With the help of our expert panel – containing celebrity stylist, Donny Galella, WHO's director of fashion and beauty, Sally Nolan and Pallas Couture designer, Joy Morris – who have pored over photos of seminal wedding dresses from the past century, we’ve come up with a Top 10 list of all-time dreamiest royal gowns. There was a clear winner, and—wouldn’t you know it?—the bride just happened to be an American movie star who exchanged vows with a prince in 1956. “Grace Kelly is the epitome of elegance in her iconic lace wedding gown,” says Nolan.
We’ll find out on May 19 if Meghan’s choice pays homage to her predecessor—in the meantime, enjoy our look back at the 10 most captivating royal wedding gowns.
1. Grace Kelly
Two out of three judges put this unforgettable gown at the top of the list. “Sixty-two years after it was worn, this dress still looks chic and elegant and continues to inspire brides globally,” says stylist Donny Galella. “I love everything about it, from the cummerbund detail, to her choice of floral Juliet cap over an elaborate tiara and lace neckline.”
Morris is similarly enchanted. The “shaped bust cup and cinched-waist effect is feminine and so befitting for any princess,” she says.
2. Duchess of Cambridge
“I remember swooning over this Alexander McQueen dress in 2011—and I still do,” says Galella, mid sigh, of the Duchess of Cambridge’s fairytale-worthy stunner. “Evidence that simple, elegant style is timeless. I most adore the delicate collar, the V-neckline and the long lace sleeves.”
Morris, too, points out how “this gown’s amazing silhouette is a classic design still favoured today.”
3. Princess Margaret
“I love the simplicity of this silk organza gown,” says Nolan. “The lack of embellishment suits Princess Margaret’s petite frame, leaving that impressive tiara to do all the talking.”
Morris and Galella also describe the gown as “simple,” which only enhances its allure, notes Morris: “This gown’s incredible cut creates such a beautiful silhouette,” she says.
“Timeless, sophisticated glamour,” adds Galella. “I adore the simple, clean lines and the shape of the skirt is just dreamy.”
4. Princess Caroline
“A feminine design, this stunning lace gown with slight bell sleeves is so innocent and refreshing, which I love,” says Morris, while Nolan notes how the celebrated beauty chose a gown for the times.
“This Marc Bohan for Christian Dior is a true reflection of the late 1970s,” she says. “Princess Caroline shows her impeccable sense of style by bucking the royal trend of an opulent tiara, instead choosing dainty floral crowns over her Princess Leia–style buns.”
5. Princess Diana
“Princess Diana’s silk taffeta gown was all about excess—just like the ’80s,” says Nolan. “That haircut, those sleeves and that train seemed to spark a thousand wedding trends.”
Galella echoes the sentiment that Diana’s dress sums up the over-the-top decade: “From the balloon sleeves to the frill collar and outrageously long train— the dress style may have dated, but it will forever be one of the all-time best royal wedding dresses,” he says.
6. Princess Mary
“That neckline and the lily-like sleeves make my heart sing,” says Galella of Australia’s princess. “Plus her veil-and-tiara combo sneaks this dreamy look into my all-time Top 5. Evidence that less can certainly be more.”
7. Princess Madeleine
“What is not to love about this Valentino-designed dress?” gushes Galella of the Swedish royal’s long-trained gown. “That divine Chantilly-lace neckline, a deep-cut back, the pleated silk organza fabric combined with flawless hair and makeup. I bow down to Princess Madeleine.”
8. Princess Sofia
“I love the long, hand-stitched tulle veil,” says Nolan. “It added an element of whimsy as Princess Sofia walked down the aisle.”
Adds Galella: “I am a complete sucker for a long lace sleeve and a soft, A-line silhouette, understated elegance done to perfection. Can we also take one moment to appreciate how handsome Prince Carl Philip looks, too?”
9. Queen Elizabeth
“The Queen’s ivory silk gown was a stunning piece of couture,” notes Nolan. “Due to post-war austerity measures, the Queen had to use ration coupons to purchase the fabric. Designer Norman Hartnell used metallic embroidery and embellishments to ensure she sparkled on her big day.”
10. Princess Anne
“I love the simplicity of this dress, the high neckline, dramatic sleeve, tiara and full veil give it just that perfect amount of detail and regal style,” says Galella.
Morris agrees the sleeve is the best aspect, adding: “The gown is a little too extravagant in design but I love the sleeve detail on this gown that makes such a statement.”