Young and Beautiful: Elvis Presley Marries Priscilla Beaulieu
The eight-year courtship of Elvis Presley and Priscilla Beaulieu culminated in an eight-minute wedding ceremony on May 1, 1967. The nuptials that broke millions of bouffanted hearts took place in Las Vegas at the Aladdin Hotel.
The service was conducted in front of a small group of family and friends, followed by a reception attended by 100 guests. The couple wanted to keep it small, which inevitably caused hurt feelings among members of the Memphis Mafia not chosen to attend. It ain't easy being E.
Elvis and Priscilla first met in Bad Nauheim, Germany in late 1959. One of Presley’s buddies offered to introduce the teenager to the superstar-turned-Army private. Priscilla was a 14-year-old Air Force brat, and Elvis was living off-base during his stint in the Army when her parents allowed her to accompany Elvis’ friend to his home for a visit.
“People have said, ‘Oh my gosh, I can’t believe your parents let you go with this stranger.’’ But it was a very innocent time,” Presley remembers.
They continued to see each other during his remaining time in Germany, and later when they both returned to the United States. Today it would probably warrant a call to Child Protective Services, but Priscilla was quick to point out:
“We cannot compare it to today. We still had morals, high standards,” she added, “There was a lot of care.”
Priscilla eventually moved into Graceland in early 1963 to finish high school (her parents fought her a lot harder on that one, and Elvis had to jump through quite a few hoops.) Priscilla insists it wasn’t the sexual free-for-all everyone assumed it was. Elvis enrolled her in a local all-girl Catholic School, and Priscilla was expected to live a bizarre double life under the supervision of Elvis’ family during his frequent absences.
Right before Christmas 1966, Elvis got down on one knee in the bedroom at Graceland and finally popped the question. He presented the overjoyed, bathrobe-clad Priscilla with a 3 1/2-carat diamond engagement ring. The 21-year-old bride-to-be began designing her wedding gown and her parents could breathe a sigh of relief.
The wedding took place at 9 a.m. on May 1, 1967. Elvis was filming “Clambake” in Los Angeles at the time so it made logistical sense to marry in Vegas.
The groom sported a black silk brocade tux with black cowboy boots, and his bride wore a chiffon wedding gown of her own design trimmed in seed pearls. Priscilla topped things off with a three-foot veil perched atop her impossibly high jet-black beehive hairdo.
They were certainly a visually stunning pair. Elvis and Priscilla in the 1960s verged perilously close to tacky on occasion while being breathtakingly gorgeous at the same time.
The wedding cake set them back 3,200 hundred bucks — $22,000 by today’s reckoning. Aladdin pastry chef Denis Martig remembers:
“the cake itself was a yellow sponge cake. 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.”
For that amount of dough, you’d expect it to be glazed with gold, right? But then again, this was chump change for Elvis, especially when you consider the event also featured a $10,000 breakfast buffet.
The couple’s first dance was to “Love Me Tender”(yes, really.) After the reception, they left for a month-long honeymoon in Palm Springs. Their only child, daughter Lisa Marie, was born nine months to the day after their wedding.
Elvis and Priscilla Presley divorced in 1973, a loss many close to him said Elvis never came to grips with.