In July 1953, John Fitzgerald Kennedy and his fiancée Jacqueline Bouvier appeared on the cover of LIFE magazine with the caption, "Senator Kennedy Goes a-Courting." The two were both from wealthy and influential families, and no strangers to the society pages. Two months later, on September 12, 1953, the couple were married in Newport, RI, in St. Mary's Catholic Church. It was a media extravaganza.
Jackie and JFK were the power couple of the 1950s and early '60s - for all intents and purposes, American royalty. JFK and Jackie's wedding, like the groom's future presidency, has often been described as fairytale-like, but the reality was not so ideal. Vote up the facts about the Kennedys' marriage you never knew before.
Fashion Icon Ann Lowe Created Jackie's Gown, But The Bride Snubbed Her In The Press As A 'Colored Dressmaker'
In a 1964 Saturday Evening Post article, Black fashion designer Ann Lowe was called "society's best kept secret." In prior decades, Lowe was recognized by wealthy socialites for her signature dresses, but she was less well known to the general public. The color of her skin confined her to the margins of the fashion world.
In 1953, when Lowe was commissioned to design the wedding gown of Jackie Bouvier, and those of her bridesmaids, the public exposure could have been Lowe's breakout moment. Unfortunately, she received almost no credit for her work. Lowe's biographer, Rosemary E. Reed Miller, told NPR:
[Jackie] didn't love the dress and people asked her who did the dress. She said, I wanted to go to France but a colored dressmaker did it. And Ann Lowe was devastated - very, you know, she had dealt with her for years, you know, Jackie was 22 then. She's done dresses for her and the family since about 17 and so she was very, you know, disappointed with that kind of thing. And most reporters did not follow through to say who was this colored dressmaker or, you know. Here in Washington, DC, Nina Hyde, who was the fashion editor to the Washington Post who was the only one who said a Negro designer - Ann Lowe - did the dress. Everybody else was just like backed away from it and didn't say anything.
When Lowe hand-delivered the dresses to the bridal party in Providence, RI, she was told she could not use the front door. She told the staff she'd take the dresses back with her to New York if they made her go around the back, and walked through the front door anyway.81254New information?
Jackie's Mother Allegedly Got Jackie's Father Drunk So He Couldn't Attend
Jackie's biological parents, Janet Norton Lee and John "Black Jack" Bouvier, had divorced when she was 10 years old. Despite the lingering family tension, Jackie loved her father and wanted him to escort her down the aisle, but according to the New England Historical Society, Janet wasn't having it:
She excluded Bouvier, her ex-husband, from the pre-wedding parties and told him he wasn’t welcome at the reception. Then she secretly assigned Michael Canfield, her son-in-law, to make sure Bouvier got so drunk before the wedding he couldn’t attend.
The plan worked, and Jackie walked down the aisle with her stepfather, Hugh Auchincloss.
History Today corroborates part of this story, noting that Black Jack was "found drunk in his suite in the Viking Hotel at ten that morning" and then "discreetly shipped back to New York in an ambulance."54432New information?
The Dresses Of The Bride And Bridesmaids Were Destroyed Days Before The Wedding
Fashion designer Ann Lowe created both Jackie's wedding gown and the dresses of her bridesmaids, a process that took two months. Then, less than two weeks before the wedding, a water pipe burst in Lowe's studio.
Ten of the 15 dresses - including the wedding gown - were ruined. According to the Washington Post,
[Lowe] and her team worked day and night to re-create the masterpieces in a fraction of the time. Rather than making a profit on the project, she ended up losing $2,200 — about $21,000 in today’s dollars.49125New information?
JFK Had Scratches On His Face
Thanks to some last-minute roughhousing, the groom showed up at St. Mary's with noticeable scratches on his face. According to a 1990 issue of the magazine Boys' Life,
On his wedding day, JFK stood before the altar with a badly scratched face. The day before, he had taken a tumble into a thorny patch of wild roses - while playing football.
History Today says the game involved JFK, his brothers, and the ushers.42018New information?