A Look Back at Marilyn Monroe's Three Wedding Looks

The bombshell bride knew how to accentuate her curves with each wedding look.
joyce chen wedding news expert the knot
Joyce Chen
joyce chen wedding news expert the knot
Joyce Chen
Wedding News Contributor
  • Joyce writes articles for The Knot Worldwide, specializing in celebrity wedding features and pieces on wedding trends and etiquette
  • Joyce conducts interviews with real couples about how they’ve adapted to the challenges of wedding planning during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic
  • In addition to The Knot Worldwide, Joyce also regularly contributes writing to Architectural Digest, Paste magazine, Refinery29, and TODAY.com
Updated Feb 01, 2022

Marilyn Monroe's name is practically synonymous with "sex symbol," and the Hollywood actress is still regaled today as one of the industry's most iconic superstars. Monroe, or Norma Jean Baker, as her friends and family knew her growing up, wholly transformed her style over the years, and has given Hollywood some of its most iconic moments. Some of Monroe's most famous looks include the white halter dress that billows up in The Seven Year Itch and the hot pink, figure-hugging dress and matching gloves she wears for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

Offscreen, Monroe was an equally-sharp dresser, making headlines for her bold fashion statements and flirty outfits. It should come as no surprise, then, that the star wore a trio of iconic bridal looks for her three weddings to James Dougherty, Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller, respectively. Here, we've rounded up all the details of her three wedding looks, each as distinctive as the men she was marrying.

Marilyn Monroe's First Wedding Dress

  • Wedding date: June 19, 1942
  • Marriage to: James Dougherty
  • Style: a floor-length A-line dress with sheer long sleeves and a ruffled neckline

In 1942, Monroe donned her first white wedding dress to marry James Dougherty. She was just 16 years old and James was barely 21 when they exchanged vows. At the time, the pair lived next door to each other. Monroe, or "Norma Jean," as she was known at the time, had been in and out of foster homes. "[Her foster parents] wanted to move back to [West] Virginia, and they couldn't take Norma Jean," Dougherty said in a 1990 interview with the United Press International, according to the Los Angeles Times. "She would have gone back to an orphanage or another foster home, so her foster mother suggested I marry her." Even though the initial reason for their marriage was practical, he later said, "we were in love."

Photographs from the couple's low-key wedding day show a brunette Monroe in a traditional girl-next-door type of wedding dress, modest and sweet. In her clasped hands is a bouquet of classic white roses. For their honeymoon, the pair spent time at a lake in Ventura County, and then moved into a studio apartment in Sherman Oaks. There, Dougherty told the UPI, the couple lived a calm, idyllic life. "We loved each other madly," he reflected, decades later in 1990. "I felt like I was the luckiest guy in the world. It was like being on a honeymoon for a year."

Things fell apart when Dougherty was stationed overseas as part of the merchant marine. Unable to keep their long-distance marriage going, Norma Jean ultimately filed for divorce four years later. "I never knew Marilyn Monroe, and I don't claim to have any insights to her to this day," he told UPI in 1990. "I knew and loved Norma Jean."

Marilyn Monroe's Second Wedding Look

  • Wedding date: January 14, 1954
  • Marriage to: Joe DiMaggio
  • Style: a modest dark brown suit with a white fur collar

For her second wedding, Marilyn Monroe (by then, a certified blonde) went Hollywood chic with her attire choice. She decided not to wear a white dress and instead opted for a dark brown suit with a white fur collar for her civil ceremony wedding to New York Yankees star Joe DiMaggio. The couple initially met through an acquaintance two years earlier, when DiMaggio asked the model-turned-actress out on a date. Their romance sparked a media frenzy—especially given their collective star power—but as a result, the public was surprised in the couple's choice of wedding. The pair decided to elope in lieu of a grand celebrity wedding.

On January 14, 1954, they were pronounced husband and wife at San Francisco City Hall; 274 days later, however, they'd decided to call it quits on their marriage. Even though the pair were no longer together, they remained good friends, and upon Monroe's death (she died of a drug overdose in 1962), DiMaggio arranged to have roses sent to her grave every few weeks until his own death in 1999.

Marilyn Monroe's Third Wedding Dress

  • Wedding date: June 29 and July 1, 1956
  • Marriage to: Arthur Miller
  • Style: a tea-length wedding dress with an empire waist

Monroe's third look was the closest to a glamorous wedding dress. The starlet wed playwright Arthur Miller in 1956—once, in a civil ceremony with just two witnesses, and then again, in an intimate 25-person ceremony held at the Westchester home of Miller's Hollywood agent, Kay Brown.

Her dress featured an empire waist with a ruched bust and a hemline that just skimmed her calves. The Norman Norell gown was peak Monroe: sweet but sexy, an instant classic. She topped off her look with a chin-length veil and a pillbox hat. The nuptials themselves honored Miller's background with a Jewish ceremony.

The movie star first met the playwright at a party, when Miller was still married. They embarked on a brief love affair before Miller broke things off with his first wife, Mary Slattery. Monroe and Miller finally married once his divorce was finalized, and things initially seemed picture-perfect. In fact, three days after their wedding day, the playwright gave Monroe a ring inscribed "A to M, June 1956. Now is forever." (For the ceremony, he borrowed a ring from his mother.)

Five years later, however, the couple divorced. While the star's infamous white dress from The Seven Year Itch was sold at auction for $5.6 million, Marilyn Monroe's three wedding outfits still belong to her estate.

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