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Fairytale Wedding Dress

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A gown as lovely as one made by a Fairy Godmother.
It’s not a coincidence that all the princesses you’ve read about all got married in a beautiful ball gown wedding dress. This is an elegant bridal design that instantly makes you feel gorgeous and truly flatters your unique shape in all the right places.
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A fancy wedding dress with an old-fashioned style of skirt, usually full length and bell-shaped, and plenty of trimmings such as pearls, flowers, lace, Giant Poofy Sleeves, a Giant Waist Ribbon, a long train, a large veil, etc. After all, what's a wedding without some Costume Porn? And since Tropes Are Flexible, even a Simple, yet Opulent dress can work.

The main reason for such dresses (and perhaps the key to this trope over any other wedding dress) is the notion that many women like to "feel like a Princess" on their wedding day (even if she is already royalty), and wearing such a dress is at least one way to carry out that wish. She's probably had this desire ever since she was a small child in her Princess Phase. Back then she probably had everything planned out, except for who the groom was, maybe.

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And this kind of dress is Truth in Television, as any Bridal Magazine will show loads of these, at least as much as the modest and sensible dresses.

Sometimes it doesn't even have to be worn at a wedding. It can show up in a bridal Fashion Show, or be one of several dresses a character tries on for her wedding (often a dress that she turns down due to either cost or it genuinely not being the kind of dress she wants). Or, more subversively, a Drag Queen may appear in a wedding dress as part of a performance—often to poke fun at old-fashioned ideas that a bride has to be modest or virginal (or female) to make a good spouse.

When it is a wedding, this tends to be worn by younger women. Older women are usually seen as not being so naive about how wedding should go (even if they aren't above romance).

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Now as the name indicates, this dress is likely to show up at the end of some Fairy Tales—or at least modern works of them. (Genuine folk fairy tales tend to skip over the sartorial details to lavish attention on the villain's horrific death. Illustrated versions may show it, though.)

It isn't immune to being Impossibly Tacky Clothes if either the bride has little taste or she is forced to wear such a dress. It also isn't immune from being Doomed New Clothes or a Blood-Splattered Wedding Dress, unless it's a live action work and the dress is too expensive to wreck.

Name comes from the term "fairytale wedding", which is meant to evoke old-fashioned grandeur and elegance (look for the newlyweds to leave in a horse drawn carriage), which includes the dress, and is quite popular in Weddings in Japan.

It can overlap with Ethereal White Dress if the white dress she wears all the time is her wedding dress (often when widowed). May also be worn by a Wight in a Wedding Dress.

A Sub-Trope of Pimped-Out Dress.

Compare Virgin in a White Dress, Happy Holidays Dress, Elegant Gothic Lolita, Little Black Dress, Pink Means Feminine. Contrast Unconventional Wedding Dress.

This item is available in the Trope Co. catalog.

Note: Since this involves weddings, some of these entries will be spoilers. You Have Been Warned.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Case Closed, Yumi Miyamoto briefly wears one when she and Takagi are chosen as body doubles for an about-to-marry couple threatened by a Serial Killer. When Sato realises who the culpit is, she switches places with Yumi and gets to wear the dress as well.
  • Clarice's wedding dress in Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro. Former princess Sayako of Japan (who gave up her title to marry a commoner) liked it so much that she had a real-world one made for her wedding dress.
  • In Princess Jellyfish, while watching jellyfish at the aquarium, Tsukimi's mother promised to make her a wedding dress just like that, fit for a princess. Though she then said, "Or is it weird that jellyfish remind me of princesses?"
  • In Rosario + Vampire Kahlua Shuzen's dress is similar to something bride would wear on her wedding (except maybe the boots and the slit}.
  • Sailor Moon:
    • A wedding themed episode of the enime featured lots of these, with Usagi's bridal transformation pictured above. It's a plot point, since the whole episode relays in Weddings in Japan imaginery and a wedding dress contest that get crashed by Nephrite's Brainwashed and Crazy victim who's then stopped and released by the Senshi.
    • In the final chapter of the manga, Usagi finally wears one for her wedding to Mamoru.
  • Princess Martina's dress at the end of Slayers Next. Sylphiel and Amelia positively swoon over how lovely she looks in it.
  • A potential dress for the princess in Voltron/GoLion is made, and then modeled, although the series ends before she even gets engaged.
  • Sena Nakajima (née Wakabayashi) from You're Under Arrest! wore a really lovely gown when she married Ken's father. Miyuki gets to wear it briefly when she gets to give Ken a kiss on the cheek, making herself pass as Sena.

