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Celebrity wedding gowns through the decades

By Maura Fritz,
  • Celebrity weddings may not last, but the dresses remain memorable
  • From outrageous to simple, the designs stand out
  • Both vintage and current celebrity wedding dresses continue to inspire

( -- Joan Fontaine

The story goes that Fontaine received a phone call the night before her wedding to fellow actor Brian Aherne saying that he had cold feet, but she demanded that the marriage take place. It did, on August 20, 1939, and she wore this lovely buttoned-front satin gown.

Jane Wyman

After costarring with rising actor Ronald Reagan, Wyman married him on January 26, 1940, and the two were dubbed the "All-American couple." For their church wedding and reception afterward, held at the Beverly Hills home of gossip columnist Louella Parsons, the bride chose a full-skirted satin gown with long sleeves and quilted detailing. The couple broke up in 1948. Wyman would go on to win an Oscar, Reagan the White House.

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Gloria Vanderbilt

On December 28, 1941, days after America entered World War II, the world-famous teenage heiress married Hollywood hanger-on Pasquale di Cicco in Santa Barbara, California (Errol Flynn was an usher). Vanderbilt, whose fitted-and-draped satin-and-tulle gown had a 30-foot-long train, divorced him a few years later, just as she was coming into her $4.5 million inheritance.

Shirley Temple

The astoundingly popular child star married for the first time when she was 17 years old, on September 19, 1945. The bride wore a traditionally styled satin wedding gown, while groom John Agar -- just weeks after the end of the war -- was in military uniform.

Elizabeth Taylor

Thousands of fans lined the streets outside the Church of the Good Shepherd in Beverly Hills on May 6, 1950, to catch a glimpse of 18-year-old Taylor in her sweetheart-necked satin wedding gown, a $1,500 design presented to her by MGM. Her marriage, to hotel heir Conrad "Nicky" Hilton, went south within months, and the actress would walk the aisle seven more times.

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Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy

Not quite eight years before she became the first lady, the onetime "debutante of the year" married Senator John F. Kennedy in Newport, Rhode Island, on September 12, 1953. Her dress, said to have required 50 yards of fabric, was ivory tissue silk; her wedding was indisputably the social event of the season.

Grace Kelly

Kelly wed Prince Rainier III of Monaco on April 19, 1956, in a lace, silk taffeta, and tulle gown with a fitted bodice and flared skirt created by Helen Rose, MGM's costume designer. Kelly gave up Hollywood, where she held the title of Oscar winner, to become Her Serene Highness the Princess of Monaco.

Luci Baines Johnson

When Johnson married Air National Guardsman Patrick Nugent on August 6, 1966, before some 700 guests and 55 million television viewers, it was a wedding to which "nobody [was] invited except the immediate country," a comedian quipped.

So it's not surprising that she set a trend with her A-line taffeta Priscilla of Boston gown, which featured a nine-foot-long Watteau court train that fell from between her shoulder blades. Three years later, her sister, Lynda Byrd, would wed in the East Room wearing a high-necked white silk-satin Empire sheath by Geoffrey Beene.

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Liza Minnelli

Introduced to Peter Allen by her mother, Judy Garland, Minnelli married the Australian performer (later immortalized on Broadway as The Boy From Oz) on March 3, 1967, in a simple gown with a white lace bodice and a streamlined skirt.

Priscilla Beaulieu Presley

The Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas was the setting for the May 1, 1967, marriage of Beaulieu and Elvis Presley, following an eight-year-long courtship. The bride reportedly designed her flowing pearl-trimmed silk-chiffon gown. On the feet of the brocade-tuxedo-clad groom: Western boots.

Tricia Nixon

A few years after her younger sister, Julie, declined a White House ceremony -- marrying David Eisenhower in New York City just weeks before her president-elect father assumed office -- Nixon married Harvard law student Edward Cox on June 12, 1971, in the first-ever Rose Garden wedding.

After a slight rain delay, the petite bride appeared in a lovely pearl-and-lace-trimmed silk organdy design with a lower-cut neckline that supposedly dismayed her mother. The dress was by Priscilla of Boston, as her sister's had been.

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Tatum O'Neal

On August 1, 1986, O'Neal, only 10 when she won a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award, married the equally precocious tennis star John McEnroe in a modest high-necked white gown that projected an innocence belied by her wild-child life.

Mariah Carey

Carey ruled the charts when she wore a fit-for-a-queen Vera Wang gown to wed music executive Tommy Mottola in New York City on the rainy evening of June 5, 1993. Carey required six attendants to carry her 27-foot-long train.

Amy Carter

In a brief ceremony described as "very sweet, very simple" by one attendee -- words that could equally describe her 1920s hand-embroidered wedding dress -- Carter wed computer consultant Jim Wentzel at the home of her grandmother in Plains, Georgia. The bride kept the September 1, 1996, festivities small and private: She even baked the three-tiered wedding cake herself.

Jennifer Lopez

It wasn't her first wedding, nor would it be her last, but Lopez's September 29, 2001, nuptials to dancer-choreographer Cris Judd may have been her most lavish, with some 10,000 white and pastel rosebuds trucked in to the private mountaintop estate in Calabasas, California, where the ceremony was held. All seven bridesmaids wore Valentino, as did the bride herself, whose off-white silk and Chantilly-lace gown, cut low both in front and back, was by Valentino Couture.

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Gwen Stefani

California girl Stefani chose a French label (Christian Dior) headed by a Gibraltar-born designer (John Galliano) to create the gown for her September 14, 2002, wedding to a British rocker (Gavin Rossdale). Stefani recently donated the distinctively hued dress to the Victoria and Albert Design Museum in London.

Katie Holmes

In an official portrait from her November 18, 2006, wedding, Holmes showed off both her elegant slim-silhouetted Armani gown and her new husband, Tom Cruise. An off-the-shoulder design, the gown was lavishly adorned with Valenciennes lace and Swarovski crystals.

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Jenna Bush

Bush married business student Henry Hager in a low-key May 10, 2008, ceremony at her family's ranch near Crawford, Texas. The bride, who went veil-less in a beautifully embroidered organza Oscar de la Renta gown, was given away by her father, President George W. Bush.

Ivanka Trump

Wearing a gown inspired by Grace Kelly's classic, Trump married businessman Jared Kushner in Bedminster, New Jersey, on October 25, 2009. The elegant custom-made design -- its creator, Vera Wang, described the dress as "royal" and "majestic" -- featured layers of hand-appliquéd lace and a sophisticated neckline and sleeves.

Chelsea Clinton

Introduced to America as a braces-wearing 12-year-old who memorably stood beside her father as he took the presidential oath of office, Clinton was pure elegance when she wed Wall Streeter Marc Mezvinsky in a crystal-belted ivory Vera Wang confection on July 31, 2010.

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