up solely of snowdrops (Prince Albert's favorite flower). It's somewhat unfortunate but I can only find one source for this information. In reference to bridal bouquets, there is a royal wedding tradition of brides including a sprig of myrtle in their bouquets. This bush was grown from a cutting brought from Coburg by Prince Albert. Sprigs have been included in the bouquets of all royal brides since the 1850s.

© Marilyn Braun 2008

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.


Royal Wedding Dresses by Nigel Arch and Joanna Marschner. A Historic Royal Palaces publication.

Royal Weddings by Friederike Haedecke and Julia Melchior

Legendary Brides by Letita Baldrige

I Do: 100 Years of Wedding Fashion by Caroline Cox
Britain's Royal Brides by Josy Argy and Wendy Riches

Five Gold Rings - A Royal Wedding Souvenir Album - by Jane Roberts for Royal Collection Publications

Two Centuries of Royal Weddings by Christopher Warwick

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Question: Princess Diana's Wedding Bouquet

© Marilyn Braun 2008

1 comment:

Christina said...

Marlyn, this is a lovely informative post - thank you :-). It's interesting that Queen Victoria continued to wear orange blossom perfume all her life -her granddaughter, Queen Marie of Roumania wrote of it...It must have reminded her of her wedding day.