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15 Facts You Never Knew About Past Royal Weddings

Learn all the slip-ups and secret messages.

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Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom in her bridal dress and veil before her wedding to Prince Albert, 1840.
Universal History Archive/Shutterstock

Queen Victoria launched the white gown trend

In the Victorian era, brides generally wore the nicest dress they could buy (and re-wear) in whatever color tickled their fancy. That all changed when Queen Victoria donned a white gown in 1840 when marrying Prince Albert. She chose white—then the color to wear to funerals, not weddings—mainly to match the lace on her dress, but it didn’t take long for brides to follow her lead, citing the hue as a sign of purity. Get a look at the trend she started with these iconic royal wedding photos from throughout history.

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Wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer, London, Britain - 29 Jul 1981

Diana said the wrong name during her vows

Luckily, the slip wasn’t overly awkward. Instead of calling her groom “Charles Philip Arthur George,” Diana swapped the names as “Philip Charles.” She wasn’t the only one suffering from wedding jitters, though—Charles said “thy goods” in his vows instead of “my worldly goods.” Don’t miss these other 15 secrets you never knew about Charles and Diana’s wedding.

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Princess Elizabeth (queen Elizabeth Ii) and Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh (formerly Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten) Pose Together For an Official Photograph Following Their Marriage at Westminster Abbey On 20 November 1947 1947

Queen Elizabeth used ration coupons to pay for her dress

After World War II, even then-Princess Elizabeth wasn’t exempt from being limited to clothing rations. Hundreds from the British public tried sending her their own cards to supplement the 200 coupons she’d been granted, but the palace returned each one because transferring them was illegal.

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Kate Middleton Arrives at Westminster Abbey London Britain 29 April 2011 For Her Wedding Ceremony Westminster Abbey Has a Long Tradition As a Venue For Royal Weddings Going Back to 1100 William's Grandparents Queen Elizabeth Ii and Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh Got Married There on 20 November 1947 the Bride Wears a V-neck Alexander Mcqueen Gown Designed by Creative Director Sarah Burton and a 1936 Cartier Halo Tiara Lent to Her by Queen Elizabeth United Kingdom London
Ian Langsdon/Shutterstock

Kate Middleton had two wedding dresses

After William kissed his bride, Kate Middleton ditched the nine-foot train and slipped on another white gown. Check out what that second wedding dress looked like.

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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's royal wedding cake

They’ve all served the same type of cake

Every British royal wedding since Queen Victoria’s 1840 ceremony has served fruitcake. Find out what the uncommon cake choice represents.

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Wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer, London, Britain - 29 Jul 1981

Diana had a stain emergency

On her way to the ceremony, Diana reportedly spilled perfume all over her gown while trying to dab it on her wrists. Her quick-thinking makeup artist showed her how to hold the dress up to cover the stain, keeping onlookers none the wiser.

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The Bouquet of Queen Victoria the Bride's Bouquet and the Princess of Wales's Bouquet at the Wedding of George Duke of York(later King George V)(1865-1936) to Princess May of Teck(later the Duchess of York Then Queen Mary)(1867-1953) the Blooms Were Supplied by the Royal Exotic Nursery 6th July 1893

Royal brides have one bouquet in common

In 1840, Queen Victoria’s bouquet included a sprig of myrtle, symbolizing love and fertility. Since then, every royal bride has kept a sprig of the flower sourced from this special place.

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The wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, London, Britain - 29 Apr 2011

Kate’s bouquet was a nod to her groom

In addition to the myrtle (plus lily of the valley and hyacinth), the Duchess of Cambridge’s bouquet included a bloom with a touching sentiment: sweet William.

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A pair of duplicate wedding shoes fitted to and worn by Princess Diana, 1981, Estimated sale value GBP50-70,000.
Nils Jorgensen/Shutterstock

Princess Diana’s shoes held a secret message

She had the letters C and D (for Charles and Diana) with a heart hidden on them. Find out where you could see the shoes’ sweet tribute.

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Prince William the Duke of Cambridge and Catherine Middleton the Duchess of Cambridge at Westminster Abbey On April 29 2011 in London England
Tom Buchanan/Shutterstock

Kate Middleton did her own makeup

Leading up to the big day, she was rumored to have taken lessons from makeup artist Arabella Preston. Here’s what nail polish the Duchess wore for the wedding.

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Diana had the longest train in royal history

While Kate’s train was impressive, it couldn’t hold a candle to Diana’s 25-foot train—or the veil, which was even longer. Like Diana, the royal family values honesty.

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north entrance of the Westminster Abbey in London, UK
Christian Mueller/Shutterstock

Westminster Abbey held its first wedding 900 years ago

King Henry I’s marriage to Princess Matilda of Scotland in 1100 was the first royal wedding to take place there—and William and Kate kept the tradition going 911 years later.

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Catherine Middleton escorted by her father Michael Middleton

The royal family kept the trees from William and Kate’s wedding

The six field maple trees, which stood up to 25 feet tall, that lined the aisles of Westminster Abbey were replanted in Prince Charles’ vacation home in Wales.

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Lady Elizabeth Bowes-lyon and Albert Duke of York Later King George Vi and Queen Elizabeth (then the Queen Mother) Pictured Together On Their Wedding Day On 26th April 1923 1923

George VI’s wedding wasn’t played on the radio

Radio was all the rage in 1923, when he married Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, but there was no broadcast because the Archbishop of Canterbury didn’t want it played in pubs.

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The wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, Buckingham Palace, London, Britain - 29 Apr 2011
David Fisher/Shutterstock

They cost tens of millions of dollars

In 2011, William and Kate spent an estimated $32 million on their nuptials, most of which went toward security costs. If that weren’t staggering enough, Charles and Diana spent close to $70 million in today’s dollars for their 1981 ceremony. They aren’t always so lavish, though; don’t miss these 15 surprisingly frugal habits of the royal family.

Marissa Laliberte
Marissa Laliberte-Simonian is a London-based associate editor with the global promotions team at WebMD’s Medscape.com and was previously a staff writer for Reader's Digest. Her work has also appeared in Business Insider, Parents magazine, CreakyJoints, and the Baltimore Sun. You can find her on Instagram @marissasimonian.