As many people know, it is said that Victoria started the trend of wearing a white coloured dress on your wedding day. However, not many know how complicated the journey was that had it come to be.
In the early of planning her wedding, Lord Melbourne suggested that she might wear her royal robes of state, as she mentions in her diary –
They talked about me wearing my robes, but I thought not.
She made it clear that her wedding was not like others of the time, where it was all for advancement and gain, with no thought of romantic preference. Her wedding was a personal affair; she was marrying for love.
In the end, Victoria would design her own dress, as well as her bridesmaids’ dresses. She had her dress made entirely of British materials, as was well publicised at the time. This was a political move, as she was showing to foreign powers just what her country had to offer and that she was still representing Britain. The silk was woven in Spitalfields, East London and the lace was handmade in Devon. Finally, the outfit was sewed together by Victoria’s own dressmaker, a Mrs Bettans, with the pattern being destroyed afterwards to prevent the dress being replicated.
The finished garment would include a bodice, the waist pointed over a full, pleated skirt with full puffed sleeves and a round neck, all made of Spitalfields white silk satin. The train was immense, measuring 18 feet and edged with orange blossom spays (orange blossom being a symbol of fertility). Orange blossom would feature a lot on her person, as her wreath above her veil (which was 12 feet long) was made of it and it trimmed her dress. She also wore matching satin shoes (see two above), and a blue sapphire brooch at her breast which was a wedding gift from Albert. In her diary, on her wedding day of the tenth of February 1840, she described her whole outfit as thus –
I wore a white satin dress, with a deep flounce of Honiton lace, an imitation of an old design. My jewels were my Turkish diamond necklace & earrings & dear Albert’s beautiful sapphire brooch
Victoria did not wear her actual wedding dress for the whole day, as when she returned to Buckingham Palace after the service and wedding breakfast she withdrew to change into ‘a white silk gown trimmed with swansdown and a white bonnet with orange flowers’, an outfit very similar to her original ensemble.
Years later, Victoria would allow her favourite daughter Beatrice (who would be one of the queens few close companions in her widowhood) to wear her wedding veil at her own wedding in 1885 (see photograph below). She would be the only daughter of Victoria allowed this special privilege. In addition later still, Victoria would be buried wearing her lace veil, in 1901.
Featured Image Emily Blunt as Victoria on her wedding day, The Young Victoria 2009
Becoming Queen, Kate Williams
Historic Royal Places
Photograph #3 by Daily Mail