Nearly 60 years ago, American actress Grace Kelly boarded the SS Constitution and crossed the Atlantic on a journey from New York to the principality of Monaco, where she married Prince Rainier III in what was referred to as the “Marriage of the Century.” While most brides aren’t greeted with 20,000 (future) loyal subjects, and the Palace of Monaco may be off-limits for weddings for us non-royals, the principality still has plenty to offer modern day brides after a classic Grace Kelly-style wedding. From Givenchy-themed poolside cocktails to decadent décor worthy of a princess, here’s everything you need to know about throwing your own wedding of the century in Monaco.
When Prince Rainier III cut into his six-tier white wedding cake—a gift from the pastry chefs at the Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo—a pair of turtledoves flew out. While this is one way to make the cake cutting moment a memorable one, if you’d rather skip the theatrics, South of France-based destination wedding experts Lavender & Rose recommend focusing on eye-catching, supersized cakes that your guests can admire all dinner long. And just how many tiers are an appropriate amount? As co-director Kerry Bracken Lacquement says, “A wedding worthy of a royal would not be complete without an XXL wedding cake of five tiers minimum.”
There’s a reason why Kate Middleton emulated Princess Grace’s bridal bouquet—delicate lilies of the valley are timeless. While you can mimic the princess’ traditional arrangement, brides who really want a bouquet befitting a royal can have theirs designed by Miss Rose’s Perrine Guyonnet, the same florist behind Princess Charlene of Monaco’s bouquet.
Film-inspired photo sessions
A quick drive out of Monaco on the Riviera’s infamous winding roads will have you in the very same spot featured in Grace Kelly’s iconic film, “To Catch a Thief.” Pause for photos on the Grand Corniche in the medieval hilltop village of Eze, perched 1,400 feet over the Mediterranean Sea. Double points if you arrive in the back of a sports car like a Porsche 356 Speedster, the same one Kelly was spotted in speeding along the clifftop road with her signature headscarf blowing in the wind.
Hire Monaco-based vendors
According to Lacquement, the royal family are incredibly loyal to all Monaco-based vendors, so if you really want to capture a Grace Kelly vibe, seek out local vendors that are already sealed with a stamp of royal approval.
Go for a gilded venue
The palace may be a no-go, but you can still celebrate like royalty in one of the many other jaw-dropping venues in Monte-Carlo, from the Belle Époque ballroom at the Hôtel Hermitage (literally dripping in chandeliers and fine velvety red fabric) to the gold-lined Salle Empire at the Hôtel de Paris, with floor-to-ceiling windows looking out across Casino Square.
Cruise off in a classic getaway car (or boat)
Monaco is known for the annual Grand Prix, when Formula 1 drivers transform the principality’s streets into one of the world’s most exhilarating race tracks. This is also a spot where luxury cars practically parade daily in front of Casino Square. If you want to roll like royalty, a classic car is a must. The princess cruised Monaco’s streets in a convertible Rolls-Royce, but set off into the sunset on a 147-foot yacht dubbed Deo Juvante II, a gift from Aristotle Onassis, one of her many distinguished wedding guests. With the port sitting in the heart of the principality, newlyweds can easily jet off in the back of a stylish car before hopping on board the vessel of their choice, easily transitioning from wedding to honeymoon mode.
Designer-clad cocktail parties
It’s one thing to throw a cocktail party under the stars. It’s another when the setting happens to be designed an actual star in the fashion world, couturier Karl Lagerfeld. Gather poolside at Hôtel Metropole’s Odyssey and sip on Givenchy-inspired cocktails while soaking up views of the casino (yes, the real-life Casino Royale Monte Carlo) in an urban oasis that is close to the sea yet feels worlds away from the rest of the action taking place in the principality.
Master of “The Method,” Italian super stylist Rossano Ferretti recently debuted his first hairspa on the Riviera, where you can sit and admire views of the port while getting wedding ready by the master who counts everyone from Jennifer Lawrence to the Duchess of Cambridge clients. If you happen to be taking the Grace Kelly role to heart and have a yacht chartered for the occasion, Ferretti’s team can even fly to you as the first and only yacht and jet service running on the Riviera.
Enlist an Entourage
Princess Grace had a dozen bridesmaids and page boys in her bridal party, but these days, brides only need one key figure in their entourage: a “Bridal Handler,” someone from the wedding planning team who is by the bride’s side from the preparation stage up until the cake cutting. “It’s such a great service because the ‘Bridal Handler’ makes sure that the bride and her entourage have everything they need at all times and is there to keep the bride on track and on time,” explains Lavender & Rose’s Lacquement. “It’s really a luxury service certainly worthy of a royal, and all of our clients say that it makes a huge difference to their stress levels on the big day.”
Even the most prepared brides need a moment to unwind before walking the aisle. In Monte-Carlo, this is an easy task thanks to the number of haute spas filling the small principality. After the long-haul flight, treat your bridesmaids to a spa day at the Thermes-Marins Monte-Carlo perched over the Mediterranean Sea, where you can sip fresh juices in between dips in the saltwater pool and sweat sessions in the hammam. At the Hôtel Metropole, meanwhile, not only are the cocktails Givenchy-themed, so is the new spa. Choose your signature scent from the 11 Monaco-only fragrances and then sit back and relax with stress-relief massages performed in treatment rooms modeled after the couturier’s lacy gowns. The day wouldn’t be complete without a little post-massage refreshing, and the spa’s team will ensure you’re picture-perfect and ready for a night out on the town with a “Givenchy Makeover” makeup session.