Wedding Memorabilia Displays – ideas and suggestions

In this post I will give ideas and suggestions for displaying wedding memorabilia, items collected from your own wedding or perhaps a sentimental item inherited from a parent or grandparent wedding.  These items could include wedding stationary such as a wedding invitation, a ceremony program or a reception menu card.  Other items could be wedding clothing, such as a bridal gown or veil, a garter, a handkerchief or the bride’s custom shoes and the groom’s tie.  Floral items from the wedding day could be preserved and displayed, such as a bridal bouquet or a boutonniere worn by the groom.  Food items used on the wedding day can also be displayed, such as the toasting glasses, a wedding cake topper or a set of wedding cake knives.

For most wedding memorabilia displays a simple frame, a shadowbox or a cloche could be used, most craft or retail stores have a selection of various sizes and shapes available in glass or different types of wood and metal finishes.  For larger items perhaps a unique display case, such as a curio cabinet or a pedestal full length mirror, could be repurposed or altered.  There are also special archival boxes and tissue paper that can be purchased and then used to safely store a wedding gown.

Shown below are several ideas and suggestions for
containers that could be used for displaying wedding memorabilia:

Shown below are a few more unique containers
that could be used to display wedding memorabilia

a cake plate with glass dome could be used to display a pair of special bridal shoes

a lantern could be used to display a bridal bouquet,
a wedding cake topper or a set of toasting glasses

Shown below is a fun idea to display a bridal dress on a mannequin
and then placed in a corner curio cabinet with the glass shelves removed

Shown below are a few examples of wedding memorabilia displays

a bridal bouquet and a groom boutonniere in a shadowbox

a framed bridal bouquet

a wedding invitation with response card, envelope and special stamps

a set of toasting glasses, wedding invitation and a photo of the bridal couple

a bridal gown perserved in a special archival box

a unique idea to display a bridal dress in a pedestal mirror frame

a pair of special bridal shoes displayed under a glass dome

a framed cork from the champagne bottle used for the first toast
(this would make a great first anniversary gift for a bridal couple)

Shown below are several ideas for displaying
sentimental memorabilia inherited from a parent or grandparent wedding

a heirloom bridal veil and orange blossom wreath framed with a photo

a heirloom bridal purse and groom’s tie framed with a photo

a vintage bridal handkerchief

a vintage wedding cake topper

a vintage cake topper and a paper reception napkin

Historical Cameos

The idea for this post about historical cameos came from seeing photos of the Cameo Tiara worn by Victoria, the Crown Princess of Sweden on the occasion of her June 19, 2010 wedding to Daniel Westling (now known as Prince Daniel the Duke of Västergötland) at the Stockholm Cathedral.  The Cameo Tiara has a very interesting past as it was thought that Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte of France had originally commissioned it for his wife Josephine.

But first let’s discuss several other examples of historical cameos dating back to Ancient Egypt, Georgian and Victorian England.  The first example is one of the oldest and it is the Farnese Cup (or Tazza Farnese) an ancient Hellenistic bowl or cup made from a four-layered sardonyx agate and features relief carvings on both the interior and exterior surfaces.  The item purchased by Lorenzo de Medici during the Italian Renaissance features a blend of Ancient Egyptian and Roman images which possibly dates the piece to the 2nd century BC; it is now on display at the Naples National Archaeological Museum in Italy. 

Farnese Cup or Tazza Farnese in the Naples National Archaeological Museum
(view from the top looking into the piece to show the relief carvings)
photo from the Naples National Archaeological Museum

The next historical item is perhaps one of the best known cameo glass pieces and it is the Portland Vase which dates between AD I and AD 25, it is now on display in the British Museum in London, England.  The Roman cameo violet-blue glass vase with white colored relief carvings measures almost 10 inches in height and 22 inches in circumference at the widest part.  It features images of two different scenes depicting seven human figures with a large snake and two horned head figures found just below the handles on either side serving as a way to divide the two scenes of the vase.     

Portland Vase
photo from the British Museum

Throughout the years cameos were not only used for decorative pieces but often worn as jewelry by both men and women.  Cameos were popular during the early Renaissance in Europe and again in the 18th century in England during the reign of King George III and later by his granddaughter Queen Victoria during the 19th century. 

The next two examples of cameos feature images of members of the British Royalty; these items are now currently held in the Royal Trust Collection.  The first is an oval sardonyx (onyx with white layers and sard) cameo brooch which features a silver wreath of rose cut diamond laurel and palm leaves surmounted by a crown and the cameo features the profiles of four Kings of England; George I, II, III, IV.  The first King depicted on the brooch is George IV seen in profile with his three predecessors behind him; all are wearing a laurel wreath upon their heads and a cuirass (armor consisting of a breastplate).  Originally the piece was thought to have been used on the top of a snuff box which had been commissioned by King George IV, it was later sold and made into a brooch and presented to Princess May (later known as Queen Mary) in 1893 as a wedding gift from the Earl and Countess Cadogan.   

cameo brooch with the profiles of the four Kings of England – George I, II, III, IV
photo from the Royal Trust Collection

The next example of a cameo featuring the images of British Royalty was for the badge of the Royal Order of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.  The British Royal Family Orders are customarily given by the British sovereign to the female members of the Royal Family and are considered a personal item rather than the state commemorative medals worn by the male members of the Royal Family.  Unlike the other previous Royal Family Orders issued by previous British Kings, the Order of Victoria & Albert was divided into four classes, the first being given to Queen Victoria’s daughters and later her daughters-in-law and grand-daughters with subsequent classes issued to other members of the Royal Family and the Royal Household including honored servants and couriers.  Special Note: For more information regarding the history of the British Royal Family Orders, please click on the link)

Shown below is the first class design given to Queen Victoria’s eldest daughter Princess Victoria on the occasion of her confirmation.  The Order is decorated with a miniature ivory colored cameo portrait of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert set in brown onyx with a silver gilt frame accented with diamonds, rubies and emeralds with a diamond embellished crown at the top of the frame, the pendant was attached to a white silk bow.  The badges were commissioned by the Queen from the Royal Jeweler, Garrards in London, and the cameos by the Italian gemstone carver Tommaso Saulini.      

The Order of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert
photo from the Royal Trust collection

Queen Victoria’s personal badge was unique in the fact that the heads of the cameo were reversed with Prince Albert in the front and the Queen shown behind in deference to her beloved husband.  Later the Queen bequeathed the badge to her youngest daughter, Princess Beatrice and subsequently the Princess would give it to Queen Mary.

Queen Victoria wearing her personal badge with the profiles set in reverse order
with Prince Albert in the front and the Queen behind

Finally let’s discuss the Cameo Tiara and the impressive matching parure that is currently owned by the Royal Family of Sweden.  To start, as previously mentioned, the Cameo Tiara was thought to have been originally commissioned by Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte for his wife Josephine along with a necklace, bracelet and a pair of earrings, a brooch was added later.  The journey of the tiara and parure started when it was inherited by Josephine’s son, Eugene de Beauharnais, and then by his daughter, Queen Josefina of Sweden and Norway. She bequeathed the cameos to her daughter, Princess Eugenie and finally the set came to Princess Sibylla, the mother of King Carl XVI Gustaf, as a wedding gift in 1932. 

Then a bridal tradition started when the sister of King Carl XVI Gustaf, Princess Birgitta wore in for her wedding in 1961 and another sister, Princess Desiree wore it on her wedding day in 1964.  Then in 1976 Silvia Sommerlath wore the Cameo Tiara when she married King Carl XVI and in the years that have followed Queen Silvia has also worn the tiara on several occasions most notably for the Nobel Prize ceremony and banquet. 

Queen Silvia wearing the Cameo tiara and the matching parure
at the Noble Prize ceremony and banquet

Thirty-four years later their eldest daughter, Victoria, the Crown Princess of Sweden wore the Cameo Tiara, earrings and bracelet on the occasion of her June 19, 2010 wedding to Daniel Westling (now known as Prince Daniel the Duke of Västergötland) at the Stockholm Cathedral. 

