Inside Grace Kelly’s fairytale wedding to Prince Rainier of Monaco: these stunning photos show why the ceremony is still considered the world’s most glamorous after nearly seven decades. (So it’s no wonder the dress made people gasp)
- It took 36 seamstresses three weeks to make her gorgeous wedding dress
- The cake had a cage of turtle doves on it which were released when it was cut
- READ MORE: How Grace Kelly is STILL inspiring bridal fashion
Sixty seven years ago, Grace Kelly, the sweetheart of Hollywood, married Monaco’s Prince Rainier III in a spectacular ceremony.
Despite there being iconic weddings since, such as Prince Charles to Lady Diana, and Prince William to Kate Middleton, no ceremony has matched up Kelly’s fairytale nuptials.
Incredible pictures show exactly why their beautiful ceremony was dubbed ‘the wedding of the century’.
‘It was such an incredible affair, and it’s left such a mark on people,’ the couple’s only son, Prince Albert, previously told People magazine.
The wedding of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III was nearly seven decades ago – yet it still remains one of the most iconic royal weddings in history
Grace Kelly’s wedding dress included 300 yards of antique Belgian lace and 150 yards of silk, taffeta and tulle
A second ceremony took place at the Saint Nicholas Cathedral. Grace Kelly arrived in a dress fit for a princess as 30million people looked on,
‘For us, it was – and you’ll have to ask my sisters [Princess Caroline and Princess Stephanie] – for us it was our parents getting married.
‘But what it’s meant for Monaco, for people around the world, and, how their story continues to fascinate people, that’s something unimaginable.’
Grace was 26 when she married 32-year-old Prince Rainier on April 18, 1956 in a civil ceremony, with the church ceremony the following day on April 19.
Philadelphia-born Kelly had already been dazzling cinemagoers for five years with films such as Dial M For Murder and Rear Window when she headed the United States delegation to the Cannes Film Festival in 1955.
While there, she was invited to travel across the French border to the neighbouring microstate of Monaco for a photo-shoot with the prince at his palace.
Afterwards, they began a secret correspondence. That same year they became engaged, and so began preparations for their breathtaking wedding.
The Napoleonic Code of Monaco and the Roman Catholic Church required that two ceremonies be held – one civil and one religious . So the entire Palace of Monaco was redecorated for the first ceremony, which was to be followed by a reception for 3,000 Monaco citizens.
Meanwhile, the Saint Nicholas Cathedral had to be prepared for the religious, ceremony, which was to be overseen by Monaco’s Bishop, Gilles Barthe, and watched on international television by what was eventually estimated to be 30million people.
MGM, the studio that had seen Kelly through her biggest years as a star, provided two wedding dresses designed by Academy Award-winning Helen Rose, one of which took three weeks to craft.
Invitations were sent out to 700 guests including Aristotle Onassis (later Mr Jackie Kennedy), hotel developer Conrad Hilton and film stars David Niven, Cary Grant, Gloria Swanson and Ava Gardner.
All of this – and the bride was still in America.
Kelly wore shoes with a short 2.5 inch heel for the wedding – so ensuring she would not appear taller than her husband
The Napoleonic Code of Monaco and the Roman Catholic Church required that two ceremonies be held – one civil and one religious
Grace Kelly’s wedding dress is said to have inspired the dresses of other royals, including Kate Middleton’s Alexander McQueen gown
‘It was such an incredible affair, and it’s left such a mark on people,’ said the couple’s only son, Prince Albert
The civil ceremony was set for April 18, 1956; the religious ceremony for the following day. But before either of those could happen, Kelly and her sizable entourage had to make the long crossing from America to Monaco.
To get there, they would board the SS Constitution ocean liner and sail for an eight-day voyage to the French Riviera.
And so it was on April 4 that Kelly, along with her family, six bridesmaids, 80 pieces of luggage and a poodle, boarded the ship in New York – along with a horde of reporters and photographers, eager to see history in the making. Some 400 journalists applied to join the crossing, but most were refused.
But even those on the land got a spectacular view: as Kelly stepped onto the ship, a plane owned by Aristotle Onassis flew overhead, spilling red and white carnations on those below.
‘The whole Constitution trip was something Mom referred to at times,’ Albert told People. ‘She’d say it was fun for the wedding party. It really bonded the whole Philadelphia side, her family and friends who came over together on the crossing’
She would also talk about Oliver, her French poodle, he said – a gift from Cary Grant, with whom she had co-starred in Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch A Thief.
Kelly’s arrival in Monaco was an even bigger event than her departure, with 1,800 photographers there to capture the moment of their arrival. It had been an exhausting series of events – and the ceremonies hadn’t even begun.
