arts & culture

{great love stories № 08 | john f. kennedy jr. & carolyn bessette}


{great love stories № 08 | john f. kennedy jr. & carolyn bessette}

Adventurers : əd-ˈven-chər those who undertake or encounter exciting or remarkable experiences

Aptly dubbed the ‘power-couple’ of the nineties, John F Kennedy Jr & Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy were modern American royalty. Both astoundingly attractive and wonderfully smitten with each other, they were written about and commented on almost daily in gossip columns and tabloids. Quintessentially American and breathtakingly stylish, people the world over desperately sought their style. This splendidly glamorous great love story existed in private jets and White House gala dinners, daring adventures and then, quite catastrophically, ended suddenly and tragically . . .

{great love stories № 08 | john f. kennedy jr. & carolyn bessette}

It is often disputed how John & Carolyn first met — some say it was at Calvin Klein in New York, where Carolyn worked as a publicist, and was said to have been introduced to John by a mutual friend, Kelly Klein, while he was shopping for suits, perhaps even offering some advice on his choices as she had a keen eye for fashion. Another source is adamant it was while they were jogging in Central Park — both athletic, adventurous and ‘outdoorsy’, John spotted Carolyn, and was instantly enthralled with her ethereal beauty . . . and the rest, as they say, was history.

{great love stories № 08 | john f. kennedy jr. & carolyn bessette}

Whatever the story of their first meeting is, it most certainly must have been magical, as from that day on, the pair were inseparable. John told friends he was ‘besotted’, and it was not long after that, a secret wedding was planned. On September 21, 1996, the private and secret nuptials of John & Carolyn took place in an historic Baptist church strewn with flowers, on Cumberland Island, Georgia. The affair was kept so secret, that in fact, some Kennedy family members were not even invited!, in an attempt to elude the press.

{great love stories № 08 | john f. kennedy jr. & carolyn bessette}

The bride wore a startlingly simple, but marvellously elegant floor-length Narcisco Rodriguez gown of pearl-colored silk crepe; her only other adornments: a hand-rolled tulle silk veil and long silk gloves (also Narcisco Rodriguez), and beaded satin Manolo Blahnik sandals. Carolyn’s hair was styled into a low chignon at the nape of her neck, and pinned with a clip that had belonged to her late mother-in-law, Jackie Kennedy.

{great love stories № 08 | john f. kennedy jr. & carolyn bessette}
{great love stories № 08 | john f. kennedy jr. & carolyn bessette}

The intimate evening, with just 40 guests, could not have been more romantic — the church, which had no electricity, was lit with candles & lanterns, and as the couple recited their vows, they stood at a beautifully adorned alter covered in greenery and candles. Following the ceremony, a lively reception was held at the Greyfield Inn where the couple’s first dance was to Prince’s “Forever In My Life”.

{great love stories № 08 | john f. kennedy jr. & carolyn bessette}

{great love stories № 08 | john f. kennedy jr. & carolyn bessette}

The newly pronounced Mr. & Mrs. Kennedy honeymooned in Turkey, and relaxed on a ten-day Aegean cruise aboard the Althea, before, ultimately, having to return to reality. Hundreds of paparazzi and media reporters were camped outside the Tribeca loft waiting for them to return from their honeymoon.

{great love stories № 08 | john f. kennedy jr. & carolyn bessette}

John was quite accustomed to the relentless hounding of the media, but for Carolyn, it was very new and quite frightening. She was innately private and rarely granted interviews; she longed for nothing more then a quiet, private life, but alas, that was not to be. It was Carolyn’s fierce longing for privacy, her work for numerous charitable causes, and of course, her enviable style that drew constant comparisons to her late mother-in-law, Jackie Kennedy.

{great love stories № 08 | john f. kennedy jr. & carolyn bessette}

John eventually pleaded with the media to leave his Carolyn alone — but they did not relent. The couple were followed no matter where they went, no matter what they were doing.

{great love stories № 08 | john f. kennedy jr. & carolyn bessette}

It is for this reason they often chose to spend weekends away at the estate John had inherited from his parents, on Martha’s Vineyard, off the coast of Cape Cod. During the summer, Monday to Friday would be spent working in New York, and then the weekends would be spent at the Gay Head property on the island. Supremely adventurous, John eventually began flying to the island in a small, six-seater Piper Saratoga II. Numerous lessons were taken, and John became quite an experienced flyer.

