You don’t have to be a dedicated royal-watcher to be excited about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding on May 19, 2018! The marriage between the fifth in line to the British throne and American actress will be broadcast around the world for millions of people to watch. And many of them will be tuning in to sate their curiosity of a timeless wedding question: What will the bride wear?
One key motivation is likely to guide her decision.
“I think she’ll try and be as different from Kate Middleton as possible,” surmised Diane Roth, the owner of the boutique L’Armoire in New Canaan, Connecticut, who has dressed guests of Buckingham Palace and for the exclusive Royal Enclosure at the Ascot Racecourse.
Gossip magazines are “constantly going to be comparing the two,” as well as comparing them both to the late Princess Diana, Roth explained, adding, “So I would think for her wedding, [Markle] will want to differentiate herself.”
Fortunately, when it comes to wedding style, there are endless ways to do just that. We spoke with fashion experts about what we might be able to expect from Markle’s wedding day, from her gown and a possible train or veil, to her hairstyle, makeup and, of course, the tiara!
Who Will Design Markle’s Wedding Gown?
Wang, an American, is an icon in the world of wedding gowns, while Markle has already worn a $75,000 Ralph & Russo gown in her engagement photos with Harry. (Ralph & Russo is a London-based couture label from Australian couple Tamara Ralph and Michael Russo.)
“They say Roland Mouret is the frontrunner for it,” according to Roth, noting that he is a French designer living in London. However, she suspects that Markle will be diplomatic and wear a gown by a British designer.
(For her 2011 wedding to Prince William, Middleton wore a gown from British designer Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen.)
“I think she might go with Stella McCartney,” Roth mused. “Stella McCartney couldn’t be more British in terms of [being] a designer, who her father is [Paul McCartney] and she’s very in sync with Meghan Markle on political activism in a good way.”
“Because her voice will be muted now — not in a bad way, but in the protocol for being who she is going to be — I think she can use her clothing to say things for her,” said Roth. Therefore, choosing a designer like McCartney could be a way to symbolically support her beliefs.
What Style Gown Will Markle Wear?
Several words came up again and again when we asked experts about what style of gown we may expect Markle to wear: “classic,” “clean” and “simple.”
For Markle’s everyday style, “the way she dresses is classic with a twist,” said Roth. She noted that the actress has a “very clean, very tailored” look. “She tends to favor sleeveless, high v-neck, shaped but not bandage dresses,” she continued. This aesthetic will likely guide her bridal style as well.
Lindsey Bennett, lead designer for the bridal-wear brand Azazie, agreed that we can expect a sleek, tailored look. She anticipated Markle’s gown will be “classic, but still modern at the same time,” owing to her previous fashionable looks.
“Because she has more of a chic, sophisticated style, I highly doubt we’re going to see a typical lace and tulle princess ballgown,” Bennett continued. “I’m definitely expecting to see something more slim-fitting, more sleek, maybe in a silky kind of matte satin mermaid gown.” It’s also possible Markle will opt for a “halter neckline, something tied around the neck,” she said.
Jane, the blogger behind WhatMegWore.net, wrote in an email that she expects a wedding gown that is no frills:
“I can see her wearing a simple gown with little embellishment (I envision beaded lace, or just beading). But it will be made of gorgeous fabric such as silk satin or duchess silk. An incredible amount of care and detail will be put into it [just like] Kate’s.”
We have at least one hint as to whom the princess-to-be may emulate: another woman who married into a well-known family.
“Meghan has been quoted in Glamour magazine saying that Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy’s gown in 1996 was her favorite celebrity wedding dress,” Dayna Isom Johnson, Etsy trend expert, told Simplemost. “So, my guess is that we’ll see something similar.”
Dressing Modestly For Church
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will get married in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. It’s a historically significant location for the prince’s family, particularly his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, who is head of the Church of England. This means that Markle is likely to forgo lower-cuts and higher hemlines, perhaps moreso than a non-famous bride.
“Since Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are getting married in a church, we can expect Meghan’s gown to be modest,” Anne Chertoff, trend expert for WeddingWire, wrote Simplemost in an email. “We anticipate that her shoulders will be covered and possibly her arms, though they may just be capped sleeves and not full-length.”
Fortunately, there are plenty of such gowns to choose from, according to Bennett, the wedding dress designer.
“The market is absolutely moving more toward coverage,” she said. “Higher neck lines of all sorts right now are super popular.”
One design trick that Markle might employ could be illusion fabric, which covers the skin with a thin, see-through fabric.
“‘Illusion’ means that there is some sort of coverage over the skin — you can see through it,” Bennett explained. “Oftentimes it’ll be like lace lined with tulle, so you can still see the skin tone coming through, but so that it’s not over-the-top revealing.”
She continued, “[Markle] might have something that has a lower back, but again, I imagine it would be covered with illusion, lace, maybe buttons down the back or an illusion lace neckline in the front.”
