Iconic Wedding Dresses: Marilyn Monroe

Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe had her fair share of lovers. The infamous blonde bombshell married not once but three times in her short life.

The term sex symbol was basically invented to describe the model-turned-actress. Unfortunately none of her marriages lasted long and she was three times divorced before she died in 1962 at the age of 36.

High School Sweetheart

Marilyn Monroe (then Norma Jeane) married her first husband in 1942 when she was 16. The Los Angeles Police officer, James Dougherty, announced in an interview that they were getting married to prevent her from going into an orphanage but that they were also very much in love.

Iconic Wedding Dresses of Marilyn Monroe

The young beauty had a tough life up until this point. She had dreamt of being an actress from the age of five to escape from her real life in orphanages and foster homes.

Marilyn was an unknown brunette who wore a traditional girl-next-door floor length gown to her nuptials. The A-line dress featured long sleeves and lace detailing on the skirt. The modest wedding dress was coupled with a short veil and half-up curled hairstyle that was very typical of the 40s.

Iconic Wedding Dresses of Marilyn Monroe

The couple apparently had an idyllic marriage and Marilyn was an endearing housewife until James enlisted in the Merchant Marines in 1943. Meanwhile, Marilyn caught the eye of a photographer as she was working and she scored her first modelling gig. Her popularity grew, and her husband got further away. She signed to a modelling agency and became a very popular pin-up girl. Desperate to learn the craft of acting, she threw herself into the film industry to watch everyone at work.

As James was against her having a career, Marilyn decided to file for divorce in 1946.

Infamous Elopement

Marilyn spent twelve years husband-less. Then, she met baseball player Joe DiMaggio in 1952. The couple first met after DiMaggio saw a photo of Monroe, and asked the photographer to set the two up on a date. Marilyn wasn’t too keen on meeting Joe, as she expected him to be the typical baseball-playing “jock”. However, Joe exceeded her expectations and the two quickly fell in love.

They married on January 14th 1954 in an informal wedding ceremony in San Francisco.

Iconic Wedding Dresses of Marilyn Monroe

In contrast to her glamorous onscreen image (and first wedding dress) Marilyn opted for a low-key chocolate brown skirt suit. The demure outfit featured a cute white fur Peter Pan collar and button down detail.

She carried with her a small bunch of orchids. Her understated appearance was perfect for their informal elopement at San Francisco City Hall. Marilyn looked absolutely radiant. It’s clear to see that she was bursting with excitement on her wedding day.

Iconic Wedding Dresses of Marilyn Monroe

They honeymooned in Japan, and Monroe travelled to Korea to perform ten shows in just four days for over 60,000 servicemen – which conquered her fear of performing in front of large audiences.

Monroe and DiMaggio divorced 274 days later. She allegedly cited “mental cruelty” as her reasoning. However, rumour has it that Monroe and DiMaggio never really fell out of love. It was said they had planned to remarry in August 1962, sadly the month of Monroe’s death.

Iconic Wedding Dresses of Marilyn Monroe

The Yankee never stopped trying to win her back. Apparently he had fresh roses delivered to her grave twice a week until his own death in 1999.

Monroe’s wedding outfit was sold at auction in 1998, fetching $33,350. Her wedding ring was also sold. The 35-diamond band was missing a diamond, to symbolise the unfilled promise of the couple’s love.

Third and Final

While the divorce was being finalised, Marilyn was having relationships with Joe, Marlon Brando and playwright Arthur Miller. The affair with Miller became big news as her divorce finalised at the same time as he left his wife. Her studio tried to convince her to stay away, as he was under scrutiny from the FBI.

She officially changed her name to Marilyn Monroe shortly before they wed on June 29th 1956 at Westchester County Court in New York. A few days later, they followed their civil ceremony with a Jewish one, at the home of Millers’ Hollywood agent, Kay Brown. The intimate at-home Jewish ceremony that lasted four minutes, and with that Monroe converted to Judaism.

Iconic Wedding Dresses of Marilyn Monroe

The rings were inscribed with “Now is forever” and Marilyn was given away by her acting teacher Lee Strasberg.

Monroe adorned a mid-length gown oozing effortless glamour and sophistication. The dress was figure-hugging and nipped in at the waist to accentuate the stars feminine figure. It featured sheer, gathered sleeves and a low scooped neck. She also wore white wrist length gloves to complement.

Iconic Wedding Dresses of Marilyn Monroe

The blonde bombshell’s hair was pinned into curls and her veil was playful and short, just covering her hair and face. Her bridal look was full of understated charm, perfect for their intimate nuptials. Her natural beauty shined through and she was clearly ecstatic during the celebrations from the images that we have.

Marilyn’s Curtain Call

Miller encouraged Marilyn to take the role of Sugar Kane Kowalczyk in Some Like It Hot, and this became her biggest hit. It is considered one of the best films of all time, and Monroe won a Golden Globe for her efforts.

Iconic Wedding Dresses of Marilyn Monroe

During the latter half of their marriage, there were heavily publicised affairs from both Monroe and Miller. Marilyn suffered multiple miscarriages and her health was going downhill rapidly. She started to rely upon barbiturates. During filming for The Misfits, written by Miller, she needed to take a week’s hiatus to detox in hospital. As soon as filming finished, the pair filed for a quick divorce. Miller married the set photographer he had been having an affair with. Monroe’s health continued to tumble.

Her last role, in Something’s Got To Give, saw her swimming naked in a pool. She invited photographers after filming and did not wear the skin coloured body stocking she was offered. This was seen as such a bold move, and she would have become the first mainstream star to appear nude in a Hollywood film.

Iconic Wedding Dresses of Marilyn Monroe

However, her poor health lead to her leaving the project and the film was never finished. She died of an overdose on August 4th 1962, aged just 36, leaving behind quite a legacy.

We hope you’ve gained some inspiration from these iconic bridal looks from the infamous Hollywood movie star, Marilyn Monroe. Take a look at the bridal boutiques on our website to have a go at replicating any of these outfits.

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