We can't be sure wedded bliss always existed between Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy and her presidential husband, John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Suspicions about what went on behind the shroud of their private home life continues to be fodder for countless tabloids and tell-all books. But all the tales of extra-marital affairs seem to do nothing to tarnish the glimmer of romance that surrounds America's iconic first couple.
It seemed to take just one day in September of 1953 to cement Jack and Jackie as an idyllic pairing in the public eye. Newspapers across the country ran their wedding announcement alongside photos of a young but already poised and elegant Jackie, dressed in an off-the-shoulder white wedding gown. And from that day forward, the pairing of a well-educated Connecticut debutante and Washington's most eligible bachelor would grip the interest of the American public like nothing short of Britain's Royal Family.
To celebrate the country's love affair with Jack and Jackie Kennedy and the 50th anniversary of their wedding, Boston's John F. Kennedy Library and Museum has unveiled the new exhibit The Wedding of Jacqueline Bouvier and John Fitzgerald Kennedy, which is on display through October.
The exhibit showcases items such as Mrs. Kennedy's ivory silk and taffeta wedding dress created by African-American designer Ann Lowe, as well as her diamond and emerald engagement ring, which was reset with additional smaller diamonds in 1962. Also on view are screenings of rarely seen color film footage from the wedding reception, depicting the young couple's first dance to "I Married an Angel," as well as countless photographs of the 28-member wedding party including John's best man, brother Robert F. Kennedy. These images offer an in-depth peek at what it was like to have witnessed this historic gathering.
May, 1951: Jacqueline is first introduced to John at a Georgetown dinner party. June 24, 1953: Jacqueline accepts John's proposal of marriage and an emerald and diamond engagement ring. September 12, 1953: The couple is married at St. Mary's Church in Newport, Rhode Island in front of 750 guests with 3,000 well-wishers waiting to catch a glimpse of the newlyweds outside. A two-week honeymoon in Acapulco, Mexico follows. November 27, 1957: Jacqueline gives birth to the couple's first child, a baby girl named Caroline Bouvier Kennedy. November 25, 1960: John F. Kennedy, Jr. is born only two weeks after his father is elected president. November 22, 1963: President John F. Kennedy is shot and killed in Dallas, Texas. His wife Jacqueline is by his side. November 25, 1963: President Kennedy is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Jacqueline, praised for her strength during the aftermath of her husband's assassination, makes the funeral arrangements and ignites an eternal flame at his grave. May 19, 1994: Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis is laid to rest beside President Kennedy in Arlington National Cemetery.
Visitors can also glimpse more intimate items from the Kennedy wedding, including the never-before-seen personal scrapbook kept by Jacqueline during the days of her engagement and a poem, "Meanwhile in Massachusetts," that Jackie wrote for her husband and gave to him on their first anniversary. It's enclosed in a leather-bound collection of the major speeches he made as a young senator and inscribed "To J.F.K from J.B.K," followed by the Napoleon quote "Great men are meteors; consuming themselves to light the world."
All in all the exhibit paints a picture of the birth of what would long be referred to as Camelot, a term Jackie herself coined, and an idyllic time in the early '60s when private lives remained private and divorce wasn't commonplace.
Reports may tell us that the reality of the relationship between
President and Mrs. Kennedy-like any modern-day romance-wasn't always
ideal. But what emerges from the Kennedy Library's exhibit is what
still feels like a very real romance between the couple-evidenced by
the eloquent poems Jacqueline wrote for her husband and the pure joy
apparent on their faces in the wedding photos. Sure, countless
rumors of infidelity would emerge in the years that followed their
September 12, 1953 wedding, but some 50 years later, the public
still comes out in droves to see what to them is a real fairytale
romance-warts and all.
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