Roth, the boutique owner, added that modern fashion trends tend to be pretty revealing, so it can take some searching for royal women pursuing a more covered-up look, both on their wedding day and afterward.
“Princess Grace [another Hollywood actress who married into royalty] may have had an easier time, because the clothes weren’t so outrageous,” she joked.
Sleeves or No Sleeves?
Style experts are divided as to whether Markle will opt for a sleeveless gown, long sleeves like Middleton or cap sleeves.
“Probably not long sleeves,” predicted Roth, likely because it will be too similar to Middleton’s gown.
Bennett anticipated that Markle will do an illusion sleeve.
“I imagine she’ll definitely have sleeves of some sort, but rather than full coverage, maybe an illusion sleeve with just perfectly-placed pieces of lace detailing,” she explained. “Sleeves are really hot right now, which works well for her because they’re definitely expected for royal weddings.”
However, there’s a possibility Markle might throw a wild card option into the mix.
“Perhaps she’ll add her own twist of modern pizazz by rocking one of this season’s biggest trends, a show-stopping, dramatic, cape,” said Johnson, the Etsy trend expert. “On Etsy, we’ve seen a 44 percent increase for on-site searches for capes this year. This look is sure to add a romantic and regal addition to her sleek gown.”
A Train Or No Train?
As throngs of fans will come out to cheer Prince Harry and Markle at their wedding, the bride likely will have optics in mind when choosing her gown to make it as visible as possible from far away. As Roth, who dresses celebrities and high-profile individuals frequently, explained, “Once you’ve been in print a lot and on TV a lot, I think you’re far more conscious of the fact that the long-term memory is the photograph.”
Although Markle’s sleeve situation will be a complete surprise, experts agree that her gown will probably have a train.
“Due to the grandeur of the event, Meghan’s train will most likely be at least chapel-length, which is between three and four feet in length,” explained Chertoff.
Another option? A dramatic veil.
“The trains and the veils are coming back — especially the super-long, dramatic [ones],” explained Bennett. “I think they just make such a pretty walk down the aisle — it definitely makes for that unforgettable moment if you see that big dramatic train or veil in the back.”
Chertoff added that the length of the veil will likely complement the length of the gown’s train.
Markle’s Hair, Makeup And Tiara (!)
“I’m sure she’ll be wearing some sort of heirloom jewelry that will either be given to her or lent to her for the [wedding],” said Bennett. This jewelry will almost certainly include a tiara. (What’s the point of marrying a prince if you don’t get to wear a tiara on your wedding day?!)
“It’s the perfect something borrowed!” added Chertoff. She believes Markle could wear the Lotus Flower Tiara, which has a Deco design and is a favorite of Duchess Kate’s.
Another possibility is the Cambridge Lover’s Knot “with diamonds and pearls.”
Jane* has a different guess, believing Markle will go with the Strathmore Rose Tiara.
Because she’ll probably wear a tiara and veil, Markle will likely consider her wedding hairstyle carefully. Jane* predicted “a whimsical up-do,” whereas Roth suspected her hair will only be “partly up.”
Bennett would like to see a “soft bun” or “a pinned-up, curly look, not messy but soft — so not pulled back too tight.”
Although the actress occasionally pulls her hair back in a bun, she almost always wears her hair down during public events.
At Hollywood red carpet events, Markle has been known to wear a smoky eye or a red lip. For her wedding, however, she will likely go for a “natural look,” at least during the day, said Chertoff.
“I think she’ll want to look herself and add a pop of color to her cheeks, a spray tan if needed and a rosy pink lipstick,” *Jane mused.
Middleton famously did her own makeup for her wedding day. We’ll have to wait and see whether Markle does the same, or depends on the pros.
A Reception Dress
Meghan Markle could wear as many as three dresses throughout her wedding day. After all, Middleton wore her wedding gown to the ceremony at Westminster Abbey, then changed into a different white dress, sans train, back at Buckingham Palace (which was probably easier to walk around in).
“For [Markle’s] dinner reception dress, we’re anticipating a fitted, long gown because it will be a black-tie event,” Chertoff explained. “For dancing, brides are opting for shorter hemlines and a fabulous pair of shoes to dance the night away in! Remember that the public won’t see photos of the reception, so Meghan may be more inclined for something sexier —shorter, strapless, sheer.”
Markle could also be even more unconventional and forgo a second and third dress for the evening entirely by wearing something different: pants! She already had tongues wagging when she attended her first official formal evening event wearing cigarette trousers. Typically, a dress would be more common at a formal evening event.
“We’ve been predicting the growing trend of the ‘wedding jumpsuit’ and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Meghan rock one for the outfit change,” Etsy expert Johnson said. “It’s rule-breaking and trendy, yet adds a comfort factor.”
As for her evening makeup, Chertoff said, she “will likely have a more glamorous and dramatic look” — perhaps a smoky eye.
Of course, the only way to know what Markle will actually wear on her wedding day is to watch on May 19 and find out.
*Jane is a pseudonym, as the blogger behind WhatMegWore.net writes anonymously.