They may be President and First Lady, and married simply for the sake of appearances, but there was a time when Donald and Melania Trump were at least a little happier. To mark their 13th wedding anniversary, today we look back at their star-studded Florida nuptials.
On Saturday, January 22, 2005, then-billionaire reality TV star Donald Trump wed his model girlfriend, Melania Knauss, in front of 500 guests. Among them were a long list of celebrities that included Katie Couric and Matt Lauer of the Today Show, New York politician Rudy Giuliani, boxing great Muhammad Ali, TV presenters Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa, rap mogul Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, journalist Barbara Walters, Anna Wintour, and Bill and Hillary Clinton. It’s been reported that Trump, then 58, wanted the wedding to air on TV, but Knauss turned him down.
Knauss Trump, then 34, wore a $200,000 duchesse silk John Galliano for Christian Dior wedding gown with a 13-foot train and 16-foot veil. She carried a rosary into the church, decorated with orchids and white roses, as a vocalist sang Ave Maria. Rev. Ralph Warren officiated their vows at The Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea in Palm Beach, followed by a reception in the 17,000 sq-ft. ballroom of his family-owned luxury resort, Mar-a-Lago. The elegant and traditional wedding ceremony featured Trump’s daughter Ivanka, then 23, reading from the scriptures.
At the reception, guests dined on steamed shrimp salad, beef tenderloin, caviar, lobster rolls prepared by Mar-a-Lago head chef Gary Gregson, and sipped bottles of Cristal champagne. At a reported cost of $40,000, pastry chef Cedric Barbaret spent two months creating a 200 pound, five foot high, seven-tier Grand Marnier chiffon wedding cake, which was decorated with 3,000 roses to match the Mar-a-Lago ballroom’s gold and white interior.
After dinner, Billy Joel entertained the crowd with a performance of “Just the Way You Are” for the newlyweds. In order to be able to dance comfortably, Knauss Trump changed into a lightweight tulle Vera Wang gown for the reception. People Magazine, a publication Trump now calls ‘fake news,’ was given exclusive coverage rights to the celebrations.
The couple’s honeymoon was an extended stay at Mar-a-Lago, a property Trump has referred to as “the Winter White House” since winning the presidential election in 2016. “I don’t want to go anywhere else because this is the best place to be,” Trump told the New Yorker.
The couple met at a New York Fashion Week party at Manhattan’s Kit Kat Club in September 1998. Knauss caught his eye, and while Trump’s date was in the bathroom, he asked for the Slovenian-born model’s number. They were engaged on April 26, 2004, after the annual Met Costume Institute Gala, one of the most anticipated events on the New York society calendar, when he proposed with a $1.5 million diamond ring from Graff Jewelers, who sold it to him a 50 per cent discount. Their only child together, son Barron, was born in 2006.