    Comic Books 
  • Brittany's wedding dress malfunction in Gold Digger. As a were-cheetah, she planned to marry in her lovely, spotted, eight-foot-tall furry form. The dressmaker, apparently never having seen Brittany, sized the dress for human proportions instead, somehow overlooking fitting sessions or phone verifications. Her barbarian grandmother literally forged her a proper Barbarian-tribe substitute dress: traditional Valkyrie-ish armor. Just when it looked as though Brittany would actually have to wear that, her arch-mage dad conjured a magical wedding dress out of a dream: perfect in every way. She was, of course, overjoyed.
  • Golden Eyes' dress in the World War I serial "Golden Eyes" and Her Hero "Bill" is what happens when Pimped-Out Dress gets combined with Wartime Wedding. The accompanying text admits that the heroine "spent her heart out on the misty froth and silver of bride-white," while the illustration itself shows the bride swathed in billowing lace and carrying not just a bouquet, but an armful of pink roses. The wedding itself is explicitly compared to the ending of a fairy tale in the opening paragraph:
    "All good faery-tales have a Prince and a Princess, and a faithful Comrade, and Love, and Adventure, and War, and terrible Barriers that rear themselves between the Prince and the Princess, and a Wedding with bride-roses and white slippers—and nobody ever dies in a good faery-tale, or doesn’t get what they want—except the wicked Ogre in the tale. So this tale, too! On a bright, crisp day in Sunny France Golden-Eyes and Bill got what they wanted—one another. The Ogre—War—was dead. [sic]"
  • Superman:
    • One appears in Superman: The Wedding Album. However while Ellen Lane thinks it looks wonderful, Lois herself absolutely loathes it. It isn't the dress she wears for the actual wedding.
    • In Supergirl story arc "Candor", Saturn Queen, who is mind-controlling Kara Zor-El into marrying Ultraman, gets her to wear a sumptuous, multilayered, pink-and-golden wedding gown, complete with a three-pronged crown ornamented with red beads.

    Fan Works 
  • The Bolt Chronicles: The unnamed bride in "The Wedding Reception" has an especially over-the-top gown, festooned with flowers and Styrofoam birds.
  • Burning Bridges, Building Confidence opens with Marinette dreaming about getting married in a dress that elegantly fuses traditional Chinese wedding garb with a trumpet gown. This contrasts sharply with Lila, who abruptly interrupts and hijacks the venue while wearing an incredibly gaudy, tacky dress 'made of dime store materials and hatred'. This signals the dream rapidly spiraling into a Catapult Nightmare.
  • Khaos Omega has only deployed this once minus the sleeves. As this is a strapless complete bridal gown designed for Anise Azeat's true form deployed at the end of chapter 4 in 'Amethyst Beginnings' it serves as a reminder for Anise of the fact Soul Bonds essentially mean the two linked parties are already married. (Jet, upon seeing her wearing it, chooses that moment to propose to her, which she accepts, firing off a massive amount of golden light that due to the gown allows the two to become truly married without an actual wedding ceremony).
  • In an untitled Game of Thrones fic, medieval heiress Sansa has a multilayered gown of silk and gossamer, ornamented with crystal beads and sleeves that almost touch the floor.

    Films — Animated 
  • Jasmine's wedding dress in Aladdin and the King of Thieves has a long, flowing white skirt with gold trim, including massive golden shoulder pads.
  • The dress at the end of Cinderella, is flowing and white, with a long veil. It's less fancy than her iconic dress (which is irrelevant to the trope, in case anyone wondered).
  • Ariel's dress at the end of The Little Mermaid (1989) mostly qualifies for its huge puffy sleeves.
  • Mulan's wedding dress at the end of Mulan II combines this with Lady in Red, since in ancient China, the bride's dress was colored red. It's layered, with long flowing sleeves, and a traditional headdress.
  • The magically created dress at the end of The Princess and the Frog is the elaborate, multilayered Garden Garment with a long sparkly veil seen in most of Tiana's merchandise.
  • Rapunzel's wedding dress in the sequel short "Tangled Ever After", which is actually a white Palette Swap of her celebration dress (with a train as long as her hair had been).

