Stay Connected


Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content


A Hyannis Hitching

Posted on

The vigil began about 6 a.m., turning the driveway in front of Eleanor Siscoe’s house on South Street in Hyannis, Mass. into a holding pen for the national press. Photographers and reporters came armed with stepladders, harsh words and sharp elbows, all for a better view of the carved wood doors of St. Francis Xavier’s Roman Catholic Church, where, at 11 a.m., Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger would exchange wedding vows before 450 guests.

The prospect of Conan the Republican taking a Kennedy bride (who also is the CBS Morning News anchorwoman) prompted thousands of Cape Codders to throng behind police barricades in hopes of glimpsing the bridal couple and celebrity guests. “I’ve lived here since 1941, and I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Siscoe, who allowed the press to camp in her driveway free of charge.

Beginning at 10:15, limousines and rented buses began disgorging guests and members of the wedding party. First to arrive was an odd lot of ushers. The dark-haired Shriver brothers, Bobby, Anthony, Timothy and Mark, seemed slight next to such Schwarzenegger bodybuilding buddies as Sven-Ole Thorsen, a massive Swede stuffed into a size-54 cutaway, and the short, powerfully built best man, Franco Columbu, a Mr. Universe-turned-chiropractor who was Arnold’s bricklaying partner in less heady days.

In a steady stream, Kennedy after toothy Kennedy arrived. Winner in the elegance sweepstakes was Jackie O, resplendent in a navy blue suit. On one arm was her movie-star-handsome son, John Jr., and on the other was her longtime companion, diamond merchant Maurice Tempelsman. Joan Kennedy and her former husband, Teddy, arrived separately. Ethel came surrounded by her brood, including fledgling congressional candidates Kathleen Townsend and Joe II.

The 10 bridesmaids included maid of honor Caroline Kennedy, who will turn Hyannis into a carnival all over again when she marries Edwin Schlossberg in July, as well as cousins Sydney Lawford McKelvy and Courtney Kennedy Ruhe, and Queen Noor’s younger sister, Alexa Halaby. Their dresses—moiré silk in a rainbow of blues, pinks and violets—contrasted sharply with the clam-gray skies, heavy with rain. Nothing could dampen the impression the 30-year-old bride made in her pearl-edged white satin dress with an 11-foot train, designed and reportedly donated by Christian Dior’s Marc Bohan.

The tight-knit Cape Cod community had been bracing for this moment for weeks. Security verging on paranoia occupied the Kennedy clan and its retainers. The precautions occasionally bordered on the ludicrous. On Friday afternoon Shriver and Schwarzenegger arrived for the wedding rehearsal in a silver-and-white stretch limousine. Frightened off by a cluster of reporters and neighbors, the driver raced around the block twice for no apparent reason. When the car finally halted, Maria sprinted to the door. Her 38-year-old box-office beau graciously acknowledged the onlookers and walked up the steps. Caroline Kennedy and Sydney McKelvy attempted a secret side-door entrance, but were foiled when they found the door locked. Picking her way through photographers, Caroline said with a laugh, “This is ridiculous,” echoing everyone’s sentiments.

On the wedding day, the air space over the Kennedy compound, where the champagne lunch reception would be held, was sealed off by the FAA, which invoked a ban called the Celebrity Event rule. Eighty-five Barnstable cops were on weekend duty, among them plainclothesmen who checked the small gold button that guests needed to gain entrance into the church where Shriver’s uncles JFK and RFK had once served as altar boys.

The good-natured groom was oblivious to most of these machinations. As befits a self-made man who went from bodybuilding to real estate to film star, Schwarzenegger worked on his forthcoming film, Hunter, in Puerto Vallarta until the day before the wedding. (A bachelor party was held a month ago in Santa Monica.) His chartered Learjet set down at 4:30 a.m. Friday in a driving downpour.

If some guests were unacquainted with that Cape Cod staple, New England clam chowder, they either grew to love it or loathe it during the three-day nuptial weekend. At a Friday luncheon for 30 hosted by Caroline at her mother’s gray-shingled cottage in the Kennedy compound, guests were served the milky stew and given mugs inscribed, “Maria and Arnold, April 25, 1986, Chowderheads.” “There was an awful lot of chowder,” exclaimed talk show host and Color Purple star Oprah Winfrey, who read Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “How Do I Love Thee?” at the ceremony. (Winfrey’s friendship with Shriver goes back to their days in Baltimore, where they worked at the same TV station.)

