The Beautiful Couple
When Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt got together they formed a union so blinding it felt like it should only be view from a distance and never looked at directly, for fear of melting into a puddle and leaving behind nothing but a heap of clothes, like the Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz. Of course the handsome man finding the beautiful woman is nothing new. The halls of Hollywood are paved with such neatly-cut clichés. Yet these two had the kind of looks that belong to godlike sculptures carved over centuries by endless teams of artisans armed with naught but their chisels and ideals.
This was the handsome man and the beautiful woman.
The ceremony was expected to be nothing short of transcendent – and it was. Their lavish, sun-washed nuptials took place on a Southern Californian bluff overlooking the vast Pacific Ocean. Amongst the guests were Aniston’s co-stars from Friends, as well as Ed Norton, Selma Hayek and many others. Aniston cut an angelic figure with a touch of bohemian flair, wearing a graceful white satin and silk gown made by the Italian designer Lawrence Steele. On her feet she wore ivory-coloured, suede high-heel sandals artfully designed by the shoemaker Manolo Blahnik. She was accompanied by bridesmaids dressed in green silk chiffon slip dresses with taffeta mules. Beside her Pitt fulfilled his role as the archetypal hero, clad in an impeccable Hedi Slimane tuxedo, matching his attendants in their black Prada tuxedos. As the ceremony came to a close they opted to take full advantage of their restricted airspace by loosing heart-shaped fireworks that coloured the pale sky and then wilted over the Pacific.
The suffragist Lucy Stone, appropriately nicknamed the ‘morning star’, is remembered for holding a fire that blazed for freedom and equality. She was the first woman from Massachusetts to attain a college degree, as well as being a fervent abolitionist and lecturer who fervently opposed slavery all her life. She was a fierce advocate for women voicing their torment and speaking publically. Her wedding took place at her home in West Brookfield, Massachusetts in 1855. The officiator was her close friend and co-worker, Thomas Higginson, but what was most interesting was that the ceremony was predicated upon the idea that Stone was going to refuse to accept the superior rights typically awarded to husbands in that chapter of history.
They had arranged for Stone to keep her maiden name after the ceremony, instead of taking her husbands. The point wasn’t to protest marriage, but rather the idea that woman should systematically abandon their legal existence. It was a formal protest against despotism that inspired countless other couples to carry out similar protests as part of their marriages. The simple act created ripples that grew into a huge wave of immense force – a force encapsulated by Stone’s immortal words: ‘a wife should no more take her husband’s name than he should hers. My name is my identity and must not be lost.’
All Hail the Marriage Messiah
If you set aside the despotic undertones that sully this event (it would be misleading to call it a wedding) then it does strike an interesting chord. In 1982 this particularly strange mass wedding took place involving 2000 couple in New York City. The widespread blessing was overseen by the enigmatic Reverend Sun Myung Moon, a 92-year-old religious leader, believed to be a messiah of some sort. He was the founder of the Unification Church that earned its reputation pairing huge numbers of brides and grooms, many of whom were personally chosen by Sun Myung Moon, who apparently doubles as a love guru. The ceremony took place in the lofty Madison Square Garden and became something of a global statement.
Philip Shankar and his Korean bride Kim Hyeshik were amongst the huddled swarm that shuffled down the aisle. They refer to their union in the massive stadium as their ‘garden wedding’, ironically evoking a private and intimate affair. Interestingly they also talked about how each couple formed a part of the whole ceremony and how the sense of unity was palpable. In the years that followed tens of thousands of other couples proceeded to take part in similar ceremonies, most of which were led by Moon’s widow.
Once you’ve seen it it’s hard to forget the image of that red-caped Man of Steel – the first superhero – lifting a car on the cover of the Action Comics 1938 issue. Even if you don’t follow the coloured panels it’s likely you’re familiar with the iconic image of Superman lifting Lois Lane above the glittering lights of Metropolis. Fifty eight years later they finally married in a momentous 1996 DC Comics issue entitled ‘Superman: The Wedding Album’. There had been dream-sequences and hoax weddings before, but the knot was still untied. Then Superman’s five principal writers joined together for a collaboration that involved nearly every living major artist who’d ever worked on the comic. The ceremony took place after a yearlong breakup during which Clark was grounded without his powers. It was held in a traditional Christian church and billed as ‘The Event of the Century’, conducted by a priest who resembled Jerry Siegel, one of Superman’s esteemed co-creators.
