Weddings

10 Hidden Details You Didn't Know About Sarah Ferguson's Wedding Dress

The embroidery included anchors and bumblebees-but she reportedly asked for helicopters and teddy bears.
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Five years after Princess Diana married the future King of England in a fairytale wedding, Sarah Ferguson prepared to walk down the aisle with her own prince. The press anticipated a sartorial flop, prematurely lambasting Prince Andrew's fiancée in the weeks leading up the ceremony, but up-and-coming London courtier Lindka Cierach ultimately saved the day on July 23, 1986.

"Fashion experts who had criticized the latest royal family member's figure and supposed lack of clothes sense, and openly fretted about her choice of an unknown designer for her wedding gown proclaimed her ivory-colored, silk dress a triumph," the Los Angeles Times reported after the ceremony. Shop windows even rushed to display near replicas within two hours after the bride appeared.

Cierach and her team of five women had labored in top secret for four months, covering the fourth-floor studio's windows with paper and saving every last fabric scrap and sketch to deter spies sifting through the trash. Their covertness paid off. The scoop-necked gown with elaborate silver embroidery defied every prediction.

“Every time the daily paper came out with another [supposedly leaked] sketch, we’d laugh away about it all,” Cierach told People. “I don’t think anyone came close."

Now that Princess Eugenie is planning her own October wedding to Jack Brooksbank, it begs the question whether she'll incorporate any element's of her mum's dress. Here's what made Fergie's very-'80s gown so iconic:

1. The bodice fit like a corset.


The future duchess lost 26 pounds to fit into her dress, according to her memoir My Story. "Lindka was a genius," Fergie wrote. "I knew she could make the most flattering gown ever, and she had. It was amazingly boned, like a corset." Sarah Burton employed a similar tactic when she dressed Kate Middleton as well, relying on a Victorian-inspired silhouette.

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2. Her family crest inspired the embroidery.


Before she joined the royals, Fergie picked the elements that went into her family coat of arms: a bumblebee and thistles. The same symbols decorated her gown, as well as anchors and waves that represented Andrew's sailing background, the L. A. Times reported.

3. But Fergie wanted other motifs.


“The most important thing to me was that Sarah loved it,” Cierach told People at the time. “I wanted her sense of fun to come out in the dress.” She still vetoed a few of the bride's ideas though, sidelining her requests for decorative teddy bears, lovebirds, and helicopters. (In all fairness, Fergie did get to ride with a teddy bear on the way to the honeymoon helicopter.)

4. The 17-foot train had the letter A, for Andrew


The couple's initials were hidden underneath the 20-foot long veil, with the groom's monogram in the center — just visible at the bottom of this portrait. The pearl-trimmed bodice also included four S's embellished in silver beads, the L.A. Times revealed.

5. They purposefully chose different fabric from Diana's dress.


Princess Diana's 25-foot taffeta train certainly made a statement, but Cierach didn't work with the luxe textile herself for good reason. Elizabeth Emanuel told the Daily Mail that Diana's voluminous dress got crushed in the coach ride over to St. Paul's Cathedral, causing the visible wrinkles upon her arrival. Cierach went a different route: "We'd chosen duchess satin because it is the creamiest material in the world," Fergie said in My Story. "It never creases. It is smooth as glass and hangs beautifully."

6. The bouquet was actually S-shaped.


The Duchess of York requested lilies of valley and the traditional sprig of myrtle for the nosegay, although the florists got a little more creative with the shape of the arrangement. You could clearly see the twisting design when the bride waved at wellwishers from the balcony of Buckingham Palace. And in case that wasn't enough, another 30,000 flowers decorated Westminster Abbey for the ceremony.

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7. Fergie's red hair inspired her ruby ring.


For the proposal, Prince Andrew chose a Burma ruby surrounded by 10 drop diamonds, reportedly to complement his bride's auburn hair. The cluster style looks remarkably similar to their daughter Princess Eugenie's engagement ring, although her band features a pink padparadscha sapphire instead.

8. Her flower crown had a lot of hidden symbolism.


The bride first stepped into the Abbey wearing an elaborate coronet of fragrant gardenias — Andrew's favorite flower — but took it off midway through the ceremony. Waiting to reveal her tiara only after she'd signed the marriage certificate nodded to her new HRH status.

9. And the tiara underneath was brand new.


The wedding marked the debut of the York tiara, a gift from the Queen apparently purchased from Garrard. With delicate scrolls and a large, central diamond, the bejeweled piece appeared on Fergie several times over the years, even after her divorce. It's now quite possible she'll lend the family diadem to Princess Eugenie for her big day.

10. Cierach made two identical dresses.


Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton both wore different wedding dresses to their receptions, but Fergie's designer went to the trouble of replicating the same gown. The copy went to Madame Tussauds and each dress reportedly cost $45,000 at the time.

*This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com

*Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors

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