Top 10 Vintage Wedding Gowns

In honor of Valentine’s Day this Thursday, we’ve created lists of our favorite, and least favorite, bridal wear on film!  And what’s more romantic than a wedding?!  (Probably a lifetime of commitment, but you usually have to get married first to do so!)  Our first list is our Top 10 favorite vintage gowns on film.

1. Princess Buttercup (Robin Wright), The Princess Bride Technically, this is a made-up era (since it’s just a storybook), but it’s our absolute favorite old-fashioned wedding gown on film!  Robin Wright played the title character of a fantasy novel being read to a tiny Fred Savage by his grandpa.  Even if her dress is imaginary, it’s stunning nonetheless.  Legendary costume designer Phyllis Dalton, who won Oscars for Henry V and Doctor Zhivago, created the medieval wardrobe for this 1987 film.  Princess Buttercup is about to be married off to an evil prince, but her peasant-turned-pirate lover, Westley, interrupts to save the day!  Her bridal gown is simply gorgeous.  It’s an empire-waist gown of intricate pearl work and soft white flocked velvet with just a hint of blue.  Accented by Wright’s flowing waves and probably the prettiest tiara of all-time, it’s no wonder two men are fighting over Buttercup!  Plus, Andre the Giant gets to be her Maid of Honor!  :)  “As you wish…” <32. Allie Hamilton (Rachel McAdams), The Notebook Rachel McAdams looks good in anything you put her in, so it’s no surprise she looked impeccable as a 1940s lovelorn woman in this 2004 romance with former boyfriend, Ryan Gosling.  (Watching this movie now breaks our hearts, because we just want them to reunite!)  The clothing in this film was designed by Karyn Wagner.  In this scene, Rachel’s character, Allie, is getting fitted for her wedding gown for her upcoming society nuptials and sees something in the newspaper that stuns her – the love of her life has completed his wish by refurbishing his formerly beat-up dream home.  She’s the only part that’s missing is his soul mate, Allie Hamilton.  This editor’s dream wedding gown is Pierce Brosnan’s wife Keely’s stunning lace gown from their 2001 Irish wedding, so I obviously loved the old-fashioned lace McAdams’ sports here.  She may be getting fitted as a bride to another man, but she still looks gorgeous and straight out of the post-WWII era.  Ugh, we don’t want to hear about another celebrity wedding unless it’s McAdams and Gosling eloping in the Carolina setting where they met.

3. Jo Stockton (Audrey Hepburn), Funny FaceThis is probably the most recognizable bridal look on our list.  Here’s our icon, Audrey Hepburn, in the film Funny Face.  She’s actually not getting married in this scene, but modeling a wedding dress in her new-found career.  The tea length gown, delicate lace gloves, and tiny veil epitomize high-end bridal fashion of the 1950s.  Legendary costume designer Edith Head, and longtime outfitter of the starlet Hubert de Givenchy created the clothing in this famous fashion film.  (Fun Fact: Givenchy didn’t receive his due credit – or the Oscar that came with it – for his stunning work on Hepburn’s earlier film Sabrina, so for this 1957 movie, Hepburn personally made sure that Givenchy would receive a film credit.  No wonder she remained one of his most loyal friends for the rest of their lives!)

4. Queen Victoria (Emily Blunt), The Young VictoriaThis movie is a dramatized version of the early years of the United Kingdom’s Queen Victoria, and while not all the facts are correct, it’s still a great movie with a powerful performance by Emily Blunt as the title character.  Costume designer Sandy Powell won her third Academy Award for her amazing work on this film, and based the the gown on the real queen’s dress.  It’s described as, “An ivory duchess silk satin dress with antique lace detail as well as an ivory silk satin train with silk flowers sewn on. Finished with an antique cream silk lace veil.”  With a flowered wreath upon her head, and adorned with royal jewels, it’s hard to believe these photos of Emily Blunt are from this decade!  She and co-star Rupert Friend look right at home in their 19th century roles (pictured, below) as one of the most famous couples in history, Victoria and Albert, who are easy to root for.5. Maria Von Trapp (Julie Andrews), The Sound of Music The plot of this 1965 film sounds so ridiculous, it has to be true: an adventurous, freethinking and musically-inclined nun becomes a live-in tutor and nanny to a military captain’s seven unruly children, eventually breaking the rug-rats and bonds with them, decides to leave the church to become their full-time mother, after falling in love for their rigid father, and creates a family singing group.  Oh!  And they escape the Nazis!  Sounds made-up, but it’s actually the incredibly true story of the Von Trapp Family, and it’s one of the greatest movies ever made.  Julie Andrews plays the lead character, Maria, and when she marries Captain Von Trapp (played by the dashing Christopher Plummer), she doesn’t look so bad herself!  Here, Maria is getting married on the cusp of World War II, but in reality, the couple was already married and on baby #3 by the time Hitler took power.  This gown has a very 1930s/40s feel with the high collar and long sleeves, and the veil was an astounding fourteen feet long!  Andrews makes one heck of a glamorous nun!

6. Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley), Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s ChestOne of Johnny Depp’s pirate movies certainly doesn’t seem like a likely candidate where a vintage wedding gown would be found, but Keira Knightley gets to sport a gorgeous gold ballgown in this Disney sequel!  Costume designer Penny Rose created this stunning bridal outfit of golden silk taffeta and tons of beaded pearl work.  Accented by a long white veil, a bouquet of calla lilies, and lots of raindrops, she makes one magical, and tragic, bride.  The editors of The Costumer’s Guide to Movie Costumes wrote a lovely analysis of this memorable gown.7. Margaret “Clover” Russell (Angelina Jolie), The Good ShepherdThis film is about the birth of the Office of Strategic Services and its segue into becoming the CIA – not exactly a romance.  Unfortunately, this wedding scene is also a bit of a sham.  Without revealing too much, Matt Damon’s character is trapped into marriage by a classmate’s wild sister named Clover, played by Angelina Jolie.  Interestingly enough, we’ve seen another beautiful costume Jolie wears in the 2006 film mentioned in top wedding dress lists, but it’s not her bridal gown.  It’s the outfit she’s wearing when she meets Damon’s character for the first time.  Here, she’s wearing a classic 1930s cream-colored gown with a slightly poofed shoulder and lovely satin buttons at the wrist.  Costume designer Ann Roth commented, “I knew a lot of Clovers in my life.  They went to finishing school; there was a glamor about them, but it was very homegrown.”  Clover looks like a movie star, but in reality ends up having the personality of a hag!  Poor Matt!

8. Cinzia Zaccardi (Sophia Loren), Houseboat In this 1958 film, Sophia Loren plays an Italian girl named Cinzia looking to get away from her overbearing father, and ends up living on a houseboat as a housekeeper, or a nanny, or whatever to widower Cary Grant and his three children.  It’s actually pretty hilarious, despite being nearly 60 years old, and definitely worth renting.  We’re pretty much ruining the ending by showing you this scene, but it seems Cary Grant’s character likes having an Italian sexpot with a smart mouth live on his houseboat, and they marry.  Cinzia sports a beautiful, long-sleeved white lace gown, fitted at her tiny waist and adorned with satin white buttons down the front, accompanied by an elaborate head piece and a short veil.  It’s very traditional-looking, and perfect for an Italian-American wedding during the 1950s.  No surprise here, the stunning clothing Cinzia brings with her from Italy were designed by the legendary costume designer Edith Head.  Fun Fact: During the filming of this comedy, Carlo Ponti obtained a divorce in Mexico from his first wife, and married Sophia Loren by proxy while she made the movie in Hollywood, even though Loren was actually dating co-star Cary Grant at the time!  That must have made things awkward onset…9. Georgiana, The Duchess of Devonshire (Keira Knightley), The DuchessOne of our dedicated readers told us we should just feature Keira Knightley in period clothing, and for real – this girl can wear a dress.  Any dress!  Be it her stunning gown in Atonement, or costumes from the 19th century, this Brit looks drop dead gorgeous in anything.  In this film, she plays Georgiana, the Duchess of Devonshire, who is married young, and finds she’s much spunkier than her very cold husband.  In reality, the Duchess was nicknamed the “Empress of Fashion,” in her day.  Costume designer Michael O’Connor says of the 1700s dress, “It’s the second costume you see in the film – a creamy silk with lots of decoration. It’s a way of being flamboyant, but not as ostentatious as if she were married in the presence of the king and queen. It’s a grown-up dress; it says she’s apprehensive about her future.”  Unfortunately the marriage seems to cause nothing but heartbreak for the rest of her life, but at least she has several beautiful daughters, and her vast interest in politics to keep her busy – as well as a steamy affair with future prime minister Charles Grey!  Guess she really did have a passion for politics! 😉

10. Marie Antoinette (Kirsten Dunst), Marie AntoinetteThis is another historical film about a European queen during her youth – although it doesn’t end as happily for Marie Antoinette as it does for Queen Victoria (the beheading puts a damper on things).  The Austrian princess, played by Kirsten Dunst, is married off to the heir of the French monarchy, and lives a life of extreme luxury at her peasants’ expense.  Her wedding was no exception.  She dons this intricate 18th century gown, trimmed with gold, lace and bows – perfect, considering the bride was only fourteen-years-old in real life!  The aesthetics of this Sofia Coppola movie are so beautiful, we’ll eventually write an article on all of the costumes featured in the 2006 film, but for right now we’re just showing her bridal wear.  Italian costume designer Milena Canonero won her third Oscar for her historical and elaborate work on the movie.