What was most evocative about this fictitious union, though, was the fact that the pews were filled with old writers and artists who’d devoted much of their careers to telling this story. Amongst these tributary guests was Joe Shuster the other creator who’d enabled us to believe that a human could fly. In that sense this wedding also constituted a private moment celebrating the art of panel storytelling. After the wedding Batman then appeared in a cameo, arranging for all the mightiest superheroes from the DC universe to guard Metropolis while Clark left for his honeymoon in Hawaii.
As we near the half-way point of our list we thought we’d include something especially exciting. This wedding began with the matriarch of children’s authors, J. K. Rowling, who proposed the union of the two apex-wizards, Dumbledore and Gandalf, crossing over from their respective fantasy universes. The author inspired a couple to hold a wonderful wizard wedding and commemorate the day Ireland legalised same-sex marriage.
What’s even better is the fact it took place right in the bigoted face of the Kansas group Westboro Baptist Church, known for their rampant homophobia and vulgar picketing of publicised funerals. To be specific the couple, wearing bushy white beards, held their wedding at the rainbow-painted Equality House in Topeka, Kansas, across the street from the dreary church. After the magical occasion a Twitter battle erupted between the Westboro Church and J. K. Rowling. The infuriated author concluded by saying: ‘The sheer awesomeness of such a union in such a place would blow your tiny bigoted minds out of your thick sloping skulls’.
It would be ridiculous to compile a list of great weddings without acknowledging the majority of couples, who don’t have celebrity budgets and aren’t inclined to make profound political statements. Elegance doesn’t have to be expensive – in fact it doesn’t necessarily need a price tag. Lindsey Dodge and Peter Gudritz arranged a subtle and yet abundantly beautiful Bohemian wedding on the idyllic Misty Farm in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The whole affair was styled around the idea of holding a barn wedding that was pure Michigan. It was decorated with old-school arrangements tied together with an ombre watercolour palette, mixing shades of indigo, blue and purple. The chic country setting was replete with personalised rustic details, like the family wedding photos that dangled from string in the barn, making the couple feel like it was their own special Bohemia.
Tables were draped with blue and white patterned linens and aromatic floral arrangements surrounded the tented reception. All eyes were on Lindsey in her flowing Sarah Seven gown with a tight bodice and trailing skirt. In keeping with the vibe of the occasion she swapped a veil for a flower crown, saying that she wanted her husband, Peter, to see how big her smile was. As the sun dipped the newlyweds treated their guests to tables of signature cocktails and canapés, as well as a vintage ice cream truck stocked with a variety of exciting and unusual flavours. Then, after the festivities, they coolly rolled off together in a classic Detroit muscle car.
A Very British Wedding
We promise this is our only other fictitious wedding (along with that caped man from Krypton). It’s taken from the recent rom-com, ‘About Time’, written by Blackadder writer/director Richard Curtis. We just loved everything about this utterly convincing wedding in blustery little blighty. It all starts with the first song, ‘Il Mundo’ by Jimmy Fontana – an in-joke between the charming protagonist and his even more charming father, played by Bill Nighy, seen singing with muted gusto as Fontana strikes a leaping note. Then the staggeringly beautiful American girl appears through parted doors, a favoured leitmotif for Curtis, who seems to love bridging the pond and matching English gents with American beauties. After that the next beat is a stroke of pure British genius – discarding romantic idealism, the whole assembly walks out into a rain-filled gust of wind, providing a stark introduction to the bleak and dreary British weather.
Chaos ensues: guests wrestle with upturned umbrellas, clutching sodden loved ones, high heels are discarded, rain-beaten grimaces appear as bridesmaids stride defiantly up the road and finally, as the music hits a glorious crescendo, the marquee poles are suddenly ripped from the ground as pools of collected water roll onto the jubilant party. The beauty is in the detail, namely how skilfully observed each glimpse of drama is. We’ve all seen the raging uncle, the camera-hungry bridesmaid and the evocative father. And then, as if that wasn’t enough, the sequence ends with Bill Nighy, the softly spoken hippy, elegantly commending his son and daughter-in-law for marrying somebody kind.
The Private Gig
Okay, so it didn’t end so well, but Paul McCartney and Heather Mills did at least marry in a vibrant blaze of glory. The wedding took place at St Salvator’s church in the grounds of the 17th century Castle Leslie in Monaghan, Ireland. In keeping with tradition Paul was left to wait at the altar for eight minutes. Meanwhile Heather sailed to the church across the castle’s serene lake, in a boat was adorned with arrangements of white lilies. Amongst the floral decorations Heather wore an ivory lace gown she’d designed herself, holding a bouquet of eleven pink McCartney roses. At the moment she entered the chapel a song that Paul, one of the most renowned songwriters in history, wrote especially for Heather began to play. It’s called ‘Heather’ and it was taken from Paul’s Driving Rain album. This was followed by a reading from fellow Beatle Ringo Starr based on one of the bands biggest hits: ‘All You Need Is Love’. Then rain danced on the roof of the historic chapel as the couple exchanged vows and whole ceremony ended with unified cheers, backed by the ringing of the wedding bells.
