From Princess Diana's jaw-dropping dress train to Kate Middleton and Prince William's head-turning getaway car

By Stephanie Petit
September 11, 2020 01:33 PM
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Benjamin Wheeler/PA Wire; Gareth Fuller - WPA/Getty Images; Chris Jackson/Getty Images

There's nothing more exciting than a royal wedding, from the bride's gown and tiara to the horse-drawn carriage ride. Following Princess Beatrice's nuptials this summer, it may be a while before another royal walks down the aisle — but that's not stopping the PEOPLE staff from reminiscing about our favorite wedding moments.

Best Wow Moment: Princess Diana's Bridal Train

Princess Diana
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Prince Charles and Princess Diana
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Princess Diana's magnificent train is the stuff of royal wedding dreams! At 25 feet, it's the longest in the history of royal wedding dresses, and it provided the ultimate wow factor on her wedding day to Prince Charles in 1981. Embellished with 10,000 sequins and pearls, it perfectly embodied the over-the-top drama of the '80s. The train was so long that designers David and Elizabeth Emanuel ran out of space at their studio, so they completed it at Buckingham Palace. The only thing they didn't account for was that the train hardly fit into the carriage as Diana rode to St. Paul's Cathedral. But a few wrinkles couldn't take away from the fairy tale moment she created as she glided down the aisle.

-Erin Hill, Senior News Editor

Best Getaway Car: Kate Middleton and Prince William's Sweet Rides

Prince William and Kate Middleton
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Kate Middleton and Prince William
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Prince William may have delighted royal fans when he drove wife Kate Middleton away from their Buckingham Palace wedding reception in his father’s old Aston Martin decorated with a large red letter "L" – for learner’s license – and the jokey plate JU5T WED,  but his mode of transport later in the celebration was a stand-out.

After night had fallen, the couple were serenaded by pop star Ellie Goulding and their friends singing along to The Beatles' hit "She Loves You" during the party in the palace. At around 3 a.m., guests were asked to head to the back lawn — as the couple were leaving for good this time. William and Kate "squeezed into" a tiny vintage Fiat 500 and, standing up through the open roof, looked back at their friends as they were driven off down a gravel path into the night. "Then the fireworks went off," a guest said.

-Simon Perry, Chief Foreign Correspondent

Best Reception Dress: Meghan Markle

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
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It’s not a fairytale royal wedding without two dream dresses. And in my opinion, Meghan Markle saved the best look for last. When the couple stepped out ahead of their reception at Frogmore House, it was the fashion moment I’d been waiting all day for. Megan looked timeless and elegant in a custom silk Stella McCartney evening dress featuring a high halter neck and sexy open back (possibly a first for a royal affair!). She added custom satin Aquazurra shoes featuring nude mesh detailing and baby blue-painted soles. And Harry had his James Bond as he drove off with his new bride in a silver blue Jaguar while wearing a classic tuxedo. If I ever renew my vows, I know where I’m looking for style inspo.

-Brittany Talarico, Senior Style Editor

Best Soul-Stirring Performance: Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's Gospel Choir

The royals are unmatched when it comes to perfecting wedding choreography. But that also makes for a stiff formality: everyone in their place, hushed tones, prim demeanors, no surprises. So when the Kingdom Choir began belting out the first few notes of "Stand by Me" at Meghan and Harry’s wedding, the soulful moment shook the ancient stone walls of St. George's Chapel — and the world. Paired with Bishop Michael Curry’s soaring "love is the way" sermon, the infusion of Meghan's Black American heritage blew through the historic sanctuary like powerful winds of change.

-Michelle Tauber, Royals Senior Editor

Best "Something Old": Princess Beatrice's Wedding Gown and Tiara

Princess Beatrice and Queen Elizabeth
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So many brides had to re-envision their weddings due to the pandemic – princesses included! After postponing her wedding to Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi once, Princess Beatrice decided to go ahead with a much more low-key ceremony in July, right down to the secondhand wedding dress. Of course, it wasn’t just any old hand-me-down – it was a reimagined vintage Norman Hartnell dress worn by Beatrice's grandmother Queen Elizabeth in the 1960s, topped with the tiara the Queen wore at her own wedding, which she "saved especially for Beatrice … as they are exceptionally close." With her loose waves and recycled wedding shoes, Beatrice certainly didn’t have the pomp and circumstance of other royal brides, but in her sentimental gown and show-stopping tiara, she looked absolutely regal.

-Alex Apatoff, Digital Lifestyle Director

Best Scene-Stealing Star: Grace van Cutsem

Grace van Cutsem, Kate Middleton and Prince William
Darren Staples/Reuters/Landov

Amongst all the pomp and ceremony of Prince William and Kate Middleton's historic wedding day, the scowling face of 3-year-old bridesmaid Grace van Cutsem was an adorable moment that screamed, "This may be a royal wedding, but it's really noisy and my feet hurt!" As the newlyweds enjoyed the traditional RAF flypast on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, the crowds cheered as they leant in for that all-important kiss. But William's goddaughter was not amused, covering her ears and looking rather cross — and the image went viral as the perfect reality check on the fairytale day.

-Monique Jessen, Correspondent

Best Tearjerker Moment: Prince Carl Philip of Sweden's Soft Side

Princess Sofia and Prince Carl Philip
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When Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia of Sweden got married back in June 2015, their romantic Stockholm nuptials looked like they came straight out of a Scandinavian fairy tale. But the moment that really tugged on royal fans' heartstrings was at the reception when Carl Philip started tearing up during a performance of a song that Sofia had written for her handsome prince. Swedish TV captured the entire moment as singer Molly Sanden performed the romantic song and Carl Philip looked lovingly (and tearfully!) into his beautiful bride's eyes. Cue the stomach butterflies!

-Maria Mercedes Lara, Programming Director

Best "Almost Missed It" Moment: Jack Brooksbank Wearing His Glasses

Jack Brooksbank
The Royal Family
Jack Brooksbank and Princess Eugenie
Press Association via AP Images

As a nearsighted person myself, I can relate to bringing glasses everywhere I go to make sure special moments (that happen to be more than 10 feet away) don't go blurry. Jack Brooksbank clearly didn't want to miss a second of Princess Eugenie's walk down the aisle at their October 2018 nuptials, so in a subtly romantic move, he put on his specs as she entered the church. Once Eugenie she reached Jack at the end of the altar, he removed the tortoiseshell frames and handed them over to his best man, his brother Thomas. All together now: aww!

-Stephanie Petit, Royals Writer/Reporter

Best Behind-the-Scenes Bash: Kate's Hometown Celebration

Kate Middleton at her 2011 royal wedding
Chris Jackson/Getty

How do you celebrate being a guest at Prince William and Kate's wedding? If you’re one of the lucky locals from Kate's Bucklebury hometown who attended the service, you drive straight from London to Kate's favorite country pub and carry on the party until the early hours! Initially, the BBQ celebration at the Old Boot in Stanford Dingley was ticket-only, but it rapidly turned into an open house as the guests arrived in their top hat and tails to pop champagne and toast the royal couple. The landlord (himself a wedding guest) also provided a live band in the Old Boot's beer garden to keep the wedding guests, locals and pub regulars celebrating until well past midnight. The country celebration was conclusive proof — not that it was ever really needed — of just how popular Kate really is in her hometown.

-Phil Boucher, Correspondent