What America is lacking in royals we have in spades when it comes to wealthy society families. We’re talking monikers like the Vanderbilts, the Astors, and—yes—the Rockefellers. Major $$$ was spent when members of these families tied the knot, and the gowns were to die for. Society brides > royal brides, any day of the week. (JK, we love you Kate Middleton.)
Gloria Vanderbilt (AKA Anderson Cooper’s mother) married her first husband Pat DiCicco in 1941, when she was just 17 (and yep, she wore an iconic set of Vanderbilt pearls, because as the saying goes, “All Vanderbilt Women Have Pearls”). They divorced just four years later.
Couple of fun facts: The train on Gloria’s dress was 30-feet long, and that little cake topper is wearing a replica of her outfit.
Gloria Vanderbilt’s third husband was director Sidney Lumet. They married in 1956 and divorced in 1963, so the relationship was admittedly pretty short-lived.
Even so, Gloria looked absolutely stunning on her wedding day, wearing a beige gown rather than the traditional white, which was made out of French linen that dates from 1830. Note: She ditched the pearls.
Heiress Cornelia Venderbilt’s 1924 wedding to British diplomat John Cecil was the party of the century, and took place at the family’s famous Biltmore estate in Asheville. A whopping 2,500 people attended the reception.
“The bride was lovely in a gown of white satin, very straight, with long sleeves,” wrote the Asheville Citizen. “Her bridal veil of tulle and lace, which she wore over her face when entering the church, was four yards long. It was caught with orange blossoms from Florida…Her bridal bouquet was of orchids and lilies of the valley, made in Asheville by the Middlemount Gardens. Each of her satin slippers was ornamented with a single orange blossom.”
William Waldorf Astor married socialite Sarah Norton in 1945. Despite getting divorced in 1953, the pair had a whirlwind romance and apparently got engaged just a few days after they met. Not much is publicly known about Sarah’s dress, but we can all agree that her starburst tiara is fit for royalty (or, alternatively, a basic who’s super into weddings *waves hi*).
(Side note: This wedding took place in London, but the Astors are a cross-continental fixture, as anyone who’s walked into New York’s Waldorf Astoria knows).
American hotelier Conrad Hilton’s son Nicky Hilton married Elizabeth Taylor when she was just 18 during a Beverly Hills wedding.
MGM organized the fabulous event, and Elizabeth’s dress was designed by famed costume maker Helen Rose. Her team of 15 people took an entire three months to create the gown out of satin and seed pearls, and the train is a whopping 15 yards. FYI, the couple divorced eight months later.
Abby was a prominent member of the Rockefeller family, and married banker David Milton in 1925. The wedding was a *huge* news-making affair, with 1,200 guests at the reception in NYC. And you’ll love this: The bride broke with tradition and insisted that the word “obey” be removed from her marriage vows. Pretty cool.
John D. Rockefeller III married prominent philanthropist Blanchette Hooker in 1932 when she was in her early 20s. The pair had their *extremely* fancy reception at the Colony Club on Park Avenue. Her dress is a surprisingly modern silhouette given the era, no?
Almost ten years later in Bedford 1940, David Rockefeller (AKA the former chairman of the Chase Manhattan Bank and the Metropolitan Museum of Art) married Margaret McGrath and she wore a very similar gown—with slightly puffier sleeves.
Random aside that has literally nothing to do with the Rockefellers: Bedford is where Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds currently live.
This 1940 wedding was a HUGE deal—in fact, a hilariously old-time-y video about it can be found on YouTube.
Henry Ford II and Anne McDonnell were married in Long Island, and the church was swarming with hundreds of uninvited guests hoping for a glimpse of the bride and groom. Anne’s dress is ever-so lovely, with sheer cap sleeves and a giant skirt.