New Bridal Season Declares: Dress Like a Queen

A parade of princess brides dressed by Ines di Santo.
Dan Lecca
When you marry a snug-as-a-glove bodice with oceans of fluid fabric, you get a gown worthy of a modern princess. The sheer long sleeves and high neck embellished with trampunto accents and lace appliqués strike a swan-like note; the remarkable feather headpiece takes this into Belle Epoque territory.
White silk crepe ballgown by Vera Wang, about $5,900 at
Patrick Demarchelier
Even the best-dressed czarina would have a hard time competing with this jacquard fantasy embellished with metallic gold threads and Swarovski pearls. The simple construction of the A-line gown and off-the-shoulder cape is a perfect foundation for surface treatment so rich, it positively gleams. Just the thing for a coronation—or the wedding of the season.
Silk Mikado strapless gown, about $5,800, and cape, about $12,800, by Francesca Miranda
Andrew Oyuela
This is how the lady of the castle receives her morning visitors. The storybook vision balances the charm of a sheer, ribbon-tied cape with the opulence of lavish metallic embroideries.
Tulle ball gown with embroidered bodice, about $4,995 and cape, about $4,995, by Naeem Khan at
Dan Lecca
Making an entrance is a fundamental part of being a queen, and centuries of royal costumers laid the groundwork with appropriately gasp-worthy dresses. Continuing that tradition, this classic ball gown—sweetheart neck, cinched waist, long tulle sleeves—comes with a dramatic cathedral train that cries out for a mile-long silk runner and half-a-dozen pages.
Ball gown with extended cathedral train, about $16,880, by Ines Di Santo at
Dan Lecca
As 20th century fairytales go, it’s hard to beat a Hollywood actress marrying a European prince. This Grace Kelly-esque ball gown seems made for the royal streets of Monaco, combining just a wisp of starlet-style transparency and off-the-shoulder sass with a skirt so extravagant, it might not fit through those cobblestone streets.
Off-the-shoulder feather-embroidered ball gown, about $10,900, by Inbal Dror at
Dan Lecca
Sometimes even the slimmest, most calorie-conscious Highness wants to let down her guard and indulge. This ball gown with a silk taffeta bodice and short, tiered over-skirt is just the ticket. There’s majesty aplenty in the crystal brooch detailing and floor-sweeping skirt, but the full, structured panel encourages at least a small slice of the wedding cake.
Tulle ball and taffeta ball gown, about $5,280, by Amsale at
Courtesy of Amsale

Bridal designers appear to have spent the last few months binge-watching British period dramas. With their voluminous skirts, romantic capes, and elaborate embroideries, the season’s most glorious gowns could easily have come from the sets of Masterpiece’s Victoria or Wolf Hall.

Perhaps it’s a backlash to flannel shirts and beanies. Or maybe it’s a longing for the days when the folks in power were masters of speech and good manners. But there’s something in these grand, court-worthy costumes that feels as uplifting as an episode of The Crown.


Rachel Leonard was the Fashion Director of Brides Magazine for 18 yearsthe first employee at Condé Nast to make the jump from advertising to editorial. Rachel is currently the Editorial Director for The Bridal Council, and can be followed on Instagram @_rachelleonard

A marketing executive currently living in Arizona, Sally Kilbridge spent more than 20 years as an editor at Brides Magazine. She indulges her love of travel and romance on her website,, a definitive guide to destination weddings.

More from Rachel Leonard and Sally Kilbridge:

3 Fall Foliage Wedding Locations, With Gowns to Match
Fall Wedding Gowns for Every College Major
Your Perfect Four-Day Wedding Wardrobe

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