Ely Cathedral is to host an exhibition exploring the development of the wedding dress and materials over the centuries.

Featuring more than 40 bridal gowns, the showcase explores how adaptations to wedding styles reveal as much about social history as fashion, while defining one of the most memorable days in countless lives.

Joss Palmer, event manager at Ely Cathedral said: “It is fascinating to have bridal gowns from so many different eras all in one location. We have really enjoyed hearing all the stories and memories associated with many of these beautiful gowns which includes a gorgeous dress from the 1940s made by the bride herself from parachute silk due to war time rationing.

“Other exhibits worth highlighting are a beautifully understated, but stunning, wedding gown designed by Coco Chanel from the 1920s plus a few dresses which have featured in major film productions”. 

While a majority of dresses have a personal story to tell, several on display have featured in award winning blockbuster hits, such as the gown designed for Meryl Streep in Out of Africa and the dress worn by Emily Blunt in The Young Victoria,

Other exhibits include replicas of gowns worn by royal brides as well as the original ‘fitting gown’ designed for Princess Margaret’s wedding in 1960.

In addition to the dresses, the exhibition will also feature a small selection of exquisitely embroidered bridal veils on loan from the collection at The Royal School of Needlework.  

Highly regarded by historians and architects from all over the world for its beauty and size, Ely Cathedral is widely acknowledged as ‘one of the wonders of the Medieval world’. Visible for miles around, the Cathedral is often referred to as ‘The Ship of the Fens’.

Most recently Ely has gained global recognition a prominent film location including Elizabeth: The Golden Age, The Other Boleyn Girl, Macbeth, The King’s Speech, The Crown and, more recently, Maestro

A Celebration of Bridal Gowns will be open daily in the Lady Chapel at Ely Cathedral between February 14 and March 17, 2024. Entry to the exhibition is included with a Cathedral visitor ticket. 

Visit the Ely Cathedral website for more information.