The Other Royal Wedding of the 1980s

23 July 2013

I actually remember the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of York on the 23rd of July 1986 far more clearly than that of Charles and Diana in July 1981. It was a lovely day from what I recall – either adults were less dismissive and cynical about the royal family and, more specifically, their weddings back then or I just never noticed.

I was royal family mad of course. I’d been collecting books, magazines, postcards and oh God EVERYTHING about Princess Diana for years at that point so an actual royal wedding was a bit of a thrill for me. Of course, having red hair myself meant that the thrill palled somewhat after a few months of being called ‘Fergie’ in reference to the royal bride.

The thing I remember the most about the royal wedding of 1986 though is how deliriously happy the couple looked. It’s sad really to recall this but I remember aspiring less to the whole grandiose trappings of an immense royal wedding than to how overjoyed Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson looked on their wedding day. I always hoped that I’d look just as thrilled on my wedding day…

So now of course we have the big question – which 1980s royal wedding dress do you prefer? I am, as you may have noticed, a big fan of Princess Diana’s fairytale princess ensemble but there is a special place in my heart for the Duchess of York’s dress too. What do you think?

It was designed by relatively unknown designer Lindka Cierach, who said later that: ‘I wanted the Duchess of York’s sense of fun and joy to come out in the dress. One day I woke up in the middle of the night and had dreamed it, and that was it‘. I actually think that the dress is more elegant and stately than ‘fun’ but maybe that’s just me.

The Duchess’ gown was made from champagne ivory silk from the famous silk farms at Lullingstone and has a beautiful, fitted almost Renaissance silhouette. The Duchess’ would later be endlessly criticised for what people saw as her terrible dress sense (personally I don’t think she dressed any worse than any other celebrity in the 80s) but I think that she never looked better than she did on her wedding day – simple, elegant lines clearly really suited her and the soft blush of the silk was immensely flattering to her colouring.

The highpoint of the dress, however was the exquisitely gorgeous seed pearl and diamante embroidery that covered the bodice and seventeen and a half foot train. 155,000 sequins and pearls were used to create symbols that were special to the royal couple and their families, including thistles, hearts, bees, anchors and even an ‘A’ for Andrew. It really was a special dress and in fact, the Duchess herself was to say that: ‘there will never be a dress to match it.’

The attention to detail didn’t end there – the Duchess was unusual for wearing a floral headdress when she went up the aisle and then removing it to reveal a tiara ( a present from the Queen – cor, I think my in laws gave us a washer dryer as a wedding present!) after the wedding ceremony was over. This was supposed to symbolise her transition from commoner to princess or as Sarah herself put it: ‘I had stepped up as the country girl; I would walk back as a princess.’

Oh and her shoes were by Manolo Blahnik!

Were you one of the 500 million people who watched the wedding that day? Did you have a ‘Fergie hair bow’ – I had a vast collection of them. Oh don’t look at me like that – don’t you remember the Fergie hair bows? She used to wear over sized silk bows on her hair at the back and they became a bit of a craze here in the UK. She didn’t wear a hair bow on her wedding day (note that she had her hair down, which seems pretty unusual these days), oh no, she had an immense bow on the back of the dress instead as well as little bows on the shoulders.

She also started a brief but intense fashion for Davy Crockett style faux fur hats. Not to mention PEACH bridesmaids dresses after her bridesmaids traipsed up the aisle in peach silk, carrying flower bedecked hoops. Oh, peach silk and hoops. They became a staple part of weddings for the latter half of the eighties thanks to the Duchess of York, for which I am sure that plenty of you curse her…


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