Elvis and Priscilla Presley are one of those couples whose names just fit together. However, their relationship took many turns before they tied the knot, and they divorced only six years later. Nevertheless, the relationship, and her wedding dress, are now truly iconic.
Priscilla moved to Germany with her mum, step-dad and family at eleven years old. She lived in America for the first years of her life and hated moving around as making friends was hard. Now in the state of Hesse, Germany, she couldn’t find much to do with her time. Therefore, when Elvis threw a party at his house while undertaking his military career, she went along. The fourteen year old made a strong impression on the famous 24-year-old singer as he apparently turned awkward and embarrassed around her.
She was immediately smitten, and Elvis managed to compose himself enough to say the same. She returned home late and her parents almost forbade her from ever seeing him again, before relenting. They kept in touch and met frequently in West Germany before he returned to the States. Then, they continued to send each other letters and talk to each other on the phone. However, Priscilla read about rumours of his relationship with Nancy Sinatra and thought their romance was over.
Desperate to see him again, she begged her parents to let her visit him in Los Angeles. They agreed, on the condition she write every day, have a chaperone and that Elvis paid. Instead, Priscilla pre-wrote a bunch of postcards which someone posted in LA, as Elvis took her to Las Vegas.
Nine months later, she asked to move to Memphis. She was allowed to on the proviso that she attend an all-girls Catholic school and live with Elvis’ parents until graduation. They also made Elvis promise to marry her one day. While we know that Elvis did keep his promise to marry her, she moved to Graceland long before she graduated! They moved in together in 1963 and Elvis proposed in 1966, seven years after their first meeting. He popped the question in the intimacy of their bedroom with a three-and-a-half-carat diamond ring.
The wedding day finally came on 1st May 1967. Frank Sinatra lent Elvis his private jet to transport the wedding party from his Palm Springs home to Las Vegas. Elvis and Priscilla married in the most magnificent suite of the Aladdin Hotel in the Entertainment Capital of the World.
Despite the couple’s high public profile, their wedding was a relatively private affair. The wedding ceremony, in front of around 14 of their closest friends, lasted just eight minutes. Elvis had flown his new wife’s family in as a surprise wedding gift.
Elvis’ manager invited members of the press for a conference between the ceremony and the Champagne wedding breakfast. 100 friends, family, and business associates attended the buffet-style breakfast around ten tables.
While parts of the ceremony may have been laid back, the cake certainly was not. The couple had an elaborate five foot tall, six tier cake decorated with royal icing and marzipan roses. It was filled with apricot marmelade and covered with kirsch-flavoured fondant. Many of the photographs we have from the wedding are from the cake cutting, as more guests and photographers were around.
That night, the couple danced to, of course, “Love Me Tender”.
And now, let’s look at the iconic dress that Priscilla donned for the momentous occasion.
She wore an understated floor-length white wedding dress in silk chiffon. It featured an elaborate beaded neckline and sleeves filled with sparkling seed pearls.
The rest of the dress was somewhat plain but, as Priscilla later said, she didn’t have time to find the “ideal” dress.
She had received fan mail from early on in her relationship with Elvis, when she still lived in Germany. As a result, she wanted to hide from the public as she went dress shopping. Therefore, Priscilla visited dress shops in disguise to find her dream wedding gown. Wearing a blonde wig, Priscilla pretended to be ‘Mrs Hodge’ and finally acquired her gown in Westwood.
On the other hand, her hair clamoured for attention and truly reflected the glamour of the era. She dyed it black to match her husband’s and styled it into a tall bouffant. One high profile guest stated “She looked like she had about eight people living in her hair”. It even put Elvis’ quiff to same! She topped the ‘do with a cloud-like three-foot long tulle veil, and a rhinestone tiara.
Looking every bit the rock n roll bride, she went for a heavy makeup look. Priscilla wore extensive eyeliner, false lashes and pink pearl lipstick.
Meanwhile, on the day, Elvis wore a shiny black brocade silk tuxedo, along with a white carnation in his pocket and cowboy boots, of course. The oufit was designed by Marty Lacker, one of the “Memphis Mafia”, and made by Lambert Marks from MGM.
Elvis, known for his love of bling, presented Priscilla with a golden wedding ring of 3.5 carats with a large diamond in the centre, and 21 smaller diamonds around it.
Elvis’s own wedding band was decorated with 8 diamonds surrounded by 16 fill-cut diamonds.
The stars enjoyed a three day honeymoon in Palm Springs before returning to Graceland to start their life together. Priscilla became pregnant on her wedding night and, although she thought it was too soon, decided to keep the baby. Nine months later, she gave birth to their daughter, Lisa Marie.
But, before that, their honeymoon ended with a second wedding! Many of their friends were disappointed that they were not invited to the Las Vegas nuptials so they had a second ceremony and celebration at home in Graceland. Instead of finding new outfits, as couples today might do, they just recycled their original clothes! As a result, it is often unclear which wedding photographs are from.
Have Your Own Elvis-Themed Wedding
Eloping to Las Vegas has now became a cultural normality for couples in the United States. However, it is impossible to have an identical wedding to Elvis’. While plenty of Elvis impersonators now host weddings at various locations in Las Vegas, The Aladdin Hotel has since shut down.
Nevertheless, many couples love the idea of emulating The King, whether through the fashions or the music. Many dress shops offer elegant and simple dresses like the one Priscilla wore. On the other hand, you could look for a more stereotypical 1960s rockabilly wedding dress. And, remember to hire a band who can help you jive the night away with all of Elvis’ classic hits.
Elvis and Priscilla’s relationship will be remembered as one of the greats of rock n roll, and the wedding dress as iconic, unique, and perfectly suiting the small ceremony.