Royal Wedding Wednesday The Wedding of Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly has often been referred to as the wedding of the century. The fairytale story of how American actress Grace Kelly found the role of a lifetime. That of Princess consort to the Prince of Monaco, Rainier (pronounced Ren yay) Louis Henri Maxence Bertrand de Grimaldi.
Royal Wedding Wednesday The Wedding of Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly
In last Fridays post, I covered the childhood and film career of Miss Kelly, as well as the story of how the two met and became engaged. To help celebrate the upcoming nuptials of Prince Albert II of Monaco to Charlene Wittstock I wanted to dedicate a Royal Wedding post featuring all the delicious details of the weddings of his parents.
The couple had two ceremonies, a civil service as well as a religious service. The reason for this is that in Monaco, as well as several other European countries, religious weddings are not considered legal ceremonies. A religious ceremony can only be performed after a civil wedding has taken place. Their marriage was legally solemnized, according to the civil code of Monaco on April 18, 1956.
The Civil Service
The civil service was performed by Marcel Portanier, Monaco’s Minister of Justice, in the palace throne room. There were 80 guests in attendance, which included representatives from 24 nations. The couple exchanged their vows in French. During the ceremony, Grace’s 142 new titles were recited.
They held a reception for the citizens of Monaco after the ceremony so that each one could shake hands with the new princess. Her Serene Highness, Princess Grace, later admitted that her hand hurt for days afterward. A gala celebration was held at the Opera House that evening.
Civil Service Suit
MGM designer Helen Rose, who had worked with Grace on the costumes for “High Society”, created the lovely two-piece suit she wore for the civil ceremony.
The suit was made from ivory lace and dusty rose silk. The jacket featured a round collar, fitted bodice and three quarter length sleeves. The flared skirt was a mid-calf length. A pink close-fitting hat trimmed with silk flowers, pink silk pumps, and white gloves were elegant finishing touches.
In 2010 the Victoria and Albert Museum in London showcased 50 classic Kelly pieces which included her wedding suit.
Here is a close up of the lovely fabric and design.
The Wedding Gown
Ms. Rose was the designer also responsible for Princess Grace’s fabulous traditional wedding gown.
At the time it was customary for studios to create wedding gowns for their stars and MGM graciously gifted Miss Kelly her headpiece and gown. Her shoes were designed and created by David Evins. The gown and all the remaining accessories were created in six short weeks and required over three dozen seamstresses.
The dress, wedding headpiece, undergarments, petticoats, and prayer book were all created by hand.
The gown had a high neck and long sleeves. The bodice featured a fitted under bodice topped with a lace bodice made from delicate rose point lace (a type of nineteenth-century Brussels needle lace that features elaborate floral motifs). The 125-year-old Brussels lace was detached from its original ground and shaped to the bodice so that the seams would be invisible. It was then accented with hundreds of hand-sewn seed pearls. The bell-shaped skirt was made from 25 yards of ivory silk faille (peau de soie) and 100 yards of silk net (peau de soie tulle) which was supported by three petticoats ~ smoothing petticoat, ruffled petticoat, and foundation petticoat. The back of the skirt featured a triangular tulle and lace train insert and was topped with a pleated silk faille cummerbund.
This image provides a good representation of just how many yards of fabric and tulle were required for the design of the dress and veil.
Grace Kelly’s wedding headpiece was created on a wire frame. The Juliet styled cap was enhanced with seed pearls and wax orange blossoms. The circular silk net veil required over 90 yards of tulle and was specially designed so that the bride’s face could be seen.
It was accented with appliquéd lace motifs which included two tiny lovebirds. Sydney Guilaroff, the chief hairstylist at MGM Studios, styled Grace’s hair for the wedding.
In addition to her prayer book, Princess Grace carried a small bouquet of lilies of the valley. (Many of you may now be having an “ah ha” moment regarding the Duchess of Cambridge’s bouquet selection, as well as the style of her gown, for her recent wedding day.)
Her Serene Highness, Princess Grace, gifted her gown to the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1956.
It is currently not on view.
The prayer book was the “Bride’s Manual: A Manual of Catholic Devotion with Mass for the Marriage Ceremony and the Nuptial Blessing”. It featured a gilt edge and contained prayers, hymns, meditations, and information in accordance with recent pontifical decrees. The book was a gift to the bride from a longtime friend of the Kelly family, Mrs. John F. McCloskey of Chestnut Hill. Here you can see the exquisite detailing of the antique Brussels rose point lace and the hand-sewn seed pearls.
