It wasn’t a simple church wedding.
Donald Trump, a part-time Palm Beacher, and Melania Knauss, a Slovenian model and real-estate mogul turned-TV star, were married Saturday night at Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church. After the ceremony, there was a reception at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club.
The celebrity wedding of 2012 was regarded as the most important event in the well-off island community for decades. It featured a “Who’s Who”, 300-plus invited guests from politics, entertainment, fashion, and Palm Beach society.
There were also Shaquille Ol’Neal and Hillary Clinton.
Trump was also there to support his friends from The Apprentice’s reality TV show: Mark Burnett, his producer, and his colleagues George H. Ross, and Carolyn Kepcher, were both present.
Simon Cowell, the infamous American Idol judge, showed up at the church in style late for the 7 p.m. ceremony.
According to church members, the ceremony was about half an hour long. This was perhaps because Trump was not as outgoing as he was with his two-divorced 58-year old wife. She reportedly refused to allow televising the wedding live.
Trump’s daughter Ivanka, from his first marriage to Ivana, gave a brief prayer. Music was played, but it was traditional. Camellia Johnson, an operatic soprano, sang Ave Maria. There were decorations, but they were kept to a minimum. Andrea Stark, a Palm Beach socialite, attended the event with John Stark, her Trump golf buddy.
She said, “Nothing was too extreme.”
Knauss’s dress, a Christian Dior Haute Couture creation which cost $200,000. It weighed 50 lbs and had a train that measured 13 feet.
Andrea Stark stated, “She looked ethereal.” “Her veil looked like a confectionery made of tulle.”
What about Trump? He was wearing a tuxedo. Stark said that Donald looked “debonair”.
The scene on the street was much more typical of a circus. There were scores of curious people on the sidewalk and camerasmen and photographers from dozens media outlets. These included the New York Daily News and TV’s Entertainment Tonight. They perched themselves on platforms and ladders, or sometimes on top of platforms, to capture the best shots. (Security was tight around the church, and later at Mar-a-Lago.
The crowd cheered as the limos arrived and recognized the celebrity present. They roared when they couldn’t identify a guest, even though some of Trump’s invitees were not household names.
However, the occasion was still important.
Thanos Papalexis from Palm Beach said that this was the closest thing you will get to an American royal wedding. He used a ladder as a way to watch the proceedings.
What about royal weddings that include their own pizza delivery service? Pizza Girls, a West Palm Beach pizzeria was also present at the chaotic scene and took orders before delivering them to the location. Phoebe Reckseit (co-owner) shouted out, “One large for Neil,” and held a freshly baked pie in her hand.
The wedding guests were treated to a completely different kind of feast. They left the church for Mar-a-Lago, specifically to the new, European-styled ballroom that cost $42 million at the club. This was the venue for the extravagant reception.
Gary Gregson prepared a menu that included steamed shrimp salad and champagne vinaigrette as well as roasted tenderloins of beef with green peppercorn sauce. Grand Marnier chocolate truffle cakes were also available. Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Hors d’ouevres were also served.
The Michael Rose Orchestra entertained, a favourite on the Palm Beach society circuit. Knauss wanted something simple and elegant, so the ensemble, which was mainly strings, prepared a part-classical, half-Broadway program. There were rumors that Tony Bennett and Billy Joel, two of the most musically gifted guests, might be inspired to sing for the newlywed couple. After leaving the church, Joel performed an impromptu, Trump-teasing show for the television cameras.
It was a shame that the Palm Beach council decided to rescind the request for fireworks at the reception. Trump got his pyrotechnics at 10 p.m., courtesy of Pete Mason, a local architect who said that he felt sorry and decided to launch the rockets from his boat in the ocean.
However, the Trumps got their wedding she wanted – and the ladies were so elegantly dressed that Peggy Siegal, a New York publicist, viewed the scene from outside the church and declared that they looked “better than the women at Golden Globes or Oscars”. This may have been too much for the ever-reserved Palm Beach.
The scene on Worth Avenue was a typical example of the crowd that descended on the district in search of a celebrity. Rumours circulated that Elton John, one of Trump’s “guests”, was in the area shopping for jewelry. The street became a bottleneck of traffic.
One Palm Beacher rode her bike through the town and it was enough to help put Trump’s nuptials in perspective.
She said, “They’re turning the town into Beverly Hills because they’re going to have a stupid wedding.”