Iconic vintage brides who chose to have small and intimate weddings (Part 3)

Audrey hepburn

We take a look at iconic vintage brides who chose to have small and intimate weddings. There is so much to take inspiration from for all the micro weddings happening right now. The following iconic women did just that, a whole load of amazing inspiration for stylish looks that wouldn't look out of place today. 

Read on to find out about these inspirational and beautiful wedding and be fascinated by the vintage photos…

Josephine Baker and Jo Bouillon

Josephine BakerJosephine Baker and Jo BouillonJosephine Baker and Jo Bouillon

Josephine Baker was the first black female superstar, who channeled the Harlem Renaissance into her bold stage looks with fringe, tassels, and glittering accessories and was famously invited to lead the Civil Rights movement in the U.S. after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. She was the only women on stage next to Martin during his "I have a dream" rally. She went for a toned down look with a fabulous hat when she married her fourth husband an orchestra leader Jo Bouillon at a private chapel at her home, the Chateau des Milandes in France. They were together until 1961 and they adopted 12 children. They tied the knot on June 3, 1947 which also happened to be Josephine’s 41st birthday. 

"I will get married, as simply as possible. I will have children, and many animals. I love them. I want to live in peace surrounded by children and animals." - Josephine Baker.

“"He was my cream, and I was his coffee - and when you poured us together, it was something." - Josephine Baker.

Why we love this wedding

I love how Josephine held the ceremony in her home and so handy that there was a chapel next door which must have made it so convenient for the couple. One of our most popular dresses is the Josephine (now called the Marceline dress) dress is inspired and named after Josephine Baker - who used to wear dresses like these in her time. I love how the castle is now open to the public and it would be amazing to visit and see Josephine’s collection of dresses!

Mia Farrow and Frank Sinatra

Mia Farrow and Frank Sinatra 
Mia Farrow and Frank Sinatra

Mia Farrow and Frank Sinatra got hitched in a private small ceremony in Las Vegas, 1966.  A rising starlet in Hollywood who starred in iconic films like Rosemary's Baby who was just 19 and a singing legend at 49 met on the set of a film. The ceremony was short and sweet lasting 15 minutes at the Sands Hotel. Mia was 21 years old at the time when she married 51-year-old Frank Sinatra. The bride went for an effortless and classic 2-piece dress suit with her short pixie hairstyle giving that 60’s mod vibe.  The white silk shift dress was well tailored with a sweet bow detail around the waist and a cropped double-breasted jacket. Mia Farrow went all out and actually had two looks for the big day, in the evening she wore a floral lace baby doll dress, looking more relaxed and less formal for the evening. Mia and Frank remained friends until the singers death in 1998, and Mia was recently quoted as saying Frank was "the great love of her life."

Mia said of their first meeting... “I thought the only thing I could do was to get out of there with any shred of dignity that might remain, and as I stood up to leave, his eyes met mine, and my heart stopped, you know? Everything came together. I was just so alive in that moment.”

Why we love this wedding

I love how Mia Farrow had two looks for the big day – opting for a more formal look in the day and then something more feminine and floral for the evening. This reminds me of our very own style - the Margot lace topper from the Couture collection. This can be worn over many of the dresses which gives you the choice to instantly transform your look from day to evening. The lace over-dress works exceptionally well with the Elsa silk dress, as it can be worn over the silk dress during the day and then removed for the evening to show off the slinky dress underneath.

Eartha Kitt and William McDonald

Eartha Kitt

Eartha Kitt was an American singer, actress, dancer, voice actress, comedienne, activist, authorexchanged vows with real estate executive William McDonald in an intimate ceremony at her home. The singer wore a custom satin shirtdress and matching hat. Kitt was active in many social causes - an outspoken advocate for equal rights during the civil rights movement, an open critic of the Vietnam War and for LGBT rights and same sex marriage.

"A relationship is a relationship that has to be earned, not to be compromised for. And I love relationships; I think they're fantastically wonderful. I think they're great. I think there's nothing in the world more beautiful than falling in love. But falling in love for the right reason. Falling in love for the right purpose. When you fall in love, what is there to compromise about?" Eartha says.

“It's all about falling in love with yourself and sharing that love with someone who appreciates you, rather than looking for love to compensate for a self-love deficit.”

Why we love this wedding

I love how she wore a demure tea length dress, a style that was so popular in the sixties and got married in her own home, you can't get more intimate and private than that!