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Kate Hudson wears one in the movie Bride Wars. And a big deal is made about how it was designed by Vera Wang.
  • Naturally, Lily James gets a gorgeous wedding dress as Ella in Cinderella (2015) — full skirt, long chiffon sleeves, corseted bodice, the works. Fittingly for Ella, the skirt and bodice also feature pastel appliqué flowers.
  • Coming to America has two:
    • Imani's dress at the start of the movie, which appears to be made of gold and has a train that stretches across the room.
    • Lisa's dress at the end, a sparkling pink dress completely with an extra poofy skirt and 50-foot train.
  • The would-be wedding dress at the beginning of Enchanted, and another one that shows up at the end. Giselle's demonstrates just how impractical these dresses can get. When she's transported to the real world she's constantly bumping into things and getting stuck in narrow doorways because her skirt is so big.
  • Annie's wedding dress in Father of the Bride (1991) has a long skirt covered with lace, and full lace sleeves and neckline over a strapless bodice.
  • Mirror, Mirror has two:
    • Queen Clementianna wears one her wedding to Prince Alcott; a white gown complete with a wide, poofy skirt which seems to be either made of feathers or patterned to look like feathers. The wedding doesn't happen, though.
    • Snow White's wedding dress is a blue and orange gown with a wide skirt, a white, lacy collar, poofy, lacy sleeves and orange undersleeves with a large, matching orange bow on the back of the dress
  • Our Miss Brooks In The Movie Grand Finale to the series, Miss Brooks pictures herself in one as she fantasizes about marriage to Mr. Boynton. Miss Brooks finally gets her man at the end of the film

    Literature 
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses: Feyre's wedding dress in A Court of Mist and Fury is described as such; however, she's not overly impressed with the look and Rhysand openly mocks it:
    Feyre: "It was a monstrosity of tulle and chiffon and gossamer, so unlike the loose gowns I usually wore: the bodice fitted, the neckline curved to plump my breasts, and the skirts...The skirts were a sparkling tent, practically floating in the balmy spring air. I might have dealt with it all if it weren't for the puffy capped sleeves, so big I could almost see them glinting from the periphery of my vision."
  • Shows up in the Honorverse (what doesn't?), specifically A Rising Thunder, when Rivka Rosenfeld marries her fiancé, Crown Prince Roger of the Star Empire of Manticore. Honor Harrington, serving as maid of honor, explicitly notes that while the dress is not overly frilly, as per Rivka's wishes, anyone who knows anything about fabric and gown construction will know just how outrageously expensive the gown was, as fitting a future empress consort.
  • When Queen Ehlana marries in The Sapphire Rose, her gown is described as being this, including having floor-length sleeves turned back partway to show the gold fabric beneath the white. The narration even notes that those in attendance are expected to view her "not as a woman so much as a work of art." Because the wedding was arranged on relatively short notice, the groom wonders if the gown was put together by magic, which is entirely possible.

