No run-down of historical wedding dresses can be complete without a mention of Queen Victoria's 1840 bridal gown, surely among the most influential of all time. Her choice of snowy white silk satin started the tradition for white wedding dresses. She was also the first royal bride to have bridesmaids carry her train. With her crown of orange blossoms she can also probably be credited with popularising floral headdresses.
Whatever you may think of her, Wallis Simpson was a major style icon (though perhaps more in America than England). She married Edward in 1937 wearing powder blue silk crepe, with matching gloves and hat (the tradition of white was not adhered to so rigidly at the time, and besides, white would have been inappropriate for a divorcee). The dress with fitted, shaped waistband and gathered bust epitomised the graceful 1930s silhouette, and inspired many a subsequent creation.
The elegant gown Grace Kelly wore for her 1956 marriage to Prince Rainier of Monaco is an all-time classic. The design, created by MGM wardrobe designer Helen Rose, was widely copied at the time, and thanks to its timelessness has continued to be popular - even more so since its reivention as the dress worn by Kate Middleton for her marriage to Prince William earlier this year.
The Givenchy confection worn by Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face reflected (and no doubt contributed to) the continuing popularity of tea length wedding dresses in the 1950s. The dress featured a wide bateau neckline, drop waist (often seen in late 50s wedding dress patterns) and ballerina skirt in dreamy layers of white tulle.
Brigitte Bardot wore a fun pink gingham day dress designed by Jacques Esterel for her wedding to Jacques Charrier in 1959. The dress was widely copied, and helped bring gingham back to the fashion fore in the early 60s.
In the swinging sixties, the ultra hip opted for bridal mini dresses. Raquel Welch donned a white crochet minidress for her 1967 Paris wedding to Hollywood producer Patrick Curtis. She teamed her dress with a three-quarter length white fur coat.
[Note: You may have spotted one notable omission from this collection: I have not included Princess Diana's meringue because it offends me so much I didn't want it on my blog.]