Elvis Presley and Priscilla Presley

Elvis and Priscilla presley
Elvis and Priscilla presley

Elvis Presely was one of the biggest most sensational singing star of most significant cultural icons of the 20th century and is known as the "King of Rock and Roll". He married Priscilla in a small and private ceremony at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas, 1967 in front of 14 guests and with the room was decorated and filled with flowers and candles. It was then followed by a reception of 100 guests. The couple’s first dance was to ‘Love me tender’, a classic Elvis song!  Priscilla’s wedding dress was in traditional white and embellished with pearls, completed with a tiara and a three-foot tulle veil.

The dress was purchased secretly and was actually bought off the rack rather than having a designer custom made dress, as Priscilla mentioned:

“I went to places like Neiman Marcus in disguise, I went with a [blonde] wig and everything just to keep it private!” as mentioned on Vogue. “It wasn’t extravagant, it wasn’t extreme — it was simple and to me, beautiful. I didn’t have time to stay there forever and look at dresses; I had one fitting for this dress and that was it, I was out of there.”

Why we love this wedding

It’s amazing how such a high-profile and famous couple went for a small intimate wedding in a hotel. I love how they filled the room with flowers and candles - which I personally adore. I can imagine it feeling ever so special and romantic, a room filled with love! I think its fab how Priscilla secretly bought her dress off the rack! Here at Sabina Motasem, we have the option of booking a virtual appointment which can be done in the privacy and comfort of your own home. We also offer a home delivery service and the option for you to select and purchase your dress online.

Hema Malini and Dharmendra

Hema Malini and Dharmendra
Hema Malini and DharmendraWhy we love this wedding

Hema Malini and Dharmendra, two Bollywood superstars who who met on the set of a film, both fell in love and defied all the odds for a long and happy marriage. Hema was Bollywood's dream girl who ruled the silver screen in the 70's and 80's.They tied the knot with a low-key wedding in 1979. The wedding was intimate and quiet, with it being a traditional Tamil ceremony. Dharmendra had fallen in love with the dream girl of Bollywood and allegedly it has been said that Hema was already engaged to another actor but Dharmendra had fought hard to win her over. This iconic couple have been happily married for over four decades and share two daughters together. The couple were one of the most famous and popular on-screen pairings of the 70’s and starred together in a number of successful films.

Hema Malini told Deccan Chronicle, "The minute I saw Dharamji, I knew he was the man for me. I wanted to spend my life with him. I am still attached to my wedding sari and preserve it with care."

Why we love this wedding

This is a true love story of the vintage Bollywood era and how they both fell madly in love with each other in a true Bollywood style. They were one of the most famous couples of that time and a lavish wedding would have been expected but I love how they performed a simple ceremony in a traditional way.

 Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall

Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall
Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall

Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall were huge Hollywood stars of the silver screen and their wedding took place in 1945 on the farm of Bogart’s friend in rural Ohio. The Malabar farm was surrounded with photographers who wanted to capture the wedding of the famous Hollywood couple. There was only one photographer allowed inside who was able to take pictures of the simple and elegant affair. Bacall wore a sophisticated and tailored pale beige dress accessorised with a leather belt.

“There was no way Bogie and I could be in the same room without reaching for one another, and it wasn’t just physical,” Bacall wrote in her memoir, By Myself. “It was everything—heads, hearts, bodies, everything going at the same time.”

Why we love this wedding

I love how this famous couple hosted their wedding at a farm and didn’t go for a fancy and lavish venue. This has been an option for many modern-day couples to go with something a bit more unusual, a little bit quirky and opt for an unconventional wedding venue, such as rural hideaways, country farm or even having a rustic tipi wedding in the woodlands. How fun and exciting!

Dorothy Dandridge and Jack Dennison


Dorothy Dandridge was the first black women ever to be nominated for an Oscar and this was years before the first black male actor, Sidney Poitier won one and she starred in a string of movies in the fifties and wowed the stage too. She also was the first black actor to grace the cover of Life magazine and was called the "black Marilyn Monroe". She married Jack Dennison on June 22, 1959 at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sophia in Los Angeles. 

She wore a chiffon and lace A-line shirt dress of white mousseline de soie and Chantilly lace, designed by Berman of London.The dress was ballerina-length, with a V-neckline, three-quarter-length pouffe sleeves and a full skirt with a gorgeous tulle hat and a bouquet of lilies of the valley and violets. Thirty minutes after the wedding, they drove away in a Lincoln Continental and had a very quiet dinner in a restaurant toasting their wedding with champagne instead of a reception. 

