'John John' Kennedy ties the knot
Rumors of a 'very hush-hush wedding'
September 22, 1996
CUMBERLAND ISLAND, Georgia (CNN) -- John Kennedy Jr., who won America's heart as a toddler in the White House and who more recently was labeled the nation's most gorgeous bachelor, is a bachelor no more.
Kennedy, 35, exchanged marriage vows Saturday night with girlfriend Carolyn Bessette at Cumberland Island off the Georgia coast, his cousin confirmed.
A lot of people went to great lengths to keep secret what happened, and it worked, as the media were widely caught off guard.
But at an Ohio campaign appearance Sunday, Democratic Rep. Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island confirmed the rumor.
"My cousin John did tie the knot yesterday," said Kennedy, who is a son of Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, brother of John Kennedy's assassinated father, President John F. Kennedy.
John Kennedy Jr. and Bessette, a public relations executive with Calvin Klein, began dating in 1994. The couple has lived together in New York since 1995.
The rumor mill
The marriage reportedly took place at the tiny African Baptist Church chapel, and the reception was held at the Greyfield Inn, a secluded bed and breakfast establishment on the island.
The owner of a seafood company based on Cumberland Island told CNN that private security officers were on the island for several days, shooing away uninvited guests.
The Honey Fitz, a famous Kennedy yacht, was docked at the marina over the weekend, and private boats were chartered to ferry a parade of guests from the mainland to the island, he said.
Two big tents, a dance floor and a truckload of flowers were seen being loaded onto boats, he added.
Another source told CNN they understood the newlyweds planned to use the Honey Fitz on their honeymoon.
A restaurant owner told CNN her company was hired to provide service staff for the reception, and called it a "very hush-hush wedding."
One of the servers at the wedding dinner described it as "small, quaint and casual. Nothing out of the ordinary."
Kennedy family members arrived on private jets at a small airport at Fernandina Beach, Florida, according to airport worker Derreck Miller. John Kennedy's uncle, Ted Kennedy, arrived Friday and left Sunday, Miller said.
John Kennedy was selected by People Magazine as the "sexiest man alive" for 1988, the same year he made his political debut with a speech introducing his uncle, Sen. Ted Kennedy, at the 1988 Democratic National Convention.
Kennedy is now editor-in-chief of George, a political magazine he co-founded a year ago.
One of the most memorable images from the 1960s was of a three-year-old "John John" saluting his father's casket as it passed in the funeral procession in November 1963.
Cumberland Island, accessible only by boat, was once the vacation home for the Carnegie family and is now operated by the National Park Service.
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