A Royal Wedding and what the bride wore – in Bath

Yes folks, today is the Royal Wedding day for Will and Kate. And of course the big question on everyone’s lips is ‘What will the bride wear?’ I can practically guarantee the miles of descriptive prose and full colour magazine pages that will be devoted to every detail of that dress.

Bridal exhibition at Bath Fashion Museum

Bridal exhibition at Bath Fashion Museum

Perhaps Kate and her dress designer will have taken inspiration from brides of yesteryear, having paid a visit to the exhibition I enjoyed recently at the Fashion Museum in Bath. The ‘What will she wear’ exhibition is a celebration of wedding dresses from the museum’s collections and continues until January 2012, so you’ve no excuse not to visit if you’re looking for design ideas for your own dream wedding dress.

Bridal exhibition at Bath Fashion  Museum

Bridal exhibition at Bath Fashion Museum

The dresses were displayed in no particular order with the bride from the 20s next to the bride of the surprisingly demure 60s although as wedding dresses are often inspired by historic costume it was not so easy to tell them apart. The high necked dress with delicate lace from the 70s looked distinctly Edwardian and the Alexander McQueen dress from 2010 had 18th century panier skirts.

Bridal exhibition  at Bath Fashion Museum

Bridal exhibition at Bath Fashion Museum

If only those cases full of gorgeous gowns could tell their stories; the romance, the fluttering hearts, the courtship, the proposal and finally the big day. For many of those dresses the owners are known and there might even be a newspaper clipping to give the account of the wedding, with full details of what the bride wore. For others, not much is known about the owners. On the walls of the exhibition were formal portraits of elegant and wealthy brides from the 1930s modelling their couture gowns from the House of Worth, in the studio setting surrounded by flowers.

Bridal  exhibition at Bath  Fashion Museum

Bridal exhibition at Bath Fashion Museum

Bridal  exhibition  at Bath Fashion Museum

Bridal exhibition at Bath Fashion Museum

Fashions for brides have been a reflection of the past and the present. A hundred years ago weddings were held in the morning, so a day dress was worn, but later they came to resemble evening wear with long trains as worn at court. Our teenage girls took it in turn to pick the one that they would choose for their wedding day and the dress above left is my daughter’s favourite. I was married not long after Diana and Fergie and like many brides was influenced by their full skirts, ruffles and lace. Now I think I might like to wear one of those elegant bias cut columns from the 30s. Which one would you choose?

Bridal  exhibition at  Bath Fashion Museum

Bridal exhibition at Bath Fashion Museum

Bridal exhibition at Bath  Fashion Museum

Bridal exhibition at Bath Fashion Museum

So what will the bride wear? – we’ll find out soon enough but in the meantime, enjoy these lovely wedding gowns of yesterday.

The What will she wear? exhibition is on display at the Fashion Museum in Bath until 8 January 2012.

Other adventures in Bath

Fancy a dip at the Roman Baths in Bath?
Dressing up at the Fashion Museum in Bath

Check for the best hotel prices in Bath and book here.


heatheronhertravels' Bath - Fashion Museum photoset heatheronhertravels’ Bath – Fashion Museum photoset

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  • Reply
    April 29, 2011 at 6:51 am

    When weddings were held in the daytime, a day dress was chosen – nice, new and elegant, if the family could afford it. But above all it had to be usable many times after the wedding.

    Once wedding dresses came to resemble evening wear, especially in white and especially with long trains, they screamed “wedding” and could never be used again. What a shocking waste.

    My 1970 wedding dress, though lovely, never came out of the wardrobe again. If I were marrying again, I would choose a dressy suit and hat, with not a hint of veil.
    Hels´s last blog post ..Lola Montez- her tragedies and joys

  • Reply
    Donna Hull
    April 29, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    What an interesting and timely exhibition. It would be fun to try on some of those wedding gowns, although I’m sure they were not made for baby boomer figures.
    Donna Hull´s last blog post ..Saturday’s scene- Charming Eze

  • Reply
    Sherry Ott
    April 29, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    What a fabulous idea for a fashion exhibit! Thanks for sharing the photos!
    I got up and watched the wedding – I sort of liked the dress – very simple and conservative – but understand that there are a lot of restriction such as not showing shoulders, etc.
    What did you think Heather?
    Sherry Ott´s last blog post ..signs

  • Reply
    April 30, 2011 at 12:40 am

    I am not sure who designed her wedding dress but it was beautiful. Must be the royal traditions influenced it.
    Sailor´s last blog post ..Vancouver – Cruise Line Travel Forecast 2012

  • Reply
    Debbie Beardsley
    April 30, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    I really do enjoy vintage clothing and this looks like a great and unusual display! Bath is an exceptional city to spend time in!
    Debbie Beardsley´s last blog post ..Fabulous Friday – When flying- do you prefer the window- middle- or aisle seat

  • Reply
    Abby Tegnelia
    April 30, 2011 at 9:01 pm

    What gorgeous, old-fashioned gowns!! I agree with the “if these dresses could talk” premise… I’d love to hear all about the nights they were worn and the memories they made. Wow.
    Abby Tegnelia´s last blog post ..Meet- Plan- Go — How long-term travel helped my career

  • Reply
    Heather Cowper
    May 1, 2011 at 7:43 am

    @Hels I think I’d still want to have a very special dress, even if it was worn once only.
    @Donna – If you went on through the exhibition there was another exhibit of one of Queen Victoria’s dresses, it was huge!
    @Sherry The fashion now seems to be for strapless bridal dresses, but I’m glad that Kate went for the classic & covered up a little
    @ Sailor – It was Sarah Burton who designs at Alastair McQueen
    @ Debbie Bath is a very popular tourist destination – Georgian architecture & plenty to see
    @Abby – Yes, I hope that all those wedding dresses ended in happy marriages too

  • Reply
    May 2, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    Very interesting exhibition. I watched the wedding as well and I loved her dress, very simple and elegant, especially with her hair worn down as well. I think she looked beautiful. Funnily enough, looking at the pictures of Diana’s wedding dress, we all thought that was lovely at the time too, a fairy tale dress fit for a princess, which no one would be seen dead in these days! 🙂
    Sunee´s last blog post ..Lessons Learned from Camping

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