As much as I love a good fairytale, I can’t imagine ever having nuptials like that of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. Every single component of a royal wedding is planned to a T: the food, seating, decor, guest list — everything. And then there’s what you’ll be wearing, plus the hair and makeup you’ll be accompanying it with. To me, all of that should be the most fun aspect of getting married (besides the whole lifelong-partnership, I’m-marrying-my-best-friend thing, I guess), which is one reason I’m so impressed by Markle and the rest of the royal brides below. You think you have a demanding parent (or parent-in-law)? Imagine having an official protocol for your manicure that is literally dictated by the Queen of England.
In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find wedding makeup, a gown, or hairstyle that have been as speculated about (and sometimes scrutinized) as those worn by high-profile royals, particularly Kate Middleton in 2011, Princess Diana in 1981, and Markle herself. Why don’t we take a look at each of the three, shall we?
Before I start, let me assure you this won’t be one of those stories where I tell you which bride looks “better.” The fact of the matter is that trends come and go and popular wedding trends for a bride’s hair, makeup, and outfit are often reflected in those fleeting aesthetic obsessions.
Meghan Markle, aka the Duchess of Sussex (2018)
For her 2018 wedding to Prince Harry, American actress Meghan Markle paired her stunning Givenchy bridal gown with simple, radiant makeup, the details of which we explored in our full rundown of her beauty look. After reports surfaced that Markle wouldn’t be hiring a professional MUA for her wedding day, people raised their eyebrows both in the U.S. and across the pond. (That said, she wouldn’t be the first to take a non-pro approach to her makeup by any means, so everyone needs to just calm down about the DIY approach — more on that in a moment, though.) On May 19, however, the world learned that her striking-yet-simple look was actually achieved by Daniel Martin, who is both a friend of the bride and a professional makeup artist.
Martin brought out the bride’s eyes using subtle brown shades that complemented — and never overwhelmed or concealed — her gorgeous facial features. Thankfully, Markle’s delicate freckles weren’t covered up by her foundation, and her lips only held a hint of soft, pink color.
The mind behind Markle’s bridal hair was none other than French-born master stylist Serge Normant, who gave the duchess of Sussex a full bun that sat securely beneath a super long veil, save for a few stray tendrils that peeked out from around her face. The center-parted style was topped off with the most royal-appropriate accessory: a tiara. More specifically, it’s the Queen Mary Filigree Tiara, which was loaned to Markle from Queen Elizabeth for the occasion.
All in all, Markle’s wedding-day look was a jaw-dropping masterpiece — one that somehow made what was undoubtedly a lot of effort look as if it had been accomplished with shocking ease.
Kate Middleton, aka Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge (2011)
Next up: Kate Middleton’s look for her April 29, 2011 wedding in Westminster Abbey to Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge. Remember how I mentioned Markle wouldn’t have been the only royal bride to have skipped going with a professional makeup artist? That’s because in 2011, her new sister-in-law Kate Middleton actually did her own makeup for the big day. According to wedding planner Mark Niemierko’s interview with People, Middleton simply booked a few lessons from London-based makeup artist Arabella Preston in order to prepare. Did I mention the royal family spent $80,000 on cakes for the reception?
All that said, Preston must have been a solid teacher because on that fine April morning in 2011, Kate walked down the aisle looking utterly gorgeous. She wore black liner on her lids and lower lash line, a splash of pink blush on her cheeks, and a few coats of black mascara on her top and bottom lashes. Middleton followed the aforementioned royal protocol for her nail color, choosing a pale, subtle pink polish by Essie for the big day.
Wearing her hair in a half-up-half-down hairstyle — which, like Markle’s, was accessorized with a tiara borrowed from the Queen — the then-29-year-old bride managed to pull off her makeup look in a way that fit her personal taste. This fun, more glammed-up outcome fit well with speculation made by Niemierko in the same interview with People that attributed Middleton’s desire for DIY bridal beauty to her “informal character.” Whatever her reasoning was, it’s pretty bold to do your own makeup on a day when everyone is looking at you, and it’s a challenge that Middleton passed with flying colors.
Diana Frances Spencer, aka Diana, Princess of Wales (1981)
Obviously, social media wasn’t around when Diana (née Spencer) married Charles, Prince of Wales. But there’s not a doubt in my mind that had Instagram existed on July 29, 1981, that wedding would’ve been just as written-about and meme-ified as that of her son Harry — and just as influential, too.
While Diana’s taffeta wedding gown, a creation of British-born fashion designer David Emanuel, reflected the voluminous silhouettes of the ’80s, her makeup and hair were far and away from the over-the-top aesthetic often associated with the decade nowadays. Diana’s thick bangs were a bold move, sure, but the combination of her glowing skin, her touchably feathered hair, and that pearly white smile all added up to effortless glamour.
Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, aka Elizabeth II, the Queen of England (1947)
Let’s talk about the Queen of England’s wedding day, while we’re at it.
On November 20, 1947, 21-year-old Queen Elizabeth II (then simply known as Princess Elizabeth) married Philip Mountbatten in Westminster Abbey. There are far fewer easily accessible details regarding the minutia of the day’s events — if only the Royals had documented their favorite skin-care products in the 1940s — but according to Kensington Palace, the princess wore two pearl necklaces that were both given to her by her father, King George VI.
It’s difficult to see what makeup she wore on her wedding day, but it’s probably safe to say that she erred on the side of subtle, given the beauty trends of that decade. Atop her full curls, Elizabeth wore a diamond fringe tiara lent to her for the event, which gracefully complemented her ornate, crystal- and pearl-covered silk gown.
Regardless of which wedding-day hair and makeup you’re most into, it’s safe to say that being in a high-profile wedding seems like a whole lot of stress. From the location to the decor to all the official announcements regarding everything from the engagement itself to which tailor the groom goes to for his frockcoat, it’s…a lot, no matter how great you look (and, hopefully, feel). The intentions behind all the frantic emphasis on organized planning are a mixture of respect for tradition and a desire for everything to go smoothly. All of the above paired with the pressure to look perfect and you’ve got yourself a doozy of a wedding day.
Originally from allure.com.