Memorable Celebrity Wedding Dresses
They may not have gotten quite the buzz of the gown worn by a certain recently minted British royal, but these dresses of American notables are just as glorious.
The story goes that Joan Fontaine received a phone call the night before her wedding to fellow actor Brian Aherne saying that he had cold feet, but she demanded that the marriage take place. It did, and she wore this lovely buttoned-front satin gown.
After costarring with him, Jane Wyman married rising star Ronald Reagan and the two were dubbed the “All-American couple.” For their church wedding and reception afterward, held at the Beverly Hills home of gossip columnist Louella Parsons, the bride chose a full-skirted satin gown with long sleeves and quilted detailing. The couple broke up in 1948; Wyman would go on to win an Oscar, Reagan the White House.
Days after Christmas—and America’s entry into World War II—world-famous teenager Gloria Vanderbilt married Hollywood hanger-on Pasquale di Cicco in Santa Barbara, California (Errol Flynn was an usher). The heiress, whose fitted-and-draped satin-and-tulle gown had a 30-foot-long train, divorced him a few years later, just as she came into her $4.5-million inheritance.
Astoundingly popular child star Shirley Temple married for the first time when she was 17 years old. The bride wore a traditionally styled satin wedding gown, while groom John Agar—just weeks after the end of the war—was in military uniform.
Thousands of fans lined the streets outside the Church of the Good Shepherd in Beverly Hills to catch a glimpse of 18-year-old Elizabeth Taylor in her sweetheart-necked satin gown (a $1,500 design presented to her by MGM) before her wedding to hotel heir Conrad “Nicky” Hilton. The marriage went south within months, and the actress would walk the aisle seven more times.
Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy
Not quite eight years before she became the first lady, Jacqueline Bouvier married Senator John F. Kennedy in Newport, Rhode Island. Her dress, said to have required 50 yards of fabric, was ivory tissue silk; her wedding was indisputably the social event of the season.
Grace Kelly wed Prince Rainier III of Monaco in a lace, silk taffeta, and tulle gown with a fitted bodice and flared skirt created by Helen Rose, MGM’s costume designer. Kelly gave up Hollywood, where she held the title of Oscar winner, to become Her Serene Highness the Princess of Monaco.
Luci Baines Johnson
When Luci Baines Johnson married Air National Guardsman Patrick Nugent before some 700 guests and 55 million television viewers, it was a wedding to which “nobody [was] invited except the immediate country,” a comedian quipped. So it’s not surprising that she set a trend with her A-line taffeta Priscilla of Boston gown, which featured a nine-foot-long Watteau court train that fell from between her shoulder blades. Three years later, her sister, Lynda Byrd, would wed in the East Room wearing a high-necked white silk-satin Empire sheath Geoffrey Beene design.
Introduced to Peter Allen by her mother, Judy Garland, Liza Minnelli married the Australian performer (later immortalized on Broadway as The Boy From Oz) in a simple gown with a white lace bodice and a streamlined skirt.
Priscilla Beaulieu Presley
The Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas was the setting for the marriage of Priscilla Beaulieu and Elvis Presley, following an eight-year-long courtship. Priscilla reportedly designed her flowing pearl-trimmed silk-chiffon gown. On the feet of the brocade-tuxedo-clad groom: Western boots.
A few years after her younger sister, Julie, declined a White House ceremony—marrying David Eisenhower in New York City just weeks before her president-elect father assumed office—Tricia Nixon married Harvard law student Edward Cox in the first-ever Rose Garden wedding. After a slight rain delay, the petite bride appeared in a lovely pearl-and-lace-trimmed silk organdy design with a lower-cut neckline that supposedly dismayed her mother. The dress was by Priscilla of Boston, as her sister’s had been.
Tatum O'Neal, only 10 when she won a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award, married the equally precocious tennis star John McEnroe in a modest high-necked white gown that projected an innocence belied by her wild-child life.
Mariah Carey ruled the charts when she wore a fit-for-a-queen Vera Wang gown to wed music executive Tommy Mottola on a rainy June evening in New York City. Carey required six attendants to carry her 27-foot-long train.
In a brief ceremony described as “very sweet, very simple” by one attendee—words that could equally describe her 1920s hand-embroidered wedding dress—Amy Carter wed computer consultant Jim Wentzel at the home of her grandmother in Plains, Georgia. The bride kept the festivities small and private: She even baked the three-tiered wedding cake herself.
It wasn’t her first wedding, nor would it be her last, but Jennifer Lopez’s nuptials with dancer-choreographer Cris Judd may have been her most lavish, with some 10,000 white and pastel rosebuds trucked in to the private mountaintop estate in Calabasas, California, where the wedding was held. All seven bridesmaids wore Valentino, as did the bride herself, whose off-white silk and Chantilly-lace gown, cut low both in front and back, was by Valentino Couture.
California girl Gwen Stefani chose a French label (Christian Dior) headed by a Gibraltar-born designer (John Galliano) to create her gown when she married a British rocker (Gavin Rossdale). Stefani recently donated the distinctively hued dress to the Victoria and Albert Design Museum in London.
In an official wedding portrait, Katie Holmes showed off both her elegant slim-silhouetted Armani gown and her new husband, Tom Cruise. An off-the-shoulder design, the gown was lavishly adorned with Valenciennes lace and Swarovski crystals.
Jenna Bush married business student Henry Hager in a low-key ceremony at her family’s ranch near Crawford, Texas. The bride, who went veil-less in a beautifully embroidered organza Oscar de la Renta gown, was given away by her father, President George W. Bush.
Wearing a gown inspired by Grace Kelly’s classic, Ivanka Trump married businessman Jared Kushner at Trump National Golf in Bedminster, New Jersey. The elegant custom-made design—its creator, Vera Wang, described the dress as “royal” and “majestic”—featured layers of hand-appliquéd lace and a sophisticated neckline and sleeves.
Introduced to America as a braces-wearing 12-year-old who memorably stood beside her father as he took the presidential oath of office, Chelsea Clinton was pure elegance when she wed Wall Streeter Marc Mezvinsky in a crystal-belted ivory Vera Wang confection.