July 26, 1993 12:00 PM

All brides are beautiful. Some, though, make mistakes—the wrong gloves, the wrong bouquet, even the wrong man. Our judges—etiquette expert Letitia Baldrige, costume designer Susan Becker, all-around celebrity Zsa Zsa Gabor, comic Rita Rudner, teen model Liv Tyler, bridal designer Vera Wang, talk show host Montel Williams and actor Ian Ziering (see box, page 94)—make no judgments about the choice of groom. But rating the gowns, on a scale of zero to eight, wedding bells, they let loose with some very strong opinions.

Her Prince came, resembling a concierge, but it wasn’t Rainier who made the world sigh on April 19, 1956, as Grace Kelly became Princess of Monaco. “This is my all-time favorite wedding dress,” says Susan Becker. “I patterned the rose-point lace in Father of the Bride after it.” And though Grace’s ivory gown required 450 yards of silk and lace, Letitia Baldrige says, “This is one lady who wears the dress—the dress can never wear her.”

[8 bells]

Brigitte Nielsen designed her own ensemble for her December 1985 marriage to Sylvester Stallone. “This headpiece is from hell,” shrieks Vera Wang, “and she didn’t need big sleeves since she’s got big shoulders.” Rita Rudner thinks the millinery “looks like an ice helmet.” But Montel Williams I takes a calmer view: “Just take that headpiece off and it would be perfect.” The marriage lasted less than two years. May-be it was something she wore.

Even now, the 1969 wedding of John Lennon and Yoko Ono can stir the passions. “To be married in knee socks with a white felt rain hat—that’s what it looks like—in a dress up to the crotch, is just totally, totally wrong,” insists Letitia Baldrige. “They look like two people going to hold up a bank,” says Zsa Zsa Gabor. Still, Liv Tyler points out, “They look very happy.” And Susan Becker concludes, “It makes me want to cry, he was so cute.”

[4 bells]

The bride wore red hair when Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz had their church wedding in June 1949. “The dress was very sexy,” says Ian Ziering. “It’s totally right for them,” says Susan Becker. Liv Tyler likes the light blue dress—and the bridegroom. “He’s quite a hot little bugger,” she says.

[6 bells]

Diana Ross veiled herself like a first-time bride when she married Norwegian shipping magnate Arne Naess in Romain-motier, Switzerland, in February 1986. Letitia Baldrige disapproves: “It’s totally inappropriate—not only for a second wedding but for a mountain village.” Vera Wang thinks the flowers and tiara are too much. And Ian Ziering says, “The dress is okay, but the designer ran out of ideas from the breast down.”

[4 bells]

The April 1979 wedding of Rod Stewart and Alana Hamilton is a fashion loser. “This is like a sundress I used to see at the Naval Academy during graduation week,” says Montel Williams. Vera Wang spotted it elsewhere: “She looks like Sputnik.” Rod’s scarf, adds Ian Ziering, “looks like the rope Gomez Addams used to summon Lurch.” Rita Rudner concludes,’ don’t like it—and she has dandruff.

[1 bell]

“Classic and classy,” pronounces Montel Williams of the white suit Anjelica Huston wore for her May 1992 wedding to sculptor Robert Graham. Rita Rudner adds, “The jacket can be used for valet parking.” “She looks great,” says Zsa Zsa Gabor. “But I hate the length. Nothing is uglier than a woman’s knees.”

[6 bells]

“It’s a wonderful beach dress,” says Zsa Zsa Gabor. In fact, the crocheted mini Raquel Welch pulled on for her February 1967 wedding to Patrick Curtis was an offbeat favorite, despite concerns about modesty. “The dress could use panties and a bra,” says Liv Tyler. Actually, Liv, she’s wearing a body stocking. Besides, as Susan Becker puts it, “If you are Raquel A Welch, why not wear peekaboo?”

[4 bells]

For her July 1981 wedding to Prince Charles, Lady Diana Spencer wore what Susan Becker calls “the fairy-tale wedding dress.” Vera Wang loves it: “She looked amazing.’ Others are less enthusiastic. “My grammy has dresses with that sleeve,” says Liv Tyler. “A disaster,” says Zsa Zsa Gabor.

[4 bells]

The future Queen Elizabeth II married Lt. Philip Mountbatten in November 1947. “The veil is exquisite,” says Susan Becker, “but the gown looks heavy.” “The bouquet is beautiful,” says Vera Wang, “but the veil is matronly.” “The train is beautiful,” says Liv Tyler, “but don’t care for the dress.” Rita Rudner says, “The train could be a tuna net.”

[2 bells]

The dress Roseanne Barr wore to marry Tom Arnold in June 1991 caused some, er, cleavage, among the judges. “I happen to think nipples do not belong in a temple service,” says Letitia Baldrige. She was in the minority. “Wow!” says Susan Becker. “A yarmulke and boobies! Go for it!” Vera Wang concurs: “The veil is clean and elegant. She looks great.” But as usual, Rita Rudner gets the last word: “I love it because if I don’t say I love it, she will hurt me.”

[6 bells]

Lana Turner was 28 at her fourth wedding, to playboy Henry Topping, in April 1948. “Her girdle is pushed up under her breasts,” says Letitia Baldrige. “She is a walking lingerie disaster.” Vera Wang also doesn’t think Lana is a vision in champagne-colored Chantilly lace. “I love the neckline,” she says, “but she looks like a tank.”