Miraculously a vivid rainbow appeared when the assembly emerged outside and walked to three marquees crowded with flowers. Guests were treated to a profligate Indian vegetarian banquet, accompanied by beer and champagne, as well as a four-tier chocolate cake. A troupe of Indian dancers kicked-off the party and music followed shortly after at the hands of a sweet Celtic bhangra band. The reception ended in the moonlit early hours of the morning when Paul and Heather sailed back across the lake, lit from above by firework posies. When they reached the other side they were whisked away in a helicopter and taken to a luxury yacht to begin their honeymoon at an undisclosed and undoubtedly exotic location.
George Clooney and Amal Almamuddin are a couple whose combined credentials could make anyone seem lazy. He’s a two-time Oscar winning actor/director and the world’s most eligible bachelor. She’s a Lebanese-born human rights lawyer who worked on the Enron case that deal with misrepresented earnings and myriad unethical dealings and was also an advisor to Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Anna. Suffice it to say that Almamuddin casts a rather slender yet formidable shadow that could cover even the likes of Clooney. So, now we’re done gushing, let’s get to their lavish wedding.
It took place at the luxurious Aman Canal Grande resort in Venice, Italy. The celebration began with the Bond-esque arrival of a star-crowded flotilla of chugging taxi-boats, weaving between gondolas, as they flocked to the City of Water. At one point they slid under the ornate Rialto Bridge, waving at the crowds that’d gathered, eager to catch a glimpse of Hollywood’s finest, including Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Bill Murray and many others. Later the warm-centred ceremony took place at the resort and was, for the most part, kept hidden from the prying eyes of the media. Following is all that we could glean from the limited sources, both photographic (one of our favourites showed goofy George biting Amal’s oversized hat) and written. As she walked the aisle Almamuddin looked like the embodiment of elegance in a stylish Oscar de la Renta wedding gown, shouldered by her radiant bridesmaids. Meanwhile the room was softened by Mozart’s beautiful string quintet, ‘Eine Kleine Nachtmusik’. The subsequent ceremony was conducted by Rome’s former mayor, the charismatic Walter Veltroni, who unified the couple under an arch of imported white roses. At the reception a choice of sea bass or Chianina steak was served and the champagne flowed in perfect synchronicity with the improvement of the dancing.
The Royal Wedding
All London and, indeed, the world gathered to watch the royal union of Kate Middleton and Prince William. The ceremony began when Big Ben sounded his sonorous chimes and heralded the start of the wedding. Meanwhile crowds on the cordoned pavements furiously waved their Union Jacks, along with many others who’d amassed at the towering screens in Hyde Park and Trafalgar Square. They watched and cheered as a procession of stars appeared in oversized hats and elegant attire, from Elton John to David Beckham, neatly buttoned-up in a Ralph Lauren morning suit, alongside his wife Victoria in a regal blue shift dress. But they were just a handful guests amongst a dapper panoply of British icons and an abundance of large-brimmed sun hats and top hats, including the Prime Minister David Cameron who talked about how he’d been there to watch Prince William growing up and finding love. Prince Charles was also there, of course, resplendent in a military uniform bedecked with golden medals. They all shuffled up the red carpet leading into the regal Westminster Abbey, while trumpeters heralded their arrival from ornate golden eaves. Before long William stepped out of a sleek car in a red Irish Guardians uniform with a Garter sash and star and Royal Air Force wings and a Golden Jubilee medal. He was shortly after by the main attraction – the astonishingly beautiful Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, her long, trailing ivory and white satin gazar dress, designed by Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen to combine tradition and modernity, held-up by her beautiful maid of honour, Pippa Middleton. Her slow, elegant walk was met by the cadence of the angelic choir and the subtle power of the church orchestra.
Kate and William were married by the jewel-hatted Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. So many of the fine details were reminiscent of the wedding that took place on July 29th in 1981, between Diana and Charles, like Diana’s Ceylon Sapphire ring with which William proposed to Kate. When the traditional particulars were done the couple left the gothic church as husband and wife. Outside their exit was punctuated by a roaring Battle of Britain Memorial Flight performed by the RAF, before they set off to an undoubtedly opulent reception at Buckingham Palace.
So now you know what we’ve enjoyed why not share your own story? What’s the best wedding you’ve ever been to?