Few Americans inspire more admiration than Jacqueline Kennedy. She was one of the most stylish women this country has ever known, and her influence on fashion has never waned. Her 1953 wedding to dashing Senator John F. Kennedy was the event of the season, and Jackie Kennedy’s name tops every list of legendary brides.
Miss Jacqueline Bouvier met then-Congressman John Kennedy in 1952 through a mutual friend. A relationship began, and by the following summer, Jackie was wearing a stunning diamond and emerald engagement ring from Van Cleef & Arpel. The wedding was planned for September 12, 1953 at St. Mary’s Church in Newport, RI, to be followed by a reception at Hammersmith Farm, where Miss Bouvier had summered with her family.
Most brides have to endure some input from their family during the wedding planning process; when Jackie was making her arrangements, she had to deal with both her mother and her very demanding father-in-law. It was extremely important to Joseph Kennedy that his son’s wedding be used for political advantage, which would explain why over 1000 guests were invited to the affair. You can be sure that all of those people were not close personal friends of the bride’s from her days at Miss Porter’s or Vassar.
Interestingly enough, although Jacqueline Kennedy is revered as a fashion icon, she did not get to have the wedding gown of her choosing. Miss Bouvier was a Francophile, and preferred simple elegant dresses. For her wedding, she wanted a bridal gown that was similar to the sophisticated styles for which she became known. However, Joe Kennedy did not trust her taste (imagine!), and insisted on a very traditional wedding dress. Jackie’s mother selected the dressmaker, Ann Lowe of New York, who created custom garments for families like the Rockefellers and the DuPonts.
There is no questioning the skill of the couturier, however, the finished bridal gown was certainly not reflective of Jacqueline Bouvier’s taste. It was a beautiful gown, though, and very much in keeping with the look of 1950s wedding dresses. Jackie’s ivory gown featured 50 yards of silk taffeta, which was fashioned into a portrait neckline with a very full bouffant skirt. The gown was heavily decorated with rows of tucking, circles of ruffles, and wax flowers. It was a very lovely, but very busy bridal gown.
The accessories were more to Jackie’s liking. She wore her grandmother’s exquisite rosepoint lace veil draped from a small lace cap decorated with orange blossoms. Miss Bouvier’s pearl bridal jewelry included a classic strand of family pearls, and a one-of-a-kind bracelet. The stunning bangle style bracelet was a wedding gift from J.F.K., and featured alternating diamonds and pearls. The impressive bangle was truly pearl bridal jewelry at its finest. In addition, Jackie wore a diamond leaf pin, which was presented to her by her future in-laws.
Jackie Kennedy’s wedding day ensemble was completed by a pair of wrist length gloves (de rigueur for a 1950s bride) and a pink and white bouquet with spray orchids and gardenias. Another things about the Kennedys’ wedding that was very typical of the ’50s was the menu. Weddings in those days did not feature serving stations offering exotic fare from around the globe. After the bride and groom cut their five tier wedding cake, the guests were served a luncheon of fruit cup, creamed chicken, and ice cream shaped like roses. That is one part of the Kennedy wedding that even the most ardent Jackie fans will probably not reproduce at their own reception!
After the wedding, the newlyweds spent one night in the Waldorf-Astoria before heading off for a two week honeymoon in Acapulco. That concluded the nuptials of Jacqueline and John F. Kennedy and began the glamorous Camelot era that was to enchant millions during the Presidency of J.F.K. The enduring legend of the charismatic young couple remains a symbol of style and grace around the world.