The rehearsal dinner was held on Friday at the exclusive Hyannis Port Country Club, which had been rented by the Shrivers. That evening, the Austrian-born Schwarzenegger strode through the front door clad in formal Tyrolean garb. The meal, given by Arnold’s mother, Aurelia Schwarzenegger Jadrny, was billed as an “Austrian clambake,” featuring the unlikely culinary combo of Wiener schnitzel, lobster, strawberry shortcake and Sacher torte. Bridesmaids Caroline, Sydney and Courtney offered a song about the newlyweds’ transcontinental married life. Then six of the bridesmaids performed a skit to the tune of Old MacDonald Had a Farm, renaming the protagonist MacArnold.

Befitting this protocol-perfect occasion, maid of honor Caroline presented the bridesmaids’ gift to Maria: a sterling silver comb, brush and mirror set with matching silver tray engraved with her bridesmaids’ names. In return, Shriver gave her attendants black lacquer boxes with hand paintings of Rose Kennedy’s house.

Through all the festivities the bride was serenely organized. The only daughter of the first Peace Corps diector and 1972 vice-presidential candidate, Sargent Shriver, and the former Eunice Kennedy, she had spent many summers at her parents’ colonial house near the compound, and had been a renowned hostess even in high school. “She was so incredibly calm,” says school chum and bridesmaid Theo Hayes. “She had gone over every single detail. She knew where everything and everyone belonged. You could give her a name, and she’d know exactly whom they were going to sit with.”

The ceremony was a traditional nuptial Mass. “I don’t think anybody realizes how much of it Maria and Arnold [who is also a Catholic] did themselves,” says a bridesmaid. “They picked the readings and planned it all.” The 75-minute ceremony ended with a flourish as the radiant pair strode back up the aisle to Rodgers and Hammer-stein’s The Bridal March.

The reception was held in the Kennedy compound under white tents, one designated for cocktails and the reception line, the other for lunch and dancing. Former U.N. Secretary General (and current Austrian presidential candidate) Kurt Waldheim sent the newly-weds a larger-than-life sculpture of themselves. It depicts a grinning Arnold, dressed in lederhosen, hoisting Maria, who is gotten up as a Bavarian peasant girl in a dirndl skirt and laced-up blouse. In an awkward moment Schwarzenegger praised Waldheim, saying that he was a victim of bad press. (Waldheim is accused of involvement in Nazi atrocities when he served as a German officer in Greece and Yugoslavia during World War II.) Gazing at the sculpture, one guest sniffed: “It’s not exactly what they look like.”

For dancing, Maria laced on white running shoes to protect two toes she had broken when she stumbled in her New York apartment recently. Douglas Kennedy, 19, rocked out with Grace Jones while Peter Duchin’s seven-piece band played the musical gamut from Cole Porter to the Rolling Stones. The tents, warmed by heaters, held 14 flowering fruit trees. Guests feasted on oysters, cold lobster and chicken breasts with champagne sauce. They finished with slices from a seven-foot, eight-tier, carrot-and-pound cake that weighed 425 pounds (a replica of the one served at Sargent and Eunice Shriver’s wedding 33 years ago). Before heading off on their honeymoon, Shriver tossed her bouquet, which was caught by ex-Olympian Donna de Varona; CBS co-anchor Forrest Sawyer snared Maria’s garter.

Nine years after Shriver met Schwarzenegger at the RFK Pro-Celebrity Tennis Tournament, the eight-movie veteran has emerged as a major Hollywood personality. And never was his flair for the dramatic demonstrated more ably than at the rehearsal dinner. As he presented his prospective in-laws with a silk-screen portrait of Maria created by wedding guest Andy Warhol, Arnold told them, “I’m not really taking her away, because I am giving this to you so you will always have her.” Addressing all the guests, he vowed, “I love her and I will always take care of her. Nobody should worry.” In other words, Arnold was living up to his movie ad motto: “Schwarzenegger takes command.”