    Live Action TV 
  • On Adam Ruins Everything, Adam explains that the wedding dress as we know it is Newer Than They Think. Up until the wedding of Queen Victoria to Prince Albert, brides wore nice dresses (if their families were wealthy) or everyday, casual dresses (if their families were not so wealthy). Brides began copying Queen Victoria's then-iconic white dress, but only if they were wealthy, because back then, a dress like that would have been too expensive and impractical for most women (or their parents) to justify, especially as it was only going to be worn once. (Furthermore, most Western weddings were much simpler affairs up until that point, sometimes wedged into other unrelated social events.) That changed in The '30s, despite a little bump in the road known as The Great Depression, with the advent of bridal magazines that encouraged increasingly lavish wedding celebrations and elaborate dresses. The idea of the white dress signifying the bride's virginity (as opposed to how wealthy her parents were) came even later, about The '50s or so.
  • In the Four Weddings episode "And a Shark Tank", Celeste wears a dress with a bunched and puffed overskirt that can be removed to show a short feather skirt an elaborate handmade bodice with leaf-like decorations, and a white rabbit wrap (with two puffballs) over the dress.
  • Friends:
    • Rachel is introduced wearing a very poofy early-90s dress as a result of running out on her wedding. She apparently held onto it for a while as she wears it again in season four to cheer herself up after fighting with her current boyfriend.
    • Phoebe's wedding dress in the final season is a borderline example. It's certainly fancy but much sleeker than Rachel's and lavender rather than the traditional white.
    • Monica's dream dress is an example but she eventually gives it to another bride in exchange for the wedding band Chandler had his heart set on. The dress she ends up wearing is much simpler and more like a nice evening gown.
  • Game of Thrones features a few, though this ain't no fairytale.
    • Margaery's dress when she marries Joffrey is an elegant, backless white gown with a long train resembling roses, with more roses in black embroidery along the bodice...though if you look closely, you can see the roses have thorns as well, to remind you she's not all sweet.
    • The full-skirted white gown with a matching fur wrap Sansa wears to her second wedding is stunning. Pity about the groom and circumstances.
      Bran Stark: It was so beautiful that night. Snow falling, just like now. And you were so beautiful. In your white wedding dress.
  • One of the minor characters on The John Larroquette Show got married, and his wife wanted a literal fairytale wedding, with her and the bridesmaids in Cinderella-esque gowns.
  • Guinevere's coronation gown in Merlin. It's unclear whether her coronation doubles as her wedding, but it's still a pimped-out frock and it still involves a ceremony that signifies her marriage to a man.
  • As mentioned below in the real life section, this is often (but not always) the case with weddings in the Traveller and Romany Gypsy Communities, to the extent there is a Reality Television show about it: My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding. This is, however, contested by many within the Traveller and Romany Gypsy communities who state that the prevalence of these dresses is overexaggerated greatly, mainly by Thelma Madine the (non-traveller) woman who creates them and makes a lot of money from them.
  • Once Upon a Time has several over the years, beginning with Snow White's feathered one in the pilot. Later ones include Cinderella's with Opera Gloves, Regina's dress of tons of silk and diamonds, Cora's champagne gown with a jewelry-studded bodice, Anna's which she inherited from her mother Gerda, and Emma's high-necked lace dress.
  • Our Miss Brooks:
    • "Angela's Wedding" begins with Mrs. Davis' sister Angela trying on her wedding dress while carrying her bouquet. It is an elaborate white dress with a veil and a train, with humour coming from the fact Angela is in her latter middle-aged and is quite plump.
    • In The Movie Grand Finale, Miss Brooks daydreams about Mr. Boynton carrying her into their new home. Miss Brooks is finely dressed in a traditional wedding gown with a veil and bridal bouquet.
  • Raising Hope:
    • Virginia's Jerkass cousin Delilah had always dreamed of having a pink wedding dress with a huge train carried by Michael Jackson, when she was a teenager back in The '80s or early in The '90s. When she finally does get married in her late 30's or early 40's, she finally gets her wish. Including the part about Michael Jackson (or at least an MJ impersonator) carrying her train.
    • Later in the series, Virginia's father offers to give her the wedding she always dreamed of, but never got. Virginia wears the same dress Princess Diana wore to her wedding to Prince Charles, to renew her vows to Burt. (Prince Charles' outfit is also worn by Burt.)
  • Darlene's wedding dress in Roseanne. Originally her grandmother Bev's, its old-fashioned look fit in nicely with Darlene's goth style.
  • Alice Tinker's wedding dress in The Vicar of Dibley episode "Love & Marriage", although being Alice it has a few unique additions of her own, such as a headpiece that looks like a glass sculpture with hearts hanging from it, fairy lights, and an illuminated bodice reading "I Love Hugo".note 
  • Grace tries one on in Will & Grace, but settles for something more understated and fashionable for her own wedding.

    Music 

    Theatre 
  • Christine wears a gorgeously ornate wedding dress, complete with a train, floor-length veil, and lace spiralling up the skirt, in the final scene of The Phantom of the Opera. Unfortunately for her, though, she's only wearing it because her Stalker with a Crush the Phantom made her do so as part of his Scarpia Ultimatum, so she has rather more pressing matters on her mind than looking like a princess.
  • In The Sound of Music, Maria wears an elaborate wedding dress with a train, and there is a scene where the nuns help her into it and allow her to admire herself in a mirror for the sake of Costume Porn.

