The wedding dress hidden message trend has been used throughout the years (centuries) and sometimes a bride will include a hidden sentimental touch to her wedding dress by incorporating a monogram, the wedding date or a blue silk thread for her “something blue”. Most recently the hidden message trend has become very popular with today’s modern brides. For some inspiration I will discuss several British Royal brides, such as Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth, Catherine Middleton, Meghan Markle and Princess Eugenie that have incorporated hidden messages into their wedding dresses with their choice of fabric selections, embroidery embellishments or dress designs.
Queen Victoria was known in her later years as always wearing black mourning after her beloved Prince Albert died but she also set many wedding trends such as wearing a white wedding dress to the Royal tradition of adding myrtle to a wedding bouquet. As Queen Victoria prepared for her marriage to Prince Albert in February 1840 she made many decisions about her wedding dress based on personal and political reasons.
The first fashion decision Queen Victoria made was a personal choice for the color of her wedding dress. At the time most Royal brides had most often worn wedding dresses made of the finest fabric embellished with precious gold or silver threads to reflect their elite status. It is possible that for this reason Queen Victoria selected a simple white cream fabric because she wanted to convey a hidden message to her future husband that although he was marrying the British monarch she was still just a woman who was marrying the man she loved. Special Note: Since that time, based on Queen Victoria’s unique color choice, the white wedding dress became very popular for many generations of brides and throughout the years it has come to mean innocence and purity which are virtues long associated with the Victorian era.
Queen Victoria also selected the Spitafields silk fabric as a hidden message in promoting the British manufacturer for political and economic reasons since with the onset of mechanical looms that mass produced cheaper and inferior quality fabric made available for the middle and lower classes which ultimately affected the English silk industry and caused sales to dramatically decline.
Queen Victoria’s wedding dress on display – photo from the Royal Collection trust
Queen Victoria’s choice of lace was also selected as a hidden message for political and economic reasons. The fashion style of the time used imported Brussels lace but because Queen Victoria was the monarch of England she also wanted to promote and revive the failing British Honiton lace industry. Honiton lace was used for the trim on her wedding dress and also for her bridal veil.
Queen Victoria’s wedding veil – photo from the Royal Collection Trust
Another hidden message, to perhaps remind Prince Albert that although he was marrying a queen she was still just a woman marrying the man she loved, Queen Victoria made a personal choice to wear a wreath of orange blossoms to secure her veil to her head instead of a Royal crown or tiara that would befit her status as monarch.
Queen Elizabeth II (formerly Princess Elizabeth)
Much like her great-great grandmother Queen Victoria, when the young Princess Elizabeth (later to become Queen Elizabeth II) married Prince Phillip in 1947 she also made many decisions about her wedding dress based on personal and political reasons. At the time of her wedding Britain was still recovering from World War II and rationing of food and other goods was still in effect so the British government issued Princess Elizabeth 200 extra coupons to help defray the cost. A political decision was made by the Palace, that in order to boost the morale of the country, Princess Elizabeth’s wedding would be a national event with all pomp and circumstances expected for the heir to the British throne.
Another political reason which was a hidden message was the selection of the material for Princess Elizabeth’s wedding dress. Silk material made in Britain from the silkworms imported from China, not wartime enemies such as Japan and Italy, was used. Also the crystals and pearls used for the wedding dress embellishments were imported from the United States.
Princess Elizabeth made a personal decision with the fashion designer Norman Hartnell when it came to the style of her wedding dress and she selected a romantic dress design inspired by the Italian Renaissance painting “La Primavera” by Botticelli. Known for incorporating elaborate embroidery, Hartnell designed Princess Elizabeth’s beautiful ivory silk satin dress with a hidden message of renewal and hope that featured flowers such as jasmine, smilax, lilac, wheat and roses. The silk tulle train was also embellished with an embroidered and beaded pattern of wheat and roses with appliqué duchess satin stars.
Princess Elizabeth’s wedding dress on display – photo from the Royal Collection Trust
Embroidery and bead details of Princess Elizabeth’s wedding dress
Embroidery and bead details of Princess Elizabeth’s wedding veil
Katherine Middleton (now the Duchess of Cambridge)
When Katherine Middleton married Prince William in 2011 she worked closely with Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen to design her lovely wedding dress, in keeping with the Royal bridal tradition Katherine had selected a British designer. In a subtle hidden message to honor the four countries of the United Kingdom, the national emblems were incorporated into the lovely floral lace design of Katherine’s wedding dress; the rose for England, the daffodil for Wales, the thistle for Scotland and the shamrock for Ireland.
Katherine Middleton’s wedding dress on display – photo from the Royal Collection Trust
Katherine Middleton’s wedding dress lace details
In a sweet hidden message in accordance with the Old English rhyme, “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a silver sixpence in her shoe.”, for good luck Katherine had requested that a blue ribbon be sewn into the bodice of her wedding dress. (For more detailed information about Katherine Middleton, a British Royal Bride, please check back later on this blog for a future post)
For more detailed information about the wedding of Prince William and Katherine Middleton please click on the link.
When Meghan Markle married Prince Harry in 2018 she selected the British designer Clare Waight Keller of Givenchy to design her elegant wedding dress. To compliment the simplicity of the wedding dress, Meghan’s bridal veil was designed with delicate embroidery. In a hidden message to honor the United Kingdom, Meghan had requested the flowers representing each of the 53 countries of the Commonwealth would be incorporated into the design of the bridal veil.
Meghan Markle’s wedding dress on display – photo from the Royal Collection Trust
Meghan Markle’s wedding veil
Meghan Markle’s wedding veil details
Meghan also had the designer include two very personal hidden messages into the design of her bridal veil. As an American-born bride and to honor the state where she was born Meghan requested that the California poppy be embroidered onto the bridal veil. In addition, Meghan had the designer also include a very sentimental hidden message and a small piece of fabric from the dress that she wore on her first date with Prince Harry was sewn into the veil as her “something blue”.
When Princess Eugenie became engaged Jack Brooksbank one of the first decisions she made was that her wedding dress would be designed with a low back to show the surgery scar that she had to correct her scoliosis. Since the surgery was such a defining moment in her life as a significant medical condition she overcame, Eugenie also decided not to wear a wedding veil so that the scar would be visible.
The beautiful wedding dress Eugenie wore for her wedding in 2018 was designed by British-based designers Peter Pilotto and Christopher De Vos. The fabric was custom made with several hidden messages incorporated into the design; the York rose to honor her father’s Royal heritage, the shamrock to honor her mother’s Irish heritage, the thistle to honor the bridal couple’s love for Balmoral in Scotland and lastly the ivy to represent the their home at Kensington Palace known as Ivy Cottage.
Princess Eugenie’s wedding dress
Princess Eugenie also request an additional sentimental hidden message and she had the designers sew Mrs. Brooksbank into the lining of her wedding gown.
For more detailed information about the wedding of Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank please click on the link.