For many, the most-anticipated part of the royal wedding was the bridal gown. In this, Catherine Middleton did not disappoint. She and her wedding dress designer, Sarah Burton, delivered in a spectacular and at the same time, understated manner. The bridal gown was a triumph. The gown: elegant, refined and becoming, along with the delicate veil, had the effect not only of transforming Catherine Middleton into an ethereal bride, but into a royal princess as well. Created from yards of ivory and white satin gazar, the bridal gown stood out with its fitted bodice covered in French Chantilly and English lace. Elizabeth Emanuel, who along with her then husband, David, had designed the wedding gown of Lady Diana Spencer, is quoted as describing Catherine’s bridal gown as “breathtaking,” “stunning,” “beautiful,” “fabulous,” “a magnificent job.”
The Royal School of Needlework was involved in helping to create the gown, primarily the train and skirt. Symbolically, the symbols of England (the rose), Scotland (the thistle), Wales (the daffodil), and Ireland (the shamrock), were incorporated into the gown. Catherine’s gown was highly reminiscent of that most iconic of brides, the American actress Grace Kelly, who married Prince Rainier of Monaco in 1956. Like Grace, Catherine looked exceptionally poised and dignified. Both famous brides, who were born commoners, stood out on their wedding day for the graceful manner of their bearing and regal carriage.
The exquisite sheer veil was made of ivory silk tulle. Catherine’s decision to wear her veil over her face added a subtle touch of modesty and elegance to the ensemble. The bridal veil was held in place by the Queen’s halo tiara which had been created by the famed jewelers, Cartier, and given by King George VI to the Queen Mother. More symbolism could be found in the bridal bouquet. Largely composed of cream-colored flowers, the bride’s flowers contained stems from a myrtle bush grown from Queen Victoria’s bridal bouquet. Also present were lily-of-the-valley (for the return of happiness), sweet-William (for gallantry), hyacinth (for the constancy of love) and ivy (for fidelity).