This year marks the 30th anniversary of Princess Grace‘s death and 56 years since her unforgettable nuptials to Prince Rainier III of Monaco.
The wedding, watched by an estimated 30 million people on television and dubbed the “The Wedding of the Century”, was attended by 600 guests, including Hollywood stars such as Gloria Swanson, Ava Gardner, Cary Grant and David Niven.
Grace Kelly‘s wedding dress, designed by Helen Rose, is still considered one of the most beautiful ever and has inspired brides worldwide, including Kate Middleton, who chose a very similar design for her big day.
Here we take a closer look at all the details.
The wedding dress
Truly fit for a princess, Grace’s wedding gown was a gift from the MGM film studios and was designed by Helen Rose who worked on it for six weeks with three dozen seamstresses. The dress, featuring a high collar and long sleeves, had a fitted bodice and voluminous skirt.
The bodice was made of reassembled rose point lace over silk net which had been re-embroidered by two seamstresses who worked on it for a month. Thousands of seed pearls were added to accentuate the patterns in the lace.
Grace decided against the customary tiara and instead opted for a Juliet cap decorated with orange blossoms and a veil that was reportedly 90 yards long. The circular veil was edged with lace motifs, but the majority was left sheer, so that the princess’s face would be visible through it.
Grace’s bridal bouquet was made from Lily of the Valley and the ribbons of her bouquet had small sprigs attached to them. She left the bouquet on the altar of the Chapel of St. Dévote after the wedding.
Meanwhile, Grace’s matron of honour, her sister Peggy, and six bridesmaids carried bouquets of tea roses, whilst the flower girls carried white daisies.
Wedding Shoes and Bible
The shoes paired with Grace’s wedding dress were from Evins, New York, and were designed by David Evins. At the bride’s request, a copper penny was built into the right shoe for good luck.
Grace carried Rev. J.M. Lelen’s Bride’s Manual: A Manual of Catholic Devotion with Mass for the Marriage Ceremony and the Nuptial Blessing during her wedding to Prince Rainier. The book was a gift from family friend and was decorated by MGM’s wardrobe department.
Rainier originally proposed to Grace with a Cartier eternity band of rubies and diamonds. When he saw other leading ladies in Hollywood were flashing bigger rings, he quickly ordered a 10.47-carat emerald-cut diamond ring with two baguette diamonds mounted in platinum. Grace can be seen wearing it in the aptly named film High Society – her final screen performance before becoming a princess.
Wedding dress sketch
This sketch of the gown was drawn by Helen Rose herself. The design of the dress was carefully guarded in the two months leading up to the wedding. It never left the fitting room, the workspace was enclosed in partitions so no-one could catch a glimpse, and the dress was locked away every night.
According to historian Stephen Englund, who had access to MGM’s archives, the dress cost £4,500 (£36,000 today) in materials and manufacture, not including Helen Rose’s salary. MGM stated that 23 metres of heavy taffeta, 23 metres of silk taffeta, 91 metres of silk net and 274 metres of lace were used, but the finished dress used only about a quarter of these amounts.