Victoria, Crown Princess of Sweden wearing the Cameo Tiara on her wedding day

The Cameo Tiara features seven cameos; the base of the tiara is gold and the cameos are surrounded by seed pearls with additional seed pearls set in red gold that form anthemion designs.  the largest cameo in the center was made by Giuseppe Girometti and depicts Venus, the goddess of beauty and love, and her son, Cupid, the god of passion and desire.

the Cameo Tiara of Sweden

Now, let’s discuss the parure that matches the Cameo tiara.  The cameos of the parure depict profile portraits of mythological characters and were not originally intended to be used together in these pieces and this is why the cameos vary in shape and color.  Special Note:  The individual pieces of the parure are worn in various combinations most often by Queen Silvia but Princess Victoria has also wore pieces of the parure for special events.  Princess Madeleine (her parents are King Carl and Queen Silvia) wore the earrings and bracelet at the christening of her daughter, Princess Adrienne, in 2018.      

the cameo parure of Sweden shown in original case

The necklace (shown in the bottom of the case) features three cameos surrounded by diamonds and joined by three strands of pearls, originally it had four strands.   The bracelet (shown in the middle of the case) also features three cameos surrounded by diamonds and joined by four strands of pearls.  The cameo is the center of the bracelet depicts Minerva, the goddess of wisdom and justice wearing a helmet emblazoned with a horse.  The cameo on the right of the bracelet with the red tones depicts the messenger god Mercury.  The additional cameo to the left on the bracelet features another mytholical character facing in the opposite directions.  The brooch (shown at the top of the case) features a cameo depicting Napoleon Bonaparte that is surrounded by diamonds set in a scroll design.   

In regards to real-life weddings, here are a few cameo ideas and suggestions:

  • The gift of a cameo brooch or necklace would make a great gift for a bride to be given to her at her bridal shower or cameo necklaces for bridesmaid gifts given to them at the special luncheon before the wedding. 
  • A sentimental idea is that cameo jewelry would also make a thoughtful gift from the bridal couple to give to their mothers, perhaps to wear on the wedding day. 
  • Another idea is that a heirloom cameo brooch that once belonged to a grandmother could be a bride’s something old or a vintage cameo necklace from a mother could be used for something borrowed. 
  • A cameo brooch could also be attached to a bridal bouquet for a unique style. 
  • Another idea for a cameo-style decorative piece for a couple’s new home would be a carved seashell to remember a beach honeymoon.       

Grace Kelly Style

In this post, through photographs, we will follow the American actress Grace Kelly from the time of the engagement announcement to the wedding day when she married Prince Rainier in April 1956. (For more information on the fairytale wedding of Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly, please click on the link)

As today’s brides know there are numerous events leading up to the actual wedding day, such as the engagement party, bridal showers, bridesmaids’ luncheon and rehearsal dinner.  To help in selecting the various outfits needed, in this post I am going to discuss ideas and suggestions for dressing in the “Grace Kelly style”.       

The “Grace Kelly style” is best described as classic and effortlessly chic, it is timeless and the best part is that these items can be incorporated into any wardrobe for use after the wedding day.  Many of the luxury items that I will discuss later in the post, such as the Hermes bag, can be expensive and if cost is a factor a budget minded shopper can find numerous options available for purchase at a lower price but it is important to look for similar items that are well made in quality fabrics.

The brief courtship of Grace and Prince Rainier

In early 1955, while Grace Kelly was on a European tour to promote her latest film, “The Country Girl” her publicist arranged a photo shoot with the French magazine, Paris Match, and the location chosen was the Palace of Monaco where she would also meet Prince Rainier.  Unprepared for the photo shoot, Grace wore a black silk taffeta dress that featured a large flower print, a full skirt with a square neckline, long sleeves and a dropped waist tied with a sash.  Since she had missed her salon appointment that day, her usually perfectly coiffured hair was severely pulled back and secured with artificial flowers. Although she looked lovely, the garish dress was not one of her best looks!   

Paris Match magazine article featuring Grace Kelly
she is wearing that infamous black silk taffeta dress

Following their first meeting in May 1955, the two began writing each other letters and through their correspondence they got to know each other.  As the months passed the royal chaplain of Monaco thought that the Prince had possibly found a potential wife and encouraged the relationship. 

The engagement of Grace and Prince Rainier

Just before Christmas 1955, the Prince traveled to the United States to visit with Grace and the Kelly family in Philadelphia.  Ultimately the Prince proposed while the couple were in New York City for New Year’s Eve.  Grace’s engagement ring was from Cartier and featured a 10.47 carat emerald diamond in a platinum setting with smaller baguette diamonds on each side. Actually the ring was a second choice, the first ring which featured diamonds and rubies was not considered substantial enough for a future princess!

The engagement of Grace and the Prince was officially announced on January 5, 1956 at the Kelly home in Philadelphia with a press conference later that day at the Philadelphia County Club.  Prince Rainier wore a dark suit and Grace wore a Brannell of New York beige silk dress with a brocade dot pattern and it featured a button front, 3/4 length sleeves, a full skirt and belted at the waist. 

Grace and Prince Rainier at their engagement announcement

The next night the couple was scheduled to attend a society ball at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City and after the engagement announcement the previous day Grace and the Prince were the center of attention at the ball.  The photo below shows the glamorous couple; Prince Rainier is wearing a black tuxedo with a white tie and Grace is wearing a white satin dress that featured a strapless fitted bodice with a full skirt, she is also wearing long white gloves and a pearl necklace and earrings, it seems that she is wearing a corsage of flowers pinned to the front of her dress.

Grace and Prince Rainer at a society ball in New York City
notice that the glamourous couple is wearing formal clothes for the evening event

Special Note: Engagement photos have become very popular in recent years as well as photos or videos of the proposal.  A newly engaged couple can pose for casual photos taken at a local park or beach or sometimes a couple will choose to have professional more formal photos taken at a studio.  This is a wonderful way to commemorate this special moment in their lives.     

Grace travels from New York to Monaco for the wedding

Shortly before the wedding to Prince Rainier, Grace boarded the USS Constitution ocean liner to travel from New York City to Monaco in April 1956.  She traveled with her her family, her bridesmaids, her French poodle Oliver and over eighty pieces of luggage!   

Special Note: For those nostalgic trivia buffs, the Constitution was the same ship featured in the “I Love Lucy” television series starring real-life couple Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball in the 1956 episode “Bon Voyage” and also in the iconic 1957 film “An Affair to Remember” starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr.  

Grace on board the USS Constitution leaving New York City
she is wearing a two piece suit with matching jacket and skirt, gloves and a hat

Grace relaxing on deck
she is wearing a sweater set, skirt, comfortable shoes and sunglasses
(although it may be a sunny day, on deck it can be breezy and chilly during a cruise!)

Grace wearing a life jacket for a safety drill
she is wearing a casual long sleeve shirt, pants, sunglasses and a scarf
(a scarf worn on deck can keep hair protected from the sun and ocean breezes)

Grace wearing a casual two-piece top and shorts set

After the eight day trans-Atlantic trip the USS Constitution made a special stop in Monaco for Grace and her family to disembark.  Because of the large size of the ship it was unable to dock and it stayed anchored in the harbor while Prince Rainier went out in a yacht to privately greet his fiancé and her family.  As Grace stepped ashore she was welcomed by over 20,000 locals and tourists. 

Grace with Prince Rainier arriving in Monaco after her trans-Atlantic trip
she is wearing a navy blue coat dress, gloves and wide-brimmed hat
(it has been noted that the people of Monaco were displeased
because the hat hid the beautiful face of their future princess)

Special Tip: Back in 1950s trans-Atlantic travel on board a luxury liner called for a very specific wardrobe requiring several changes of clothing for the various activities on board.  Today’s cruise vacations are much more casual in style and depending on the duration of the cruise a few coordinating shirts, shorts and pants could be worn for days at sea or when visiting the ports and maybe a few dresses for dinner in the evenings. 

Grace’s Wedding Dresses

For the wedding of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier there were two ceremonies, a required civil ceremony which took place in the throne room of the Monaco Palace on April 18, 1956 and then the religious ceremony which took place the next day on April 19 at the St. Nicholas Cathedral.  (For more detailed information on the wedding of Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly, please click on the link)

For the civil ceremony, Grace wore a pale pink taffeta with an overlay of cream colored Alencon lace designed with a fitted bodice, high collar and a flared skirt which she accessorized with gloves and a hat.  Prince Rainer wore striped trousers, a white vest and a black morning coat.

