The Royal Wedding: A Legacy of Love, Culture and Tradition

The union of Grace Kelly of Philadelphia and Prince Rainier III of Monaco on April 19, 1956, blended tradition and culture, while celebrating the couple’s unique love story. Dubbed the "wedding of the century" at that time, it perfectly illustrated how merging two worlds (transcending continents and heritage) can add dimension to a wedding celebration.

When Hollywood met royalty

Grace Kelly, the epitome of American elegance and Hollywood glamour, captivated audiences with her on-screen presence. Her relationship with Prince Rainier III of Monaco, a scion of European royalty, seemed like a fairy tale. Within a year of their first meeting, they would be married. Two weeks before the wedding, the Philadelphia-born Grace Kelly sailed from New York to Monaco on the S.S. Constitution with her family, bridesmaids, 80 pieces of luggage, and her beloved French poodle Oliver (a gift from Cary Grant). Her movie studio, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), gifted her iconic wedding gown, designed by Academy Award-winning costume designer Helen Rose. MGM also broadcast the event to an estimated 30 million viewers worldwide. This was a condition of her early release from her studio contract and was essentially her last picture with MGM.  

Royal wedding traditions

Prince Rainier III's European heritage was reflected in the grandeur of the ceremonies, which followed centuries-old traditions of European royalty.  The couple conformed to Monaco's Napoleonic Code by formalizing their union with a civil ceremony on April 18, 1956. In the Throne Room of the Palais Princier, Grace Patricia Kelly assumed her official title of Her Serene Highness Princess Grace of Monaco in the presence of close family and select guests. The following day, on April 19, 1956, the Roman Catholic ceremony unfolded in Monaco's Saint Nicholas Cathedral with 700 guests bearing witness to the couple's sacred vows. Prince Rainier, a devout Catholic sovereign, and Grace Kelly, raised in the Irish Catholic tradition, found common ground in their shared faith. Princess Grace carried a Bride's Manual of Catholic Devotion down the aisle along with her simple bouquet of lilies of the valley. The prayer book served as a poignant reminder of the importance of their faith in their union.

Even today, the dual ceremonies serve as a blueprint for contemporary weddings. The civil ceremony's formalities underscore the importance of honoring legal obligations before embarking on marital bliss. Meanwhile, the religious ceremony speaks to the enduring power of faith and commitment, reminding couples of their spiritual bond.

Ceremonial personal touches

Princess Grace and Prince Rainier III incorporated elements from their backgrounds to add depth and meaning to the celebration. Beneath the luxury lay a profound respect for tradition and a celebration of their unique heritage.

  • In true Hollywood fashion, Grace Kelly wore a tailored skirt suit and matching Juliet cap for the civil ceremony and her iconic wedding gown, crafted from yards of silk taffeta, antique lace, and seed pearls, for the religious wedding. In true European royal tradition, Prince Rainier III wore a custom morning suit, perfectly reflecting the formality of the civil proceedings. On their wedding day, as per Monaco tradition, he made his entrance after the bride, wearing military attire inspired by the uniforms of Napoleon Bonaparte’s marshals and embellished with medals, orders, a sash and a sword.
  • Princess Grace wore custom wedding pumps embossed with Prince Rainier III's name on the right shoe and her name on the left, symbolizing their union. Another bridal tradition she incorporated was to have a copper penny encased into the right heel for good luck. 
  • Instead of a traditional tiara, she opted to wear a crown-like headpiece enhanced by a wreath of wax orange blossoms, pearl leaves, and floral lace motifs. Orange blossoms are believed to bring blessings and joy to newlyweds and remain a beloved tradition in Mediterranean wedding celebrations. 
  • Prince Rainier III commissioned a perfume with notes of bergamot, rose, jasmine, and sandalwood to complement his future bride’s wedding bouquet. Fast forward to 2019, and these same notes would inspire the making of our signature perfume, Promenade Sur Le Rocher, an ode to Princess Grace’s iconic journey to Monaco.
  • Their guests, which included family, friends, delegates, dignitaries, royalty, members of high society, and movie stars, dined on lobster, smoked salmon, caviar, and champagne. Following dinner, their six-tiered wedding cake (a gift from the pastry chefs at Monte Carlo’s Hotel de Paris) featured miniature depictions of Monaco's palace and historical scenes captured in icing and sugar. Prince Rainier III cut the cake with his ceremonial sword, freeing two turtledoves.

The allure of Princess Grace and Prince Rainier III's wedding lies in its romantic narrative, reminiscent of a classic fairytale. Their union transcended geographical boundaries and societal expectations. Viewers did not just witness the union of two individuals but the convergence of two worlds. It was a celebration of love that honored tradition without stifling individuality, a delicate balance modern couples can aspire to achieve. Be it traditional attire, cuisine, or ceremonial rituals, embracing cultural diversity can enrich the wedding experience.

Commemorate the timeless romance of Princess Grace and Prince Rainier III with our exclusive collections inspired by their legendary love story. Our fragrances, silks, and elegant home decor let you experience the glamour of Hollywood and the sophistication of the modern French Riviera.