#Throwback Thursday: Carolyn Bessette and John F. Kennedy’s Jr. Truly Timeless Wedding

Leah Bourne

carolynmain #Throwback Thursday: Carolyn Bessette and John F. Kennedys Jr. Truly Timeless WeddingLikely when you conjure up the image of the perfect wedding, Carolyn Bessette and John F. Kennedy Jr.’s 1996 nuptials come to mind. Timeless and utterly chic, who wouldn’t dream of marrying a Kennedy while looking utterly flawless in Narciso Rodriguez? The single image of the happy couple on their wedding day that was released to the media is a bittersweet one considering the couple died in a plane crash in 1999, but without a doubt it is an image that will live on both in American history and in the minds of brides-to-be the world over. Here, the details on the wedding that is as close as America will ever get to a royal wedding.
Venue: The wedding took place on Cumberland Island, off the coast of Georgia. The evening ceremony took place in the wood-frame Brack Chapel of the First African Baptist Church. There was no electricity in the church, which was lit with candles and kerosene lamps, and the couple stood under an altar adorned with greenery arranged by Efigenio Pinhiero, Jackie Kennedy’s longtime butler. Following the ceremony, guests retreated to the Greyfield Inn for a reception.
The Food: Dinner included shrimp, artichokes, grilled swordfish, and lemon-raspberry ice cream. There was also a traditional three-tier white wedding cake covered with vanilla butter cream frosting and flowers.
The Guests: You would think that a Kennedy wedding would involve hundreds of guests. Not so. There were 40 guests in attendance including Ted Kennedy, Caroline Kennedy, and her husband Edwin Schlossberg. The groom’s nieces, Rose Schlossberg and Tatiana Schlossberg, were flower girls and wore tea-lenth white linen dresses. His nephew, Jack Schlossberg was ring bearer. John’s cousin, Anthony Radziwill, served as best man, and Caroline Kennedy was maid of honor, wearing a high-waisted, navy-blue crepe silk gown designed by Narcisco Rodriguez.
The Dress: Bessette walked down the aisle in a $40,000 pearl-colored silk crepe floor-length gown, hand-rolled tulle silk veil, and long silk gloves by Narcisco Rodriguez. The wedding dress was quickly copied the world over, and it was a fashion moment that put designer Narciso Rodriguez on the map. Bessette accessorized with beaded satin Manolo Blahnik sandals. A bun at the nape of her neck was pinned with a clip belonging to Jackie Kennedy. The groom wore a single-breasted, midnight-blue wool suit, with a white piqué vest by Gordon Henderson, and his late father’s wristwatch.
Security: A major plot went into keeping this wedding a secret from the media until after it happened. Wedding planners told everyone involved including caterers and hotel staff that the wedding was for designer Nicole Miller to keep it as top secret as possible. When it eventually came to light who the wedding was actually for, everyone involved was made to sign a contract that they couldn’t profit from selling information about the wedding. Meanwhile, during the wedding celebrations, the small island was teaming with security. Kennedy hired a 50 person security team for $250,000 to secure the island for his big day. In other words, there was more security than wedding guests.
Fun Fact: Don’t think that Bessette walked down the aisle carrying just any flowers. She clutched a lily of the valley bouquet, arranged by Rachel “Bunny” Mellon, the same woman who designed the White House rose garden She also happens to be the heir to the Mellon banking fortune.