{great love stories № 08 | john f. kennedy jr. & carolyn bessette}

On Friday July 16th, 1999 — John was to pilot his wife and her sister, Lauren, to Martha’s Vineyard to attend a rehearsal dinner for the wedding of his cousin, Rory Kennedy, to Mark Bailey. That day was swelteringly hot and had left the skies quite hazy, and the moon not visible. The conditions were not terrible, but were certainly not ideal for flying.

{great love stories № 08 | john f. kennedy jr. & carolyn bessette}

From their take-off at 8:38pm, little other details are known following this time. Tragically, just a few miles out from the island, the plane lost altitude quickly, and crash-landed into the ocean off Gay Head. Both the Kennedy & Bessette families — along with the rest of the world — watched television reports anxiously for any news. But dreadfully, there were no survivors.

{great love stories № 08 | john f. kennedy jr. & carolyn bessette}

It was a heartbreaking ending to this wonderfully vivacious love story.

{great love stories № 08 | john f. kennedy jr. & carolyn bessette}

Their story may not be a long one — just a handful of beautiful years spent together — but there is no denying how deeply they loved one another. In the numerous images left of the couple laughing, kissing or even just gazing into one another’s eyes — there is not a skerrick of doubt that the great love story of this adventurous, elegant, and completely smitten couple will be remembered fondly for a many years to come . . .


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Contributor, Australia

Inspired by film noir, F. Scott Fitzgerald novels & the thought of a summer spent in Paris, this high tea connoisseur enjoys photography & designing & making her own clothes. Joey has been buying fashion, wedding & interior design magazines since a wonderfully young age, and would spend hours browsing through their glossy pages making ‘inspirational’ scrapbooks. Never spotted without high heels, a sketchpad, a pop of pink lipstick & a strong coffee— Joey adores great love stories, chandeliers, crème brûlée, the French countryside & sequins & sparkles & her long time sweetheart— the love of her life whose kisses still give her butterflies …

15 Notes
  • Your writing is so vivid and your portrayal is so romantic. This is the kind of writing fairy tales are made of.

  • this is a beautiful post <3

  • so beautifully written! You honored their memory well.

  • Anonymous said...

    Beautifully put! Very well written and moving. Thank you for an inspiring blog!

  • I just adore this series. Almost every post makes me tear up & I can’t wait for the next one! What I like even better is that I rarely know the stories you share – they’re all new (and wonderful) to me :)

  • Sooooo romantic!


  • I have always loved that dress! I remember being a little kid and just being so enthralled by them. I also clearly remember the entire day that their plane was missing and then when they were found. It still breaks my heart.

    Great post!


  • Aren’t they the most stylish couple, almost “Royal” it’s a tragedy it ended so soon. Great post!

  • Theirs seemed to be such a perfect love story. The tragedies in the Kennedy family surpass any I have ever seen; and can only imagine the heartbreak left behind.

    2012 Artist Series featuring the Gifted Decorative Painter Theresa Cheek

    Art by Karena

  • such beautiful but shockingly sad story…

  • I remember when I first saw the photos of their wedding, I marvelled at her absolute beauty. She was just stunning. I always loved their love…it was infectious and you can feel it in all of the photos of them together. Lovely post.

  • I’m a newcomer to your blog and I am hopelessly smitten. I adore that you’ve chosen to feature this love story. Beautifully done. xx

  • I love the last photo! What a beautiful romance. Hope you’re having a lovely weekend xo

    Kate {Something Fabulous}

  • They were really a wonderful couple, and I think that we should hold on to the beautiful memories as in this post.. Thank you for making the good memories last.

    Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

  • This is such a beautiful and special post, you’ve included some photos that I’ve never seen before – and of course their iconic wedding photo which has to be one of the most beautiful wedding photos ever.

    It’s easy to talk about the “beautiful people” and to say how certain couples are beautiful together….but these two – as you say – were incredibly attractive and beautiful people in their own right and absolutely breathtaking together.

    I can still remember that Saturday morning hoping against hope, like the rest of the world…praying that they would be found alive….what a terrible tragedy that was. I still wonder how her mother coped with losing not one but two daughters….

    Lovely post XX

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