Prince Rainier and Princess Grace at the civil ceremony in the Monaco Palace
(this timeless dress would be appropriate for a modern bride
to wear for a small casual daytime wedding)

For the religious ceremony, Helen Rose, the movie costume designer who had worked with Grace on several of her films created a beautiful bridal dress.  The dress used twenty-five yards of silk taffeta, one hundred yards of silk netting, tulle, peau de soie and antique Brussels lace that was over 125 years old.  The elegant dress was designed with a high collar, long sleeves, a fitted bodice, a full skirt and a train that measured three feet in length.  Additionally, the bodice was structured underneath for support and two petticoats were also worn to provide fullness to the skirt.  As for the groom, Prince Rainier wore a Napoleonic styled military uniform which he personally designed. (For more information regarding Grace Kelly – An American Bride, please click on the link)

Prince Rainier and Princess Grace at the Monaco Palace on their wedding day
(this beautiful dress worn by Princess Grace on her wedding day
has become the inspiration for many modern brides, including Kate Middleton)

Special Note: Prince Rainier commissioned The House of Creed to create a special perfume, Fleurissimo, especially for Grace as a wedding present.  Fleurissimo was also a favorite perfume worn by another fashion icon, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.  Selecting a personal perfume for a wedding day is a great idea for a modern bride and maybe it can become her “signature” scent!

Later that same night, the couple attended an elegant gala which was held in their honor at the Monaco Opera House.  Grace wore a lovely Lanvin gress made of white silk organdy with a deep v-neck, high waistline with a full bustle and it featured hand-embroidery and was decorated with pearls, rhinestones and sequins.

Prince Rainier and Princess Grace at the evening reception on their wedding day

Grace and Prince Rainier leaving on their honeymoon

For their honeymoon Prince Rainier and Grace boarded a yacht for a seven week Mediterranean cruise, the “Deo Juvante II” was a wedding present from Aristotle Onassis.  One of the stops during the trip was to Mallorca where the newlyweds stayed at the Hotel Formentor.    

Princess Grace and Prince Rainier leaving on their honeymoon
she is wearing a travel suit with jacket and matching shirt made by Edith Head,
white gloves and a hat

Special Note:  Back in those days a bride would change from her wedding dress into a “going away” outfit at the end on a reception.  The change of clothing was for the bride to wear something more suitable for travel to the honeymoon destination.  This trend is making a comeback for the modern bride and it’s a wonderful excuse for another fabulous outfit for the bride to wear on the wedding day!   

Princess Grace’s pearl and diamond parure

Grace often wore pearl jewelry in both her personal and professional life but the items I am going to discuss next were a wedding present from Prince Rainier.  He gave her a beautiful Van Cleef & Arpels parure that included a triple-strand pearl necklace with a diamond swirl motif, a triple-strand pearl bracelet with a diamond blossom motif, a set of pearl earrings accented with a baguette and marquise shaped diamond swirl and a diamond blossom ring with a pearl center. After these purchases by Prince Rainier, the French jeweler Van Cleef & Arpels ended up being given the honor of the “Official Supplier to the Principality of Monaco.”

Princess Grace wearing the pearl and diamond jewelry parure
that were a wedding present from Prince Rainier

Special Note: A wedding gift, such as a necklace or charm bracelet, from the groom is a thoughtful way to commemorate the marriage and it could be a wonderful gift for the bride to wear for many years to come and perhaps to pass on to a future daughter as a sentimental heirloom!   

An iconic handbag and another beautiful dress

I wanted to include the next two items because both are iconic “Grace Kelly style ” although they are not directly associated with the wedding. The first is a favorite handbag that Grace frequently used and the second is another fabulous dress which was worn by Grace to the 1955 Academy Awards ceremony.

The Hermes “Kelly” bag

For the 1955 film “To Catch a Thief”, which starred Cary Grant and Grace Kelly, the MGM costume designer Edith Head and Grace choose a classic Hermes handbag known as the sac à dépêches.  A long held rumor was that when Grace was photographed carrying that bag soon after the wedding it was reported that it was strategically placed in front to hide her pregnancy.  

Princess Grace with her Hermes bag

Special Notes:  It was not until 1977 that the name of the Hermes bag that Grace favored was renamed the “Kelly” bag.  Every Hermes Kelly bag is handmade by expert craftsmen and it takes about 25 hours to create each individual bag.  What make the Hermes “Kelly” bag different from the look alike Birkin bag that came later is that the Hermes has a single handle and it smaller in size while the Birkin has two handles and is larger and slightly wider, both have detachable shoulder straps. 

1955 Oscar dress

Perhaps one of the most iconic dresses worn to the Academy Awards ceremonies was the dress designed by Edith Head for Grace Kelly.  The dress was worn for the 1955 Academy Awards at which Grace won the Best Actress Oscar for her work in The Country Girl movie.  The beautiful silk dress featured a long column skirt with draping at the waist, a fitted bodice and two thin straps at each shoulder with a separate small train gathered in the back.  The color has been reported as ice blue or mint green but it was delightfully described by Edith Head as a “blue champagne” color (that sounds very sophisticated!)

The iconic Edith Head designer dress worn by Grace

Grace on the cover of Life magazine – April 11, 1955

Grace accepting her Best Actress Oscar for “The Country Girl” at the 1955 Academy Awards

Special Note: Grace actually wore the dress on three different occasions; for the 1954 movie premiere of “The Country Girl” in New York City, for the photo shoot for the April 11, 1955 cover of Life magazine and for the 1955 Academy Awards Ceremony. 

It has been said that Grace was surprisingly frugal and often wore clothing from her personal wardrobe more than once.  This brings up the point about purchasing luxury clothing and accessories, if you select clothes well-made in quality fabrics they can be worn for several years.   

Special Note: For more information regarding the movie costumes designed for Grace by Helen Rose and Edith Head, please click on the links.

Wedding Reception – Table Numbers

In general, table numbers are used in coordination with the guest escort cards that indicate the table assignments at a wedding reception.   Table numbers can be a creative way for the bridal couple to express the theme and colors of a wedding and in this post I will discuss several different ideas, including both formal elegant styles to informal whimsical styles.

In addition, table numbers can be used in a variety of different ways to make it easier for guests to find their seats at a wedding reception.  One way is to consider the size of the numbers and the basic idea would be to make the numbers visible for the guests to see without being so large that they distract from the wedding reception style, I think numbers not more than six inches in height is a good size. Another idea is to arrange the tables with even numbers on one side of the room and the odd numbers on the other side.    

Shown below are several examples of table numbers in a formal and elegant style.

a simple gold table number on a base

with the vast selection of frames available at retail stores and online for purchase,
a style or type of frame can be found for any color scheme of a wedding reception

shown below is a silver frame with table number

an elegant pearl frame with table number

a crystal frame with table number

a floral table number printed on heavy cardstock

a table number on a simple white candle

a table number used with a lantern

Depending on the size of the wedding reception and how many guest tables are required, the next examples use items that can be family heirlooms or
vintage finds from an antique store.

a beautiful china teapot with a floral arrangement and used with a table number

a china plate on a stand with a table number

a vintage clock set to the “time” of the table number (in this example for table one)

an antique mirror with the table number

Shown below are several examples of ideas for table numbers for a theme wedding used in an informal and whimsical style sometimes using quirky items.

a seashell or a piece of coral with a table number
(keep in mind that most decorative pieces of coral are now artificially produced)

a boat with table number can be an idea for a nautical theme wedding

a wine or champagne bottle with a table number attached
would be a great idea for a wedding held at a winery or vineyard
(note that the bottle can be opened for use at the wedding reception)

a horseshoe attached to a piece of wood with a wired table number
can be used for a rustic country themed wedding held in a barn

a cowbell with the table number for a farm themed wedding
(can be “rung” in the tradition that the bride and groom kiss!)

a moss covered table number would be a great idea for a garden themed wedding

a piece of wood with the table number could be used for
an enchanted forest theme wedding

a book with a table number could be used for a wedding held in a historic library

The next examples use organic items but don’t necessarily have a particular wedding theme

a piece of agate with the table number

a ceramic tile with the table number

a vintage door knob attached to a piece of wood with the table number

Finally here a some additional ideas for table numbers

  1.  A cute idea for table numbers is to include photos of the bride and groom at that particular age, an example for table one would use photos of the bridal couple at the age of one year old. 
  2. Another idea for a system of identification to determine the tables is to use words instead of numbers.  An example would be to use words can be the name of cities that hold special meaning to the bridal couple, maybe places they visited of their vacations. 

