When the heir to an exiled monarchy, Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece, married American Marie-Chantal Miller in 1995, royalty merged with New York high society.
Marie-Chantal, a fashion designer, illustrator and children's author, is one of the celebrated socialite "Miller sisters" and daughter of billionaire Robert Warren Miller. She was 26 when she married the handsome prince, whom she met at a 1993 New Orleans dinner party. The prince, then 28, and his future princess would later declare it was love at first sight. "I knew [Pavlos] was the person I would marry," the princess told Vanity Fair in 2008.
Prince Pavlos is the eldest son of Greek King Constantine II and Queen Anne-Marie, exiled since their throne was toppled in a 1967 coup d'etat and the monarchy abolished in 1973. They reside in London.
Prince Pavlos, who was working in the United States for an investment firm, proposed to Miller with a royal heirloom diamond ring during a Swiss Alps ski trip. The July 1, 1995 wedding at St. Sophia's Greek Orthodox Cathedral in London was one of the most lavish and expensive royal weddings in European history.
Princess Marie-Chantal's father, founder of the Duty Free Shops, reportedly spent as much as $1.5 million on the ceremony for 1,400 guests. He wrote the checks for another $6.5 million in related festivities.
Guests included a who's who of European royalty and beyond, including Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip and the late King Hussein of Jordan and American-born Queen Noor. High-profile New York City socialites including the late Nan Kempner and fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg were part of the American contingent.
The wedding and parties were so elaborate that Queen Anne Marie appointed her cousin, Lady Elizabeth Anson to organize the various soirees, which were dubbed by press on both sides of the Atlantic as "the social event of the season."
Before the wedding, the bride's parents threw a champagne dinner dance for 1300 guests at Wrotham Park, a Palladian mansion in Kent. Two giant marquees were erected on he grounds to resemble the Parthenon in Athens. There were fireworks displays and dancers in Greek national costumes, Hello! magazine reported. The party didn't wind down until 4 a.m. and then, a banquet breakfast was served.
As for the wedding itself,"the bride wore lace, a diamond tiara and an orthodontist's smile," Suzy Menkes, fashion editor of the International Herald Tribune, wrote in her coverage for the New York Times.
Menkes noted the wedding was a "regenerating force of haute couture" with Valentino scooping up the prize of some 62 commissions from its guests, including Queen Sofia of Spain, Infanta Cristina and Iranian Empress Farah Diba. Even Princess Marie-Chantal's three young bridesmaids, outfitted in baby blue dresses, were dressed by the designer.
More than $100,000 worth of pink and white roses flown in from Ecuador decorated the interior and exterior of the cathedral, where the bride and groom arrived in matching silver limousines. Security was so tight for the visiting dignitaries and royals that most other guests arrived in coaches provided by the bride's family.
Rose petals dropped from the ceiling after the couple said their vows in Greek during an traditional hour-long ceremony.
Raised a Roman Catholic, the princess converted to the Greek Orthodox faith in anticipation of the marriage.
The reception for 500 held at Hampton Court Palace was just one of several wedding-related parties. The meal included lobster, poultry, miniature wedding cakes, and music performed by 15-members of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
The favors were lux: King Constantine II presented female guests with silk scarves decorated with his Coat of Arms while the bride's mother, Chantal Miller, gave similarly-themed china cups and saucers by Royal Copenhagen.
Prince Pavlos reportedly kept the couple's honeymoon destination a secret until their departure.
The working couple, who have lived in London and New York, have five children and a variety of professional and philanthropic interests. Prince Pavlos has worked for and founded several investment firms. Princess Marie-Chantal founded a children's clothing line, Marie-Chantal LLC in 2000, and is on the board of several prominent American cultural organizations and charities.
For details on the upcoming wedding of Britain's Prince William to Kate Middleton visit www.royalwedding.aol.com.
And check out this roundup of the best and worst royal wedding dresses.