Thirteen years ago today, a model from Slovenia named Melania Knauss walked down the aisle in a couture wedding gown that weighed 60 pounds to marry Donald Trump, the real estate mogul host of “The Apprentice.”
It was, gushed Martha Stewart, the most talked-about wedding of 2005, an event that still ranks as one of the world’s top 10 most extravagant weddings.
At the reception, “American Idol” judge and guest Simon Cowell told People magazine he gave the wedding “a nine.”
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Melania, 34 at the time, had a hand in every detail of the evening affair, she told Stewart when she visited her daytime talk show a few months after the wedding — by then pregnant with son Barron.
“Everything’s happening so quickly for you,” Stewart told her.
The wedding belonged to Melania, not him, the future president reportedly told one guest.
Melania told Stewart she had a hand in every detail.
“I did everything,” she said. “I wanted to be alone to do it, because more people you have it, to telling you, ‘oh maybe you should do that way’ ... you get confused. And I know what I want, how I want it.”
What she wanted was Louis XIV grandeur — gold, glittery, “kind of (like) jewelry,” she told Stewart.
She nixed the groom’s idea of having NBC broadcast the event live, according to several reports.
On this anniversary day, here’s a flashback to that glamorous night in Florida.
The evening ceremony took place at Bethesda-by-the-Sea, an Episcopal church in Palm Beach, Fla. An extravagant reception followed inside the newly renovated, Versailles-inspired ballroom at Mar-a-Lago, with marble floors, 24-karat gold moldings and custom-made crystal chandeliers.
The guest list
Guests received Tiffany & Co. invitations. More than 350 people attended, including big names from business, politics, sports, media and Hollywood.
To name a few mentioned by the Palm Beach Post and others: Bill and Hilary Clinton, Tom Brady, Derek Jeter, Billy Joel, Elton John, Usher, P Diddy, Don King, Donna Summer, Russell and Kimora Lee Simmons, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Simon Cowell, Jeff Zucker, Rudy Giuliani, Chris Christie, Shaquille O’Neal, Kelly Ripa, Regis Philbin, Matt Lauer, Star Jones, Chris Matthews, Barbara Walters and Benjamin Netanyahu.
Cellphones and cameras were confiscated, but Katie Couric hid hers and covertly snagged photos throughout the evening.
“Let me tell you something,” Sandra Rose, the wife of the wedding’s bandleader, told The Hollywood Reporter. “If someone had dropped a bomb on that place, it would have wiped out an entire generation of famous Americans.”
The Reporter made 89 calls to alleged guests last year, and not one called back.
“Today, it would be easier to get Paramount to greenlight another Zoolander sequel (Trump appeared in the 2001 original) than to get a celebrity to admit they attended the nuptials,” it wrote.
Metropolitan Opera soprano Camellia Johnson sang “Ave Maria” as the bride walked down the aisle.
Ivanka Trump — whom society pages noted was just 11 years younger than her new stepmother — read from the Bible.
There were no bridesmaids, only a maid of honor: Melania’s sister, Ines Knauss, who wore Vera Wang. Donald Jr. and Eric were their father’s two best men.
During the 30-minute ceremony, the couple lit the bride’s baptismal candle, which her mother brought from Slovenia. She planned to use the same candle for her child’s baptism to continue the tradition.
Guests broke into applause when the groom kissed the bride. Don King called it a “spontaneous combustion of love,” according to Today.
Guests tossed white rose petals at the couple as they left the church and headed for Trump’s Mercedes-Maybach for the ride to the reception.
Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, a guest at the wedding, and editor-at-large Andre Leon Talley invited Melania to the couture shows in Paris before she chose her gown, she told Stewart. The magazine featured her and the dress in a 14-page spread before the wedding.
The dress — said at the time to be one of the most expensive wedding gowns ever made, worth an estimated $100,000, according to Vogue — was designed by Dior’s John Galliano. Made of nearly 300 feet of white duchesse satin, the hand-beaded gown had a 13-foot train and 16-foot veil.
It took 1,000 hours to make, with seamstresses spending 550 hours hand-stitching more than 1,500 crystal rhinestones and pearls onto the dress.
It was cumbersome to move around in, so Melania changed into a clingy, hand-ruched silk tulle Vera Wang dress for the poolside after-party.
Vogue reported that she was advised to eat well before the wedding so she was strong enough to wear the heavy gown, and was told to sit on a bench instead of a chair to accommodate the volume.
“Very classic, very white,” is how Melania wanted the wedding to look, New York event designer Preston Bailey told the Reporter. “She said, ‘I want something that is very elegant but not over-the-top,’” he said.
She wanted a “very creamy and white color palette,” and “very romantic, traditional flowers: roses, hydrangeas, vernaculars, some orchids,” Bailey said.
The tables in the grand ballroom were covered with white brocade damask topped with white satin lace. Dendrobium orchids were wrapped around the linen napkins. Five-foot-tall centerpiece candelabras decorated the tables.
Ivanka and Eric Trump apparently loved the flowers. They both used Bailey for their weddings later, too.
Prepared by French chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, the dinner featured an appetizer of steamed shrimp salad with champagne vinaigrette. The main course was beef tenderloin. Guests also enjoyed caviar and lobster rolls.
The bride wanted a full string orchestra, the Reporter reported. The Michael Rose Orchestra of Palm Beach played standards including “I’ll Take Manhattan.”
The couple’s first dance was to the Puccini aria “Nessun Dorma.”
According to various media accounts, Paul Anka, Elton John, Joel and Bennett each serenaded the couple. Joel reportedly sang a retooled “Just the Way You Are” with a Trump theme — “That’s Why the Donald is a Trump.”
The reception was like something from a movie, one guest said.
Melania wanted “all roses” on “a big cake.” And she got it in her 200-pound, seven-tier, $50,000 wedding cake, covered with 2,000 flowers spun from sugar.
The yellow sponge cake was filled with butter cream and soaked in Grand Marnier.
It took so much wire infrastructure to hold it up that it couldn’t be served to guests, so they were fed from “backup cakes” and staff ate the wedding cake later, according to media accounts.
Guests took home individual chocolate truffle cakes, packaged in white boxes with “M.D.T.” monogrammed on top, as favors.
The groom’s hair
An anecdote shared by Vogue: Reportedly, designer Tom Ford advised the bride to change up his comb-over for their big day.
“I like him the way he is,” she said.
Wrote Vogue: “Yes, Donald, you are lucky.”