Wedding Gemstones – Sapphire

In the ongoing series about gemstones, this post will be about the sapphire which is a type of mineral corundum consisting of aluminium oxide.  The precious gemstone is typically blue in color but a rare type, known as a padparadscha sapphire, is pink-orange in color.  The sapphire is the birthstone of the month of September.  The gemstone has come to symbolize nobility, truth and fidelity and it is believed that the sapphire brings the wearer wealth and protection from envy. 

In this post, I will discuss eight famous sapphires including those of royalty, such as the engagement ring of Josephine Bonaparte the wife of Emperor Napoleon, a tiara and brooch worn by Queen Victoria and the engagement ring of Princess Diana which is now worn by Catherine the Duchess of Cambridge.

Star of Bombay Sapphire

The Star of Bombay is a 182 carat cabochon star sapphire from Sri Lanka, it is violet-blue in color caused by the presence of titanium and iron which give it the blue color and vanadium which gives it a violet back color.  The Star of Bombay would eventually be purchased by the famous silent film star Douglas Fairbanks as a present for his wife and actress Mary Pickford.  After her death in 1979, the gemstone was donated to the Smithsonian Institution and is currently on display at the National Museum of Natural History located in Washington D.C. and can be seen in the Hall of Gems and Minerals.

Star of Bombay Sapphire

Logan Sapphire

The Logan Sapphire is another sapphire originating from a mine in Sri Lanka; it is medium blue in color with excellent clarity and measures 423 carats.  The sapphire was first owned by a maharajah in India and then Sir Ellice Victor Sassoon, the third Baronet of Bombay.  Then in 1952, Col. M. Robert Guggenheim purchased the sapphire as a gift for his wife, Rebecca.  After Mr. Guggenheim’s death in 1959 the decision was made to donate the sapphire to the Smithsonian Institute.  Meanwhile, when Rebecca remarried in 1962 to John Logan the gemstone then became known as the Logan Sapphire.  In 1971 the sapphire was finally given to the Smithsonian mounted in a silver and gold brooch setting which is framed by twenty round brilliant cut diamonds totaling approximately 16 carats.  Considered the heaviest set gemstone in the collection, it is currently on display at the National Museum of Natural History located in Washington D.C.

Logan Sapphire

Heart of the Ocean necklace from the Titanic movie

The next sapphire I will discuss was a stunning necklace known as the Heart of the Ocean from the 1997 movie “Titanic” and I am mentioning it in this post because it is one of the most famous sapphires in recent times.  In the movie the character of Rose is given the necklace by her fiancé but it was thought that the necklace was lost when the Titanic sank.  Later in the movie it is revealed that Rose had found the necklace in the pocket of the coat she was wearing when she was rescued.  Special Note: I won’t give away the story of what happened in the end to the Heart of the Ocean necklace and you will just have to watch the movie!

The Heart of the Ocean necklace in the movie was supposed to be a 171 carat heart-shaped Ceylon sapphire surrounded by 103 diamonds and set in platinum.  In fact, the prop necklace was made by Asprey & Garrard and features a large blue cubic zirconia to simulate the sapphire and clear cubic zirconia to simulate the diamonds set in white gold.    

After the success of the Titanic film, the Asprey & Garrard Jewelers created a replica of the Heart of the Ocean necklace made with a 171 carat sapphire shaped in a heart surrounded by 103 diamonds set in platinum.  It was donated to Sotheby’s for an auction with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund.  This version of the Heart of the Ocean necklace was eventually donated to the Shipwreck Treasure Museum located in Charleston, Cornwall in England where it can be currently seen on display. 

Heart of the Ocean necklace

Heart of the Ocean necklace worn by Kate Winslet in the Titanic movie
(for more information about the Titanic movie costumes, please click on the link)

Special Note:  The international renowned singer Celine Dion, who performs the Titanic movie theme song “My Heart Will Go On”, wore the replica of the Heart of the Ocean necklace when she attended the 1998 Academy Awards ceremony; the song won the Oscar for Best Original Song that year. 

Napoléon’s Engagement Ring for Joséphine

The next sapphire I will discuss in this post is the first of two royal engagement rings on my list of famous sapphires.  At the time of their meeting in 1795, Napoleon Bonaparte was engaged to another woman but quickly became smitten with Josephine de Beauharnais who was previously married and a recent widow.  Napoleon proposed to Josephine giving her a romantic sapphire and diamond toi et moi ring (meaning “you and me” in French and refers to a ring set with two gemstones side by side symbolizing two souls becoming one), the two pear-shaped stones each weighed just under one carat.  The couple married in 1796, but their relationship eventually faltered when both were unfaithful and, after Napoleon became emperor, Josephine’s failure to provide him with an heir and they would divorce 1810.

The engagement ring remained within the Bonaparte family for several generations until 2013 when Osenat, a French auction house, sold it as part of the possessions belonging to Victor, Prince Napoleon (the grandson of Napoleon’s brother, Jerome Bonaparte) and his wife, Princess Clementine of Belgium.  In the end, the ring sold for almost $950,000 which was far above the estimated price perhaps due to the historical connection with the French Nobility. 

Josephine Bonaparte engagement ring
photo from the Osenat Auction

Stuart Sapphire

The Stuart Sapphire historically has an uncertain past, it is thought to have been originally owned by King Charles II of England and when his King James VII fled to France it is believed that he took the gemstone.  The large sapphire was inherited by his son, James Stuart and then went to his son, Henry Benedict who wore it in his mitre as Cardinal York.  The sapphire was eventually purchased by King George III in 1807 and set into the Imperial State Crown which would later be worn in an altered version by Queen Victoria for her coronation in 1838. 

The Stuart Sapphire weighs 104 carats and is slightly oval in shape measuring approximately 1.5 inches long and 1 inch wide.  It was originally set in the front of the Imperial State Crown until the acquisition of the Cullinan II diamond and then the Stuart Sapphire was moved to the back for the 1937 coronation of King George VI.  This is version of the Imperial State Crown which was slightly altered for the current Queen Elizabeth II, she wore the crown when leaving Westminster Abbey on her coronation day in 1953 and will traditionally wear the Imperial State Crown at the State Opening of Parliament.  Special Note:  When not in use, the Imperial State Crown is on display at the Tower of London with the impression collection of the Crown Jewels.   

Stuart Sapphire set in back and at the bottom of the Imperial State Crown

the Stuart Sapphire

Princess Diana / Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge engagement ring

The second engagement ring on my list of famous sapphires was worn by two British Royal brides.  On February 24, 1981, Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer appeared at Buckingham Palace to officially announce their engagement.  Diana’s engagement ring was made by the Crown jewelers Garrard and featured a 12 carat oval blue Ceylon sapphire that was encircled by 14 diamonds and set in 18 carat white gold.  Prince Charles and Diana were married on July 29, 1981 at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, England.  Special Note: Unfortunately the couple separated in 1992 with the divorce finalized in 1996, sadly Princess Diana died in a tragic car accident in Paris in 1997.     

Almost thirty years later, on November 16, 2010 Buckingham Palace announced the engagement of Prince William and Catherine Middleton.  In a very sentimental gesture, Prince William proposed with the sapphire and diamond engagement ring that had once belonged to his mother, Princess Diana.  Prince William and Catherine were married on April 29, 2011 at Westminster Abbey in London, England.

sapphire and diamond engagement ring worn by
Princess Diana and later Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge

For more information about the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana or the wedding of Prince William and Catherine, please click on the links.

For additional information about other British Royal engagement rings, please click on the links to Part One and Part Two.

