Think of a wedding dress, and what comes to mind is probably something white and fairly demure. But that’s not always the reality. These 30 modern-day celebrities and historical figures all decided to wear more outrageous and often scandalous outfits for their respective nuptials. And if these women wanted attention, it worked – as we’re still talking about their choices even today.
30. Jayne Mansfield
Jayne Mansfield was the bad girl of 1950s Hollywood, and her fabulous figure was the subject of frequent, perhaps overly detailed comment in the press. Furthermore, the actress went through scandal and divorce before she wore this incredible wedding dress to tie the knot with her second husband Mickey Hargitay. And the outfit was clearly designed to show off her curves.
The dress was made from lace and covered in sequins, and though it looks white in photographs, some say it was actually a pale pink that didn’t show up on the cameras of the era. The sheer tightness of the dress might well have raised a few eyebrows back in 1958, but then Mansfield was all about that.
29. Gloria Vanderbilt
Gloria Vanderbilt was 17 years old when she married Pat DiCicco back in 1941, and the star didn’t do things by halves. She opted for a long-sleeved Howard Greer gown with a massive 30-foot train – thus popularizing Greer as a fashion designer for the rich and famous. She also wore pearls, as had long been tradition in the Vanderbilt family.
A vast amount of paparazzi and well-wishers showed up for the wedding and presumably they weren’t disappointed. The cake even had a little figure of Vanderbilt in her dress. The actual marriage, however, was not such a success. The couple divorced only four years later, and Vanderbilt would wed three more times in all.
28. Heidi Montag
Reality star Heidi Montag went all out when she married Spencer Pratt in 2009. The TV personality had claimed beforehand that she would design her own dress. However, Montag actually ended up wearing a custom-made Monique Lhuillier gown which featured silk organza peacock feathers and a lot of Swarovski crystals.
Such was the occasion that fashion designer Richie Rich commented on the gown to MTV News at the time. He said, “It’s classy with a bit of a twist. Very Cinderella-like.” But he also added, “I wouldn’t have minded if she had gone a younger route, just a little bit, just because of who she is and who her fans are.”
27. Natalie Wood
In 1969 Natalie Wood married Richard Gregson, and the star decided to wear all yellow. That was clearly her color, as she’d also worn it for a wedding scene in the iconic movie West Side Story. Wood matched her whole ensemble to her stunning dress, and she made the unusual move of wearing ribbons instead of a veil.
Wood’s bouquet was also yellow and featured a sheaf of wheat. This was a nod to her Russian heritage – it’s traditional in that country. Gregson and Wood went on to have a child together, then divorced, but they managed to remain friends. Sadly, the latter died at the age of 43 under circumstances still yet to be resolved.
26. Julianne Moore
As time has gone on, increasing numbers of people have chosen not to wear white on their wedding day. Actress Julianne Moore was one of them; in 2003 she married her second husband Bart Freundlich and kept things very simple indeed. She wore only a lilac Prada dress plus green shoes and earrings.
And Moore was pretty casual about her wedding in general. In 2011 she told The Guardian, “The only reason I got married in 2003 was for my children. I had a therapist who said marriage is really a container for a family, and that made sense to me.” Nevertheless, she looked happy on the day – if the photos are anything to go by.
25. Elizabeth Taylor
Elizabeth Taylor famously had a lot of weddings, which means she sported a number of dresses. For her 1959 marriage to her fourth husband – Carrie Fisher’s father Eddie – she decided to wear something barely recognizable as a wedding gown. For reference, it was a dark green silk dress with a hood. But the wedding was scandalous long before she chose her attire for the day.
Eddie Fisher had been married to Debbie Reynolds when Taylor first became involved with him. He had comforted her after the death of her third husband Michael Todd, and it led to a love affair. Sadly, the incident made headlines that no dress – no matter how glamourous – could erase. And after all that, Taylor and Fisher divorced in 1964 anyway.
24. Jane Fonda
Actress Jane Fonda embodied the very spirit of the 1960s when she wore a sleeveless mini-dress for her wedding to Roger Vadim – matched with black boots and of course some fashionably tall hair. It wasn’t traditional at all, but it was very her. And it ended up going down in fashion history as a mark of how wedding styles had changed.