[2 bells]

“Great directors, terrible wedding dress,” is how Liv Tyler reviews the April 1971 wedding of Penny Marshall and Rob Reiner. “I think it’s too old for her,” says a gallant Montel Williams. Vera Wang calls the look “unflattering—you can’t tell from the fit whether she has a waistline or not.” Letitia Baldrige is less kind. Penny, she says, is wearing “a dress to which no thought has been given. Who knows what she had in her oversized handbag—maybe dog biscuits. And the messy hair!”

[1 bell]

When Princess Anne married Capt. Mark Phillips in November 1973, her bouquet included a sprig of myrtle grown from a piece of Queen Victoria’s bouquet. All the pomp and tradition combined to make what Montel Williams calls “a classic.” Zsa Zsa Gabor agrees: “This is gorgeous—simple and gorgeous.” The only quibbles are from Ian Ziering, who thinks, “She should lose the Princess Leia hairdo,” and Vera Wang, who describes Anne’s sleeves as “a little scary.”

[6 bells]

Only Montel Williams really likes the dress Delta Burke wore for her May 1989 wedding to Gerald McRaney. “It’s a class act,” he says. Zsa Zsa Gabor abhors the lacy top. “It looks like a stuffed something,” she says. Letitia Baldrige deplores the top, period. “She has a beautiful chest, but she should have covered it,” she says. “It distracts the choir—they’re looking down.”

[1 bell]

It was the first of eight trips down the aisle when 18-year-old Liz Taylor married Conrad (Nicky) Hilton Jr. in May 1950—-and she would never look lovelier. “She is beautiful,” says Ian Ziering, “and the dress enhances her beauty.” Letitia Baldrige calls the satin gown “a fantastic dress on a fantastic body. As we say in couture, quelle robe! It’s what every girl wanted for decades for her wedding dress.”

[8 bells]

“She looks like the Bride to Frankenstein,” gasps Ian Ziering. No, Ian, she’s Priscilla Beaulieu and, on May 1, 1967, she was the bride of Elvis Presley. Rita Rudner says, “I know you want to be comfortable, but on your wedding day you can hold your stomach in.” Adds Vera Wang: “This Empire look doesn’t work for me unless she was pregnant.” She wasn’t.

[1 bell]

Zsa Zsa Gabor thinks the dress Soraya Esfandiari wore for her 1951 wedding to Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi of Iran was “perfect to marry an Oriental prince, king or shah. If you marry a nice accountant, though, you’ll look like an idiot.” Montel Williams deems the gown “decadent.” Rita Rudner sees all those feathers and wonders: “Did she have to feed it before the ceremony?”

[2 bells]

When Margaret and Denis Thatcher wed in December 1951, the future British Prime Minister wore Tory blue. “This is very English,” says Zsa Zsa Gabor. “She looks like Lady Chatterley.” Lady Chatterley? “I don’t know where the hat is coming from,” says Vera Wang. “It’s like something D’Artagnan would wear.” D’Artagnan? “No,” says Rita Rudner, “I don’t like the dress—it’s very Phantom of the Opera.” Whatever the dress’s inspiration, Thatcher shortened it and wore it for years.

[2 bells]

For Gloria Vanderbilt’s third marriage, to Sidney Lumet in August 1956, she chose an 1830 French gown of beige linen. It’s a hit with Ian Ziering in 1993. “She’s a nonbeauty with class and sophistication,” he says. “Her dress mirrors that.” Letitia Baldrige calls it “absolutely lyrical—she looks like someone Botticelli would have painted.” Montel Williams disagrees: “She looks like a maid in Gone with the Wind.”

[5 bells]

Letitia Baldrige loves the dress former Miss America Vanessa Williams wore at her January 1987 wedding to Ramon Hervey. “It’s a beautifully done Renaissance dress,” she says. “It has been very well thought out.” “Pretty bouquet, pretty fabric,” says Susan Becker. Montel Williams calls it simply “gorgeous.” Zsa Zsa Gabor and Vera Wang agree that it’s “beautiful!” But Liv Tyler says, “I’m getting a so-so vibe.”

[7 bells]

What a difference six marriages make. By wedding No. 7, to John Warner in December 1976, Elizabeth Taylor had fallen from Best to Worst. “It’s a disaster,” says Zsa Zsa Gabor. “This looks like a bedspread with fur,” says Montel Williams. “A bad coat and dead flowers,” sums up Rita Rudner, “as if even they didn’t think it would last.”

“It really shows off her bosoms,” says Letitia Baldrige of the dress Maria Shriver wore for her April 1986 wedding to Arnold Schwarzenegger. “And why wouldn’t she, since she’s marrying a body-conscious guy?” Susan Becker adds: “I love the lace. She looks great and Arnold looks amazing.”

[6 bells]

The Duke of Windsor gave up the throne of England to marry Wallis Simpson in June 1937. “Wow, like, really beautiful!” says Liv Tyler of the pale blue Mainbocher creation. “The dress is nice,” agrees Ian Ziering, “but from their expressions I bet they didn’t wake up with confetti in their underwear.

[7 bells]

Has it really been almost 40 years since that September day in 1953 when young Sen. John F. Kennedy married Jacqueline Bouvier? And how does her gown stand the test of time? “The dress is breathtaking,” says Susan Becker. “I wish I had designed it.” Zsa Zsa Gabor, on the other hand, thinks the skirt is “much too busy.” And Ian Ziering thinks he discerns a photographer “hiding underneath her veil” in this Newport, R.I., scene. Vera Wang, though, calls the dress “very, very beautiful.”

[4 bells]

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