Skip to main content

royal wedding dress sarah burton
Ben Stansall/AFP, Getty Images

Kate Middleton arrived at Westminster Abbey on Friday wearing a long-sleeved wedding dress with English and French Chantilly lace appliqué bodice, satin gazar pleated skirt and nine-foot train by Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen. Her bridal look included a full veil, a Cartier tiara borrowed from the Queen and a small bouquet of white blooms. Her hair was styled half-up, half-down.

Kate Middleton royal wedding dress sarah burton

Dan Kitwood, Getty Images

"It has been the experience of a lifetime to work with Catherine Middleton to create her wedding dress, and I have enjoyed every moment of it," Burton said, according to Elle UK. "It was such an incredible honour to be asked, and I am so proud of what we and the Alexander McQueen team have created."

From the moment Prince William and Kate announced their engagement, the rumor mill started buzzing about who would be designing the bride's prized gown. Alice Temperley, Sophie Cranston, Bruce Oldfield (who confessed to not being the dressmaker just days before the ceremony) and Burton all took a spin on the dressmaker merry-go-round.

The dress was reportedly made in private at Buckingham Palace. Those with knowledge of the details were sworn to secrecy, including the designer. But a sighting of Burton on Thursday at The Goring Hotel, the same place where the bride and her family were staying before the wedding, seemed to confirm the gossip.

According to the Palace, "Miss Middleton chose British brand Alexander McQueen for the beauty of its craftsmanship and its respect for traditional workmanship and the technical construction of clothing."

HANDOUT/AFP/Getty Images

Burton said she was "delighted that the dress represents the best of British craftsmanship. Alexander McQueen's designs are all about bringing contrasts together to create startling and beautiful clothes and I hope that by marrying traditional fabrics and lacework, with a modern structure and design, we have created a beautiful dress for Catherine on her wedding day."

The custom-made lace featured four emblems of the United Kingdom -- the rose, thistle, daffodil and the shamrock. Kate and Burton may have been inspired by the delicate lace dress that Grace Kelly wore when she wed Prince Rainier of Monaco.

Back in March, Mark Niemierko, a luxury wedding planner based in London, told AOL that Kate's rumored selection of Burton was a bit of a shock. "[The bridal industry] really thought Kate Middleton would choose a lesser known British bridal designer, keeping with tradition and not being too fashion-forward. It also shows Kate is perhaps far more fashion-forward than anyone thought. High fashion at that." Burton became creative director of the British fashion label in 2010, following the suicide of founder Alexander McQueen. She presented her first womenswear collection without him at Paris Fashion Week. It received rave reviews for combining femininity with McQueen's unique style.

This isn't the first time an Alexander McQueen gown has been worn by a high-society British bride. In 2005, Camilla Parker-Bowles' daughter-in-law, Sarah Buys, had McQueen design her gown for her wedding to Tom Parker-Bowles.

Besides her royal clientele, Burton is also a celebrity favorite. Stars like Michelle Obama, Cate Blanchett, Lady Gaga and Gwyneth Paltrow have all been spotted in her designs.

See more photos of the dress here

From the Official Royal Wedding web site:

Miss Catherine Middleton's Wedding Dress has been designed by Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen.

Miss Middleton chose British brand Alexander McQueen for the beauty of its craftsmanship and its respect for traditional workmanship and the technical construction of clothing. Miss Middleton wished for her dress to combine tradition and modernity with the artistic vision that characterises Alexander McQueen's work. Miss Middleton worked closely with Sarah Burton in formulating the design of her dress.

The dress epitomises timeless British craftsmanship by drawing together talented and skilled workmanship from across the United Kingdom. The dress design pays tribute to the Arts and Crafts tradition, which advocated truth to materials and traditional craftsmanship using simple forms and often Romantic styles of decoration. Ms Burton's design draws on this heritage, additionally giving the cut and the intricate embellishment a distinctive, contemporary and feminine character.

The Design

The lace appliqué for the bodice and skirt was hand-made by the Royal School of Needlework, based at Hampton Court Palace. The lace design was hand-engineered (appliquéd) using the Carrickmacross lace-making technique, which originated in Ireland in the 1820s. Individual flowers have been hand-cut from lace and hand-engineered onto ivory silk tulle to create a unique and organic design, which incorporates the rose, thistle, daffodil and shamrock.