Prince Albert Sapphire Brooch

Prince Albert commissioned a brooch as a wedding present for Queen Victoria which she wore on the bodice of her bridal dress on the day of their wedding.  The ceremony took place on February 10, 1840 at the Chapel Royal in St. James Palace.  The stunning brooch became known as the Prince Albert Sapphire Brooch and it featured a large oblong sapphire (the size has never been revealed to the public) set in gold and surrounded by 12 round diamonds.  It was a treasured gift from her beloved husband and Queen Victoria wore it frequently until Prince Albert’s death in1861.   

Prince Albert Sapphire Brooch

Queen Victoria wearing the Prince Albert brooch on the bodice of her dress
Franz Winterhalter painting from the Royal Collection

After the death of Queen Victoria in 1901, the Prince Albert Sapphire Brooch remained within the British Royal Collection and has been worn throughout the following years by Queen Alexandra (she wore the brooch for her husband, King Edward VII, coronation day in 1902), Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother and Queen Elizabeth II.  The Prince Albert Sapphire Brooch is a favorite of the current Queen and she will usually wear it on her left shoulder to compliment a blue dress.  Most notably she wore it for a dinner with President and Mrs. Kennedy in 1961 and the christening of her grandson Prince William in 1982.   

Queen Elizabeth wearing the Prince of Albert brooch

Queen Victoria diamond and sapphire tiara

Prince Albert commissioned jeweler Joseph Kitching and personally designed a sapphire and diamond tiara to match the wedding brooch he had given Queen Victoria in 1840.  The tiara is mounted with diamonds set in silver and features 11 sapphires set in gold, the piece is engineered to be fully adjustable to accommodate a closed coronet style or an open style to be worn as a tiara. 

Queen Victoria diamond and sapphire coronet/tiara

The first photo shown below is of a young Queen Victoria wearing the piece on the back of her head as a coronet for a portrait by Franz Winterhalter in 1842.  The second photo shown below is of an older Queen Victoria wearing the piece as a tiara on the top of her head for a portrait by Henry Graves in1874.

a young Queen Victoria wearing the sapphire and diamond piece as a coronet
Franz Winterhalter painting from the Royal Collection Trust

an older Queen Victoria
wearing the sapphire and diamond piece as a tiara on the top of her head
Henry Graves painting from the Royal Collection Trust

After the death of Queen Victoria in 1901, the sapphire and diamond coronet/tiara was inherited by Queen Alexandra.  Then, through the next years the piece was inherited by several members of the British Royal family, it went to Queen Mary and in 1922 it was given to her daughter, Princess Mary upon her marriage to Henry Lascelles, Earl of Harewood.  The piece was then inherited by her son George Lascelles the 7th Earl of Harewood in 1965 and then his son David Lascelles, the 8th Earl of Harewood in 2011. 

In 2016, a London Jewelry dealer had attempted to sell the sapphire and diamond coronet/tiara to a foreign buyer.  When this was brought to the attention of the United Kingdom Culture Minister the sale was stopped and a temporary export ban was put upon this important historical British Royal piece to prevent it from leaving the country. 

As it was hoped, a private buyer, William and Judith Bollinger, purchased the piece in 2017 and it was promptly donated to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, England.  In 2019, upon the 200th anniversary of the birth of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, the piece was put on permanent display in the museum as the centerpiece of the new Bollinger Gallery.       

So, this ends the post regarding my list of the eight most famous sapphires.  As a special note, a piece of sapphire jewelry would make a very meaningful gift for a September born bride or a bride marrying in the month of September. 

The Tradition of the Bridal Garter

In this post I will discuss the tradition of the bridal garter and other information, such as how to wear one on a wedding day.  I will also give ideas and suggestions for several different styles of bridal garter for any season or theme.

It is believed that the tradition of a garter was started during the Middle Ages; it is considered one of the oldest wedding traditions.  Back then weddings were rowdy public affairs with guests barging in on the bride and groom on their wedding night to witness the couple consummating their marriage (can you imagine how romantic that would be!).  Guests also thought that any token from the wedding would bring them good luck and for this reason the custom began of grabbing at the bride’s wedding dress to tear off to get a piece for a very lucky souvenir!!  Eventually, to appease these intrusive guests, the bride’s garter was tossed into the crowd instead in order to keep her safe from harm and also her dress from being torn to shreds. 

Special Note: Back in those days, a garter was a narrow band of fabric that was used to fasten the stockings to the leg to keep them from slipping.  Both men and women wore stockings and would usually tie a garter just below the knee.       

Today, a bridal garter is generally made in a satin fabric trimmed with lace and it can come in a variety of different colors with additional embellishment such as charms or beading or rhinestones.  Traditionally it is white in color but sometimes a bride will want to have one in blue to be used on her wedding day as her “something blue”.  Sometimes the garter can be custom made for any style or theme of a wedding, such as a destination beach wedding garter can embellished with seashells.

Typically a garter will be bought by the bride; after all she may want one in a particular color or theme to match the style of her wedding.  If the bride’s preferences are known, a garter can be purchased or custom made as a special gift for a bridal shower from the mother of the bride and perhaps it could to be included with a lingerie set.

Of course a custom designed garter from a vendor would require a certain production time so it would be wise to order well in advance of the wedding day.  Also, be sure to try on the garter before the wedding day to make sure it fits properly and allow time for any adjustments to be made.

A bridal garter can be worn on either leg; there is no particular meaning as to which leg it is worn.  The choice is really up to the bride’s preference and she would need to decide on which leg it feels the most comfortable, it is recommended that a garter be worn just above the knee.  Usually the garter is placed on her leg when the bride is getting dressed on her wedding day, either the bride or a maid/matron of honor can do this after the bride’s dress is put on. 

Another decision that the bride needs to make is whether she wants to have a garter toss at the reception or to keep the garter to display in a shadowbox after the wedding or to pass on to her children.  Today, most brides use two garters on their wedding day, one to keep and one to toss.  Usually the one that is kept is more elaborate in design and the one to toss is more plain and simple. 

At one point during the reception the groom will ceremonially remove the garter from the bride’s leg (cue the silly music that is usually played during the removal of the garter!)  A garter toss is similar to a bouquet toss for the unmarried bridesmaids or female guests and a garter toss is usually for the unmarried groomsmen and male guests. It is said that the one to catch the bouquet or the garter is believed to be the next to marry!  Of course if the bridal couple thinks a bouquet and garter toss seems too old fashioned a custom for their reception or if a more modest bride does not wish to expose her legs during the removal of the garter this can be skipped.   

Now, let’s discuss the various styles of bridal garters.  Shown before are some ideas and suggestions ranging from the simple design to the more elaborate to different colors and themes to fit any type of wedding.

a simple white lace bridal garter

a white bridal garter set (one to keep and one to toss)

a blue bridal garter for a bride’s “something blue”

an elegant silver grey bridal garter set with pearl and rhinestone embellishments

a formal black bow bridal garter

a bold red satin bridal garter with rhinestone accents

 a lovely pink bridal garter set

an elegant white lace bridal garter
embellished with a bow and pearl and rhinestone brooch

a white satin bridal garter with a pearl and rhinestone pendant

a white bridal garter embellished with feathers, pearl and rhinestones

a ivory bridal garter with a lucky horseshoe charm
(a three leaf clover could also be used for good luck)

a blue monogram added to a bridal garter with fabric roses

the bride’s new married name can be added to a bridal garter

a great bridal garter set embellished with seashells
which would be perfect for a beach wedding

a beautiful bronze bridal garter set which would perfect for a fall wedding

a silver grey bridal garter set with snowflake charms
would be great for a winter wedding

a bridal garter set trimmed with a yellow bandana
for a country themed wedding

shown above are two bridal garter sets for a policemen or firemen couple

an army bridal garter set for a military couple

here is an idea for a bridal garter set
which could feature a bride or groom’s sorority or fraternity

So, as you can see from the examples above there is a vast variety of bridal garters that could be used for any wedding style or theme.

Movie Costumes – Ever After

In the ongoing series regarding movie costumes, this post will be about the 1998 Ever After movie costumes.  Danielle’s mother’s gown that she wears to the ball is absolutely beautiful and would be a great inspiration for a bridal gown, of course minus the wings!  But before I go into any details about the dress I will briefly discuss some information regarding the movie. 

