Famous Weddings: Princess Grace

Grace Kelly, film star and princess of Monaco

Brides find inspiration from all over when it comes to their weddings. One common source of inspiration is the elegant wedding of Grace Kelly who went from being a Hollywood A Lister actress to being the Princess of Monaco when she married Prince Rainier III in 1956. If you’re looking forward to the wedding of Prince Harry to the American actress Meghan Markle, you might be interested in learning about the wedding of Princess Grace, a predecessor from an earlier generation whose wedding was a very classic celebration.

The Romance

In the 1950s, Kelly was an extremely popular Hollywood actress. Despite her relatively short film career, she made many films and received a Golden Globe for her role in the film Mogambo and she won an Academy Award for her role in the film The Country Girl. She met Prince Rainier III of Monaco at the Cannes Film Festival in 1955 and they married a year later, leading to her retiring from acting. Her last film before her retirement was High Society.

The Wedding

The wedding itself was a multi-day affair. Kelly traveled to Monaco on April 4th with her bridesmaids, family, and entourage. She and Rainier married in a civil ceremony on April 18, 1956 with a lavish religious ceremony the following day. The ceremony was attended by 600 people and the guest list included Cary Grant and Ava Gadner. The wedding cake was six tiers and weighed over 200 pounds.

The Dress

Princess Grace’s dress was designed by Helen Rose, a designer that worked for MGM, the film studio that Kelly worked for. The gown took six weeks and three dozen seamstresses. The designer’s work was a gift from MGM. Previously Rose had designed Kelly’s wardrobe for several film roles. The gown was made of silk and lace—with the lace carefully stitched together to appear seamless. It took over 400 yards of fabric.

The dress was designed to appeal to Kelly’s fairy-princess image with long sleeves and a train. Her veil was designed to not obscure her face. While she became a princess with her marriage, she did not wear a tiara at her wedding; her veil attached to a flower-crown esque Juliet cap. She carried an embellished Bible instead of a bouquet as was common with religious mid-century brides. David Evins designed her shoes and hid a copper penny inside for good luck. The dress itself is currently in the possession of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Helen Rose also designed a pink suit that Kelly wore for her civil ceremony, again accessorized with a Juliet cap.

After the wedding, the happy couple went on a seven week honeymoon cruise on a yacht gifted by Aristotle Onassis and Princess Grace was given 142 official titles.

What are some of your favorite historical weddings? Let us know in the comments!

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