I have a guilty pleasure, it’s wedding dresses. There’s nothing I like to do more that binge watch back to back episodes of wedding TV shows including; Say Yes to the Dress, I Found the Gown and Something Borrowed, Something New.
I have had a lifelong penchant for fairy-tale gowns, which was sparked when my mother bought me the Ladybird book, Cinderella.
I can remember this book as though I’d read it only yesterday, no doubt it remains etched in the memory of a generation of women. According to a pole this is the most popular Ladybird book of all time. There were four different versions of the story between the 1950s and 1980s but the one I loved was the 1964 version (though I hasten to add I wasn’t born when the book first came out!) It is this Ladybird book that is entirely to blame for my fascination of wedding gowns and posh frocks. The book from the 606d series, ‘Well Loved Tales’ was written by Vera Southgate and beautifully illustrated by Eric Winter.
Most women between the ages of 35 and 50 will remember fondly Cinderella’s beautiful dresses.
In the Ladybird 1964 version, Cinderella went to three different balls. She wore three breath-taking gowns and finally a wedding dress. I could never make my mind up which of her dresses I liked the best. Some days it was the pink satin one with the ruffles, others it was the blue gown with the white lace and pink bows. Alternatively, there were times when I was emphatic that my favourite was the white ball gown with gold trimming. Cinder’s actual wedding dress in the book was quite plain, but had a fabulous veil that had to be carried by two page boys as she married her prince, he was also resplendent in a blue satin ensemble with silk stockings!
The book was a fashion parade of gorgeous garments and romance; how could you possibly resist its charms?
It was almost like an early literary version of Say Yes to the Dress! Love and gowns are a winning combination and now we are getting our own UK version of Say Yes to the Dress, presented by celebrity designer David Emanuel which starts on Friday at 9pm on TLC channel. I for one can’t wait!
Emanuel and his ex-wife Elizabeth, were responsible for creating the late Princess Diana’s wedding dress. Diana stunned the nation in 1981 with her iconic gown.
I remember watching TV with baited breath as she got out of the carriage to enter the cathedral. Like many viewers, I thought the dress was incredible, though rather crinkled.
For me, watching Lady Diana become a Princess that day was like watching Cinderella come to life. Diana’s dress cost £9,000 to make back then, though is no doubt now priceless.
Sadly, Kate Middleton’s wedding dress didn’t have the same awe-inspiring effect on me. It was pretty, though I was underwhelmed by its plainness.
For me, Kate’s dress designed by Alexander McQueen which reportedly cost £250,000 to make, lacked the wow factor. Now all eyes will be on Pippa Middleton’s gown to see if it outshines her sister’s lace creation when she weds her fiancé, hedge fund manager, James Matthews.
The average cost of wedding in the UK is £21,000 with around £1,350 being spent on the wedding dress, unless of course you’re Kim Kardashian!
Kim’s custom made Givenchy gown cost £300,500. George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin, reportedly spent £8 million on their wedding with a £300,000 splurge on her Oscar de la Renta gown.
The most expensive wedding dress in the world today is called the Diamond Wedding Gown and will set its buyer back $12 million.
Made in 2006, the dress is fashioned from the finest fabrics and features 150 carats of diamonds. The dress wasn’t made for a specific bride, but was crafted for a wedding show by Renee Strauss with the jewels provided by Martin Katz.
White wedding gowns didn’t become a popular option until Queen Victoria wore one for her wedding to Albert of Saxe-Coburg. White had not been a colour of choice for wedding dresses until her wedding portrait was widely published, and other brides decided to follow Victoria’s example.
The wedding industry brings in a whopping £10 million a year in the UK. For most women, it’s the wedding dress that’s the most important part of the day.
They can’t wait to slip into that gown they’ve always dreamed of wearing, dreams inspired for many by that little Cinderella Ladybird book from their childhood.