The Most Iconic Wedding Dresses of All Time
We could look at beautiful wedding gowns all day, every day, and this collection has some stunners. We’re starting our list with Wallis Simpson’s stunning slip-of-a-gown that was at the height of fashion in 1937 when she married the Duke of Windsor. Other royals that made our list are Grace Kelly, Queen Elizabeth, Princess Margaret, Kate Middleton, and—of course, Princess Diana and her over-the-top confection for her 1981 nuptials to Prince Charles. Rest assured, we didn’t give all the attention to the beautiful brides across the pond. We’re also showcasing American royalty of our own including Jackie Kennedy, Nancy Reagan, Caroline Kennedy, and Jenna Bush Hager. We couldn’t leave off a few of our favorite fictional characters and their epic dresses either. Everyone remembers Scarlett O’Hara’s handed-down gown from Gone with the Wind. And, no Southern wedding dress list would be complete without at least a mention of Shelby’s 80s-centric look from Steel Magnolias. Take a look through these stunning gowns through the years and share with us your favorite. Did we leave someone off the list? Let us know!
Here Are Some Of Our Favorites
From Scarlett O’Hara to Jackie Kennedy, these wedding gowns are absolutely breathtaking!
Wed Edward VIII, Duke of Windsor in June 1937
This silk crepe dress was at the height of fashion when Simpson wore it to marry the Duke of Windsor. The designer dyed the fabric a light shade of blue to match her eyes. He appropriately deemed the hue “Wallis blue.”
Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh)
Wed Charles Hamilton (Rand Brooks), 'Gone with the Wind' (1939)
The costume designer made the dress a bit out of fashion for Scarlett’s day as it was supposed to be passed down from her mother. The storyline’s rushed wedding also meant Scarlett would have had no time for alternations, so the hem of the dress was a bit too long for Scarlett’s petite stature. No detail went unnoticed when it came to costumes in this iconic film.
Wed Sgt. John Agar in September 1945
Shirley Temple was just 17 years old when she married Sgt. John Agar. She wore a satin wedding gown and large tiara.
Wed Conrad ‘Nicky’ Hilton in May 1950
Taylor became known for her wedding style—as there would be many looks to choose from through the years. In her first marriage to Conrad ‘Nicky’ Hilton, the actress wore a satin ball gown that showed off her tiny waist and a voluminous veil.
Kay Banks (Elizabeth Taylor)
Wed Buckley Dunstan (Don Taylor), 'Father of the Bride' (1950)
The same year she tied the knot with the hotel heir, Taylor starred as Kay Banks in the original Father of the Bride. Her on-screen look was more conservative than her real-life wedding day style, but still played up her iconic curves.
Wed John F. Kennedy in September 1953
The wedding gown that went down in history as being one of the best of all time almost didn’t happen. Ten days before her wedding to JFK, Jackie’s dress was destroyed in a flood in designer (and Alabama-native) Anne Lowe’s studio. Lowe ended up pulling together the new gown, complete with bouffant skirt and portrait neckline, just in time for what would go down as one of history’s most iconic weddings.
Wed Mel Ferrer in September 1954
Pierre Balmain designed Hepburn’s tea-length dress. It featured a high neck and satin sash and was paired with elbow-length gloves. A flower crown gave an ethereal touch to her wedding day style.
Wed Eddie Fisher in September 1955
Reynolds wore a lace gown with cap sleeves. A short veil and pearl jewelry completed the young star’s look.
Wed Monaco’s Prince Rainier in April 1956
The wedding gown that’s widely considered the most famous of all time was a confection of silk, taffeta, tulle, and Belgian lace. It took three petticoats (embroidered with little “something blue” bows) to support the bell-shaped skirt.
Queen Elizabeth II
Wed Prince Philip in November 1947
Less than three months before her November wedding, Queen Elizabeth approved a design from Britain couturier Norman Hartnell. The gown was constructed with duchesse silk satin, white seed pearls, silver thread, intricate appliques, and a silk tulle veil. The tulle train was attached to the dress at the shoulders.
Wed Frank Sinatra in November 1951
The halter-neck dress was paired with a sheer shawl. A simple, double strand of pearls completed the bridal look.
Wed Ronald Reagan in March 1952
The future First Lady donned a gray wool suit with a shawl collar.