The Wedding Day
Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly could not have asked for a more picturesque day than April 19, 1956. The wedding service began at 9:30 in the morning.
She entered Saint Nicholas Cathedral on the arm of her father, John B. “Jack” Kelly, Sr.
At the altar, she and Prince Rainier had been instructed by church officials to not look at one another as it was a serious occasion.
Prince Rainier had The House of Creed create a perfume for his new Princess to wear on their wedding day. It was called Fleurissimo and can still be purchased today.
Prince Rainier designed the Napoleonic military-style uniform that he wore himself. The black jacket featured gold leaves on the cuffs. His pants were a light blue and featured a gold stripe down the side of each leg. A red and white sash representing the Order of St. Charles hung across his chest. The medals represented Prince Rainier’s and Monaco’s links in Italian and French military history.
Bishop of Monte Carlo, Monsignor Gilles Barthe, gave the bride and groom the nuptial benediction. The service itself was a traditional Catholic wedding ceremony.
This image of Princess Grace in prayer provides a lovely close up of her Juliet styled cap and veil, pearl earrings and the detailed lace of her gown.
In later years Princess Grace admitted that she had preferred the quiet and intimate civil ceremony over the religious ceremony because it became somewhat of a spectacle due to the MGM camera crew and hot lights that were necessary to film the wedding. This was an agreement the Royal couple made with MGM so that Her Serene Highness would be let out of her seven-year contract.
Oh, Happy Day
The hat that Prince Rainer wore was a blue helmet much like those worn by the “Carabiniers” (Spanish Calvary soldiers) in charge of the Royal couple’s security. The helmet was enhanced by an ostrich plume.
Joy and relief seem to be written on their faces.
The happy couple awaits the arrival of their wedding car.
The convertible Rolls Royce was a wedding gift to the couple from the Monegasque people.
They toured the streets of the small Principality before returning to the palace.
The couple walked into the throne room so that they could be photographed.
Princess Grace and Her Attendants
Her Serene Highness, Princess Grace and her attendants. The matron of honor was Grace’s sister, Margaret “Peggy” Kelly Davis, bridesmaids were Judith Balaban Quine (friend), Maree Frisby (high school friend), Sally Parrish & Bettina Thompson (both classmates from the Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York), Carolyn Scott (her best friend and modeling companion), and Rita Gam (actress & friend). After searching for over two hours I could only come up with the name of one of her flower girls, Margaret Ann “Meg” Packer (Grace’s oldest niece). The three remaining flower girls and two pages are unknown at this time.
The Bridesmaid Dresses
The bridesmaids carried bouquets of pale pink tea roses. Their gowns were designed by Joseph Hong of Neiman Marcus and were made by Priscilla of Boston. The dresses were made in the bride’s favorites color~ pale yellow (referred to as “sunlight”). The top layer of the gown was fashioned from sheer silk organdy and featured a high necked collar and full bishop sleeves. The fitted bodice had a pleated sash and full skirt that flowed into a short train. The organdy gown was layered over a strapless silk taffeta underdress. The simple bonnet of yellow silk organdy was designed by Joseph Hong and made by Don Marshall.
The Flower Girl Dresses
The four flower girls carried a bouquet of daisies. Their dresses were also designed by Joseph Hong and made by Formals by Mary Carter. The top layer was made of white cotton organdy and featured white and yellow daisies that were machine embroidered with silk thread. The dress had sweet puffed sleeves and a collar that was similar in style to the bridesmaid gowns. The underskirt was made of yellow silk taffeta. A simple wreath of daisies was worn as a headpiece.
After the portraits were completed the couple emerged onto the palace balcony to greet the large crowd of well-wishers.
The Wedding Cake
The luncheon reception was held outdoors in the Palace Court of Honor. The cake was given to the newlyweds by the pastry chefs at Monte-Carlo’s famed Hôtel de Paris. The upper two tiers featured a built-in cage that held a pair of live turtledoves that were released when the couple cut into the cake. The cake topper was a revolving miniature of the bride and groom that played “Ave Maria” and Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March.”
I could not find what was served at the luncheon but thought Margaret Kelly looked especially lovely as the mother of the bride.
At five in the evening, the newlyweds boarded their yacht, the “Deo Juvante II” (With God’s Help) to begin their honeymoon. The yacht had been a wedding gift from Aristotle Onassis. They cruised the Mediterranean and the honeymoon was deemed successful as their first child, Princess Caroline, was born 9 months and 4 days after the wedding.
It was indeed “The Wedding of the Century.