This is a story all about how...the Fresh Prince of Bel Air married his true love on December 31, 1997. We're throwing it all the way back to the '90s, when Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith got hitched in an ultra-romantic (and secretive) New Year's Eve wedding.
The couple met when Jada auditioned for the part of Will's girlfriend on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Despite Jada not landing the part, the two went on to date for a couple of years until the actor popped the question in November 1997. At the time, Jada told People that things got serious fast: "One day we got engaged, and the next day we found out we were pregnant."
In what People described as "the most lavish and secretive celebrity wedding of the year," the Smiths went full out glamorous to surprise and delight their guests.
He may be "west Philadelphia born and raised," but when it came to picking a venue for the future Mr. & Mrs. Smith's nuptials, the bride-to-be got hometown rights. The couple selected the Cloisters, a medieval-style mansion near Baltimore, where Jada grew up, for the big day. The couple's wedding planner David Weinschel told People, "Jada wanted it simple but elegant." That being said, it still took eight decorators 10 hours to get the venue up to the couple's standards.
Secrecy was the name of the game for the big day; the soon-to-be-Smiths didn't want any media leaks. No invitations were sent—guests were told to arrive at their hotel in Baltimore and then were given an envelope with directions to hand to their limo drivers.
As for fashion, Jada opted for a long-sleeved, high-necked, champagne-colored, velvet Badgley Mischka gown. The groom wore a matching Badgley Mischka suit. This was the decade of couple's coordination (Posh and Becks, Britney and Justin, we're looking at you) and Will and Jada were masters of the game.
Oh, and what about the tunes at the former half of DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince's nuptials, you ask? Will's '90s chart topper, "Gettin' Jiggy With It," crowded the dance floor, naturally.
Twenty-one years later, the Smiths, who are parents to Willow and Jaden and Will's son Trey (from a previous marriage), are opening up about the ups and downs of spending half of their lives together and even their relationship's rocky start.
Jada, according to USA Today, said she never wanted to get married or have a wedding but felt the pressure to do so after getting pregnant with Jaden. (She was three months pregnant at the time of their New Year's Eve nuptials.) "I was so upset that I had to have a wedding," she recalled. "I was so pissed. I went crying down the freakin' aisle getting married."
While there were definitely happier times after that, it wasn't without a lot of work. On Jada's Facebook show, Will recalled a time when Jada "woke up and cried 45 days straight," according to Us Weekly. “It was every morning. I think that’s the worst I’ve ever felt in our marriage. I was failing miserably.”
He continued to say that Jada was unhappy with the life they had built.“To have to let go of the picture, to have to let go of the dream was devastating," Will said. "We essentially had to destroy our marriage.”
They destroyed it, but only to build it back up again. "We broke up within our marriage and got back together again, the actor said. "We had to rebuild with new rules and something way, completely different.”
Their new rules include defining their relationship as less of a marriage and more of a partnership. In July, Will revealed on TIDAL’s Rap Radar podcast that they "don't even say we're married anymore."
"We refer to ourselves as life partners, where you get into that space where you realize you are literally with somebody for the rest of your life," Will said. "There's no deal breakers. There's nothing she could do—ever. Nothing would break our relationship. She has my support till death, and it feels so good to get to that space."
We love the wisdom that comes with 20-plus years of marriage.