"There is no force more powerful than a woman determined to rise"  - Dorothy Dandridge

Why we love this wedding

I love how they kept the wedding simple and drove off in a cool car and had a very private reception, just the two of them. Her bridal look is so quintessentially fifities style and super elegant.

Yoko Ono and John Lennon

Yoko Ono and John Lennon
Yoko Ono and John Lennon

John Lennon said in an interview he didn’t really know about love until he met artist, Yoko Ono. They both thought they would never find love, but that that changed when they found each other at a one of Yoko's art London art gallerys exhibitions in 1966. They married each other in a small ceremony in Gibraltar, 1969.

The ceremony was very low key and they married at the British Consulate office which only lasted for ten minutes. They were supposed to wed in Paris or on their way to Paris but plans had to be changed due to their nationalities. So, they took a private plane to Gibraltar and everyone involved had to keep it a secret and keep their lips sealed! Yoko went for a relaxed look and wore a white crepe mini dress with elbow length sleeves and ruffled skirt. She accessorised the outfit with oversized dark sunglasses and a large floppy flat. The press did not know about the wedding but the pair hired a private photographer to take photos of them at the consulate office and on the beach. Yoko’s overall look with her loose dark hair gave vibes off the 60’s hippie bride.

Yoko said, “I never thought that it would happen in this late stage of my life,” she was 32 when she met Lennon. “I mean, I just sort of, I was starting to give up hope, you know, that kind of thing, you know. Becoming very cynical and all that. But it happened, and it’s very, very, very good."

"We wanted to get married on a cross-channel ferry – that was the romantic part," Lennon said in a BeatlesAnthology documentary. "We went to Southampton and then we couldn't get on because she wasn't English, and she couldn't get the day visa to go across. We were calling Peter Brown [who worked for Apple], and said, ‘We want to get married. Where can we go?’ And he called back and said, ‘Gibraltar’s the only place.’ So – ‘OK, let’s go!’ And we went there and it was beautiful. It’s The Pillar Of Hercules, and also symbolically they called it The End Of The World at one period. There’s some name besides Pillar Of Hercules – but they thought the world outside was a mystery from there, so it was like the gateway to the world. So we liked it in the symbolic sense, and the rock foundation of our relationship.”

On love and marriage, Lennon had this to say... I thought it was an abstract thing, you know, when I was singing about all you need is love. I was talking about something I hadn’t experienced. It’s called love, And there’s nothing that splits that up, you know. I mean you got to work on it, like it is a precious gift and it’s a plant and you’ve got to look after it and water it and you can’t just sit on your backside and think, 'Oh well, we’re in love, so that’s all right.' But that’s the secret.”

Why we love this wedding

I love Yoko Ono’s style and it suits her so well, the oversized sunglasses and hat create such a cool and chic look. I love how they are making most of being in Gibraltar and took a photo on the beach holding the wedding certificate, truly capturing the moment! Even though there initial plans had fallen through (like many other couples plans at the moment) they managed to find a solution and didn't lose hope as it all came together in the end. 

Edward V111 and Wallis Simpson

Edward V111 and Wallis SimpsonEdward V111 and Wallis Simpson

Edward V111, who was King of England, when he married Wallis Simpson in France, 1937. The wedding came six months after his abdication on the throne. It was a modest occasion and the couple tied the knot at the Chateau de Cande with less than 20 guests attending. There was no official photographer at the wedding, the best man’s wife took some pics which were not released to the public until 80 years later. For the occasion the bride wore a long sleeve, nipped-at-the waist-fitted dress in pale blue and a halo shaped hat. The dress is now on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, which will surely offer inspiration for bridal and occasion dresses.

Wallis says, “As a woman in love I was prepared to go through rivers of woe, seas of despair and oceans of agony for him. My husband gave up everything for me… I'm not a beautiful woman. I'm nothing to look at, so the only thing I can do is dress better than anyone else."

A reporter for TIME magazine at the wedding said, “When Vicar Jardine asked, ‘Wilt thou love her, comfort her, honour and keep her?’, Edward cried ‘I will!’ in a shrill voice that was almost a scream,” wrote the Time reporter.

