A Gown To Suit a Princess: The Grace Kelly Royal Wedding

Before Markle, Kate Middleton, and before Princess Diana, a beautiful young actress from Philadelphia gave the world the first fairy tale wedding.

Grace was the perfect name for Ms. Kelly. Her style and sense of fashion were inherent throughout her life and performances. The most beautiful of all of the gowns she wore during her life, was her wedding gown. The gown she wore on the day of her wedding to Prince Rainier III of Monaco at the Church of Saint Nicholas Cathedral, was the most spectacular.

Grace Kelly

Grace Patricia Kelly was born in 1929. Twenty years later, she would begin performing in the theater and on television in New York. It didn’t take long for her to get her first starring role with Gary Cooper in High Noon. Her performance didn’t live up to her expectations. John Ford noticed her, however. In 1953 she would co-star with Clark Gable in Mogambo. In the next few years she would go on to star in movies with Gary Cooper, Bing Crosby, William Holden, and James Stewart. 

Alfred Hitchcock saw Hollywood royalty in Grace. In Rear Window, Grace portrayed Lisa Fremont, a rich fashion model who was an independent career woman. Her character was the perfect fit for James Stewart’s L.B. Jeff Jeffries. The interactions between them were fluid and natural. Her character’s claim to fame was that she “never wore the same dress twice.”

In 1955 at the Cannes film festival, she met her prince. After courting Grace for a year, Prince Rainier III would finally make her Princess of Monaco.

The Wedding

The couple required two ceremonies, a small civil ceremony, and another the next day at the Church of Saint Nicholas Cathedral. The closed civil ceremony was attended by select witnesses. Afterwards, the doors of the palace and the gardens were opened to the people of Monaco, to welcome their new Princess. Later that evening, the Princess would attend her first official event. 

As the Princess arrived at the cathedral, Honor Guards of warships from Britain, France, Italy, and America, stood in front. Inside, over 600 guests including dignitaries from countries around the world, and many of the Hollywood Elite, looked on as she was escorted up the aisle by her father. She wore what would later be reported as the most iconic wedding dress of all time.

The Dress

MGM studios provided the dress as well as the designer for most of the gowns that Princess Grace wore throughout the ceremonies. Her first wedding dress, at the civil ceremony, was a two piece, taffeta suit, with a tea length skirt and fitted top. Alençon lace covered the dress and silk brocade embroidery.

The first dress was a shade of champagne pink and with matching cap and gloves. The outfit was fitting for the civil ceremony.

The best was yet to come. As Princess Grace was escorted out of the Rolls Royce convertible to be walked up the stairs and down the aisle the world got the first glimpse of what would later become the most copied wedding dress in the past century.

Oscar de la Renta said “On her wedding day, Grace Kelly gave a new meaning to the word icon.” He should also have noted the designer, Helen Rose, second only to Edith Head in Hollywood costuming. 

Helen Rose employed 30 seamstresses to construct the elegant gown. It took six weeks to complete, was composed of 10 parts and used over 400 yards of fabric, 100 yards of which were silk.

The gown had a high neckline, long sleeves, fitted bodice, and bell shaped skirt. The lace bodice was made of 125 years old Brussels rose point lace. 

The 90 yard tulle veil was attached to a Juliet cap covered in seed pearls and orange blossoms. The veil was also specially designed to keep Grace’s face visible to the over 30 million people that were watching the ceremony on television, around the world.

Her shoes were two and a half inch heels with seed pearls and lace, and in one of her shoes she placed a copper penny for luck. 

In 1956, the dress cost over $65,000 to make. The equivalent today would be around $620,000. Princess Diana and Meghan Markle’s dresses together didn’t cost as much.

Shortly after the wedding, Princess Grace donated the wedding ensemble to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. After over 60 years, the dress is still one of the most popular, beloved, and visited displays within the museum.

Princess Grace was truly one of the most enchanting figures in the 20th century. The memory of the wedding, and the dress has inspired princesses from all walks of life.

Contact us today at FanC Designs to allow us to help you find the dress for your fairytale wedding.

Leave a Comment