Jackie Kennedy and John F. Kennedy's 1953 Wedding in Photos

The Kennedys were a picture-perfect American couple, even before the White House

Getty Images

Even before they made their way to the White House, or down the aisle, Jackie Kennedy and John F. Kennedy were already a picture-perfect American couple. Jacqueline Lee Bouvier and John F. Kennedy were featured on the cover of Life magazine (mere months before their wedding) on a sailboat with the headline, "Senator Kennedy Goes a-Courting." The gorgeous society duo was a stunning young couple—she a sought-after debutante turned photographer, he a freshman senator. So when the pair made it official on September 12, 1953, in Newport, Rhode Island, it was the society wedding of the year, complete with a blessing from the Pope.

Below, we're looking back on John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy's historic wedding in photos—including rare, original negatives captured by freelance photographer Arthur Borges on the day.

The Dress

Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Throwing Bouquet, Newport, Rhode Island, USA, by Toni Frissell, September 12, 1953. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
Getty Images
Bridal portrait of Jacqueline Lee Bouvier (1929 - 1994) shows her in an Anne Lowe-designed wedding dress, a bouquet of flowers in her hands, New York, New York, 1953. (Photo by Bachrach/Getty Images)
Getty Images

Jackie Kennedy's mother commissioned Black dressmaker Ann Lowe to create the now-iconic wedding gown. Lowe was a highly-sought-after designer of the time, catering to an elite clientele like the Rockefellers, the Roosevelts and the Auchincloss's (Jackie Kennedy's family). However, she wasn't given any credit from the Kennedy's for the creation.

Like any other wedding, this one wasn't without its last-minute emergencies, as well. Jackie's dress almost didn't make it to the ceremony. Disaster struck when a pipe burst in Lowe's New York City studio, covering the wedding gown and the bridesmaids dresses in water 10 days before the ceremony. All 10 dresses were recreated with Lowe and her team working round the clock for the next week.

The ivory tissue-silk dress, with a portrait neckline and bouffant skirt with wax flowers, was an immediate success; the look, complete with an heirloom rose-point lace veil and pearls, is one of the most iconic bridal ensembles of all time. According to the book What Jackie Taught Us, however, the future first lady wasn't thrilled with the choice, having hoped for a simpler, sleeker dress. (John F. Kennedy's father was the one who insisted on a grand gown for the occasion.)

The Ceremony

UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 12: A smiling Jacqueline Bouvier arrives at St. Mary's Church in Newport, R.I., on the arm of her stepfather, Hugh D. Auchincloss, for her wedding. (Photo by Pat Candido/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
Getty Images
A scene from the Kennedy-Bouvier wedding. Groom John walks alongside his bride Jacqueline at an outdoor reception, 1953. Newport, Rhode Island. (Photo by Bachrach/Getty Images)
Getty Images
jfk and jackie kennedy
Courtesy of RR Auction
jfk and jackie
Courtesy of RR Auction

Jackie was escorted down the aisle of St. Mary's Church by her stepfather, Hugh D. Auchincloss, as tenor soloist Luigi Vena sang the hymn "Ave Maria." Before the ceremony began, Archbishop Cushing read a personal blessing from Pope Pius XII.

The Wedding Party

(Original Caption) 9/12/1953-Newport RI- The wedding party poses at Hammersmith Farm after the ceremony at St. Mary's Church in Newport, RI, September 12, which united Senator John F. Kennedy, 36, with lovely Jacqueline Lee Bouvier, 24(center). Hammersmith Farm belongs to the Bride's Grandfather. Kennedy is the son of the multi-millionare former Ambassador to Great Britain. The couple met in Washington while Mrs. Kennedy was employed as an inquiring photographer for a Washington newspaper
Getty Images
kennedy wedding
Courtesy of RR Auction 
12th September 1953: John Kennedy (1917 -1963) and Jacqueline Bouvier (1929 - 1994) pose with their ushers and maids of honor on their wedding day, Newport, Rhode Island. (Photo by MPI/Getty Images)
Getty Images

The bridal party included Jackie's sister Lee; the groom's sister Jean and sister-in-law Ethel; as well as John's brothers Robert, who served as best man, and Edward; brother-in-law Sargent Shriver; and Charles Bartlett, who introduced the Kennedys.

The Reception

(Original Caption) John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier cutting their wedding cake after their marriage in Newport, Rhode Island. John Kennedy was then U.S. Senator from Massachusetts. Robert Kennedy at left
Getty Images
jfk and jackie cutting wedding cake
Courtesy of RR Auction

More than 900 guests gathered to celebrate the newlywed Kennedys at a grand reception held at Hammersmith Farm. The newlyweds took two hours to shake every guest's hand (and you thought your receiving line was long?!) before digging into their four-layer wedding cake. The couple also kept their wedding invitation simple and classic, with black ink printed on cream paper (the original is on display at the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum).

Life magazine sent young photographer Lisa Larsen to cover the wedding, and she noted of the event: "Their wedding turned out to be the most impressive the old society stronghold had seen in 30 years. As John F. Kennedy took Jacqueline Bouvier as his bride, 600 diplomats, senators, and social figures crowded into St. Mary's Church to hear the Archbishop of Boston perform the rites and read a special blessing from the pope. Outside, 2,000 society fans, some come to Newport by chartered bus, cheered the guests and the newlyweds as they left the church. There were 900 guests at the reception and it took Senator and Mrs. Kennedy two hours to shake their hands. The whole affair, said one enthusiastic guest, was "just like a coronation."

Modern-day royalty indeed!

Related Stories