He was one of the world’s most eligible bachelors, an insanely handsome music and film star whose engagement to a dark-haired non-celeb resulted in a stack of headlines and a pile of broken hearts. There’s a good chance that the news made your mom grab a box of Kleenex and excuse herself from the dinner table … and no, we’re not talking about George Clooney.
We’re drifting back to May 1, 1967 when Elvis Presley married 21-year-old Priscilla Ann Beaulieu. At that time, the 32-year-old King – still several years away from a rhinestone jumpsuit – was the world’s top-earning entertainer, starring in up to three movies a year and singing his way through their soundtracks. The couple first met eight years earlier, when he was stationed in Germany with the army and she lived on a military base with her Air Force Captain father. The two began seeing each other (“It was a very innocent time,” she later said, because she knows what you’re thinking. “We still had morals, very high standards.”) and Presley proposed with a three carat diamond in December 1966.
Here are 10 things you might not know about Elvis, Priscilla and their $22,000 wedding cake.
1. This was the first marriage for both of them (and the only time that Elvis would swap rings and “I do’s”).
Although as a beyond-smitten 13-year-old, Elvis did fill out a marriage license, writing in the name of his then-girlfriend Magdalene Morgan. He hastily scribbled both of their names in pencil in September 1948, on the day that he and his family moved from Tupelo, Miss., to Memphis. Morgan didn’t see the license until several decades later. “At that time, if you just held hands, it was very serious,” she said of her teen romance. “And we did hold hands a lot.”
2. The wedding was held in a private suite at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas, a civil ceremony that was arranged by Elvis’s manager Colonel Tom Parker.
The co-best men were Marty Lacker and Joe Esposito, two members of the Memphis Mafia, Elvis’s ever-present entourage, and the maid of honor was Priscilla’s sister Michelle Beaulieu. Elvis reportedly requested that the word “obey” be removed from their otherwise traditional marriage vows. The ceremony lasted eight minutes, which is long enough to play “Heartbreak Hotel” four straight times.
3a. It’s no longer possible to recreate Elvis’s wedding day.
You can’t even take a selfie in the same room: the Aladdin Hotel was destroyed in 1998. You can watch the footage of the imploding building and think of it as some kind of metaphor for modern relationships, or you can just shout “Whooo!” as it collapses on your computer screen.
3b. Unsurprisingly, you can still get married by Elvis in Las Vegas.
The Graceland Wedding Chapel offers a variety of wedding packages that allow the bride-to-be to select whether she’d rather be escorted down the aisle by “Gold Lamé Elvis,” “Black Leather Elvis” or “Jumpsuit Elvis.” (C’mon. It’s leather Elvis. It’s ALWAYS leather Elvis.)
4. Actual Elvis didn’t wear a costume during his own wedding.
He opted for “a black brocade silk tuxedo and Western boots,” according to the Las Vegas Sun. Priscilla designed her own beaded chiffon gown, which was “trimmed in seed pearls.” She stared at her new husband from beneath a three-foot veil that was “secured by a rhinestone crown.”
5. The only celebrity on the guest list was comedian Redd Foxx.
“It’s the best thing that ever happened … to me,” he said of the ceremony.
6. The couple’s six-tier wedding cake cost a reported $3,200 ($22,000 in today’s dollars), which was more than the price tag of an average Chevrolet in 1967.
“The cake itself was a yellow sponge cake,” Aladdin Hotel pastry chef Denis Martig recalled. “Each layer was filled twice with apricot marmalade and a kirsch [liqueur] flavored Bavarian cream … glazed with fondant icing and decorated with royal icing and marzipan roses.” OK, that probably tasted better than a Chevelle.
Because the ceremony was held at 9 a.m., the reception also featured a jaw-snapping $10,000 breakfast buffet, complete with roast suckling pig, oysters Rockefeller, lobster, champagne … and Southern fried chicken.
7. The couple’s first dance was to “Love Me Tender.”
Which might be the most adorably self-indulgent thing ever.
8. They honeymooned for a month at a rented house in Palm Springs, a property that has since been turned into an Elvis museum (because of course it has).
The five-bedroom, five-bathroom house is currently for sale, at the low, low price of $9.5 million.
9. Their only child, daughter Lisa Marie, was born EXACTLY nine months after their wedding day, on Feb. 1, 1968.
10. Several years later, Elvis and Priscilla renewed their vows in Hawaii in a ceremony that was an almost scene-for-scene recreation of the wedding in his movie Blue Hawaii.
Neither set of vows lasted, though. They were divorced in 1973.