The first half of 2012 brought a slew of high-profile engagement announcements: Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake, Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth, and Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt all declared intentions to put a ring on it. When two celebrities collide in matrimony, the festivities are often astronomically extravagant. Looking forward to star-uniting spectacles to come, here are seven of the most notorious celebrity nuptials of years past.
Grace Kelly & Prince Rainier III, 1956
Dramatically dubbed “The Wedding of the Century,” the union between American actress Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier of Monaco didn’t fall short of the mark. Monaco’s Saint Nicholas Cathedral filled up with 600 guests for the occasion, including contemporary Hollywood bigwigs like Cary Grant and Ava Gardner. The princess bride wore a long-sleeved, pearl-bedecked lace gown — now legendary — that had been lovingly crafted over a six-week period by thirty-six seamstresses. The widely televised to-do gave new meaning to the term “fairytale wedding,” and set the bar for lavish royal nuptials to come.
STATUS: Married until Grace Kelly’s death, 1982
Grace Kelly & Prince Rainier III, via About.com.
Mariah Carey & Tommy Mottola, 1993
When the American music mogul and golden-voiced ingénue got hitched in Manhattan, the affair was nothing shy of what Carey herself might sing of in “Fantasy.” The bride graced the aisle surrounded by 50 flower girls, wearing an off-the-shoulder Vera Wang gown with a 27-foot train. Befitting her newfound pop royalty status, Carey modelled the details of her Big Day after Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s — right down to the glitzy, tulle-trailing tiara.
STATUS: Divorced, 1998
Mariah Carey & Tommy Mottola, via Red Carpet Wedding.
Celine Dion & René Angélil, 1994
The Québécoise crooner married her longtime manager — who was, at the time, twice her age — at Montréal’s famed Notre Dame Basilica. Dion’s wedding-day details were as theatrical as one of her power ballads, from the bride’s outfit (featuring a seven-pound headpiece studded with 2,000 Austrian crystals) to the cake (2,677 cream puffs in the shape of a Christmas tree) to the reception’s carefully curated ambiance (fluttering white doves and gently falling artificial snowflakes). Could we expect anything less from the reigning queen of sentimental pop?
STATUS: Still married
Celine Dion & René Angélil, via One Wed.
Victoria & David Beckham, 1999
At their highly anticipated late-’90s nuptials, Posh and Becks played up their status as England’s unofficial royal couple. The day took place at Ireland’s Luttrellstown Castle, which flew a purple heraldic flag with the couple’s initials. The bride accessorized her Vera Wang gown with a diamond coronet and the newlyweds sat on gold-embellished, red velvet thrones. To top it all off, the wedding cake was decorated with a nude sculpture of the bride and groom — because if you’ve got it, there’s really no better way to flaunt it.
STATUS: Still married
Victoria & David Beckham, via Dr. Funkenberry.
Liza Minnelli & David Gest, 2002
The Cabaret star’s wedding to producer David Gest carried an estimated $3.5 million price tag, making it unofficially the most expensive celebrity wedding of all time. Still, it was the sheer amount of star wattage in the room that pushed the shindig into fantasy territory. Who else but Liza could secure Michael Jackson as Best Man and Liz Taylor as Maid of Honour? Other boldface names included Diana Ross, Anthony Hopkins and Lauren Bacall, and there was sweet serenading courtesy of such musical legends as Tony Bennett and Stevie Wonder. There was a 12-tier cake, and party favours stamped “Liza and David 4 Ever.” (Not to be confused with “Forever,” which, as we understand it, is permanent. The couple separated within 17 months.)
STATUS: Divorced, 2007
Liza Minnelli & David Gest, via The Washington Post.
Elton John & David Furnish, 2005
Mere hours after Britain authorized civil unions, the English pop luminary and Canadian filmmaker held an intimate civil ceremony at Windsor’s Guildhall. Their spaniel, Arthur, was Best Man. Afterwards, 700 guests (including Sting and Elizabeth Hurley) sipped vintage pink champagne under white tents festooned with 90,000 roses. Soul singer Joss Stone was on hand to entertain the crowd with Beach Boys covers, but it was John singing “Your Song” to his longtime love that stole the show.
STATUS: Still married
Elton John & David Furnish, via I’m Not Obsessed.
Katie Holmes & Tom Cruise, 2006 [pictured, top of post, via Cake Picture Gallery]
Known affectionately at the time as TomKat, Cruise and Holmes tied the knot at a candle-lit medieval castle in Italy, the country where they’d made their first appearance as a couple in 2005. Fireworks and a dinnertime serenade by Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli gave way to a Mark Ronson–led dance party, where guest Jennifer Lopez spontaneously started performing along with one of her own songs. The night’s main attraction, though, had to be seven-month-old Suri Cruise, dressed adorably in a mini-me version of her mother’s ivory Armani gown.
STATUS: Divorced, 2012
Katie Holmes & Tom Cruise, via Yahoo! Movies UK and Ireland.
What are your favourite notorious celebrity weddings? Do you think they’re more notorious, or less, if the couple ends up splitting?
Allison Friedman has written about celebrities, fashion, and Canadian culture for publications like Flare and Toronto Life. She lives in Toronto, where she works at a children’s bookstore, sees too many movies, and makes half-hearted attempts at jogging.