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Grace Kelly Wedding Dress

Grace Patricia Kelly

12. November 1929/Germantown, Philadelphia,Pennsylvania - 14. September 1982, Monaco

Simply-Si Weddings looks back at one of the most famous dresses of the 20th century - and her lesser-known second ensemble.

by Ivan Sanna Del Brocco
12. November 2022

For a tailor, there are dresses that you would have liked to have sewn or even designed yourself. For me, it is definitely Grace Kelly's registry office dress. Nevertheless, the wedding dress for the following day has made history and the registry office dress has moved into second place.

As a wedding planner for Switzerland and the whole of Europe, I see countless beautiful dresses and when I am also allowed to accompany couples as an international wedding speaker, it is always overwhelming when I also see the bride in her dress for the first time. Unfortunately I wasn't even born when Grace Kelly got married, but I would have loved to be her wedding planner or even her wedding celebrant. Nevertheless she overwhelms me again and again with her elegance. So I'm happy to share with you a few insights about her dresses. (And between you and me, I would have loved to see her getting married with Cary Grant)

Grace Kelly und Fürst Rainier Hochzeit in Monaco 1965
Grace Kelly & Prince Rainier III of Monaco leaving the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception after the wedding. (Archives du Palais Princier)

Grace Kelly's wedding dress, which she wore to marry Prince Rainier III of Monaco, is one of the most famous dresses of the 20th century when it comes to their most famous dresses.

The dress reflected the image of a Hollywood actress marrying into the Monegasque royal family and inspired thousands of women after her in their choice of wedding dress, including Kate Middleton, whose 2011 dress by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen bears a strong resemblance.

When Grace Kelly got married in 1956, she was not only at the peak of her career, but also became a princess after her wedding, which was to be reflected in her dress. The wedding was broadcast on several European channels and watched by over 30 million viewers who caught their first glimpse of the dress designed by Oscar-winning costume designer Helen Rose.

Kelly and Rainier III met in Cannes in 1955.

The actress was in the city for the film festival.

The first meeting of Hollywood star Kelly and Rainier was partly arranged by "Gone with the Wind" actress Olivia de Havilland.

On 4 May 1955, she and her husband Pierre Galante, the editor-in-chief of Paris Match magazine, had travelled by train to Cannes. When Galante learned that Grace Kelly was a fellow passenger, he had the idea that she should meet Prince Rainier. When the train arrived in Cannes, de Havilland ran to Kelly to suggest the meeting. She had asked her on the platform if she would agree to a meeting with the Monegasque prince.

"She immediately agreed, but made the highly professional condition that such a meeting must first be approved by the studio

sponsoring her visit to Cannes: MGM".

Costume designer Helen Rose had designed Kelly's wardrobe for four of her films, so the actress trusted her completely. The dress was a gift from MGM Studios to their most famous star and was made by the studio's wardrobe department from ivory faille and 100 metres of silk net.

The dress, with its high neckline, fitted bodice and skirt of silk taffeta with thousands of hand-sewn pearls and a three-foot train, took months to make. Under the lace bodice were an underskirt and petticoat. Under the pleated silk faille skirt was an underskirt with ruffles and smoothing pleats and a silk faille train insert and cummerbund to complete the outfit.

Faille: silk fabric with fine cross ribs; rep silk

Silk taffeta: Silk taffeta is a luxurious fabric that resembles tissue paper in its behaviour. Densely woven, it has a paper-like texture and can be used to create perfect pleats. In tailored garments, it holds its shape perfectly.

Pics: Getty Images

The future princess chose not to wear a tiara, opting instead for a lace and pearl embellished Juliet Cap that held her veil in place. The veil itself was chosen in a fabric that made her face as visible as possible to the 600 guests and millions of onlookers, and included two tiny lovebirds appliquéd around the edges.

Instead of a huge bridal bouquet, many religious brides at the time carried a Bible, including Grace Kelly. The book was a gift and was decorated with silk, lace and pearls, and she carried it along with a small bouquet of lilies of the valley.

For her wedding shoes, Kelly wore a small 5cm heel so that she did not tower over her husband, who was not much taller than her. The shoes were designed by David Evins, with seed pearls, lace and her name in the left shoe (and Prince Rainier III's in the right), with a copper penny for luck.

Seed pearls: Seed pearls are the smallest of all pearls. They are usually created without inoculation next to the desired cultured pearl in the pearl oyster. Since these pearls do not have a core, they consist of 100% pure pearl substance. The typical seed pearls have a maximum diameter of 3mm.

Besides the dress for the wedding everyone knows about, there is a second wedding dress of Grace Kelly's that is often neglected and could never achieve the same fame. The day before, she and Prince Rainier had married in a civil ceremony, in the Monegasque palace and without television coverage. For this, she chose an outfit that was spectacular in a very different way: she wore a light pink and champagne ensemble with elaborate embellishments.

Grace Kelly Standesamt Kleid Skizze by Helen Rose
"Designed by Helen Rose" – eine Skizze des Standesamt-Kleides von Grace Kelly Getty Images

Like the wedding dress, the high-waisted jacket and flared skirt were designed by Helen Rose, who used taffeta and the finest French Alençon lace. Details such as the rounded collar and silk brocade embroidery completed the elegant ensemble. Grace Kelly's glacé gloves and her "Juliet cap" - a simple, understated cloche-style cap that is still popular at weddings today - made it an understated look that was perfect for the occasion.

Alençon lace; the technique has been on the UNESCO Intangible World Heritage List since 2010. Click here for a video on how to make this wonderful lace.

Light pink and champagne ensemble, made of lace and decorated with silk brocade: Why did the dress for the civil ceremony receive so little attention? This was mainly due to Grace Kelly's own discretion: after the civil ceremony, she changed into a simple day dress immediately to attend the following press conference. On the evening of 18 April, she then wore a silk Lanvin gown with glittering embroidery, combined with a tiara and opera gloves. But even this glamorous outfit was promptly forgotten when Grace Kelly entered Notre-Dame-Immaculée Cathedral the next morning in a dress that remains one of the most impressive wedding dresses in history.


Bride and Groom after the ceremony in a Tuscan Abbey, bride in white dress and groom in a black tuxedo

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