Wed Antony Armstrong-Jones in May 1960
The long-sleeve, silk organza gown featured a fitted v-neck bodice and pleated, full skirt. Norman Hartwell, who designed her sister’s dress more than a decade earlier, created the look.
Wed Carl Dean in May 1966
Parton’s bridal style was short and sweet. A simple tulle veil was the finishing touch.
Wed Elvis Presley in May 1967
If there was any question what decade the Presleys said “I do,” one only needs to take a look Priscilla’s dress—and hair—to find out. The organza gown with beaded sleeves had a flowy silhouette that was a popular style at the time. It was topped with a three-quarter-length veil.
Wed Johnny Cash in March 1968
Carter chose a short dress in light blue lace with bell sleeves for her wedding to crooner Johnny Cash. Low satin heels and a flower headpiece completed the ensemble.
Wed Ed Cox in June 1971
For her White House wedding, Nixon wore a V-neck gown with delicate lace and pearl embroidery. The veil cascaded out of a coordinating headpiece.
Diana, Princess of Wales
Wed Prince Charles, Prince of Wales in July 1981
The sleeves, the train, the tiara—who could forget this iconic look? The dress was comprised of ivory silk taffeta and antique lace. Diana’s gown was kept under such tight wraps that a back-up dress was constructed on the off chance that the details of this dress were leaked before the big day.
Wed Edwin Schlossberg in July 1986
The dress was designed by Carolina Herrera, a favorite designer of Caroline’s mother, Jackie. The silk organza gown had a drop waist, high round neck, and short sleeves.
Shelby Eatenton Latcherie (Julia Roberts)
Wed Jackson Latcherie (Dylan McDermott), 'Steel Magnolias' (1989)
Shelby’s off-the-shoulder number featured satin beads up the back and a large taffeta bow. A few year’s later, Julia Roberts would wear a slightly similar look (with fewer florettes) for her role in Runaway Bride.
Annie Banks (Kimberly Williams-Paisley)
Wed Bryan MacKenzie (George Newbern), 'Father of the Bride' (1991)
Before she was Brad Paisley’s bride, Kimberly Williams played one on-screen in the Father of the Bride reboot. The fitted bodice transformed into a full skirt with a large swathe of lace trim.
Dorothy Zbornak (Bea Arthur)
Wed Lucas (Leslie Nielsen), 'Golden Girls' (aired May 1992)
Who remembers this TV wedding? We’re not quite sure what was going on between the fit, lace, and those rings in v-formation, but it’s definitely one that’s hard to forget.
Wed Rene Angelil in December 1994
Understated is not a word that can be used to describe Dion’s bridal attire. A large headpiece was just the beginning of this unforgettable look. Embroidery, lace, diamonds—every kind of opulence one can imagine was incorporated into the gown’s design.
Wed Keith Urban in June 2006
The one-shouldered gown with empire waist felt both vintage and modern. The bride wore her hair half up with soft curls falling just below her shoulders.
Jenna Bush Hager
Wed Henry Hager in May 2008
Hager selected a gown by Oscar de la Renta, a favorite designer of former First Lady Laura Bush. It featured a V-shaped back and stunning embroidery. The bride kept the look natural and opted to forego a veil.
Wed Jared Kushner in October 2009
Vera Wang designed the future First Daughter’s gown. Delicate lace sleeves were an elegant choice inspired by Grace Kelly’s bridal look.
Wed Marc Mezvinsky in July 2010
Designer Vera Wang created the bridal look for the former First Daughter. The strapless gown featured stunning ivory silk organza and a beaded belt.
Wed Prince William, Duke of Cambridge in April 2011
The long-sleeved dress set off a shock wave of imitation styles almost instantaneously. The gown complete with a fitted bodice, plunging lace overlay, and stunning train has become one of the most iconic bridal looks.
Wed James Rothschild in July 2015
Hilton wore a gown fit for royalty for her July wedding at Kensington Palace. The stunning lace dress, designed by Valentino, featured long sleeves, a high neck, a fitted bodice, and full skirt.
Wed in James Matthews in April 2017
Pippa’s bridesmaid dress for Kate’s wedding made waves, so there were high expectations when it came to what she would wear for her own big day. The gown was a custom creation by British designer Giles Deacon. It featured cap sleeves, a high neck, and a heart-shaped cutout on the back.