The wedding outfit is still talked about in glowing terms even today, but the actual marriage is not. The pair had a child together called Vanessa, though the relationship didn’t last. And in Fonda’s 2005 autobiography My Life So Far, she accused her former groom of some pretty appalling behavior towards her.
23. Solange Knowles
Solange Knowles wore something truly remarkable for her 2014 wedding to Alan Ferguson. Instead of a flowing dress, she went with an ivory jumpsuit created by Stéphane Rolland. It had a plunging neckline and a cape, and it looked absolutely stunning on her. Not only that, but it was practical as well.
In fact, the outfit was so easy to move around in that Solange was able to ride a matching bike to her wedding. And the star looked so spectacular that she inspired a whole new trend. Creators on Etsy apparently rushed to make pieces that brides could wear in order to look more like Solange.
22. Rita Wilson
Rita Wilson’s wedding dress for her marriage to Tom Hanks was very 1980s. It was also a bit of a mishmash. She wore a short cocktail dress with ruffles and lace – paired with some metallic tights and a very long veil. Maybe it was a little too extra even for the era, and to this day opinion is quite divided on it.
But Tom Hanks didn’t seem to care at all what his bride chose to wear, only that she was marrying him. Wilson and Hanks are still together now, and they are one of the most beloved couples in Hollywood. What’s the secret to their incredible success? Well, in 2019 Wilson told Us Weekly, “It’s like anything. We got married, we committed to each other, we love each other, and we work hard at our relationship… Not only do we love each other, [but] we really like each other, and we like being together, and we support each other, and we keep the communication channels open. That’s always important.” And there’s no doubt her husband feels the same, either. In 2020 Hanks received a Cecil B. DeMille award for his contributions to cinema, and while thanking his wife and kids, he became overwhelmed with emotion. He said, holding back tears, “These are the people I am most blessed by in this life. I can’t tell you how much your love means to me.” Hanks and Wilson have weathered a lot together, after all, including cancer and other serious illnesses, and yet they continue to go strong – despite an arguably questionable wedding-day outfit.
21. Priyanka Chopra
Priyanka Chopra’s wedding to Nick Jonas was such a big occasion that the bride wore more than one dress. But for the New Delhi reception, she donned one of the most stunning ones. It was a silver-colored Falguni Shane Peacock lehenga covered with a dupatta shawl and a great deal of jewelry.
Jonas had on a nice blue velvet tux, but make no mistake, his bride was the star attraction. Chopra’s Falguni Shane Peacock lehenga choli dress took 80 craftspeople at least 12,000 hours to make, and it reportedly contained about a million tiny crystals. You know what they say: if you’ve got it, flaunt it.
20. Mariah Carey
In 1993 Mariah Carey tied the knot with executive Tommy Mottola in a white dress. So far, so banal – except for the fact that the gown had an astonishing 27-foot-long train. However, while the superstar singer certainly made an impact on her wedding day, the marriage itself was apparently troubled, as Carey has implied in interviews that Mottola was emotionally abusive. Then, after divorcing Mottola, she became engaged to billionaire James Packer – only to call the whole thing off before the couple had wed.
Carey got her revenge, it appeared, through a music video in which she burned the very expensive wedding dress she’d intended to marry Packer in. And in 2018 she revealed on Watch What Happens Live that she’d actually always wanted to burn the gown she had worn for her big day with Mottola – although ultimately she had decided against it.
19. Celine Dion
When Céline Dion married René Angélil in 1994, she wasn’t particularly dressed for comfort. There was the headpiece she sported, which was made from 2,000 Swarovski crystals alone and sewn right into her hair. The train on her gown, meanwhile, was 20 feet long, and it had apparently required 1,000 hours of work to create.
And as the wedding was shown live on television in Canada, the whole country got to see the singer in her splendor. It seems, too, that while some viewers were impressed, others were simply shocked. To this day, in fact, one camp thinks that Dion looked beautiful; another still considers her to have simply looked ridiculous.