Based on the Cinderella fairy tale, Ever After is a romantic drama set in 16th century France.  The movie starts with the Brothers Grimm being summoned by the home of the Grande Dame (played by Jeanne Moreau) to discuss their version of “The Little Cinder Girl” story.  Placed in the room in which they are meeting there is a painting of a young girl which was painted by famous artist Leonardo de Vinci and she explains that the girl is her great-great grandmother who was the real Cinder Girl. 

Special Note: The painting of Danielle is based on a real unfinished painting by Leonard de Vinci called “La Scapigliata” dating to around 1508. 

To prove that her story is true, she shows them the “glass slipper” as she starts to tell about Danielle de Barbarac (played by Drew Barrymore) and how she came to marry Prince Henry (played by Dougray Scott).

Grande Dame (played by Jeanne Moreau)

Danielle’s wealthy father had died shortly after he had married the Baroness Rodmilla de Ghent (played by Anjelica Huston) who comes to live with them bringing her two daughters, Marguerite and Jacqueline.  Ten years after her father’s death, Danielle has been forced to be a servant within her own home; meanwhile Rodmilla has secretly been selling the house’s priceless treasures to pay off the high debt incurred from her and her daughters’ lavish lifestyle.

Baroness Rodmilla de Ghent (played by Anjelica Huston)

the stepsisters – Marguerite and Jacqueline
(played by Megan Dodds and Melanie Lynskey)

Through a chance encounter Danielle meets Prince Henry, he is stealing a horse from her home and he callously tosses coins at Danielle to settle the matter before riding off!  They meet again when Danielle is posing as a noble person to pay off the debt so that a trusted old servant named Maurice can be returned to her home, she pays with the money Prince Henry had given her.  Prince Henry is intrigued by Danielle (posing as the Comtesse Nicole de Lancret, which was her mother’s name), he considers her both courageous and outspoken.  After meeting several more time and sharing several more adventures together they begin to fall in love.

Danielle de Barbarac (played by Drew Barrymore) and
Prince Henry (played by Dougray Scott).  

A grand ball is being held in his honor at the castle and Prince Henry has invited Danielle.  Since Rodmilla is planning on her eldest daughter to be the one to marry the prince, she stops Danielle from attending by locking her away.  The youngest daughter proves herself to be kind by sympathizing with Danielle’s unfortunate circumstances.  Luckily Leonard de Vinci, who has come to the French court and become friends to both Prince Henry and Danielle, rescues her just in time.  She appears at the masque ball as a butterfly wearing her mother’s gown with wings made by de Vinci.  But before Danielle can tell the prince the truth, Rodmilla reveals Danielle’s true identity as a poor servant girl who is unworthy of a prince.  Now, ashamed at deceiving the prince, Danielle flees the ball leaving behind her “glass slipper”. 

the “glass slipper” that Danielle left behind at the ball

To further punish Danielle, Rodmilla sells her into slavery to an evil man.  Eventually Prince Henry realizes that Danielle is his true love and he rushes to rescue her.  But in a modern twist to the old fairy tale, it seems that Danielle has rescued herself! Prince Henry proposes by placing the “glass slipper” on Danielle’s foot and they soon marry. 

Prince Henry proposes to Danielle with the “glass slipper”

Later, as a result of their cruel intentions toward Danielle, Rodmilla and her eldest daughter are banished to work out their days in servitude. But in the end, Danielle lives happily ever after with her prince charming!!

Special Note: For more information about the Cinderella fairy tale and ideas for incorporating elements of a Cinderella theme into a wedding, please click on the link.

Now it is time to discuss the lovely costume that Danielle wears to Prince Henry’s masque ball. Poor Danielle has only two precious processions in her life that she has managed to keep, one is a book called “Utopia” which was a gift from her dear father and other one is a dress which was previously worn by her mother who unfortunately died when Danielle was very young.  It is her mother’s wedding dress that she wears to the ball and with the help of her friend Leonardo de Vinci who makes her a set of wings to complete the look of a beautiful butterfly. 

Most historical romance dramas take great liberties when creating movie costumes and rarely strive for authenticity instead trying for a look with a modern edge or to convey a particular mood.  In the case of the Ever After film the timeline takes place in France during the 16th century but the costumes have a more Italian Renaissance style.

The dress of Danielle’s mother is made in a Venetian style and it is somewhat whimsical in design with the large wings made by da Vinci keeping with the idea that Danielle is attending a masque ball as a butterfly.  It is interesting to point out that the other guests at the ball are wearing dark colors and this allows Danielle to stand out with the light colored dress which beautifully matches Prince Henry who is also dress in light colored clothing.

The dress has a fitted bodice, detailed sleeves, a split overdress made in a shimmery silver crinkled gauze material and a lovely pale grey silk satin underskirt, the dress also has a slight train.  The deep rounded neckline is worn off the shoulders and antique silver foil scalloped lace trims the edge. 

The bodice features a pale gold lace that is intricately beaded with tiny pearls and seed beads and further embellished with embroidered leaves and oblong shaped bullion appliques, underneath the color of the bodice matches the pale grey underskirt.

At the waistline there are two rows of trim, one is a silver trim and the other is a row of individually sewn pearls.  The overskirt is split into panels in the front are made in an embroidered metallic crinkle material and trimmed with embroidered leaves and flowers along the edges.    

It seems that the dress has full sleeves made in a metallic crinkle organza with an upper band that has lace trim and embellished with embroidery in a swirl pattern and white iridescent and silver beads with the bottom of the band is a floral bullion, the organza is pulled through the top to create a “puff” of material.  There is another “puff” of crinkle organza material and below that is the lower portion of the sleeve which is covered with thin netting that is embellished with floral embroidery and the edges are trimmed with several pearl drops.  

The hem of the skirt is lightly padded and there are rows of French knots which gives detail to bottom.  The padding also serves a purpose of adding weight to the dress since the silk satin of the underskirt and the gauze material of the overskirt were so light.

The back of the dress also features several panels of the shimmery gauze material.  The upper back portion of the dress has the metal support for the wings which are made of netting stretched over a metal frame.  The netting was a light weight fabric making the wings very easy to wear and also allowing them to maneuver beautifully to create an illusion that when she moved it appeared as if she was fluttering like a butterfly! 

The custom shoes made by Salvatore Ferragamo matched the dress perfectly.  The slippers were made in satin covered with muslin woven with silver thread and embellished with embroidery and beading.  The transparent heel was made of plexiglass which gave it a “glass slipper” effect, the heel was also decorated with silver beading.

Danielle’s “glass Slippers” on exhibit

To complete Danielle’s look for the masque ball, an iridescent powder was dusted on her cheeks and above her eyes, several crystals were also scattered across her forehead.

Special Note: For those wishing to create their own magical “Ever After”, shown below are two patterns that were available from Simplicity. I don’t think the patterns are currently available in retail stores but a quick online search may yield a result.


Royal Ascot – the history, the clothes and of course those hats!

Royal Ascot is a multi-day thoroughbred horse race event that is held every June at the Ascot Racecourse in Berkshire, England.  It is considered one of the highlights of the British social season and Queen Elizabeth will traditionally open the event with several members of the British Royal family also in attendance.  In this post I will discuss the history of Royal Ascot and of course those beautiful clothes and amazing hats worn throughout the years. 

Special Note: Royal Ascot hats would be a great inspiration for a guest attending a spring or summer wedding.

The History of Royal Ascot

The Royal Ascot, the story goes, dates back to 1711 when Queen Anne had been riding out near Windsor Castle.  She came across a large flat open area, known as the Ascot Heath, which would be ideal for horses to run at a full stretch.    Originally the race was an endurance event but later it became a speed race for thoroughbred horses. 

As the years passed the British Royal family has become forever associated with Ascot.  For centuries Kings and Queens have shared a passion for horses and attending the annual Ascot races, from Queen Anne to King Edward VII to King George VI to Queen Elizabeth II.  The Royal Procession is a grand tradition at Ascot and was first introduced in 1825 by King George IV.  Today the Queen and members of the Royal family arrive in carriages and the Queen’s Ascot landau is drawn by Windsor Grey horses.

King Edward VII was well known for his equestrian passion and was a constant attendee at Ascot during his lifetime.  In 1910 when he died just a short time before the event it was decided that the late King would not want the race to be suspended.  That year Ascot was a very somber event with the Royal family in deep mourning and in seclusion so the Royal Box remained empty.  Those attending the race wore head to toe black to show respect for the loss of the King. 

