Queen Victoria unwittingly set a new trend when she chose to wear a white gown for her wedding to Prince Albert.

Read on to learn how Victoria and her descendants shaped the royal weddings we love today.

White Wedding Dress

Although she wasn’t the first bride to wear white, it was Queen Victoria who popularised the white wedding dress which was specifically chosen to showcase the intricate lace work she had already commissioned prior to her engagement.

The heavy cream silk was made from fabric woven in Spitalfields, while the hand-made lace was designed specially for Victoria in the village of Beer, about 10 miles from Honiton. The lace was designed by William Dyce, a pre-Raphaelite painter and head of the School of Design at Somerset House, later the Royal College of Art. Once the lace was complete, the templates were destroyed so the pattern would be unique to the Queen.

Princess Charlotte Wedding Dress

The choice of a white wedding gown was unusual for royal brides as they tended towards coloured intricately embroidered gowns with silver and gold thread.

Princess Charlotte of Wales wore an empire dress in metallic silver lamé when she married Victoria and Albert’s uncle, Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld in 1816.

Other royal brides would either use their favourite dresses or have a dress made that they could continue to wear long after the wedding. It would have been deemed wasteful to purchase a dress just for one day.

Orange Blossom

Queen Victoria’s wedding gown was adorned with garlands of fresh orange blossoms to symbolise purity, chastity and fertility. The Queen also eschewed a diamond tiara in favour of a simple orange blossom wreath to hold her bridal veil in place.

Victoria loved orange blossoms so much they were a prominent feature in her gardens and the tradition for attaching sprigs to wedding dresses continued with her daughters and granddaughters.

The Queen was presented with a piece of Orange Blossom jewellery from Prince Albert for several years as a gift for their wedding anniversaries between 1839 and 1846. The Queen wore the orange blossom set on every anniversary until Albert’s death after which she couldn’t abide to wear coloured jewellery. After her death, the Orange Blossom Parure was placed in the room where Prince Albert died in Windsor Castle.


The use of myrtle in royal bouquets was also started by Queen Victoria as she planted a sprig of myrtle, given to her by Albert’s grandmother, in the gardens of Osborne House. A symbol of love and marriage, the myrtle was added to the bouquet of Victoria and Albert’s eldest daughter, Vicky, and has been used in royal weddings ever since.

The tradition of using myrtle in wedding ceremonies became popular in the 19th century in Germany when brides would wear myrtle wreaths on their heads, however it can be traced further back to Ancient Rome and Greece where it was associated with love.

Cuttings from the myrtle bush were also taken into the royal households of Europe by Victoria’s daughters and granddaughters so the tradition is also followed in the European royal families descended from Queen Victoria.

Tiara Time

As fashion trends changed, the sprigs of flowers on the dresses and the floral wreaths securing veils eventually began to disappear in favour of more elaborate adornments, including stunning tiaras.

Brides not from aristocratic families tended not to have tiaras at their disposal so the tiaras were either gifted to them as their something new or loaned to them as their something borrowed.

On her wedding day, Princess Elizabeth was loaned Queen Mary’s Fringe Tiara but disaster struck when the tiara broke on the day. A hasty repair was carried out but you can still see the slight gap.

Welsh Gold Wedding Ring

The tradition of using Welsh gold for royal wedding rings began in 1923 when Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon married Albert, Duke of York. Elizabeth chose a wedding ring made of pure Welsh gold from the Clogau St David’s gold mine.

The same nugget was used to fashion the wedding bands for Princess Elizabeth, Princess Margaret and Lady Diana Spencer.

The Queen was gifted a nugget of Welsh gold by the British Royal Legion in 1981 for future royal wedding bands. The Queen also gifted a nugget of Welsh gold to her grandson, William, which was used to make the wedding band for Catherine Middleton.

Since gold mining is no longer done in Wales, nuggets of Welsh gold are becoming increasingly rare.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Laying the bridal bouquet on the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey was another tradition started by Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon.

The Queen Mother made the impromptu gesture in memory of her brother, Fergus, who died at the Battle of Loos in 1915.

The tradition has been carried out by every royal bride since, although the bouquets are now laid there after the wedding.

‘The Tomb of the Unknown Warrior holds an unidentified member of the British armed forces killed on a European battlefield during the First World War.