Top 10 Wedding Dresses in Period Movies
Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Wedding Dresses in Period Movies.
For this list, we’ll be looking at some of the most beautiful wedding ensembles from films set in the past.
Which historical era do you think had the best dressed brides? Let us know in the comments.
#10: Marianne Dashwood’s Bridal Gown
“Sense and Sensibility” (1995)
When it comes to Jane Austen movies, it’s the balls, not the weddings, that usually boast the best gowns. A Regency bride would have new wedding clothes, but the ceremony itself would likely be a quiet family affair. The white wedding dress wasn’t even a necessity. However, in the 1995 movie “Sense and Sensibility,” Kate Winslet does get a gorgeous wedding trousseau. When Marianne exits the church with Colonel Brandon, our eyes go first to the groom, resplendent in his red coat. But the bride looks stunning too. Marianne wears a cream dress with a lace bonnet and veil. She has a long train and this, along with the top half of her gown, is embellished with embroidered flowers, stars and pearls.
#9: Jo Stockton’s Dress
“Funny Face” (1957)
Audrey Hepburn would look beautiful in a potato sack, but throughout her career she wore some of the prettiest dresses ever to grace our screens. From her iconic “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” ensemble, to her entire wardrobe in “Sabrina,” she showcased clothes from some of the world’s best known designers. Givenchy loved to work with Hepburn and designed the dress her character wears for a wedding photoshoot in “Funny Face.” The fashion-forward gown has a boat neck and a ballerina skirt - perfect for dancing in. The tight bodice is balanced out by layers of tulle, emphasizing the actress’s petite figure. It’s a fun, youthful dress that kick-started the fifties trend for shorter wedding gowns.
#8: Georgiana Cavendish’s Ensemble
“The Duchess” (2008)
Keira Knightley has made her career in period movies - and for the wardrobe alone, it must have been worth it. In “The Duchess,” she plays Georgiana, an 18th-century woman who finds herself in an unhappy marriage to the Duke of Devonshire. The movie won the Oscar for Best Costume Design and every outfit the character wears is lavishly beautiful. The most elaborate is probably Georgiana’s wedding dress. The ivory and gold silk taffeta gown is designed in the sacque style of the period. Costume designer, Michael O’Connor, drew on historical paintings of the real Duchess as well as costume books on fashion of the time. The scene where the duke cuts Georgiana free of her gown is also historically accurate.
#7: Anne Boleyn’s Wedding Outfit
“Anne of the Thousand Days” (1969)
Anne Boleyn’s story has been told many times and thanks to her famous portrait, we all have an idea of how we think she dressed. The French hood and that necklace with her ‘B’ initial are part of her brand now. The 1969 film “Anne of the Thousand Days” may not have the most historically accurate costumes, but they are very beautiful. Costume designer, Margaret Furse, bagged an Oscar for the film and Geneviève Bujold wore the gowns with style. Just after her marriage to Henry, Anne wears an opulent white satin Tudor gown fit for a Queenly bride. The veil attached to her hood references more modern bridal fashion than historical, but helps make for a stunning picture. For the ceremony itself, Anne is also attired in a regal cloak with a fur collar.
#6: Isolde’s Frock
“Tristan & Isolde” (2006)
Based on the medieval legend, “Tristan & Isolde” is set during the Dark Ages of Britain and Ireland. Sophia Myles plays Isolde, an Irish princess who is wedded to Lord Marke of Cornwall. However, she has already given her heart to the loyal warrior Tristan. Marke is kind, but because of Isolde’s prior attachment, the wedding is a somber affair. Still, it’s hard to ignore how beautiful her dress is. Maurizio Millenotti’s design incorporates Celtic and Roman influences with a long, trailing veil and sleeves, hand-stitched golden embroidery and an elaborate headdress. Isolde sails into the ceremony on a candlelit boat. Her ethereal ensemble lends itself to the mystical atmosphere of her arrival.
#5: Tracy Lord’s Bridal Dress
“High Society” (1956)
Hollywood costume designer Helen Rose created Elizabeth Taylor’s wedding dress in “Father of the Bride” as well as a couple of her real life wedding gowns. She also designed one of the world’s most iconic wedding dresses, for when Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier of Monaco. The actress and designer met on the movie “High Society” for which Rose created Kelly’s on-screen wedding ensemble. The character of Tracy is divorced, so her second wedding dress is a very pale pink, rather than white. It is calf-length and made from silk organza, decorated with floral embroidery. Tracy wears it with a hat and wrist-length white gloves. Of all the show-stopping outfits in this movie musical - and there are many - the wedding dress is our favorite.
#4: Marie Antoinette’s Gown
“Marie Antoinette” (2006)
It is likely that Marie Antoinette never actually said “let them eat cake,” but director Sofia Coppola’s interpretation of the French queen’s life is a candy-colored feast for the eyes. British Vogue described the film as: “a high-fashion arthouse drama costumed as a big-budget period piece.” A child of the eighties, Coppola approached 18th-century France with the New Romantic movement in mind. Costume designer Milena Canonero ran with the idea, creating over seventy outfits for Kirsten Dunst’s Marie, that were consistent with the period, but more stylized. One that sticks out is, of course, her wedding dress. Marie Antoinette’s real wedding gown was made from cloth of silver and adorned with diamonds. The movie version - though opulent - is actually less flashy.
#3: Maria’s Attire
“The Sound of Music” (1965)
When the future Mrs. von Trapp entered the abbey, all her worldly clothes were given to the poor. Still, on the surface, Maria’s 1930s wedding gown is very simple. It has long sleeves and no embellishment, except for some covered buttons on the cuffs and down the back. She pairs the dress with a long veil and a simple leaf crown in her hair. But she looks radiant all the same. With her long train, Maria appears to float up the aisle, the white satin material almost glowing in the low light. Despite the simplicity of the dress, it holds its own in the grand surroundings.
#2: Danielle’s Mother’s Dress
“Ever After” (1998)
Set in Renaissance-era France, this Cinderella story has no fairy godmother or pumpkin carriage. But, our heroine still gets a beautiful dress. Danielle’s gown for the masquerade ball was passed down from her mother, intended as a trousseau for her wedding. It is intricately beaded and comes with a pair of glass slippers. The wicked stepmother unearths the gown, intending it for her own daughter. But Danielle’s fellow servants smuggle it back. She attends the ball as a winged vision in white, completing the look with some nineties-style face glitter. The night may not quite go as planned, but at least the dress gets its time in the spotlight.
Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
Emma’s Wedding Garb, “Emma” (1996)
This Regency Gown Is Simple & Elegant
Jane’s Trousseau, “Jane Eyre” (2011)
It’s Nice to See Jane Out of Her Governess Gray
Elizabeth Lavenza Frankenstein’s Dress, “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein” (1994)
Helena Bonham Carter Stuns in this Embroidered Gown
May Welland’s Ensemble, “The Age of Innocence” (1993)
A Beautiful Example of a Second Bustle Era Wedding Gown
#1: Queen Victoria’s Bridal Gown
“The Young Victoria” (2009)
Queen Victoria’s love for her consort, Prince Albert, is renowned, as is her influence on fashion during her reign. Her wedding dress, then, must have been something to behold. Costume designer, Sandy Powell, turned to historical records and paintings when recreating the bridal gown for “The Young Victoria.” The real Victoria’s dress broke the royal mold by keeping things relatively simple and elegant. The version we see in the movie feels consistent with this. Emily Blunt’s Victoria wears a low-neckline, white gown with lace detailing and a crown of flowers in her hair. We may only get a glimpse of this royal dress, but that’s enough to make us fall in love.