Thoughts, in June, turn to weddings … and, perhaps more importantly, wedding gowns. Bridal magazines showcase the latest trends in couture and ready-to-wear, but there is something innately special about wedding gowns that have stood the test of time, gowns that have that certain “wow” appeal regardless of how many years have passed since they were first worn. To commemorate great wedding dresses of the past, over the next few posts The Classic Woman will be highlighting several iconic classic women, the gowns they wore and how they accessorized them.
Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy
In an ironic twist of fate, one of the most remembered wedding gowns — the one worn by Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy — is a gown she did not even like. Like so many brides before and after her, Jackie had family members to deal with and to please; in the end, she gave in to family pressure and wore the gown they chose. Although she looked lovely in it, she would have preferred a gown with simple lines — something more in keeping with the “Jackie -look” that she was able to create while First Lady. However, the gown designed for her by African-American designer Ann Lowe was nothing short of beautiful and, as her mother and the Kennedy family knew, it photographed beyond well. The ivory wedding dress featured 50 yards of silk taffeta, a nipped in waist, bouffant skirt, and an off the shoulders “portrait” neckline. With its intricate tucking, circles of ruffles and wax flowers, the gown personified the elegance of the 50s.
Image by Lisa Larsen
The accessories that Jackie chose for her big day were, however, in keeping with her taste. She wore the rosepoint lace veil that belonged to her maternal grandmother and draped it from a small lace cap decorated with orange blossoms. She completed her look with a strand of family pearls, a diamond leaf pin which was a gift from her future in-laws, a one-of-a-kind diamond and pearl bracelet which was a wedding present from J.F.K., and a pair of wrist length gloves. Her bouquet was comprised of pink spray orchids and gardenias. The pink in the bridal spray coordinated with the pink silk faille gowns that Jackie’s 10 bridesmaids wore with their Tudor caps.
Princess Grace Kelly
It was a decision she soon regretted — allowing MGM to film her wedding day for worldwide distribution in exchange for being released from her yet to fulfill 7 year contract with them. However, there was a plus side to her decision. Due to the MGM involvement, wardrobe designer Helen Rose (who dressed Grace in High Society and The Swan) and her team of seamstresses created the incredibly beautiful wedding gown and, ultimately, the wardrobe department gave it to her as a gift from MGM.
The gown itself was high-necked with a rounded collar, long-sleeved and had a fitted bodice and a billowing skirt. It was fashioned from twenty-five yards of silk taffeta, one hundred yards of silk net, peau de soie, tulle and 125-year-old Valenciennes rose point lace. The petticoat Grace wore under her gown had tiny blue satin bows. Her veil of 90 yards of tulle draped from a Juliet cap decorated with seed pearls, appliquéd lovebirds and orange blossoms. Grace carried a small Bible along with a lilies of the valley bouquet.
Along with her sister who was matron-of-honor, the six bridesmaids wore yellow organdy dresses while the six junior attendants (4 girls and 2 boys) were all dressed in white.
Carolyn Bessette Kennedy
John Kennedy and Carolyn Bessette pulled off the perfect surprise wedding. In a masterful piece of acting he and Carolyn, after very public “breaking-up”, starting seeing other people. By June 1996, she had seemingly disappeared from John’s life. The tabloids and the public totally bought into it, only to find out a few months later that it was all a ploy to throw everyone off the tracks of the wedding they were planning. On September 21, 1996, they surprised the world by getting married in a secret ceremony on Cumberland Island, off the coast of Georgia. The church, with no electricity, was lit with candles and kerosine lamps. Although there were only 40 guests in attendance, what a sight they beheld as Carolyn walked down the aisle! Her $40,000 floor-length gown of pearl-colored silk crepe, veil of hand-rolled tulle and long silk gloves all designed by Narcisco Rodriguez was a true picture of simple elegance. For accessories, Carolyn pulled her hair back into a bun and secured it at the nape of her neck with a clip belonging to Jackie Kennedy and carried a lily of the valley bouquet.
The two flower girls, Rose and Tatiana Schlossberg, both nieces of the groom, wore tea-lenth white linen dresses. John’s nephew, Jack Schlossberg, was ring bearer, while his cousin, Anthony Radziwill, served as best man. Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, John’s sister, was maid of honor, and wore a high-waisted, navy-blue crepe silk gown designed by Narcisco Rodriguez.