Amid much sparkle, the Donald marries model

His bride's Christian Dior original dress cost more than most people's homes (at $200,000), but he still doesn't pay anyone to style his hair.

Associated Press
Published January 23, 2005

PALM BEACH - The bride's gown is worth more than most American homes. Her diamond-studded ring costs more than many yachts. But the groom's hair? Self-styled.

Donald Trump married Slovenian model Melania Knauss on Saturday with all the glamour, glitz and gold that money and star power can buy.

Knauss walked down the aisle to Ave Maria and guests broke into applause when the real estate mogul-turned reality TV star kissed the bride.

"There was a spontaneous combustion of love," said boxing promoter Don King, one of the guests.

The couple slipped into Trump's Mercedes-Benz Maybach parked near a side entrance after the half-hour-long ceremony and then drove past hundreds of cheering spectators with the help of a police escort.

"Oh, it was beautiful. It was all just lovely," singer Tony Bennett said after the wedding.

Another guest, Kathy Hilton, the mother of hotel heiress Paris Hilton, said "it was very romantic. Everything was just beautiful. She looked like a princess. They exuded confidence."

And when the Donald kissed the bride? "It was very romantic and it was a long one," Hilton said.

The setting for the opulent reception was Trump's newly unveiled $42-million Versailles-inspired ballroom at his Mar-a-Lago estate and club, complete with 24-karat gold moldings, custom-made crystal chandeliers and marble floors covering 11,000 square feet.

About 400 people lined the street outside the church Saturday afternoon for a glimpse of a celebrity - or maybe even the bride. Cheers erupted as the limousines began dropping off guests.

"It's amazing. There are so many pretty dresses. Ooh, there's a limo," said 13-year-old Katherine Stanton, who climbed a chair and craned her neck to see Trump business and legal adviser George Ross.

The guest list offered a mix of European royalty, Hollywood celebrity and Palm Beach money, including The Apprentice TV show producer Mark Burnett and Regis Philbin. Other guests included singer Billy Joel, television personalities Barbara Walters, Star Jones, Matt Lauer, Kelly Ripa. Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and New York Gov. George Pataki were there. Prince Charles and Prince Albert of Monaco reportedly were invited.

"It is a fantasy wedding. Donald is a superstar and everything Donald does is over the top. His wedding is just going to be like the rest of his life, lots of glamour, glitter and the best of the best," said Rhona Silver, a New York caterer who has planned parties at Mar-a-Lago.

The nuptials mark the third trip down the aisle for Trump, 58, and - coincidentally or not - come just days after the start of third season of his TV show.

Trump insisted he wants to keep details of the wedding to Knauss, 34, private. But much was leaked by Trump, his bride-to-be and his staff.

About 400 had RSVP'd to attend, said Pat Saylor, Mar-a-Lago's catering and special events director. The wedding took place two miles away at a classic, garden-studded stone church, the Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea, next to the Breakers resort golf course.

The reception featured hors d'oeuvres by celebrated chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, whose restaurant Jean-Georges is in the Trump International Hotel in New York. Guests were dining on steamed shrimp salad, beef tenderloin and individual Grand Marnier chocolate truffle cakes that mirrored the towering 50-pound, seven-tier wedding cake topped with 3,000 white-icing roses.

Music during the three-course dinner was being provided by a 36-piece string ensemble, with "surprise entertainment" to follow.

But what's typically among the biggest surprises for the guests and groom - the wedding gown - had been seen before the wedding.

Knauss, 34, posed for a traditional prewedding portrait in the gown and her $1.5-million engagement ring, and untraditionally shared it with the world on the cover of Vogue magazine. The Christian Dior original, which reportedly cost $200,000, has 300 feet of satin and a 13-foot train that took 550 hours to embroider. It weighs 50 pounds - so much that the bride planned to slip into a lighter Vera Wang dress after the couple's first dance.

Trump's look for the big day might not come as a surprise. He said he'd do his own hair.

Guests were nearly as concerned about their own ensembles. Sami Alpark, a boutique owner in this retreat's chic Worth Avenue, said he sold 40 dresses to invitees that cost up to $26,000.

"Everyone is going to see a precision first-class wedding," said Robert Wyner, chairman of Barclays International Realty here.

Wyner, who also attended Trump's last wedding to Marla Maples in 1993, said this one will last.

"After five years together, those of us who are fortunate to have seen them, know they are truly a match made in heaven," Wyner said. "They are absolutely best friends and absolutely on the same wavelength."