Presidents' Week: JFK Marries Jackie

the archive:

The John F Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum


Jacqueline Lee Bouvier and John F. Kennedy were married on the morning of September 12, 1953, in the picturesque St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Newport, Rhode Island. The more than eight hundred guests included many notable individuals.

The bride, given in marriage by her stepfather, Hugh D. Auchincloss, wore a dress of ivory tissue silk, with a portrait neckline, fitted bodice, and a bouffant skirt embellished with bands of more than fifty yards of flounces. Her rosepoint lace veil, worn first by her grandmother Lee, was draped from a tiara of lace and orange blossoms. Jacqueline wore a choker of pearls and a diamond bracelet that was a gift from the groom. The bride’s bouquet was of pink and white spray orchids and gardenias. Her attendants, dressed in pink taffeta, included her sister, Lee, then Mrs. Michael T. Canfield, as matron of honor: her stepsister Nina G. Auchincloss as maid of honor: a bevy of ten bridesmaids, among them the groom’s sister Jean and sister-in-law Ethel, and the bride’s former boarding school roommate, Nancy Tuckerman...

The reception was held on the huge terrace of the 300 acre Auchincloss oceanfront estate, Hammersmith Farm, for more than twelve hundred guests. The wedding cake, four feet tall, had been ordered by Joseph Kennedy. Meyer Davis and his orchestra played under a huge canopy.

observations: They should have been the perfect couple – they should have suited so well. But the evidence is that they weren’t happy, and Nigel Hamilton in his book American Caesars says they had a sullen and desultory romance. He also describes Jackie like this:
Jackie was twelve years younger than the senator, and not considered conventionally beautiful, with wide shoulders, no figure, size-ten shoes, an accomplished equestrienne and a budding cultural snob par excellence…she was also obsessed with what she termed ‘real money’.

But such is the way of fashion and the hypnosis of fame that she became a byword for beauty, elegance and style.

Links up with: more presidents for other days this week. The Kennedys' children were called Caroline and JohnJohn, as were the children of Charles Ryder in
Brideshead Revisited. Searching on ‘wedding’ in the box above will bring up a LOT more wedding dresses.

The photograph is from the Library of Congress Bain Collection, and was taken by the amazing Toni Frissell – a fashion shot (also a wedding dress) by her is
here on the blog, as well as this mesmerizing picture of a woman in water.