The big day
The build-up started months before, but when April 29th, 2011 finally arrived it didn’t disappoint. The bunting came out for more than 5,000 street parties across the UK, dressing-up was the order of the day and ardent royal fans were even camping on the procession route three days before the nuptials took place.
The sartorial suspense and secrecy finally came to an end when the world caught that first glimpse of Kate’s elegant lace detail dress, designed by Alexander McQueen’s Sarah Burton, while Prince William said "I do" in the red tunic of an Irish Guards officer.
After exchanging their vows in front of 1,900 guests in Westminster Abbey, including David and Victoria Beckham, the couple kissed twice on Buckingham Palace’s balcony before breaking with tradition by leaving the reception to roar up The Mall in Prince Charles’ classic convertible Aston Martin.
The fashion influence
Admiring Kate's £250,000 Alexander McQueen dress on the big day was only the beginning, with over 600,000 people paying to see it exhibited at Buckingham Palace. And it sparked renewed interest in lace according to Maud Lescroart, marketing director of Sophie Hallette which provided the bespoke floral design for Kate’s fabric. "Kate Middleton is such an exceptional, modern and iconic royal," says Maud. "She is particularly influential and thanks to the royal wedding, the public is much more interested in lace as a work of art."
Royal couturier Sassi Holford, who unveiled her own lace-sleeved Grace design two months before the wedding, agrees: "The dress has had a big influence. Certainly, more brides this season are considering covering their shoulders and arms, and Kate’s gown has underlined the enduring popularity of lace. And although veils are never out of fashion, there has definitely been an increase in demand."
The bridesmaid effect
No-one expected so much attention to be lavished on the maid of honour’s dress; but the second Pippa Middleton, also in Alexander McQueen, stepped out in the stunning (not to mention figure-flattering) white cowl-neck creation with lace panels and back button detailing, she went straight from being "the bride's sister" to a star in her own right.
Copycat versions appeared within months and Pippa is still making her mark. "Pippa made it acceptable to have a show-stopping bridesmaid dress," says Sinclair Sellars, founder of bespoke bridesmaid dressmaker Maids to Measure. "She also made ivory bridesmaid dresses acceptable and lots of maids are wearing ivory with a touch of colour in the sash or flowers. Dresses cut on the bias have also become more popular, but this cut definitely requires a Pippa-esque bottom!"
The style icon
Brides may be following in Kate’s stylish footsteps, but women worldwide are influenced by her fashion choices too. Her blue Issa engagement dress had to be reissued after people clamoured to buy it and, since the wedding, fashion insiders have hailed her as a genuine style icon, with growing confidence in her wardrobe.
Kate shines in high street picks; she’s worn Zara dresses, LK Bennett shoes and the Reiss website crashed after she chose the store’s Shola dress to greet the Obamas in. She wows in designer too; she stunned in a shimmering, dusky pink Jenny Packham gown, looked elegant in black lace Temperley and wore navy Erdem lace during her Canadian tour.
Always elegant and feminine, whether she’s dressed down in jeans or wowing in floor-length couture, marriage has certainly agreed with Kate’s sense of style.
While everyone waits in anticipation for Kate’s maternity wardrobe (the Duchess confessed in July 2011 that she "hopes" to start her own family), the royal newlyweds have been enjoying their honeymoon period.
They charmed the Canadians during a 10-day state visit and have made an impressive team supporting inspirational causes, with Kate becoming patron of four charities as well as helping to highlight Centrepoint’s work with the homeless. They are Olympic Ambassadors for the London 2012 games and they have plans to move to Kensington Palace. Married life isn’t going to slow down for them any time soon.
"William and Kate have matured into a couple that appear to have the balance in their relationship just right," says behavioural psychologist and relationship coach Jo Hemmings. "They retain time for a private life and exude genuine happiness - just the kind of role models to show us how positive and pleasurable marriage can be."