The marriage of Kate Middleton to Prince William on April 29, 2011, was truly spectacular in every respect, but the Sarah Burton for Steve McQueen gown was truly the star of the televised wedding. Traditionally, the designer of a royal bride’s wedding attire is kept secret until the bride is ready to walk down the aisle. In this case, all eyes were on the dress which was hand-embroidered with flowers and inset with hand-made lace appliques.
Keep reading to find out more about Kate and William’s engagement, and how Sarah Burton of the British fashion house Steve McQueen came to design what would become one of the most iconic wedding dresses in British history.
The Story of Kate and William’s Decades-Long Courtship
Kate and William met as undergraduate students at the University of St. Andrews in 2001. She was studying art history and he was a geography major. William claims that he fell in love with her after watching her model see-through dress at a charity fashion show.
In 2002, the couple moved into a group residence, where the relationship was kept secret for two years. Details were finally disclosed to the public when the press took photos of them skiing together at a ski-resort in Switzerland.
In 2007, the couple took a relationship break for a year, but were then reunited in 2008 at a tribute concert for Princess Diana at Wembley Stadium. The future Duchess of Cambridge sat in the royal box with William and Harry, while the world honored the tenth anniversary of the death of the Princess of Wales. She was also part of the royal family’s inner circle in 2008 when she attended a private reception celebrating William’s graduation from the Royal Air Force.
In 2010, William proposed to Kate in Kenya, which was a favorite vacation destination of his mother. He also presented her with Diana’s sapphire and diamond ring. However, the world had to wait until their 2011 wedding before they would get their first peek at her spectacular Alexander McQueen gown.
Sarah Burton and Kate Middleton Are Close Collaborators
Sarah Burton is no stranger to the Duchess of Cambridge, who likes to collaborate closely with designers. Kate was first impressed by Burton’s creativity and expertise in 2005 after attending the wedding of fashion journalist Sara Buys to Tom Parker Bowles, the son of Queen Camilla. Buys was wearing a mermaid-style satin gown with a tulle underskirt and a floor-length embroidered lace veil.
In 2022 Kate Middleton asked Burton to create three spectacular gowns for her 40th birthday, including a Grace Kelly dress with one balloon sleeve, a gold James Bond type cocktail dress, and a white ruffled tulle dress reminiscent of puffy clouds in English landscape paintings.
Kate’s Vision for the Wedding Gown
The vision that the future Duchess of Cambridge relayed to Burton for her wedding gown was for a keepsake garment that would combine modernity with tradition. Sarah Burton had only been the new head designer at Steve McQueen for a year when landing the commission.
In many ways, Kate’s wedding dress is also a homage to everything Sarah had learned from McQueen about creating exquisite hand-crafted clothing.
What Is the Duchess of Cambridge’s Wedding Dress Worth?
The Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding dress is priceless, as it has the same kind of value as a museum piece. For that reason, it’s difficult to put a price on a dress created with such painstaking attention to detail. In 2011, however, the dress cost an estimated $345,000.
Details of the Sarah Burton for Steve McQueen’s Wedding Dress
Kate Middleton’s timeless wedding dress was made in the ball-gown style with a structured V-neck bodice, a stiff lace collar, and lace sleeves. It was a mix of two colors of satin: ivory and white. The dress was also cinched tightly at the waist and slightly padded at the hips to give it Victorian flair.
Millions watched as the devoted lovers, who were secretly together for over a decade, exchanged their vows in London’s historic Westminster Abbey. The bride was wearing a 12-carat blue sapphire engagement ring, initially given to Lady Diana by Prince Charles, as well as an 18-karat white gold Cartier tiara borrowed from mother-in-law Queen Elizabeth
All eyes were on the nine-foot-long train that trailed behind her as she walked up the aisle of Westminster Abbey. The flared skirt and the train were appliqued with hand-made lace using a 19th century technique called Carrickmacross.
The knee-length wedding veil had the four regions of the United Kingdom symbolically woven into its tulle, including the rose, thistle, daffodil, and shamrock. The veil was fastened to the Cartier tiara which boasted 888 square and round cut diamonds. The work was undertaken by the Royal School of Needlework, which also embellished her white satin pumps with a lace-work overlay.
Do you love the fullness, lace sleeves, and tulle underskirt of the Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding dress? Here’s where to buy similar gowns at a more affordable price.
Buy Similar Wedding Dresses
Here are some dresses that have similar styling to the Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding gown.
The Find Love Wedding Dress is available in off-white polyester for $149.00 and features long sleeves, lace appliques, and a sweeping train.
The Youjiayi Lace Mermaid Dress is available in white, champagne, or ivory satin polyester for $159.99, and features long lace sleeves, a structured bodice, and a long sweeping train.
The Miao Duo Wedding Dress is available in white tulle and lace for $172.98, and features covered buttons and a two-foot train.
JJ’s House Princess Style Ball Gown is available in ivory, white, or champagne lace and tulle fabric is available for $392.00, and boasts a V-Neck, long lace sleeves, covered buttons, and a beaded train.
Celebrity Dresses Luxury Royal Wedding Gown is available in ivory or white lace satin for $699.00, and features long lace sleeves, appliques, and a court-style train.
Reach Out to an Expert Wedding Shopper
Do you have your heart set on wearing a bell-shaped dress with lace sleeves and long train to your wedding? Our professional team wedding shoppers can help you find a wedding dress similar to Kate’s, as well as the white lace pumps that complete the ensemble.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to us to help you find the dress and veil that are affordable yet stylish enough to impress your own prince on your own wedding day.