    Video Games 
  • Yuna's would-be wedding dress in Final Fantasy X counts, despite the atypical cut of the skirt. It has stylized feathery wings, a massive feather-lined train, and a veil long enough to cover said train.
  • Guenevere opens with the title character's wedding to King Arthur, while wearing an extremely elaborate gown her servants have spent years to create.
  • The King of Fighters:
    • In King Of Fighters '97 if you had Mai face off Andy, she'd show up in a fancy wedding dress just before the fight to tease him, then quickly change into her trademark clothing and throw the bouquet - which a deathly embarrassed Andy would hide in his clothing.
    • In The King of Fighters '02, Mai wears it again in a finishing move (see here).
  • In the mobile phone game Love Nikki - Dress Up Queen, a craftable wedding dress called Realized Dream is this style. It's also the only wedding dress in the game that's not from an event, making it necessary to craft for a level requiring a wedding dress if you didn't start playing until after the wedding event.
  • In Medieval II: Total War, the cinematic for the marriage of one of your royal family's daughters shows her entering the cathedral in one of these. The train of the dress is at least ten feet.
  • The last storied event of Namu Amida Butsu! -UTENA-, which celebrates Tanabata and June Bride at the same time. The latter part naturally features splendid wedding gowns worn by Ashuku, fetching suits for grooms and cool wedding interior designs.
  • In Pokémon, Mega Gardevoir's skirt is upgraded to look like this.
  • Freudia Neuwahl's outfits in the RosenkreuzStilette series give off a vibe that makes it look like she's wearing a wedding dress. In Freudenstachel, a sash is worn around her outfit's waist, which makes it look as if its skirt were separable from its top.
  • At the end of Emelia's story in SaGa Frontier, when Gradius investigates a church, it's revealed that she's carrying the dress she would have married Ren in if he wasn't murdered. She changes into it at Anne and Liza's insistence, at which point her final boss interrupts, and she wears it throughout the battle (meaning you don't get the benefit of any of her other outfits for the fight).
  • In Super Paper Mario, Peach's dress when she was forced to marry Bowser, was basically a white version of her usual dress, but still was of a form that fit this trope. She was given a new, actual wedding dress for Super Mario Odyssey as another forced wedding to Bowser was the primary plot point.
  • Several of the Paralogues in Fire Emblem Heroes take place at a Bridal Festival, the point of which is to get a bunch of the women into ludicrously elaborate strapless wedding dresses (or in Oboro's case, a wedding kimono).

    Webcomics 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Kimber wears one in the second half of the Jem two-parter "Hollywood Jem" episode, with all the other Holograms (minus Jem, as Jerrica was the maid of honor, instead) being her bridesmaids. It was complete with a long train and many other frills fitting an 80s wedding dress. She was to marry Jeff, her other boyfriend, but they ultimately decided not to go through it.
  • 'My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic''
    • In the episode "The Ticket Master," Rarity imagines herself marrying Princess Celestia's nephew while wearing one of these (with a rather long train), despite being a unicorn. Pic here.
    • Done again in the season 2 finale, "A Canterlot Wedding;" this time, it's worn by Princess Cadance, who's marrying Twilight Sparkle's older brother, Shining Armor. And by Changeling Queen Chrysalis, disguised as her.

    Real Life 
  • As noted, this is common in royal weddings.
    • The Trope Codifier was Queen Victoria, who popularized the bride wearing white; previously, wedding dresses were normally just variations of typical pimped out dresses.
    • The future Queen Elizabeth II's dress.
    • Princess Diana's dress, although she hoped the moths had gotten to it.
    • Kate Middleton's dress (shown here) is in the "fitted princess" style. With just a fair amount of lace, it's quite a Simple, yet Opulent dress.
    • Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran, was married three times. Although his first wife, Princess Fawzia of Egypt, wore a relatively simple dress, his next two wore gowns that fit this. His second, Soraya Esfandiary-Bakhtiari, wore the most extravagant (seen here and here), with a dress loaded with trimmings of gauze and soft feathers.
    • Grace Kelly's wedding dress was designed by Oscar-winning costume designer Helen Rose, and 36 seamstresses worked on it for six weeks. Parts of the dress were made of nineteenth-century Brussels needle lace. Today, it's displayed at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
  • Céline Dion's wedding dress even had a matching white mink jacket to wear outside in the cold.
  • There are Hello Kitty themed weddings that includes several dresses like these. Think this is a joke? See here and here. Even Sanrio Puroland and Harmonyland holds official Hello Kitty themed weddings on special occasions.
  • And, of course, there are wedding dresses based on Disney Princess dresses, which can be viewed here. The dresses aren't necessarily based on what the girls wear in their movies, but capture their look and feel. Yet some forgo the traditional bell shape (the one for Ariel is obviously mermaid-style, for instance), but still fit this trope otherwise.
  • There's also a line of Sailor Moon themed wedding dresses, http://www.mariarosa.co.jp/sailormoon/collection.html seen here]]. Included in the collection is Usagi's wedding gown from the end of the manga, Princess Serenity's gown and more traditonal wedding gown that has optional pieces that make it into a ballgown version of Sailor Moon's first Sailor Fuku. (The collection also has Mamoru's wedding tuxedo, and Tuxedo Mask's suit, to match the bride.)
  • Many wealthier Irish Travellers are notorious for having lavish weddings with large, poofy gowns. (See examples here, here, and here.
  • Fashion designer Vera Wang became a household name due to this trope. While wedding dresses aren't the only thing she designs, it's what she's best known for.


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