Classic Wedding: Arnold and Maria’s Hyannisport ceremony 4.26.1986


They seemed an unliky match from the start – a morning news anchor from a prominent Democratic family, and a buff Hollywood action star and naturalized U.S. citizen with his loyalties in the Republican party. Maria Shriver met Arnold Schwarzenegger at the RFK Pro-Celebrity Tennis Tournament in 1976, and their society wedding in Hyannisport, Massachusetts on Saturday, April 26, 1986 was followed by four children and an eight-year stint as Governor and First Lady of California. Their union was long by Hollywood standards, but came to an end in 2014, after it was revealed that Schwarzenegger had fathered a son with their housekeeper (Joseph Baena, now 19 – just a week younger than Shriver and Schwarzenegger’s son, Christopher).

The high society wedding took place at 11am at St. Francis Xavier Roman Catholic Church in Hyannis, with 450 guests in attendance. The church had long been the home parish of Shriver’s well-connected extended Kennedy clan, and the 75-minute ceremony was a traditional nuptial Mass. Shriver’s cousin Caroline Kennedy (the daughter of JFK and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis) was maid of honour, while former Mr. Universe Franco Columbu served as Schwarzenegger’s best man. Five ushers and nine bridesmaids – among them Shriver’s four brothers and Alexa Halaby, younger sister of Queen Noor of Jordan – rounded out wedding party. Shriver’s gown was designed and donated by Christian Dior – pearl-edged white satin with an 11-foot train, while her bridesmaids were dressed in vibrant moiré silk in blues, pinks, and shades of violet. The bride and her bridesmaids were all in high collars and long sleeves, with big shoulders.

(c) AP Photo, 26 Apr 1986: Maria Shriver poses with her bridesmaids, including maid of honour Caroline Kennedy (third from right), on the day of her wedding to Arnold Schwarzenegger

Oprah Winfrey, a friend of Shriver’s from their time as coworkers in Baltimore early in their careers, read Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “How Do I Love Thee?” during the ceremony. Of the wedding weekend, she reported to People Magazine that the regionally famous New England dish – clam chowder – was served aplenty at luncheons and events held throughout the weekend.

An extravagant reception under white tents was held at the Kennedy compound in nearby Hyannisport, where airspace overhead had been sealed off by the Federal Aviation Administration to keep news helicopters at bay. The star power of the event drew hundreds of members of the world’s press to the town, creating a buzz unlike anything most of the people there had ever seen. Some even let journalists camp out on their driveways. Shriver, then 30, and Schwarzenegger, then 38, arrived to their Friday wedding rehearsal in a white and silver stretch limousine, only to be greeted at the door of the church by the throng of gathered press. The Friday night rehearsal dinner saw Schwarzenegger arriving in formal Tyrolean garb, where guests roasted the bride and groom while dining on Wiener schnitzel, lobster, strawberry shortcake and Sacher torte, a meal presented by Schwarzenegger’s mother Aurelia Schwarzenegger Jadrny.

Shriver changed into a pair of white running shoes at the Saturday night wedding reception, dancing to a live band performing everything from Cole Porter to the Rolling Stones. Even singer Grace Jones, a longtime friend of the bride, took the stage to perform with 19-year-old Shriver cousin Douglas Kennedy. While clam chowder had been on several weekend luncheon menus, the wedding night fare was more upscale – oysters, cold lobster, and chicken breats in champagne sauce. The carrot-and-pound wedding cake was a work of art, with eight tiers standing seven feet tall, weighing 425 pounds. Before the newlyweds left the reception for their honeymoon, they tossed the bouquet and the garter. 1964 American Olympic swimming champion Donna de Varona (sister of Growing Pains star Joanna Kerns) caught the bouquet, while Shriver’s then-coanchor Forrest Sawyer caught her garter.

Schwarzenegger reportedly asked Shriver’s parents, JFK’s sister Eunice Shriver, with Peace Corps founder and 1972 presidential candidate Sargent Shriver, for their daughter’s hand in marriage with an Andy Warhol original silkscreen portrait of their daughter (Warhol was later a wedding guest). “I’m not really taking her away, because I am giving this to you so you will always have her,” he reportedly told them, allaying further fears of their odd pairing when addressing guests at the wedding weekend – “I love her and I will always take care of her. Nobody should worry,” he said.

Though the marriage lasted close to three decades before coming to an end, the couple are still on good terms, often getting together on special occassions to celebrate their four children – in addition to Christopher, 19, they also share Katherine, 27, Christina, 25, and Patrick, 23. The couple, neither of whom is seriously dating again, has yet to file for divorce officially – with reports the couple is “not interested” in taking on the paperwork required to dissolve their union

Source: People Magazine


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