During World War II there were no races run at Ascot between 1940 and 1943.  The racecourse was taken over by the army and converted to provide housing for the Royal Artillery.  After the war a young Princess Elizabeth, the future Queen Elizabeth II, attended her first Ascot in 1945.  The Queen would soon develop a keen interest in horseracing, something she had shared with her parents, and she would eventually become an owner and breeder of a stable full of racehorses.  The jockeys riding the Queen’s horses are identified by her racing colors, a purple jersey with gold braid and red sleeves and black cap with gold fringe.

1956 – Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip

To date, the Queen has rarely missed Ascot since her Coronation in 1953 with the exception of 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic. She returned in 2021 just a few months after the death of Prince Philip.   

2019 – Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip
(sadly this would be the final Ascot that the Royal couple would attend together)

The British Royal family fashion worn at Ascot

The fashions of Royal Ascot have obviously changed throughout the years to keep pace with the different styles from the Victorian era to the Edwardian era to the time during both World Wars and now in the 21st Century. 

Shown below are several photos of the fashions that the women of the British Royal family have worn throughout the years; including Queen Elizabeth II and the Queen Mother as well as Princess Diana and then later Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall and most recently Katherine, the Duchess of Cambridge and Meagan, the Duchess of Sussex.    

1931 – Duke and Duchess of York
(later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth)

1956 – Queen Elizabeth with the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret

1970 – Queen Elizabeth with the Queen Mother and Princess Anne

1981 – Queen Elizabeth with the Queen Mother and
Princess Diana (it was her first Ascot as the Princess of Wales)

1988 – Princess Diana
(this is perhaps my favorite outfit she had worn at Ascot)

1990 – Prince Charles and Princess Diana
(her style had changed from girlish ruffles to elegant suits)

1996 – Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret

2013 – Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall
(this photo would be used as their Christmas card for that year)

2016 – Katherine, Duchess of Cambridge
(this was her first Ascot that she attended after marrying Prince William)

2016 – Katherine, Duchess of Cambridge

2018 – Prince Harry and Meagan – The Duke and Duchess of Sussex

2018 – Meagan, the Duchess of Sussex
(this was her first Ascot after marrying Prince Harry)

The three photos shown above are of Queen Elizabeth
wearing just a few of her hats worn at Ascot over the last few years

2019 – Prince William and Katherine – the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge

2019 – Katherine, the Duchess of Cambridge

2021 – Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall
(after the pandemic quarantine a mask has become a fashion accessory)

2021 – Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall

2021 – Queen Elizabeth at the first Ascot after the coronavirus pandemic

So, as previously mentioned, any of the Royal Ascot hats shown above would be a great inspiration for a mother of the bride or groom, a grandmother or any guest attending a spring or summer wedding.

Cinderella – A Classic Fairytale

The classic story of Cinderella has been told throughout the centuries in different parts of the world.  The lead character has been known by various names and the settings or the situations may vary from one story to the next but the basic plot is usually about a young girl who finds herself in difficult circumstances beyond her control which she valiantly overcomes.  At the end of the post, there will be a section with wedding ideas inspired by the classic fairytale.

The first known version of the Cinderella story was written in 1697 and it is the French story of Cendrillon written by Charles Perrault.  Cendrillon introduced such plot elements as the fairy godmother, the pumpkin carriage and the glass slippers. The story starts when a widower with a small daughter marries a woman with two daughters.  The widower’s daughter is forced to work from dawn to dusk performing menial chores for the household and often falls asleep by the fireplace in an effort to stay warm.  She frequently wakes covered in cinders and her stepsisters taunt her with the name of Cendrillon.  Sadly, her father is completely unaware of the abuse and cruelty.

Meanwhile, the King and Queen are planning on having a ball to introduce their son, the Prince, to eligible young women in the hopes that he will find a wife.  On the night of the ball, the stepsisters leave dressed in their finest gowns, Cendrillon was told that servants are not invited and was required to stay home.  After they depart, Cendrillon starts to cry and suddenly her magical fairy godmother appears to transform Cendrillon’s rags into a beautiful gown and turns a pumpkin from the garden into a grand golden carriage with several mice turned into horses to pull the carriage.  The final touch is a lovely pair of glass slippers to cover her bare feet but the fairy godmother warns her that Cendrillon needs to return before midnight because that is when the spell will be broken and everything will return to its original state.

Cendrillon arrives at the ball and the Prince soon becomes enchanted.  They dance together and quickly begin to fall in love.  But before the stroke of midnight Cendrillon suddenly leaves the ball and in her haste she loses one of her shoes.  The Prince tries to follow but Cendrillon has vanished and all that remains is one of her glass slippers.

The Prince vows to find the girl who lost her shoe but won his heart!  He sets out and in his quest he travels across the countryside stopping to have all the unmarried women try on the shoe.  When he appears at the home of Cendrillon, the stepsisters try on the shoe, but of course it doesn’t fit them.  When it is Cendrillon’s turn the shoe it fits perfectly.  The story ends happily with the Prince marrying Cendrillon.

Little girls love the Cinderella story, regardless of whether it is in a book or film format, and at some point they will inevitably dream about the possibility of finding their own “Prince Charming”.  The versions of the Cinderella story that my generation fondly remember are the 1950 Disney animated movie, the 1957 Rogers and Hammerstein television musical starring Julie Andrews and the remake that was televised in 1965 starring Leslie Ann Warren.  Over time there have been more modern interpretations, such as “Ever After” starring Drew Barrymore, “A Cinderella Story” starring Hillary Duff and “Another Cinderella Story” starring Selena Gomez.  Most recently, in 2015 Disney released a live action “Cinderella” movie starring Lily James.

Special Note: For more information regarding the movie costumes from “Ever After”, please click on the link

Wedding ideas inspired by the Cinderella fairytale

It is possible to add elegant and opulent elements of the classic fairy tale into a modern day wedding.  Here are some ideas and suggestions –

Invitations – Consider wedding invitations printed in a beautiful font, perhaps with the paper edged in gold befitting a royal court. Another idea is to embellish the invitation with a lovely satin ribbon with a crystal accent attached. (this idea may be a little more costly since additional postage may be required due to the  weight)

Wedding ceremony or reception site – Of course, the ultimate venue for a Cinderella-inspired wedding would be a real-life castle! Shown below is a evening ceremony at Walt Disney World.

Transportation – Rent a carriage for the bride to arrive in royal style to the wedding venue. Another idea, if the wedding ceremony takes place outdoors, is for the groom to make a dramatic entrance on horseback. Shown below is the Cinderella carriage in front of the Walt Disney World castle.

Bridal gown – Inspired by the beautiful ball gown in the recent 2015 “Cinderella” movie, the bride’s dress can be embellished with Swarovski crystals to add a special sparkle that would catch the light as she proceeds down the aisle at the ceremony or dancing with her “Prince Charming” at the reception. Shown below is the wedding dress worn by actress Lily James in the 2015 Disney live action “Cinderella” movie which was featured in Vanity Fair magazine.

Bridal shoes – What could be more iconic than Cinderella’s glass slippers? Look for shoes embellished with crystals or pearls and maybe even a “glass” heel. Shown below is a beautiful sparkly Jimmy Choo shoe.

Bridal fashion accessories – If the wedding gown selected is a strapless versions or has short cap sleeves, consider a pair of long elbow length white gloves to add an elegant and formal style to complete the bride’s ensemble.

Bridal hair accessories – Accent a beautiful hairstyle with a sparkling tiara or other hair accessories made of Swarovski crystals or pearls.

Reception decorations – To project a regal style for the decorations at a reception think in terms of colors considering combinations such as ivory and gold or white and silver. Either choice can be accented with a third color such as blue or pink.  Floral arrangements can be draped with ropes of hanging pearls or crystals.  Another idea is to have a “throne” style chair for the bride and groom to regally take their places at the head table.

Cake decoration – Consider adding a porcelain cake topper of Cinderella and Prince Charming. Another idea is to design the cake in the shape of a towering castle. Shown below is a porcelain Cinderella and Prince Charming figurine by Lenox that could be a beautiful cake.

