Monday morning at 9 a.m. seems the unlikeliest of times for a spring wedding, but perhaps that's exactly why superstar Elvis Presley, 32, chose the time to marry his bride, Priscilla Ann Beaulieu, 21, in a clandestine Las Vegas ceremony. The wedding party had been staying at Elvis's Palm Springs home, and shortly after midnight on May 1, 1967, the group boarded two private planes bound for McCarran Airport, according to the memoir Elvis: My Best Man, by the King's longtime friend George Klein. At 3:30 a.m., friends accompanied the soon-to-be Mr. and Mrs. Presley to the county courthouse to get their marriage license.
The couple exchanged vows in a short, intimate ceremony at the Aladdin hotel, attended by only a handful of guests. The whole process took just eight minutes. Afterward, friends, family, and business associates from MGM, RCA, and the William Morris Agency gathered for an over-the-top breakfast reception. It was an unconventional wedding for an unconventional couple. Keep scrolling for more of the quirky details that made these nuptials one of the most talked-about affairs of the 20th century.
Elvis and Priscilla met in 1959 in Germany, where Elvis was serving in the army and Priscilla's family lived on base (her father was an Air Force Captain). They kept in touch by phone after Elvis returned to his Graceland estate in Memphis, and Priscilla's parents allowed her to move there at age 17 on the condition that they would marry eventually, according to The Elvis Encyclopedia.
According to the biography Down at the End of Lonely Street: The Life and Death of Elvis Presley, Elvis's cook said she found him crying about the upcoming wedding. She asked why he couldn't cancel it, to which he replied, "I don't have a choice." (It's rumored that Priscilla's father threatened to have Elvis arrested for taking "a minor across state lines for sexual purposes" if they didn't marry.)
Little sister Michelle Beaulieu, 13, stood by Priscilla's side as she exchanged vows with Elvis. The otherwise traditional nuptials did not include the word "obey," per Elvis's request.
Two members of the so-called Memphis Mafia, Marty Lacker and Joe Esposito, served as Elvis's co-best men.
In today's money, anyway. Back then, the Presleys shelled out a whopping $3,200 for the six-tiered, yellow sponge cake filled with apricot marmalade and liqueur-flavored cream.
The ring Elvis proposed with featured a three-and-a-half-carat diamond encircled by 20 smaller, removable diamonds, according to Vogue.com.
She wore a long, white-silk chiffon gown beaded with seed pearls and a 3-foot tulle veil topped with a rhinestone crown, according to the Las Vegas Sun. Elvis opted for a black brocade silk tuxedo and Western boots.
The newly married couple were joined by a hundred guests for a champagne breakfast featuring lobster, oysters Rockefeller, roasted pig and Southern fried chicken.
Elvis's manager, Colonel Parker, saw the wedding as a publicity opportunity and scheduled a short press conference in between the ceremony and reception.
The blue-eyed crooner let Elvis borrow his private jet for the occasion, Elvis's school friend George Klein wrote in his memoir, according to Vogue.com. The newlyweds flew back to Palm Springs immediately following the reception.
The Palm Springs home where Elvis and Priscilla spent the first month of their marriage is now a museum dedicated to Elvis.
They welcomed their daughter nine months to the day after the wedding, on Feb. 1, 1968.
Elvis and Priscilla held another reception later that month, once they'd returned to Graceland, for friends and relatives who weren't able to attend the first one, as detailed in the book Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley. They also renewed their vows a few years later in Hawaii, but the attempt at reaffirming their love didn't stick. They divorced in 1973.