Hand-cut English lace and French Chantilly lace has been used throughout the bodice and skirt, and has been used for the underskirt trim. With laces coming from different sources, much care was taken to ensure that each flower was the same colour. The whole process was overseen and put together by hand by Ms Burton and her team.

The dress is made with ivory and white satin gazar. The skirt echoes an opening flower, with white satin gazar arches and pleats. The train measures two metres 70 centimetres. The ivory satin bodice, which is narrowed at the waist and padded at the hips, draws on the Victorian tradition of corsetry and is a hallmark of Alexander McQueen's designs. The back is finished with 58 gazar and organza covered buttons fastened by Rouleau loops. The underskirt is made of silk tulle trimmed with Cluny lace.

The Fabrics

French Chantilly lace was combined with English Cluny lace to be hand-worked in the Irish Carrickmacross needlework tradition.

All other fabrics used in the creation of the dress were sourced from and supplied by British companies. The choice of fabrics followed extensive research by Sarah Burton and her team.

The Royal School of Needlework

The Royal School of Needlework (RSN), based at Hampton Court Palace, assisted the Alexander McQueen team in accurately cutting out the delicate motifs from the lace fabrics and positioning the lace motifs with precision into the new design. The lace motifs were pinned, 'framed up' and applied with stab stitching every two to three millimetres around each lace motif. The workers washed their hands every thirty minutes to keep the lace and threads pristine, and the needles were renewed every three hours, to keep them sharp and clean.

The RSN workers included existing staff, former staff, tutors, graduates and students, with the youngest aged 19.

The RSN's work was used primarily for the train and skirt of the Bride's dress, the bodice and sleeves, the Bride's shoes and the Bride's veil.

Veil and Jewellery

The veil is made of layers of soft, ivory silk tulle with a trim of hand-embroidered flowers, which was embroidered by the Royal School of Needlework. The veil is held in place by a Cartier 'halo' tiara, lent to Miss Middleton by The Queen. The 'halo' tiara was made by Cartier in 1936 and was purchased by The Duke of York (later King George VI) for his Duchess (later Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother) three weeks before he succeeded his brother as King. The tiara was presented to Princess Elizabeth (now The Queen) by her mother on the occasion of her 18th birthday.

The Bride's earrings, by Robinson Pelham, are diamond-set stylised oak leaves with a pear shaped diamond set drop and a pavé set diamond acorn suspended in the centre. Inspiration for the design comes from the Middleton family's new coat of arms, which includes acorns and oak leaves. The earrings were made to echo the tiara. The earrings were a personal gift to the Bride from her parents for her Wedding Day.

Robinson Pelham have also designed and made a pair of diamond earrings for Miss Philippa Middleton. These earrings are more floral in nature to compliment the headpiece worn by Miss Philippa Middleton during the Service.

A tourmaline and diamond pendant and matching earrings have been designed and made for Mrs. Carole Middleton. Two gold stick pins, one with a single gold acorn at the head and the other with an oak leaf, are also worn respectively by the Father of the Bride, Mr. Michael Middleton, and the Bride's brother, Mr. James Middleton.

Wedding Shoes

The wedding shoes have made hand-made by the team at Alexander McQueen and are made of ivory duchesse satin with lace hand-embroidered by the Royal School of Needlework.


More Royal Wedding News:

Photos: Royal Wedding Balcony Moments of the Past

Photos: The Royal Family Tree

Who's Who in the Royal Wedding Party

Video: Prince Charles Break Dances (Sorta)

Follow the Royal Wedding Route

Prince William and Kate Pay Emotional Visit to Princess Diana's Grave

Prince William and Kate Middleton Look a Little Sketchy

Who Was Crowned the Most Beautiful Royal of All Time?

Women Don't Envy Kate Middleton

Could Prince William's Future Daughter Be Queen?

Royal Wedding Videos

  • lyssa

    The dress was beautiful but did anyone else notice that her nipples showed through? I'm not trying to be freaky, I just think they should have planned better for that. Regardless though she was simply stunning.