Why we love this wedding

King Edward V111 truly loved Wallis Simpson and gave up the throne to marry her, it doesn’t get more romantic than that! I love how Wallis Simpson didn’t go for the traditional white bridal gown and went for a streamlined and slender silhouette like many of our dresses. I think it’s great she opted for a different choice of colour, called “Wallis Blue” breaking all tradition. I love the covered button detail on the dress – a detail which we have showcased previously from the Couture collection as a statement back detail.

Mick and Bianca Jagger

Mick and Bianca Jagger
Mick and Bianca Jagger

Rolling Stones front man, Mick Jagger wed Nicaraguan socialite Bianca Perez-Mora Macias wed in St Tropez, 1971 just nine months after meeting him at a rock concert in France. The guests were informed of the wedding only a day before! There were 75 guests which included Paul McCartney, Keith Richards, Julie Christie, and Brigitte Bardot. At the time Bianca was 4 months pregnant and wore the now classic 'Le Smoking' Ivory Yves Saint Laurent tuxedo jacket with nothing underneath, with a full length column skirt, a broad brimmed hat and a windswept veil. Apparently, the designer had crearted an ivory shirt to go under the jacket ivory shirt but was forgoed on the day due to the summer heat. This look helped to define a new, more liberated era for an entire generation of women and Bianca became known for effortless style ever since and a muse for Andy Warhol. This was 1970’s glam at its best! Bianca is now a human rights advocate.

Although the couple intended to keep it low-key, the photographers still showed up. The couple had to push through crowds of fans and journalists as they left the St Tropez town hall. The wedding reception had 200 guests which was held nearby at the Café des Arts. 

Bianca said of Mick, that he has "a wonderful sense of humor, that I can understand no matter what.” 

They went on to become style icons of the decade, with many thinking that they had a very similar resemblence to one another. 

Why we love this wedding

I love how Bianca Jagger looked effortlessly chic and teamed a tailored jacket with a bias-cut skirt. She surely was fashion forward with her outfit choice and has been an inspiration for many modern brides today. Just like many of our dresses in the Couture and Green collection which are bias cut, creating the perfect silhouette in an elegant and sophisticated way. Bianca carried the look so well and looked like a true style icon.

 Sophia Loren and Carlo Ponti

wedding dress

Sophia Loren, was Hollywood's biggest screen siren and she was the first actress to win an Oscar for her performance in a foreign language film, "Two Women" in 1960. Cary Grant, Hollywood heart throb was completely head over heels in love with her but her heart belonged to another man, Carlo Ponti, a film producer. She said ;I do' twice to Carl. Their story was an extraordinary love story, a marriage that withstood the test of time. 

They decided to elope in secret for their first wedding in Juárez, Mexico in September 1957. Its not known what she wore for this wedding, but one of her most iconic wedding looks was a dress that was designed by costumer Edith Head for the film 'House Boat' {first pic}. The Italian film star and her new husband, Carlo Ponti, are photographed in the second image above at the train station in Los Angeles just after announcing their secret elopement. They married again in 1966 as the first wedding wasn't legal, in a very simple ceremony by the Mayor of Sevres. 

Sophia chose not to wear a traditional wedding dress, when they tied the knot on both occasions, and says today her biggest wedding regret is not to have worn white down the aisle.  For her second wedding, she wore a simple pale coloured tailored dress with quarter length, billowy sleeves, which had a high neck tie, button front blouse and a super cool coat {pictured in the third image}.

Carl said of his super star wife "I knew immediately she was someone remarkable. Something played off her that gave her a kind of illumination."

“In life, you always go through so many experiences, but I have always tried to live with no regrets, The only thing I regret a little is that I never got married in a white dress.” Sophia said in an interview.

“Nothing makes a woman more beautiful than the belief that she is beautiful. Any woman can look her best if she feels good in her skin. It’s not a question of clothes or makeup. It’s how she sparkles.*

"You have to believe in marriage and you have to believe in a relationship between two people. If you really think in your life that you have found the right person, you have to stick to it, even though there are ups and downs. If you really believe in your union, you have to nourish it and work for it, then you can really spend your life together forever.” - Sophia Loren

She also has a whole loada great advice for those looking for the one too... "Real manliness is nurtured in kindness and gentleness, which I associate with intelligence, comprehension, tolerance, justice, education, and high morality. If only men realized how easy it is to open a woman's heart with kindness, and how many women close their hearts to the assaults of the Don Juans."