18. Emma Thompson
Emma Thompson has always been a woman who marches to the beat of her own drum. So, when she married fellow actor Kenneth Branagh in 1989, she naturally didn’t go for a safe choice of dress. Instead, Thompson wore a brightly colored, vividly patterned knee-length gown with shoulder pads and puffed sleeves to boot. Oh, and she had a matching hat.
Yet while Thompson’s spectacular ensemble is still often a feature of “Worst Celebrity Wedding Dresses” lists, the woman herself probably wouldn’t give a damn. She did, after all, go on stage at the 2014 Golden Globes and cheerfully throw her stilettos away over her shoulders. You’ll note that her wedding shoes aren’t very high ones, either.
17. Raquel Welch
Actress and pin-up Raquel Welch caused chaos when she married producer Patrick Curtis on Valentine’s Day 1967. And for the special ocassion, she chose a distinctly non-traditional dress. Life magazine wrote of the Parisian wedding, “The bridal mini-skirt – a peek-a-boo crochet – created pandemonium as 100 photographers tried to crash the district town hall where the ceremony was held.”
Life somewhat sardonically headlined its piece about Welch’s dress “Mini-skirt for maxi-publicity.” It also alleged that owing to the crowds, the wedding ceremony itself had to be trimmed down to a mere three minutes. Oh, and Welch also wore a fur coat to the ceremony – which definitely wouldn’t fly today.
16. Kate Moss
Model Kate Moss chose a beautiful vintage-style gown for her marriage to musician Jamie Hince in 2011. And while the cream-colored, sequinned affair was perhaps a tiny bit see-through, Moss has often been very daring when it comes to fashion. According to designer John Galliano, the gown itself had been inspired by Zelda Fitzgerald.
And, in fact, it was Moss’ choice to hire Galliano in the first place that caused the most controversy. At around the time when Moss walked down the aisle, the designer was on trial in France for a drunken anti-Semitic tirade. Later on, he would claim that creating Moss’ wedding dress had helped him get through rehab.
15. Shenae Grimes-Beech
Beverly Hills, 90210 actress Shenae Grimes decided to do something out of the ordinary for her 2013 wedding to Josh Beech: get married in black. She wore an absolutely gorgeous silk Vera Wang creation – which would have set her back in the region of $5,000 – and carried some red flowers to add to the gothic vibe.
For fans of Grimes, however, the black dress may not have been a surprise. Two months before the wedding, she informed Teen Vogue, “Since I have that edgy, rocker-tomboy kind of vibe, it can be very difficult to translate my style for the red carpet… Every time I’ve worked with a stylist, I end up with pretty dresses that are nice but not for me at all.” Looks like she eventually found one that was.
14. Jackie Kennedy
Jackie Kennedy’s bridal gown was a beautiful ivory-colored number with a portrait neckline and tiny flowers all around the skirt. To this day, in fact, it’s remembered as one of the most iconic wedding dresses ever. That said, the woman who created it – African-American couturier Ann Lowe – was left largely forgotten by history.
After a flood in her workshop, Lowe actually lost $2,200 on the making of Kennedy’s wedding dress. Even worse, when she delivered the garment, she had been told to use the service entrance. And for the rest of her life, Lowe received no recognition for her work; Kennedy would reportedly only say that “a colored woman” had been responsible for the gown. Heartbreakingly, the designer would therefore die in obscurity in 1981.
13. Princess Eugenie
While the whole world knows about Harry and Meghan’s nuptials, 2018 actually saw a second British royal wedding: the marriage of Princess Eugenie of York to Jack Brooksbank. Her dress was created by British designers Peter Pilotto and Christopher de Vos, and many relevant symbols were worked into the fabric – including a York rose after the bride’s family house.
But perhaps the most important feature of all was the open back of the wedding dress. You see, Eugenie had specifically asked for this so that a long scar – a leftover from an operation she’d had at 12 – could be seen by all. An unusual move for a royal, perhaps, but a brave one.
12. Marilyn Monroe
Perhaps the public expected blonde bombshell Marilyn Monroe to wear something daring for her 1954 wedding to baseball player Joe DiMaggio. If they did, though, they would have been disappointed. Instead, Monroe came in a simple brown dress and jacket – a far cry in the glamour stakes from some of the other outfits in which she’d been photographed.