  • Lin

    OMG! , those were the crisp shaply sewn darts on the dress, not her nipples! It is sewn to have a contour appearance.It was lovely, and she has a very perfect figure n posture too!

  • donna

    I thought the did everyone in my group looked like her nipples!!!!

  • sharon

    That wasn't her "nipples" you duffus, that was a design within the dress

  • Susan D. Rupright

    What a beautiful bride,dress and couple!!! God bless them both!

  • Lassie

    Of course they were darts! What do you have, pornographic eyes? AS IF she'd be flashing her headlights in front of the whole world! ... I thought the dress was retro and subdued, very nice! I would love to be enrolled in the Royal School of Needlework instead of staring into a computer screen all day! I hope the shocking spectacle of actual sleeves on that dress inspires an END to the loathesome strapless costume. I look at the pictures of the brides in the Sunday paper and am discouraged, week after week, at the sight of every single bride, stick insect or heifer or in-between, stuffed into a boring tube n' skirt. Enough!

  • hinchcliffe

    I couldn't agree with you more!

  • bgatlake

    It is a beautiful dress for her. Simple and elegant. It was so much more appropriate than that horrible dress that Diana wore. Diana should have worn a dress like this one. By the way we still miss her.

  • JoAnn Williams

    I thought the curve in the middle showing too much of the area around her bosom was dreadfully distasteful. Especially for a Royal Wedding. Other than that, the dress was beautiful, the lace on her arms, the long train and the veil. Very disappointed because of that neck line.

  • frances

    i think she look so bad she should have been stuning too plain her sister look betteand i woke up at 4 am for that

  • Parissa

    The majority of comments on this board are simply disgusting! Is there any wonder why Americans are considered crude and loutish ... the unflattering commentors on this board being perfect examples of both!

  • flori

    I waited to be blown away. from her hair style to the vail to the lack luster tiara. to the too old stuffy
    boring dress with darts on the chest... TERRIBLE...ALL THE WAIT WASN'T WORTH IT AT ALL.

  • Arthur

    OMG! She was stunnily beautiful in that gorgeous dress. Understated, elegant, regal, classy, she's got "it" and she will make a stunning addition to the royal family. I stayed up all night and was not disappointed in the least. Even a bit misty eyed at times. Way to go Princess Catherine aka Duchess of Cambridge!!

  • Jank

    The dress was so boring, not at all Royalty in that. Looks like she dont have any taste what so ever for wedding dress . Toooooo simple, and tooooooo common. Looks like a holy communion dress. So upset to see such a dress. She is a pretty woman but not as Diana. There is a big contrast of her and Diana. This is contructive criticism.

  • Joel

    "Constructive"? What's constructive about it? What about your comment helps "fix" what you're complaining about? Do you know what a constructive comment is? Evidently not. Don't be silly.


    i wish the couple happy marriage good child from god and peace of mind
    421 seward sq se dc 20003 washington dc

    (reko Market, Lagos during Queen Elizabeth II visit to Nigeria in 1956. Photographer: Carl Mydans )

    VictoryThursday, March 25, 2010 6:49 AMFrom: "President Bill Clinton" View contact detailsTo: "engr.dr.samuel.adeniyi ajanaku"

    engr.dr.samuel.adeniyi --

    You did it!

    There's no doubt about it: Your generous support and unwavering commitment to President Obama's health insurance reform plan put it across the finish line. This is truly a historic moment and it would have been impossible without you and the support of grassroots Democrats across America.

    But, the fight's not over.

    March 31st marks the first FEC deadline of this Midterm Election year and the first big test of Democrats' grassroots strength since our historic victory on health care. With the world watching Democrats' fundraising totals to use them as a measure of the President's strength, I'm asking for your help to meet their grassroots goal of raising $1 Million before March 31st.

    Contribute $35, $50 or more by Midnight March 31st and a group of committed Democrats will match each dollar you give with a dollar of their own, making your impact felt even more.

    Just as they did in 1994, Republicans are gearing up their campaign to defeat House Democrats in this year's Midterm Elections.

    They don't have a positive program, so they're going to use a campaign of fear, smear and distortion to try and discredit our historic victory and frighten the American people into voting against the courageous Democrats who fought for this legislation.

