Of the dozens of Kennedy weddings Denis Reggie has photographed, none required such a level of stealth as the 1996 nuptials of Carolyn Bessette and John F. Kennedy Jr., on Cumberland Island, Georgia. Privacy was obviously not negotiable for the most paparazzi-hunted couple of the decade. (Sarah Jessica Parker once said she never understood true fame until she met John.) Extraordinary measures were taken, including limiting the guest list to 35 (one delegate from each Kennedy faction—"cousins alone would have been 100 people," Reggie says) and delaying the ceremony until dark in case helicopters were lurking.
Reggie, who was ferried to the island along with Christiane Amanpour, told curious residents that he was photographing wildlife. Guests were taken to the First African Baptist Church in the beds of pickup trucks along unpaved, unlit roads. "I'd never photographed a wedding where there were no lights," Reggie says. "It was like a jungle scene."
No grandeur, nothing more than just what it was. The simplicity—that was the beauty.
And that tiny chapel (in which the couple were married by candlelight), with its peeling paint, overgrown vines, and cracked floors? "No grandeur, nothing more than just what it was. The simplicity—that was the beauty."