Chances are that Monroe chose not to wear white as she’d already been married once – to a 21-year-old man called James Dougherty – when she had been just 16 and living in foster care. But despite – or maybe because of – the dress’ lack of razzle-dazzle, it became iconic. And in 1998 the gown was bought for a whopping $33,000. Of course, though, Marilyn and Dougherty eventually split. The young Texan went on to become a police officer in Los Angeles, and he apparently spent a lot of his life answering questions about his beautiful, doomed ex-wife and why she had run away to Hollywood instead of remaining with him as a housewife. But Dougherty ended up publishing a couple of memoirs about his time with her, The Secret Happiness of Marilyn Monroe in 1976 and To Norma Jeane With Love, Jimmie in 1997, indicating that perhaps he never really got over her. Plus, he appeared in a documentary called Marilyn’s Man a year before his death. Dougherty passed away from pneumonia – brought on by leukemia – in August 2005. He was aged 84 and left behind three daughters and two step-daughters. Like Monroe, the actor had also been married three times.
11. Audrey Hepburn
As fans of Audrey Hepburn know, the iconic actress was a bride twice over. And for her second wedding – which saw her get hitched to psychiatrist Andrea Dotti – she wore a simple pale pink dress and a headscarf in the same color. Hepburn did work some of the traditional wedding day white into the ensemble, though, in the form of her hosiery, gloves and shoes.
The man who designed Hepburn’s dress – Hubert de Givenchy – had a close relationship with the actress, too. Indeed, during an interview with The Daily Telegraph in 2014, he described the bond between the pair as in itself “a kind of marriage.” Sadly, Hepburn’s actual marriage didn’t go as well. She and Dotti both had affairs, and ultimately they divorced in 1982.
10. Yoko Ono
Yoko Ono definitely wasn’t going to be a typical bride when she married John Lennon in 1969. But, then again, it wasn’t a typical wedding. The famous couple took a private aircraft to Gibraltar and married in a small, quiet ceremony, with the whole affair taking only ten minutes.
As befitting the low-key occasion, Yoko just wore a white mini-dress as her wedding gown. Her accessories were also more what you’d expect for a day on the beach: sunglasses, a big hat, socks and tennis shoes. Yet while her husband didn’t dress up, either, the relationship worked out, as Lennon and Ono were together until the Beatles star’s death in 1980.
9. Lauren Bacall
When Lauren Bacall married Humphrey Bogart in 1945, quite a few eyebrows had already been raised over their relationship. After all, not only was Bogart 25 years older than Bacall, but he’d also been having an affair with her while still married to his third wife. Perhaps that’s why Bacall choose not to wear white.
Instead, the actress donned what Life magazine described as “a doeskin beige dress.” The publication also noted, “Before taking the vows, Bogart drank a Martini [and] muttered, ‘Oh, baby’ to his bride. After the ceremony, he kissed his bride, and she gasped, ‘Oh, goody!’” And the pair did actually stay married until Bogart died in 1957.
8. Elizabeth Taylor
Back in the day, Elizabeth Taylor’s fifth marriage to Richard Burton was considered truly scandalous – not least because the press had already exposed the pair as having had an extramarital affair. According to The New York Times, which reported on the ceremony when it took place in 1964, a politician from Ohio even called the Taylor-Burton relationship a “public outrage.”
It probably wasn’t surprising to observers, then, that Taylor didn’t wear white for the wedding. Instead, she sported a bright yellow dress, created for her by Irene Sharaff, the costume chief on Cleopatra. And while Taylor and Burton’s union came to an end in 1974, the two would eventually marry again a year later. Taylor had actually been a bride on eight separate occasions at the time of her death in 2011.
7. Wallis Simpson
Wallis Simpson may well have been one of the most hated women in Britain at the time she married King Edward VIII. In fact, on the wedding day itself, the latter wasn’t actually king any more. As Wallis was a divorcee, Edward had been forbidden to marry her; in order to make the American his wife, then, he had controversially abdicated the throne.