    Everything we did last year to reverse the Republican agenda to protect and promote big special interests at the expense of the middle class is only making them more determined to try and win back Congress this year. Your grassroots support is the most powerful weapon we have to respond.

    We've made real progress already - from bringing our economy back from the brink, to delivering dramatic health insurance reform, to the incredible work that Hillary is doing as Secretary of State rebuilding America's reputation around the world.

    Now the world is watching to see if we have what it takes to sustain our momentum this year and continue America's progress.

    Contribute $35, $50 or more by Midnight March 31st and a group of committed Democrats will match each dollar you give with a dollar of their own, making your impact felt even more.

    There is far too much at stake for America to risk letting the Republicans take us back to the failed policies that got us in so much trouble before.

    With the world watching, help Democrats make a powerful statement on this first big deadline of 2010 and show that we are ready for the tough Midterm Election fight ahead.

    Thank you,

    President Bill Clinton

    P.S. Let's show the Republicans and their powerful special interests that we're not about to let them repeat 1994. They're gearing up to run the same campaign against President Obama and Democrats in Congress as we get closer to November. Contribute before the first quarterly FEC deadline of 2010 passes at Midnight on March 31st and a group of committed Democrats will match each dollar you give with a dollar of their own.


    This message was sent to:
    To unsubscribe, click here:
    To always receive our emails, add to your address book. Learn how..

    Paid for by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
    430 South Capitol Street, S.E. Washington, D.C. 20003
    (202) 863-1500 -
    Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.

    Contributions or gifts to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee are not tax deductible.


    Subject: Message from Senator Barack Obama
    Date: Thu, 30 Jun 2005 10:47:16 -0400

    HTML Attachment [ Scan and Save to Computer ]

    Dear Samuel.Adeniyi.:

    Thank you for advising me of your support for the establishment of personal retirement accounts within the Social Security system. I appreciate hearing your comments on this extremely important issue.

    Although no Social Security reform legislation has been formally considered on the Senate floor this session, I have been following this discussion closely. I understand that some adjustments may need to be made to preserve the financial integrity of the program for current beneficiaries and to assure that workers who are paying Social Security taxes today get a solid return on their investment when they eventually retire. However, it is important to also remember that Social Security provides an important safety net to millions of older Americans, and that commitment should be respected. And, as we evaluate any reform proposal, we should not ignore the implications for today's workers, and their children, of the government potentially borrowing trillions of dollars to pay for the transition to private accounts at a time of historically high federal deficits and escalating national debt. After all, we are creating a crushing financial burden that will fall on the next generation to pay off.

    It is my hope that the effort to “reform†Social Security will be undertaken in a bipartisan spirit that protects the basic integrity of the Social Security program. Seniors have lived up to their end of the bargain, and workers who are paying into the system have the right to the expectation of a reasonable return on their investment in the Social Security System when they retire. The government must live up to its responsibility in this contract as it looks for ways to protect the investment of current workers.

    Again, thank you for contacting me about Social Security reforms. Please stay in touch in the days ahead.


    Barack Obama
    United States Senator

    P.S. Our system does not allow direct response to this email. However, if you would like to contact me again, please use the form on the website:

  • Dave

    Since Kate and Bill have been living together, why is the wedding dress white? I thought the Brits were all about tradition!

  • Lori

    Give me a break! What brides have you experienced that don't wear white on their wedding day?
    a second wedding, ok. It is very common for couples to live together before they tie the knot.

  • me

    Whats next. The media will be reporting the " night " time " stuff.

  • 19 Comments / 1 Pages

Add Your Comments

  • New Users
  • Returning

If you are posting a comment for the first time, please enter your name and email address in the fields above. Your name will be displayed with your comment. Your email address will never be displayed.

Add Your Comment

Please keep your comments relevant to this blog entry. Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm your comments.

When you enter your name and email address, you'll be sent a link to confirm your comment, and a password. To leave another comment, just use that password.

To create a live link, simply type the URL (including http://) or email address and we will make it a live link for you. You can put up to 3 URLs in your comments. Line breaks and paragraphs are automatically converted — no need to use <p> or <br /> tags.