Why we love this wedding

Eloping and saying 'I do' in a colour other than white, is such a bold and cool move. I love that Sophia followed her heart and chose a man who she felt most secure with and was with right till the end. Her iconic dress she wore for the film, is so stunning and beautiful, which has inspired many a bride, and reminds me of Grace Kelly's dress and also Kate Middleton's too. A classic timeless style that would look gorgeous in a 100 years from now.

Audrey Hepburn and Mel Ferrer

Audrey Hepburn and Mel Ferrer

Audrey Hepburn and Mel Ferrer

Hollywood icon, Audrey Hepburn, married twice and both times were low-key and in a small and intimate way.

Her first magical wedding was to actor, Mel Ferrer which was shrouded in secrecy away from the press in Switzerland, 1954. It was a private civil ceremony which took place in a city hall attended by close friends and family. Hepburn met the American actor and director at a cocktail party and they wed eight months later. The bride wore a white organdie gown designed by French designer, Pierre Balmain. Throughout the years this dress has become one of the most iconic, and famous wedding looks of all time, inspiring many wedding designers and brides to come. The dress was a classic tea-length, fit and flare style with ballgown sleeves and high neck collar, completed with a satin sash tie at the waist. The floral crown and the elbow length gloves were the perfect finishing touch to the wedding gown, such a pretty look that would look stunning today.

For her second wedding, Audrey opted for another city town hall intimate wedding, to Andrea Dotti, an Italian psychiatrist.1969. They met whilst on a mediterrean cruise. Designed by Hubert de Givenchy, the dress was a simple light pink woollen dress and matching scarf, a demure, pared-down gown, having worn a ballerina-style Givenchy gown as a bride for her role in Funny Face two years earlier. The dress, a long-sleeved, funnel-necked pale pink minidress, paired with matching pink tights, white ballet flats, gloves and a matching headscarf, bouquet of pale pink freesias and lilies-of-the-valley. This look was so typically Sixties style and so cool.


"You just have to be lucky enough to find someone who appreciates you. If I get married, I want to be very, very married.”

“I heard a definition once: Happiness is health and a short memory! I wish I’d invented it, because it is very true.” - Audrey Hepburn

Why we love this wedding

This has to be one of my most favourite looks – Hepburn looks so graceful and the outfit is charming, effortless and chic. I would say this look is still key and has inspired many trends to this day. The oversized sleeves, fit and flare silhouette, high neck collars has been translated into more everyday looks as well as occasion wear. I love how the gown is finished off with the sash tie something which we offer in silk, we make the sash extra long so a pretty bow can be created at the back of the dress, creating a statement detail plus it looks really cool in photos!

Margot fonteyn and Roberto Arias

Margot Fonteyn
margot fonteyn

Britain's Royal Ballet’s best prima ballerina, Margot Fonteyn was well into her 30's when she married Panamanian diplomat Roberto Arias, son of the former president of Panama, in 1955 at the Consulate of Panama in Paris. She'd met Roberto 20 years previously when they were at a party in Cambridge in 1937.  But then, in 1939, World War II broke out, Tito was called home, and she did not see him again for 14 years. Later in life, when she was in her 40s, Margot would redefine her career with a partnership with Rudolph Nureyev who was twenty years younger than her. She went on to dance until she was 60 which is unsual for a ballerina.

She had a rather modest wedding ceremony and ceremony, but looked every inch the stylish bride in a custom tailored tea-length Dior taffeta satin dress with ruched three-qarter length puff sleeves, wrap bodice and a full A-line skirt and a tailored ducchess satin for the occasion and a beautiful tailored coat too. She chose not to get married in white too.

On meeting Roberto for the first time she said, "The next morning, I got up and I walked across the room and had this really strange sensation. Then it came into my mind about people walking on air when they're in love." 

“I took my wedding vows seriously,For richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health." - Margot Fonteyn

Why we love this wedding

I love how she was a strong independent woman who focused on her career and left it later to get married. Love how she broke away from tradtions not getting married in white and keeping things low key, but still lookd so elegant and gorgeous. Having a smaller wedding means you can spend more on a couture designed dress. Especially love her floral head dress that looks like a tiara, so pretty. Her dress which looked like it was inspired by the romance of ballet too. A lot of our dresses have been inspired by ballerinas and dancers, and our Margot dress.






January 02, 2021 by Aneela Gulshan
Tags: inspo style

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