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Princess Diana’s Wedding Dress Designer Reveals New Facts About Her Iconic Gown

Princess Diana wedding dressLONDON - JULY 29: (FILE PHOTO) Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales leave St. Paul's Cathedral following their wedding July 29, 1981 in London, England. (Photo by Anwar Hussein/Getty Images)

Yes, it was everything. When Princess Diana was just 19 years old, she first walked into the London studio of Elizabeth and David Emanuel to select the wedding dress she would wear in her 1981 nuptials to Princess Charles. The designers didn’t connect that they would be creating the wedding dress of Diana at the time, because the name was wrong on the list.

“There was instant recognition when she walked through the door,” Elizabeth told People this week. “She was just lovely, really kind of easy going. We never had any special instructions about how to make the wedding dress. That added a bit to the fun of it all, made it bit of an adventure.”

Emanuel and her then-husband, David, designed the world-famous dress without revealing the secret to anyone. There were interesting stories about the pieces, like Diana’s waistline dwindling down weeks before the ceremony. “Most brides do lose weight,” Emanuel told the mag. “So we weren’t that worried when she did. She was looking fantastic. She ended up with a 23-inch waist from a 26-to 27-inch.

UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 29: On July 29, 1981, Lady Diana SPENCER (aged 19) married Prince CHARLES (aged 32) at Buckingham Palace. (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)

UNITED KINGDOM – JULY 29: On July 29, 1981, Lady Diana SPENCER (aged 19) married Prince CHARLES (aged 32) at Buckingham Palace. (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)

Then, there was that elaborate train that filled Princess Diana’s carriage on her wedding day, July 29, 1981. The designers opted to create such a big train for one reason: “St. Paul’s Cathedral is a really big area to fill,” Emanuel noted.

To test out the aesthetic, the final fitting took place in Buckingham Palace. “This was a real royal palace,” the designer continued. “Here was Diana in our wedding dress which we designed for her.”

29th July 1981: Charles, Prince of Wales, with his wife, Princess Diana (1961 - 1997), at St Paul's Cathedral, London, during their marriage ceremony. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

29th July 1981: Charles, Prince of Wales, with his wife, Princess Diana (1961 – 1997), at St Paul’s Cathedral, London, during their marriage ceremony. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

When it came to the wedding day, the designers were more worried than the actual bride. “She was incredibly together and wasn’t panicking,” Emanuel told People. “But I was really worried about all things that could possibly go wrong. We’d taken smelling salts, glucose tablets — what if she feels faint? What if she passes out? Spills something down her skirt? …I had this kind of horror that maybe the train would drop off. We sewed her into things, we pinned her into things.”

Everything went as planned. Diana arrived to her ceremony with the dress piling over the carriage as she was accompanied by her father. “It’s always been about a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis,” Emanuel concluded. “And that is her story, really. She was emerging into a new world, a new life’s adventure.”

About the Author

Esther Lee
Esther Lee
Esther is the Senior News Editor at The Knot. A self-proclaimed pop culture enthusiast, she appreciates a good celebrity interview just as much as she adores Nancy Meyers movies. You can find her kicking off her mornings with barre and a green juice, traveling and exploring new cultures, and rapidly scrolling her feed for the latest and greatest news. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @theestherlee.