‘My father said it is exhausting to go through the circumstance, the pageantry, the planning,’ Albert told People.
The religious ceremony was watched on international TV by what was eventually estimated to be 30 million people
Meanwhile, the Saint Nicholas Cathedral had to be prepared for the second, religious, ceremony, to be overseen by Monaco’s Bishop, Gilles Barthe
Princess Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III of Monaco wave from an open car following their wedding at the Monaco Cathedral on April 19, 1956
The entire Palace of Monaco was redecorated for the civil ceremony, which was to be followed by a reception for 3,000 Monaco citizens
A sketch of the two-piece ensemble that Grace Kelly wore for her civil wedding ceremony
The civil ceremony itself took just 16 minutes but was followed by a full 25 minutes spent listening to the 140 new titles that now belonged to Kelly as Princess of Monaco
Still, that planning led to one of the most stunning celebrity events of the 20th century, as Monaco entered an eight-day period of festivities leading up to April 17.
And when that day came, the newly renovated palace played host to a huge reception with 40 foreign delegations, outdoor entertainment and a spectacular fireworks display.
The next day the civil ceremony took place in the palace’s Throne Room, with Kelly clad in a light pink taffeta two-piece ensemble overlaid with champagne-coloured French Alençon lace – the first of the dresses provided by MGM.
The actual ceremony took just 16 minutes, People reported, but was followed by a full 25 minutes spent listening to the 140 new titles that now belonged to Kelly as Princess of Monaco.
And then the newlywed couple had to repeat the whole thing again for news crews.
The second ceremony took place at the Saint Nicholas Cathedral the day after. As 30million people looked on, Kelly arrived in a dress fit for a princess, comprised of 300 yards of antique Belgian lace and 150 yards of silk, taffeta and tulle.
The princess-to-be decided against wearing a tiara, opting for a a Juliet Cap to hold her veil in place instead.
The veil, itself made of 90 yards of tulle, had been crafted to ensure that Kelly’s face would not be obscured from cameras, and her shoes and Juliet Cap were decorated with pearls.
Kelly wore a light pink taffeta two-piece ensemble overlaid with champagne-coloured French Alençon lace
Prince Rainier and Princess Grace wave from the Monaco Royal Palace after their wedding
The dress that Kelly wore for her civil ceremony was a gift from MGM
Kelly wore a rather tiny 2.5 inch heel, this is so she would not be taller than her husband-to-be as they were a similar height. Even her shoes, designed by David Evins, were personal, as they featured Kelly’s name engraved into the left shoe, and Prince Rainier’s on the right shoe, Tatler reported.
The heels were designed with seed pearls, lace and a copper penny – to bring the new married couple good luck.
It had taken 36 seamstresses three weeks to make the gorgeous clothing, and Kelly did each one of them proud, entering the cathedral looking every bit the princess she now was.
Kelly’s wedding dress was so iconic that decades later it still inspires princesses to this day. Kate Middleton’s stunning lace wedding dress designed by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen holds a close resemblance.
Kelly’s beautiful wedding dress is now on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where others can appreciate the dress that when on to encourage future queens.
At the time of the wedding, 1956, religious ceremonies saw brides carry the Bible down the aisle with them rather than a bouquet of flowers. A stickler for tradition, Kelly was gifted a Bible that was decorated with silk, pearls and lace, and she carried the religious book along with lilies of the valley.
Lilies of the valley are often a popular choice among royal brides as the timeless flowers represent happiness – a lovely choice for a wedding.
And while his new wife glided serenely under the watchful gaze of millions, Rainier was a little more nervous, and Kelly had to help him slip the ring onto her finger.
The wedding concluded with a traditional offering to St Dévote, Monaco’s patron saint, and a feast of caviar, lobster, champagne and more for 600 people.
Their rather grand wedding cake reportedly costed around £10,000 and was not like any other, as it contained two live turtle doves, animals which represent fidelity, trust and enduring love.
The cake was also topped with a musical box which brought it to life and the elegant turtle doves were released at the point the groom cut the cake with his sword.
Kelly’s beautiful wedding dress is now on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where others can appreciate the dress that when on to encourage future queens
Their grand wedding cake reportedly costed around £10,000. It contained two live turtle doves, birds which represent fidelity, trust and enduring love
The prince and princess then boarded the prince’s yacht, the Deo Juvante II, for a seven-week honeymoon.
At which point they anchored just off the Monaco shore and promptly fell into a well-earned sleep.
The couple began their honeymoon properly the following day leaving behind memories and images that would last long beyond their own lifetimes.
They would enjoy a fairytale romance until Grace’s tragic death aged 52 in a car crash on September 14, 1982. Prince Rainier never remarried and immersed himself in his work. He died in 2005.
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