On July 29, 1981, 750 million people around the world gathered in front of their televisions (remember this was way before DVR) to watch Lady Diana marry the world’s most eligible bachelor at the time, Prince Charles. Much like the royal weddings of Prince William and Kate Middleton, and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the televised ceremony was a real-life fairy tale for the masses to enjoy. But unlike the more subdued nuptials of her two sons, Princess Di’s wedding was a lavish, over the top global event that spared no expense. Below, everything you need to know about Britain’s OG celebrity royal wedding.
Their wedding venue was an unusual choice.
Unlike most royal weddings that took place in Westminster Abbey, Charles and Diana’s ceremony was set in St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. Their choice of venue was unusual, as the last wedding to take place there was 480 years before, when Prince Arthur (the eldest son of King Henry VII) married Princess Catherine. The reason behind their choice? St. Paul’s Cathedral could sit 3,500 guests, while Westminster Abbey could only accommodate 2,000.
There was a backup dress just in case Diana’s real wedding dress leaked to the press.
Princess Diana’s wedding dress, made of silk, taffeta, and lace, and featuring 10,000 mother of pearl sequins and a 25 foot train was designed by young husband and wife duo David and Elizabeth Emanuel, who had previously designed the black, strapless look she wore for her first public engagement. The process of creating the dress was heavily shrouded in secrecy, and the designers even had a backup gown just in case details of her original look were leaked. “We didn’t try it on Diana. We never even discussed it,” Elizabeth said in 2011. “We wanted to make sure that we had something there; it was for our own peace of mind, really.”
Princess Diana’s wedding shoes were just as intricate as her dress.
You would think that because you could hardly see Princess Di’s shoes, the future royal would opt for something a little more simple. But the low-heeled shoes designed by Clive Shilton were anything but; they featured over 542 sequins, 132 pearls, and her and Prince Charles’s names engraved on the bottom of their soles.
There was a dress mishap, but thankfully, it was a minor one.
After putting on her dress and before making her way to the glass carriage that would take her to the cathedral, Diana accidentally spilled some of her perfume down the front of the dress which left a semi-visible mark. In order to try and obscure the spill, Diana would grab her skirt as if she were lifting it in. She pulled it off without a hitch as no one noticed the minor clothing snafu.
She made a feminist statement during her vows.
Even though their wedding was quite a traditional affair, Princess Diana chose to buck convention in one instance and became the first person to take out the word “obey” from the traditional royal wedding vows. Instead she only promised to “love him, comfort him, honor and keep him, in sickness and in health.” She also had one minor slip of the tongue when she mixed up Charles’s full name during the vows portion of the ceremony, calling him Philip Charles Arthur George instead of Charles Philip Arthur George.
Their wedding cake was quite something.
There were 27 wedding cakes at the reception following Charles and Diana’s wedding ceremony, but the main cake, a fruitcake made by David Avery, the head baker of the Royal Naval Cookery School, definitely stole the show. The five-tier cake was over five feet tall, weighed 225 pounds, and featured many different images including the family coat of arms, flowers, and the couple’s initials.