As you can see, the ideas for a Cinderella themed wedding are endless with elegant and opulent elements used to create a fairytale wedding of your dreams!

Special Note: Portions of this post came from my other blog, 

The Cambridge Emeralds

The Cambridge Emeralds came into the royal family through Queen Mary who was the grandmother of the current queen, Queen Elizabeth II.  The story is a very interesting one in which the emeralds were originally acquired by Augusta of Hesse- Kassel, the Duchess of Cambridge (Queen Mary’s grandmother) in 1818 at a charity lottery while they were in Frankfort, Germany.  The box that was the prize is said to have contained somewhere between 30 to 40 cabochon emeralds (cabochon is a French word meaning a gemstone which is in a natural shape and polished as opposed to being fully cut and faceted).

Duchess of Teck wearing the original Cambridge emerald necklace

The Duchess had some of the emeralds set into a pair of drop earrings and a pendant necklace.  After her death her daughter, Mary Adelaide, the Duchess of Teck (Queen Mary’s mother) inherited the emeralds.  Unfortunately, the Cambridge emeralds were almost lost to the royal family when they were passed onto Prince Francis of Teck (Queen Mary’s brother) and when he died suddenly in 1910 the emeralds fell into the possession of his mistress.  Luckily, Princess Mary of Teck (later to become Queen Mary) retrieved the emeralds under questionable circumstances.

Queen Mary was known to wear numerous pieces of jewelry at one time and on the occasion of the Imperial Durbar held in Delhi in 1911, when King George V was crowned Emperor of India, she had a majority of the Cambridge emeralds set into what became known as the Delhi Durbar parure.  (a parure is a set of matching jewelry that would sometimes include a tiara, necklace, bracelet, brooch and earrings)

Then in 1921, Queen Mary bought a diamond and pearl tiara from the Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna of Russia.  The tiara had been smuggled out of Russia by a British diplomat during the 1917 revolution.  After acquiring the tiara, Queen Mary had it altered and the original teardrop pearls could be replaced by fifteen Cambridge cabochon emeralds.  (Please click on the link, the Queen’s Jewelry Collection – Part One, for additional information on the Grand Duchess Vladimr Tiara)

The remaining Cambridge emeralds were set into additional brooches, necklaces, bracelets and earrings made by Garrards, the Royal Jewelers.  These pieces of jewelry were cleverly designed so that the emeralds could be detachable from their setting so that Queen Mary would be able to insert gemstones that would coordinate with the color of her gowns.

All of the jewelry mentioned; the Delhi Durbar parure, the Vladimir tiara and the additional pieces using the Cambridge emeralds, were the personal property of Queen Mary.  Upon the death of Queen Mary, her granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II inherited the collection in 1953.

The Delhi Durbar Tiara

The tiara was originally part of the Delhi Durbar Parure and was set with several of the Cambridge emeralds, many years later the ten cabochon emeralds would be eventually used in the Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara.  The Delhi Durbar Tiara is now part of Queen Elizabeth’s personal jewelry collection and is often loaned to Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, who wears it without the emeralds.

Delhi Durbar Tiara

Delhi Durbar Tiara worn by Queen Mary   

The Delhi Durbar Necklace

The Delhi Durbar Necklace was specifically made for the 1911 Delhi Durbar and is set with nine cabochon Cambridge emeralds, six large diamonds, numerous smaller diamonds and the Cullinan VII diamond which is an 8.8 carat marquise shaped diamond.  The necklace was made by Garrard at the request of King George V and was presented to Queen Mary on occasion of her 44th birthday.  Since Queen Elizabeth inherited the necklace in 1953 she usually wears it paired with the Vladimir Tiara for evening events.

Delhi Durbar Necklace   

Delhi Durbar Necklace worn by Queen Elizabeth

The Delhi Durbar Earrings

The Delhi Durbar earrings are set with one of the Cambridge oval shaped cabochon emeralds surrounded by 11 diamonds and a matching emerald provided by Garrard surrounded by an additional 11 diamonds.  Since Queen Mary would often wear several necklaces at one time, the earrings were kept relatively simple in style.

Delhi Durbar Emerald Earrings

The Delhi Durbar Stomacher and Scroll Cambridge Emerald Brooch

The Delhi Durbar Stomacher and Scroll Cambridge Emerald brooch are pieces of jewelry specially made by Garrard for Queen Mary to wear to the 1911 Delhi Durbar.  The Delhi Durbar Stomacher is set in gold with seven of the Cambridge emeralds, as well as chips from the Cullinan diamond and several smaller diamonds (a stomacher is customarily a set of elaborate pieces of jewelry that are normally worn over the bodice of a gown)   The stomacher was a favorite of Queen Mary and she wore it often with several additional brooches, such as the Cullinan V Heart Brooch and the Cullinan VIII Emerald-cut Brooch, to create an impressive display   One of those additional brooches worn with the Delhi Durbar Stomacher was the Scroll Cambridge Emerald Brooch which included a square-shaped emerald placed in a scrolled diamond setting and a removable emerald pendant.  Since the Cambridge Emerald collection passed to Queen Elizabeth in 1953 she rarely wears the Stomacher but occasionally wears the Scroll Brooch for day or evening engagements.

Delhi Durbar Stomacher worn by Queen Mary with Delhi Durbar Brooches   

Scroll Cambridge Emerald Brooch

The Delhi Carved Emerald Brooch

Queen Mary was given the Delhi Carved Emerald Brooch by the ladies of India to wear at the Delhi Durbar in 1911.  This brooch does not contain one of the Cambridge Emeralds but it is included in the Delhi Durbar Parure.  Set in silver and gold, the large hexagon shaped emerald is intricately carved with the images a rose on the front and an unidentified plant on the back and it is surrounded by several diamonds.  Queen Mary wore the brooch pinned at the top of the Delhi Durbar Stomacher with additional brooch pinned below.  In 1953, the Delhi Carved Emerald Brooch was passed to Queen Elizabeth and she only wears in occasionally due to its heavy weight.

Delhi Durbar Carved Emerald Brooch

The Round Cambridge Emerald Brooch

Unlike the other pieces of Cambridge Emerald jewelry collection, the Round Cambridge Emerald Brooch was not specifically made for the Delhi Durbar although it was worn for that occasion in 1911.  The round cabochon emerald is surrounded by two rows of diamonds with a pear shaped emerald pendant that can be detached.  After the death of Queen Mary, the brooch was passed to Queen Elizabeth who wears it often and mostly with the pendant attached and but she will occasionally wear it without the pendant.

Round Cambridge Emerald Brooch

Round Cambridge Emerald Brooch worn with pendant by Queen Elizabeth 

   Delhi Durbar Round Emerald Brooch worn without pendant by Queen Elizabeth

The Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara

In 1921, Queen Mary bought a diamond and pearl tiara from the Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna of Russia.  Queen Elizabeth inherited the tiara in 1953 and frequently wears it with the original teardrop pendants and occasionally with the interchangeable Cambridge Emerald pendants. (Please click on the following link, the Queen’s Jewelry Collection – Part Two, for additional information on the Grand Duchess Vladimr Tiara)

Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara

The Art Deco Emerald Choker

There is some controversy surrounding this Art Deco Emerald Choker and it was always believed that this necklace was created for Queen Mary with the Cambridge Emeralds for the 1911 Delhi Durbar.  Recently it was determined that the emeralds used in the necklace were in fact a gift to Queen Mary from the Ladies of India. Then the Art Deco choker was passed to Queen Elizabeth in 1953 but she did not prefer the shortened style.  Much later in the 1980s the Queen loaned the choker to Diana, the Princess of Wales.  Diana wore the choker often and it became one of her signature pieces of jewelry.  Then in 1985 on a tour of Australia she wore the choker in a very unusual way.  At an evening engagement in Melbourne Diana cleverly accessorized her beautiful Emanuel designed evening gown by wearing the choker as a bandeau in a distinctive 1920 style across her forehead.  Upon Diana’s death in 1997 the necklace was returned to the Queen.

Delhi Durbar Choker

Delhi Durbar Choker worn by Princess Diana 

   Delhi Durbar Choker worn Princess Diana wears as headpeice

For more information about Emeralds as a wedding gemstone as well as other famous emeralds, please click on the link.