The wedding eventually took place on June 3, 1937. And although the press were kept at arm’s length, Time magazine nonetheless reported on Wallis’ dress. This was “soft blue crepe with a tight, buttoned bodice, a halo-shaped hat of the same color [and] shoes and gloves to match.” The write-up also mentioned “a tremendous diamond-and-sapphire brooch” that probably wasn’t a gift from any member of the British royal family, as none of them graced the ceremony with their presence.
6. Priscilla Presley
Given the overwhelming interest in her relationship with Elvis, Priscilla Presley had to go in disguise to buy her wedding gown. However, while she ultimately plumped for a floor-length silk dress with a beaded neckline, rumor has it that she wasn’t actually all that fond of her choice. An anonymous insider told Closer Weekly in 2019, “[Priscilla] doesn’t talk about it much, but she wasn’t a huge fan of that dress. She loved the veil and her makeup, but the dress wasn’t as shapely as she would have liked.”
The Priscilla-Elvis marriage is still considered a deeply controversial one, as the King’s future wife was a mere 14 years old when the 24-year-old superstar singer first met her. And although the couple didn’t marry – and reportedly never had sex – until the bride was 21, there certainly appeared to be oddness in the relationship. Priscilla once said, for instance, that her husband never saw her without makeup on.
5. Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall
The relationship between Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles had always been scandalous, as the future king of England had still seen his former girlfriend while married to his first wife, Diana. And while Charles and Camilla would themselves wed years after going through divorces and the shock of Diana’s death, not everyone approved of the match.
Camilla didn’t choose a wedding outfit like the one Diana had worn, of course, as that would have been a disaster. Instead, she sported a pale blue and gold dress coat accompanied by gold feathers in her hair. And the media seemed to like the ensemble, which Camilla may have been relieved about, as there had been reports that she had looked nervous at the start of the day.
4. Gwen Stefani
Gwen Stefani’s dress for her 2002 wedding to Gavin Rossdale was a creative blend of old and new. Having a gown decorated with bright pink dye was unusual, even bold, but the No Doubt singer made it work. And while her and Rossdale’s marriage didn’t last in the end, even now people talk about what the star wore for the occasion.
Stefani loved the dress so much, moreover, that she donned it again for a second wedding ceremony that took place two weeks on from the first. She’s also been spotted wearing very similar gowns since. So, while that hot pink was definitely a gamble, it seems to have paid off – at least when it comes to column inches, anyway.
3. Princess Diana
When Lady Diana Spencer became engaged to Prince Charles, it was only a matter of time until the wedding of the century. Accordingly, the design of Diana’s dress was kept top secret until it was finally revealed on the big day itself. The stunning gown was made of ivory silk, and it came complete with a 25-foot train that trailed behind the soon-to-be princess as she walked up the aisle.
Behind the scenes, though, things weren’t so picture-perfect. Eagle-eyed viewers of the ceremony may have noticed wrinkles in Diana’s dress, as the designers hadn’t taken into account the small carriage that the bride would have to fit into. The royal spilled perfume on the dress right before the wedding, too. Maybe they were both bad omens.
2. Pamela Anderson
For her second wedding, Pamela Anderson opted to do away with the very idea of a dress. Yes, during the ceremony, which took place on board a yacht in July 2006, the Baywatch star and pin-up wore nothing but a white bikini and captain’s hat while marrying Kid Rock.
Kid Rock decided not to dress up for the nuptials, either; instead, he sported jeans, a fedora hat and no shirt. And those who predicted the marriage wouldn’t last turned out to be right. The couple stayed together for a mere 122 days in the end – finally calling it quits in November 2006.
1. Coco Austin
Ice-T and Coco Austin actually got married back in 2005, but they decided to renew their vows in June 2011 – with the whole lead-up to the ceremony available for all to see on reality show Ice Loves Coco. For the occasion, the bride wore a white dress with crystal detailing and accompanied by a flashy tiara.
Not everyone admired the ensemble, though. For instance, in 2017 the website Now to Love included the choice in a list of the very worst celebrity wedding dresses, snarkily remarking that the outfit had “left little to the imagination.” Nonetheless, Coco herself seemed happy, and she and Ice-T are still married to this day.