Marriage of Jacqueline Bouvier and John F. Kennedy: September 12th, 1953

By Cavendish, Richard | History Today, September 2003 | Go to article overview
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Marriage of Jacqueline Bouvier and John F. Kennedy: September 12th, 1953


Cavendish, Richard, History Today


THE WEDDING was Celebrated at St Mary's Roman Catholic Church in Newport, Rhode Island, on a crisp, sunny day. A breeze whipped up whitecaps in the bay as waves of publicity powered by the groom's father, Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy: drew crowds to the streets. It was he who had picked out Jacqueline Bouvier as the right wife for a future president of the United States, and he is said to have run the whole event like a Hollywood production. The bride was twenty-four and the groom, United States Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts, was thirty-six. She had warmed to her prospective father-in-law personally, and to his money, but friends said she was nervous of marrying a confirmed philanderer and of being swamped by his boisterous family.

Both bride and groom were Catholics. Her stepfamily, the Auchinclosses, were Protestants, but Janet Auchincloss's pleas for the ceremony not to be 'too Catholic' were brushed aside. So were her requests for a reasonably limited guest list. The Kennedys treated flat wedding as a political event and the hundreds of guests included senators and congressmen, Boston and Massachusetts political figures and Hollywood luminaries. Ambassador Kennedy had enlisted Cardinal Cushing, Archbishop of Boston, to conduct the nuptial mass (only because the Pope was not available, it was said). The groom arrived with a scratched face after being knocked into a rosebush in a last-minute game of touch football with his brothers and the ushers.

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