Camelot started here. On September 12, 1953, future U.S. president John F. Kennedy married New York socialite Jacqueline Bouvier in Newport, Rhode Island, in the society wedding of the year. The couple chose to celebrate their wedding outdoors at Hammersmith Farm, the mother of the bride’s 300-acre property. The Knot looks back at the couple’s seemingly-timeless nuptials on September 12, 2017, on what would have been the couple’s 64th wedding anniversary. See below and find unique details to infuse into your wedding day as well.
The bride chose a little-known but talented, New York City-based designer named Ann Lowe to design her iconic wedding gown. Ten days before the wedding, the gown was unfortunately destroyed–along with nine other pieces that had been designated and created for the wedding part–when Lowe’s Madison Avenue studio flooded.
The dress, which originally took two months to craft, was recreated by Lowe and the result was breathtaking. Jackie Kennedy walked down the aisle in a one-of-a-kind, ornate, ivory silk gown featuring a bouffant skirt and a portrait neckline that elegantly showcased her collarbone. The gown was topped by an elaborate rose point lace veil, and was received favorably by the American public.
The couple first met through a mutual friend at a dinner party in Georgetown, and Kennedy proposed two years later. The then-U.S. Senator popped the question with a unique and mesmerizing 2.88-carat diamond and 2-carat emerald baguette ring set on gold that was designed by Van Cleef & Arpels. Kennedy purchased the one-of-a-kind jewel in 1953, and nine years later, the piece was reset with even more embellishments. They included close to two carats of marquise and round diamonds.
The couple exchanged vows at St. Mary’s Church, the oldest Roman Catholic church in Rhode Island. More than 750 guests witnessed the couple become husband and wife in the Catholic mass presided over by The Archbishop of Boston at the time, Richard Cushing. Pope Pius XII even had a written a message for the couple, while thousands of curious onlookers and fans stood outside of the church to celebrate the newlyweds on that fateful day.
Pink gladioli and white chrysanthemums decorated the inside of the church. The bride’s bouquet consisted of gardenias and white and pink orchids.
The Bridal Party
The bride was joined by her younger sister, Lee Radziwill, who served as matron of honor and her stepsister Nina Auchincloss, who was maid of honor. The groom, meanwhile, was joined by Robert F. Kennedy as his best man, while other Kennedy family members like Edward Kennedy also joined the wedding party.
The Reception Venue
The pair, along with 1200 guests, made their way over to Hammersmith Farm, the mother of the bride’s mansion and estate overlooking the scenic Naragansett Bay.
With hundreds of attendees congratulating the couple at the reception, the receiving line took more than two hours for the bride and groom to get through. The wedding was touted as the society event of 1953, and attended by politicians and socialites alike.
The First Dance
The couple memorably shared their first dance to “I Married an Angel,” performed by Meyer Davis and His Orchestra. Davis, who shared a longterm relationship with the Bouvier family, ended up performing years later at the Inaugural Ball in 1961.
The mouthwatering dishes, which were served al fresco, consisted of creamed chicken, pineapple salad, and ice cream that was decorated and sculpted into roses.
The couple cut into a five-tier cake that was topped by a tasteful display of flowers.
The couple departed the reception beneath a sea of rice and rose-petal confetti.
The couple spent one night at the Waldorf Astoria after their wedding before departing for Acapulco, Mexico. The two spent several weeks at the resort town for their honeymoon, and made a stylish stop by San Ysidro Ranch in Santa Barbara, California. The room where they stayed has now been named the Kennedy Cottage.