12 Royal Wedding Dress Traditions All Brides Must FollowPublished on June 18, 2018. Updated April 12, 2019
The royal family has quite the extensive list of rules for brides to follow on their big wedding day, especially when it comes to the choice of dress! The royal family are huge advocates for modesty and professionalism when it comes to style and the dress a royal bride-to-be wears on the big day is no different. From Kate Middleton to Meghan Markle, follow along for 12 royal wedding dress traditions that both brides were required to follow on their wedding day:
12. Must choose a conservative neckline
Since the royal family is all about modesty, it’s understandable that it is a requirement for the bride’s wedding dress to have a modest neckline. Kate Middleton opted for an elegant V-neckline while Meghan Markle chose a slight off-the-shoulder neckline. Both looks showed minimal skin and were perfect choices for a royal bride with millions of eyes on her.
11. Neutral nail polish only
Queen Elizabeth has strict rules regarding nail polish and royal insiders have dished that she requires the Duchesses to wear bare nails or a soft pink during public appearances. A royal wedding follows this tradition as well and both Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle were spotted on their wedding day with a sheer, nude color on their nails as per royal wedding protocol.
10. No wedges
During her early days as a royal, Kate Middleton was an avid fan of wedge heels, especially during the summer months. The Queen previously expressed her distaste towards the shoe and Middleton quickly stopped wearing them during public appearances. Markle will likely be required to follow the same protocol for her public appearances, but especially on her wedding day! On the big day, Markle followed the Queen’s fashion request and opted for a pair of sleek white stiletto pumps.
9. Dress must have sleeves
Although it’s not an official requirement, it’s quite common for a royal wedding dress to have sleeves. Both Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton followed this tradition for their civil ceremony then slipped into something a little more party-esque for their reception. Long sleeves add an elegant, modest vibe to a bridal look which is highly suited to a royal wedding affair.
8. Must work with a British designer
Another requirement of a royal bride is that she wears a British designer on the big day. Meghan Markle’s dress was designed by British designer Clare Waight Keller for Givenchy, Kate Middleton’s was designed by English designer Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen and Princess Diana’s was designed by British designer duo Elizabeth and David Emanuel. Even Queen Elizabeth herself followed this tradition and had her dress designed by British designer Norman Hartnell.
7. The dress has to be white
Wearing a white wedding dress has been a tradition for all brides throughout the years, but especially for royals! As bridal expectations get more progressive we’ve seen many brides ditch this tradition and opt for something non-white, but we can’t imagine this will happen in the royal family anytime soon. Even shades of cream have been considered questionable for the royal family, which is likely why Meghan opted for a crisp white gown on her wedding day to avoid any controversy.
6. Bride must wear tiara
The day of the wedding is commonly the first time a new royal wears a tiara, a practice that is reserved for those who are members of the royal family. Typically the tiara of choice worn on the wedding day is one that is passed down by the Queen. Kate Middleton borrowed the Cartier Halo tiara from Queen Elizabeth for her wedding day while Meghan Markle borrowed a center stone tiara which was originally Queen Mary’s.
5. Bouquet must contain myrtle
Another strict royal wedding rule is that the bride’s bouquet must contain a sprig of myrtle. Queen Victoria apparently started the tradition because she was given myrtle as a gift from Prince Albert’s grandmother. After the wedding, Victoria planted a myrtle shrub in her garden at the Osborne House and every British royal bride since has carried a bouquet containing myrtle picked from that very shrub.
4. Bouquet must be left at Westminister Abbey
Another royal wedding tradition is that the wedding bouquet must not leave the church with the bride. Instead, she must leave it on the grave of the Unknown Warrior in an act of honor to the armed forces. The tradition was started by the Queen Mum in 1923, who left her bouquet on the memorial in honor of her brother who was killed in World War I in 1915.
3. Wedding band must always contain Welsh gold
The royal bride is not allowed to chose her wedding band and is required to receive a band cut from Welsh gold. This specific type of rare gold is three times more valuable than the gold mined in Australia or South Africa. Allegedly the Queen was gifted a kilogram of this Welsh gold for her 60th birthday and has been slowly chipping away at it for royal wedding rings ever since.
2. Groom must wear military dress
Aside from the bride’s attire, the royal groom must also dress to the protocol as well. Rather than a traditional tuxedo, a royal groom is required to wear a military uniform on his wedding day. Prince Albert was the first royal groom to start this tradition of donning a military uniform in 1840 and the royal grooms to come followed his lead. Considering Harry spent 10 years in the armed forces, it makes sense that he too wore military attire for his recent wedding to Meghan Markle.
1. Queen must approve the final version of the dress
Lastly, the royal bride-to-be must receive the Queen’s stamp of approval on the final version of the dress before making her official debut. She approved both Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle’s gown before their jaunt down the aisle. Since the bride’s gown is on display for millions to see, it makes sense that the Queen has the final say.