On July 1, 1995, Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece, Prince of Denmark married Hong Kong raised British-American socialite Marie-Chantal Miller at a lavish ceremony at St. Sophia’s Cathedral in London. Attended by one of the largest assembled groups of royals this generation, the 20th anniversary of this happy day is a wonderful opportunity to look back at it.
One might think that a royal family in exile might celebrate passages of life on a more modest scale but such was not the case with this event. With 1400 guests, a reported budget of eight million US dollars, a reception at Hampton Court Palace, and 62 pieces of Valentino couture worn by the bridal party and guests, this wedding was as extravagant and grand-scale as they come. I suppose when the bride is the daughter of a billionaire entrepreneur and the groom (who was born crown prince of a reigning monarchy) counts the Queens of Spain and Denmark as his aunts, modest is not an option.
It was therefore, no surprise that Marie-Chantal went to Valentino for her wedding dress. Made of ivory silk, the gown featured a four and a half metre train and was trimmed with twelve different varieties of handmade lace. The high-necked lace bodice with long sleeves was encrusted with pearls, forming a garden of flowers against a delicate lattice background. My favourite detail on the dress was the bottom of the skirt, which was appliquéd with silk roses in a medallion motif.
Marie-Chantal’s veil, made of handmade Chantilly lace, was woven and embroidered with motifs of flowers and butterflies. The wide border of intricate scallops wrapped around the piece, framing both Marie-Chantal’s face and the train of her gown. The veil was anchored by the Greek Antique Corsage Tiara, on loan from Queen Anne-Marie.
This tiara was a wonderful pairing for this ensemble- the lightness and delicacy of the design was perfect for Marie-Chantal’s inaugural tiara while the height and heft of the piece stood up to her elaborately patterned veil.
I think this is one of the royal dresses and veils that requires a close-up look to appreciate its immense and intricate detail (detail that required twenty-five Valentino seamstresses four months to create at an estimated quarter of a million US dollars at the time it was made). Unfortunately, this detail is lost on many photos and the petite Marie-Chantal is left looking swamped by a dress that overwhelms her. While the ensemble is incredibly royal and is undeniably, a couture masterpiece, I think it was simply too much for this young bride.
I’m curious to hear your thoughts about this royal bridal ensemble, 20 years after it was worn. Do you think it has transcended time? You can also watch the full ceremony below.
Jump over to this post to see hats worn by family members of the couple and to this post for hats worn by other royal guests.
Photos from AFP, Lord Lichfield, Peter Macdiarmid, Lord Lichfield, and Lord Lichfield via Getty; David Seidner; The Royal Forums; and Getty as indicated
When I started looking at Royal Wedding Dresses this one stood out from all the rest and I really love it. At first the pictures I saw did not show the scallops on the veil. In retrospect I do think the scallops are distracting, but I really love the dress and the tiara. I would love to see it up close!!
This frock was in Melbourne (Australia) at an exhibition of wedding frocks (local and “celebrity”, no idea of this frock’s significance to Melbourne) and the detail is MAGNIFICENT up close. I spent hours poring over it, the detail is breathtaking and the sheer amount of work in it is something to be marveled at. The photographs unfortunately do it little justice.
It is probably not the best frock on the Princess, but it is lovely and it is a wedding frock so all manner of over-the-topness is forgiven.
Sorry, but she looks like a Matryoshka/Russian doll in it.
agree. Viel too heavy for her face. it overwhelmed her
Marie-Chantal’s Valentino wedding dress looks much better on the mannequin than on her. Like me, she is petite, and can’t wear really detailed clothes. There were things I liked and things I didn’t like about her ensemble. The ivory silk was beautiful, but rather heavy for a summer wedding and on such a petite lady. I loved the four and a half meter train, but it looked too much for her small frame to tow, and awfully big in such a cramped church. It was such a complex train, that it tended to compete with the veil and dress. The high neckline didn’t work on her. You need a very long neck to carry off this look. I didn’t like the lace yolk which finished at the lower limit of her Queen Mary’s, and the heavy embroidered tight lace long sleeves. I agree with HatQueen that the best detail on the dress was the bottom of the skirt, appliquéd with silk roses in a medallion motif. I loved the scalloped veil, but it was too heavy to go with the dress and train, and too dense. I loved her natural make-up and her hair swept back from the face into a classic up-sweep. I can’t abide those center-parted styles like Mary Donaldson and Sofia Hellqvist wore with their tiaras. HatQueen was spot on in saying that this tiara was a wonderful pairing for this ensemble, as the height and heft of the piece stood up to her elaborately patterned veil. It sure beat that horrible little dinky tiara they gave to Mary Donaldson! I detest bouquets where you can see the handle, like this one and Kate Middleton’s one. Quell Horreur!
Love the shape of the dress, and if they could have brought themselves to leave the bodice unadorned, it would have been pretty. That veil really should go though. That thing isn’t in step with any other part of the ensemble. If it had been a family piece you’d shake your head but understand. M-C is usually so beautifully dresses too. I always say that a woman will pick out a wedding dress that she wouldn’t be caught within 50 paces of any other time, and this is a good example of it.
The veil may have been a nod to church protocol, since this was a very orthodox Greek Orthodox wedding.
I don’t think the Orthodox Church has anything to say on scalloped edges and butterflies!
I remember seeing this at the time and really hating it. Whilst I can now see it’s a beautiful dress, and the detail is indeed exquisite, I totally agree that lovely Marie-Chantal is swallowed whole by this frock. It’s just lace, more lace, more lace and a big skirt. Valentine clearly set out to design a Queen’s dress, he just did it much better with Maxima’s.
The dress always looks incredibly uncomfortable to me. As if she were sewn into it. I find it all a bit much.
There has always been something about this dress that prevents me from loving it. That skirt is exquisite. Easily the top skirt in all royal wedding dresses. But, it’s the lace from her neck to bust line which doesn’t work for me, and seems to compete with her veil. It’s almost like that lace doesn’t match the skirt nor the veil. If that part was left with a plain, silk design, I think this would have been the greatest royal dress.
I sure love these retrospectives. I’ve been following the British royal family since I was young, but not the others and I love getting all caught up on the fashions, etc. of these past weddings! Thanks for taking the time to write these posts! I know having a blog requires quite a lot of effort and I sincerely appreciate it!
I love it.
10 years ago, I couldn’t stand this. now I love it! It’s just the right amount of over the top for a royal wedding.
I’m pretty sure her bouquet started a new fashion at the time. I went to a couple weddings the next few years where the bride totally copied this giant rose bouquet idea!
Sorry, but I don’t agree that she appears overwhelmed by the gown. It is magnificent and yet delicate at the same time. One thing which I didn’t appreciate until seeing the photos is how the top lace stops just below the bustline, which elongates her silhouette and makes the sweep of the lower gown and train more dramatic. Crown Princess Victoria’s gown would beat this one in a face-off methinks, but it’d be close.
Incredibly beautiful. Timeless.