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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 Day without some Costume Porn?
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 (even if she is already royalty), and wearing such a dress is at least one way to carry out that wish.
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).
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 satorial 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.
NOTE: Since this involves weddings, some of these entries will be spoilers. You Have Been Warned.
Anime and Manga
- Princess Martina's dress at the end of Slayers Next.
- The Love Angel dresses in Wedding Peach, as well a most of the actual wedding dresses.
- An wedding themed episode of Sailor Moon featured lots of these.
- A couple of dresses in Love Hina, including Naru's when she marries Keitaro.
- A potential dress for the princess in Voltron/GoLion is made, and then modeled, although the series ends before she even gets engaged.
- Clarice's wedding dress in Lupin III: The Castleof 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 the Toei anime of Yu-Gi-Oh!: Honda fantasizes about marrying Miho, with her wearing one of these.
- In Kuragehime, 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 Episode 3 of Cutie Honey Flash there are four such wedding dresses that the episode plot revolves around.
- Jean Grey's wedding dress in X-Men has a gorgeous but unconventional mermaid style and a white scarf instead of a veil.
- 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.
- 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.
- Being a book about modelling, Katy Keene has a number of them.
- Amidala's dress at the end of Attack of the Clones was just one of her many fancy outfits.
- The classic dress Ellen wears at the end of It Happened One Night.
- Buttercup's dress in The Princess Bride.
- The would-be wedding dress at the beginning of Enchanted, and another one that showed up at the end.
- Several of the dresses in Four Weddings and a Funeral.
- In My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Toula finds her dress overdone, at least with the veil on.
Toula: [upon seeing herself in the mirror] I'm a snow beast.
- The dress at the end of Coming to America.
- Worn in a fantasy sequence in Bride and Prejudice.
- Annie's wedding dress in Father of the Bride.
- The dress at the end of Cinderella, even though 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.
- The magically created dress at the end of The Princess and the Frog.
- Mulan's wedding dress at the end of Mulan II combines this with Lady in Red, since in ancient China, the bride's dress is colored red.
- Jasmine's wedding dress in Aladdin and the King of Thieves.
- Elizabeth and a mouse wear a matching on at the end of The Legend of the Titanic.
Live Action TV
- Mimi's dress in The Drew Carey Show, although it still had touches of her fashion eccentricities.
- 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".
- 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.
- Amy and Donna's dresses when they get married in Doctor Who.
- Darlene's wedding dress in Roseanne. Originally her grandmother Bev's, its old-fashioned look fit in nicely with Darlene's goth style.
- Phoebe's wedding dresses in Charmed fits this, since her romance ideas came from Cinderella, it fits.
- Worn as part of a Fashion Show in Gia, with a huge white fox muff that had a bouquet attached. She even tossed the muff when she got to the end of the runway.
- In Daddy's Daughters, Dasha wears one to her wedding, making it the first time she has worn white.
- Many dresses featured on "Say Yes to the Dress".
- 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 extend there is a Reality Television show about it: My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding.
- 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.
- Although Beyoncé kept her actual wedding dress a secret, she's worn a couple for performances. One for a video, and this one with a feather-trimmed skirt for the 2009 BET awards.
- 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.
- Some of Barbie's wedding outfits, but not all of them.
- 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.
- Yuna's would-be wedding dress in Final Fantasy X counts, despite the atypical cut of the skirt. It is huge, fancy, and looks extremely expensive.
- Ashe's dress at the beginning of Final Fantasy XII.
- Medea's dress at the end of Dragon Quest VIII.
- 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.
- In The King of Fighters '02, Mai wears one in a finishing move (see here).
- That dress actually made an appearance in The King of Fighters 97, if you had Mai face off Andy. Right before fighting she'd show up on it 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 proving the "fairy tale" part right, The Nostalgia Chick revealed her Arwen costume in Suburban Knights was an adapted wedding dress (and that many times the cast would step on the thing's tail...).
- Erin's dress in the Daria episode "I Don't," pictured above.
- Rapunzel's wedding dress in the upcoming sequel short Tangled Ever After.
- The Disney Princess franchise actually gave Snow White, Aurora, and Belle their own wedding dresses, since we actually do not see them marry at the end of their films.
- In the My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic episode "The Ticketmaster," Rarity imagines herself marrying Princess Celestia's nephew while wearing one of these (with a rather long train), despite being a unicorn. Pic here.
- Lois's dress in Family Guy, which can be seen on a picture on the house stairway.
- Hayley wore one in American Dad, although she was Brainwashed.
- As noted, this is common in royal weddings.
- The future Queen Elizabeth II's dress.
- Princess Diana's dress, although she hoped the moths had gotten to it.
- Kate Middleton's dress here and here is in the "fitted princess" style, which is mild for this trope, but has enough lace and fabric to count.
- 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.
- Celine 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.
- 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.
- Many wealthier Irish Travellers are notorious for having lavish weddings with large, poofy gowns. (See examples here, here, and here.
- Her original design was even weirder: "And for the train, I thought Thomas the Tank Engine..."