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Meghan Markle's £100k wedding dress: Hidden details, rare photos and fascinating story behind it

The Duchess of Sussex wore Givenchy and Stella McCartney for her 2018 wedding day

Meghan Markle's wedding dress
Nichola Murphy
Deputy Lifestyle Editor
5 February 2024
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Prince Harry's wife Meghan Markle broke the mould when it came to her wedding day, from her minimal makeup to her rebellious second wedding dress.

Rewind to May 2018 when the Duke and Duchess of Sussex exchanged vows at St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle, before celebrating with friends and family – including famous faces like Elton John and Idris Elba – at Frogmore House. For years afterwards, fans had only seen official photos of the couple's wedding, but they released more intimate pictures and details over the past few years through their Netflix docuseries Harry & Meghan and Harry's book Spare.

WATCH: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle share unseen wedding photos for Netflix docuseries

Take a look at everything you need to know about Meghan's two wedding dresses, her borrowed bridal tiara – which she almost didn't wear – and more…

Meghan Markle waving in the car with her Doria Ragland arrive for her wedding ceremony© Getty

Low-key wedding morning

Meghan spent the night before her royal wedding at Cliveden House with her mother Doria Ragland. She was remarkably calm considering she admitted she hadn't seen her finished wedding dress "until the morning of" her big day.

Sharing a peek into her "chill" breakfast on the morning of her wedding, her makeup artist Daniel Martin said on Good Morning America: "We had breakfast. Guy, her dog, was with us. We were playing around with him. It was a very chill morning."

He topped her flawless complexion with a subtle base that allowed her freckles to peek through, while hairstylist Serge Normant fashioned her hair into an effortlessly undone low bun with face-framing strands curled away from her face.

Prince Harry Meghan Charles wedding© Photo: Getty Images

The wedding dress

The Duchess' wedding dress was first revealed as she stepped out of the car at St George's Chapel before joining King Charles to walk down the last section of the aisle. 

Designed by Givenchy's Clare Waight Keller, the former Suits actress' gown featured a bateau neckline, a fitted bodice that highlighted her slender waist and three-quarter sleeves. It perfectly embodied her "effortless American style," said the designer, who described the finished dress as: "Not overly feminine, but not really minimal either."

A photo of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on their wedding day in 2018© WPA Pool

The cost

It's believed Meghan personally shelled out £100,000 for her hand-stitched wedding dress, just like the Princess of Wales did for her Alexander McQueen gown in 2011.

Harry and Meghan leave chapel after wedding© Getty

Hidden details

Following the tradition of including 'something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue,' Meghan previously explained in the 2018 documentary Queen of the World that she had a special piece of blue fabric hidden inside her gown.

"Somewhere in here, there’s a piece of blue fabric that’s stitched inside—it was my something blue," she said. "It’s fabric from the dress I wore on our first date." Claire later told Vanity Fair it was a "blue gingham check", adding: "We basically sewed it into the hem of the wedding dress, so she was the only one that knew that it was there."

Meghan Markle in St George's Chapel watched by royals including Queen Elizabeth II, the Princess Royal, and the Prince of Wales© Getty

British designer

The rumour mill went into overdrive after Meghan announced her engagement to Prince Harry in 2017, with many wondering which British designer would have the honour and responsibility of crafting the royal wedding dress.

"It is truly an honour to have been given the opportunity to closely collaborate with Meghan Markle on such a remarkable occasion. We wanted to create a timeless piece that would emphasize the iconic codes of Givenchy throughout its history, as well as convey modernity through sleek lines and sharp cuts," Clare Waight Keller said. 

"In contrast, the delicate floral beauty of the veil was a vision Meghan and I shared, a special gesture embracing the commonwealth flora, ascending the circumference of the silk tulle."

Meghan Markle wears Clare Waight Keller to marry Prince Harry in 2018© WPA Pool

Sentimental wedding veil

With a plain wedding dress, Meghan gave herself license to choose a more intricate veil. The five-metre-long silk tulle creation featured a trim of hand-embroidered flowers in silk threads and organza which took 3,900 to create.

Speaking of the meaningful flowers, she said in the ITV documentary Queen Of The World: "It was important for me, especially now being part of the royal family, to have all 53 of the commonwealth countries incorporated. And I knew it would be a fun surprise for my now husband - he didn't know! He was really over the moon to find that I would make this choice for our day together, and I think the other members of the family had a similar reaction."

Givenchy also revealed there were crops of wheat to symbolise love and charity, as well as a California poppy to represent Meghan's place of birth, and a wintersweet, which was the flower that grew in Harry and Meghan's private garden at their Kensington Palace home.

The fashion house stated: "Each flower was worked flat, in three dimensions to create a unique and delicate design. The workers spent hundreds of hours meticulously sewing and washing their hands every thirty minutes to keep the tulle and threads pristine."

Meghan Markle wearing tiara and veil© Getty

Borrowed tiara

The veil, carried by Jessica Mulroney's sons and page boys Brian and John, was secured into the bride's hair with the glittering Queen Mary Diamond Bandeau tiara, loaned by the late Queen Elizabeth II. 

Meghan later admitted that she chose the tiara during a private meeting with the Queen at Buckingham Palace, after originally planning to wear Harry's late mother Princess Diana's bridal tiara.

Harry wrote in Spare: "My aunts asked if Meg would like to wear my mother’s [tiara]. We were both touched. Meg then spent hours and hours with her dress designer, getting the veil to match the tiara, giving it a similar scalloped edge.

"Shortly before the wedding, however, Granny reached out. She offered us access to her collection of tiaras. She even invited us to Buckingham Palace to try them on," he continued, stating that after trying several on they decided that the diamond tiara was "seemingly made for Meg."

The bride later described it as "so clean and simple" which fit her vision for her "incredibly timeless" wedding dress designed by Clare, she said when it went on display at Windsor Castle.

Meghan Markle showing off her wedding and engagement rings on her 2018 wedding day© Getty

Modern accessories

Meghan's sparkling accessories did not end with her headpiece. She added beautiful diamond Cartier studs to her ears and teamed her diamond engagement ring with a classic Welsh gold wedding band from Clogau St David's mine.

For the evening reception, the Duchess also rocked her late mother-in-law's aquamarine ring.

meghan markle wedding dress prince harry

Meghan Markle's wedding shoes

Hidden underneath the swathes of fabric of her royal wedding dress was Meghan's Givenchy pointed-toe heels. She later swapped them for bespoke Aquazzurra heels that featured a pale blue sole.

Meghan Markle wore a Stella McCartney gown during her wedding day in 2018

Second wedding dress

She wore a Stella McCartney dress with a controversial halterneck and an open back that exposed her sculpted shoulders. "I am so proud and honored to have been chosen by the Duchess of Sussex to make her evening gown and represent British design,” McCartney told WWD. "It has truly been one of the most humbling moments of my career."

Elton John performed at Harry and Meghan's wedding reception© Netflix

Famous guests

Following an outfit change, Meghan headed to her wedding reception to celebrate with guests such as David and Victoria Beckham, George and Amal Clooney, and Serena Williams.

meghan markle and prince harry dance at their wedding, with meghan wearing a backless dress© Netflix

Private reception

The couple were pictured dancing at their wedding reception and watching fireworks over the lake, sharing a better look at the bride's stunning second wedding dress.

LOOK: Princess Beatrice rocks colourful trainers and sparkly dress for private wedding afterparty

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