In romantic comedies, a wedding is often the location in which the action takes place or an endgame, but in genre movies, this particular ceremony doesn’t always conclude with a happily ever after. A bride might not have much say in her choice of partner or the day might end in tragedy. Of course, there are celebrations based on love, but darkness often lurks around the corner.
Recent horror-comedy Ready or Not brought new meaning to traditional marriage vows, as well as showcasing how a traditional bridal gown can be utilized as a weapon. What starts as a dream day quickly descends into a nightmare for Grace (Samara Weaving). Long before Ready or Not, however, wedding gowns have always played a central costume role in numerous horror, sci-fi, and fantasy movies as part of a love story, tragedy, or scheme.
It might not turn into the happiest day of these brides' lives, but their gowns (and in one case, jumpsuit) will go down in sartorial wedding day history.
Despite the legacy of her costumes, Vera West has not reached Edith Head or Adrian levels of recognition for her stunning work. West created garments for a number of classic horror movies, including Mae Clarke's wedding gown in James Whale's Frankenstein. Clarke plays Henry Frankenstein's (Colin Clive) fiancé, and their wedding is central to the action after Henry's creature escapes the laboratory. Elizabeth's long veil might not be the most practical, but everything about this look is serving up so much bridal drama. The lace dress is timeless and could still be worn nearly 90 years after West first designed it.
Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
The most recognizable of all horror movie wedding dresses, this is the costume that should've given Vera West icon status. Elsa Lanchester has played not only one but two defining characters of this period of movies that are still go-to Halloween costumes decades after the fact. The Wicked Witch of the West is the sartorial yin to the Bride's yang; one light, the other dark. The caped garment is meant to evoke bandages and a surgical bedsheet, which sounds like a Project Runway challenge using medical supplies. At the 2012 Oscars, Gwyneth Paltrow wore a Tom Ford column dress, which looked like a couture version of this costume. Some garments transcend time and space and West's work is enduring, even if her name sadly isn't.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
It rarely works out well for the love interest of James Bond, a role that is pretty disposable. These love affairs are brief, mostly because dating 007 is a hazard to your health. In George Lazenby's one and only turn as the famous spy, he is also the only Bond who gets married. This union with Tracy (Diana Rigg) is cut short when they drive off for their honeymoon in an Aston Martin (of course) and Tracy is shot dead. Prior to this, she does get to wear this stunning floral jumpsuit, showing that bridalwear doesn’t have to mean a dress. Costume designer Marjory Cornelius created the ultimate '60s flower power get-up.
The Princess Bride (1987)
The word 'Bride' is in the title, so it would be disappointing if a white frock didn't make an appearance. Red is, of course, the color of Buttercup's (Robin Wright) signature dress, which evokes a medieval aesthetic. Everything Buttercup wears looks like it could appear in a Renaissance painting, but her white wedding dress has a distinct '80s feel, mixing velvet and pearls with an empire waist. This extravagant period went all-in on wedding gowns and while it isn't quite as voluminous, there is something reminiscent of Princess Diana in Phyllis Dalton's design.
Bride of Chucky (1998)
Tiffany Valentine (Jennifer Tilly) is not your traditional bride, so she is going to ensure her bridal look isn't straight from a catalog. A makeover scene shows Tiffany going from brunette to blonde locks, plus making sure she has the perfect manicure. Black boots, lace tights, and a leather jacket slung over the top gives her the edginess you would expect from Chucky's (Brad Dourif) betrothed.
Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004)
This is definitely what you would call a very bad wedding day far outside the realm of the downpour Alanis Morissette famously sang about. It is definitely not ironic, but tragic that a pregnant Beatrix Kiddo (Uma Thurman) ends up shot by her vengeful ex, Bill. Before the ceremony erupts in violence, she looks incredibly serene in a simple yet chic lace maternity dress by costume designer Catherine Marie Thomas. The blood is going to be a bitch to get out, but on the plus side, Beatrix does get a badass new nickname out of this traumatic experience.
Corpse Bride (2005)
Type "Corpse Bride Wedding Dress" into Google and you will find plenty of options to purchase a Corpse Bride-inspired outfit on Etsy and eBay, plus numerous YouTube tutorials on how to make your own. The Tim Burton stop-motion animation is quite the trendsetter for both bridal fashion and Halloween costumes. Despite the whole being dead thing, it doesn’t diminish this beautiful strapless gothic gown.
From Drew Barrymore in Ever After to Disney's live-action Cinderella, there are plenty of fairy tale wedding dresses to discuss. Giselle's (Amy Adams) extreme puffed sleeve and ruffles are the most '80s frock for a movie that is not made or is set in this decadent style decade, but it fits the heightened aspect of the film perfectly.
Twilight: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 (2011)
The Royal Wedding wasn't the only highly anticipated nuptials of 2011 as Edward and Bella tied the knot in Twilight: Breaking Dawn. Fashion designer Carolina Herrera was enlisted to create this dream gown, which took six months to make. It is made from crepe satin and French Chantilly lace; from the front, it is effortlessly chic, but the back reveals 152 intricate buttons. When talking to Vogue, the designer explained, "I was of course inspired by Stephenie's description of the gown in the book, but I added the touch of Herrera and also took into consideration the personality and the style of the bride."
Looking like an Ophelia bride, the image of Kirsten Dunst on the poster of Melancholia ensures this is a gown to remember. How do you prepare for a wedding when a rogue planet is about to destroy Earth? The perfect all-American strapless design with layers of tulle and rose details is a fairy tale frock for a situation that is anything but. Costume designer Manon Rasmussen's dream dress is fit for ignoring a nightmare scenario.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)
Clothing is a big part of the show in the Capitol, so when a wedding dress is required in the second Hunger Games installment, costume designer Trish Summerville turned to fashion designer Tex Saverio for this key garment. Layers of ruffles and an organza corset that sits under a metal cage make up the kind of out-there couture that will get a huge reaction from those expecting Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) to turn it out. Swarovski crystals and Mockingjay-style feathers are some of the details that turn this into a jaw-dropping moment — all before Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci) has even asked her to spin.