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Somewhere in the middle of all the sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll, some of the most iconic singer-songwriters and band members of our time found time to get married. And while rock star marriages may not have the best track record, there's no denying that the weddings were seriously cool—whether they wed quietly while still undiscovered or after they made it big, in chic ceremonies complete with screaming girls outside (basically all of The Beatles' big days). Take a journey through time—and note the evolution of the "rock 'n' roll" wedding—through these fascinating photos of famous rock stars' big days.
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Carole King and Gerry Goffin
She wrote the music and he penned the lyrics for hits like "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow," "Take Good Care of My Baby," and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman." The relationship turned romantic, with the songwriting dream team (and the basis for Beautiful: The Carole King Musical) tying the knot on August 30, 1959 and divorcing 10 years later.
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Chuck and Joni Mitchell
Before she went to California and looked at love from both sides, Joni Mitchell (nee Anderson) was but a 22-year-old living and performing in Toronto. That's where the Canadian folk queen met Chuck Mitchell, an American singer and guitarist, who proposed to her 36 hours after they met. Two months later, in June 1965, the two were married in Chuck's parents' yard in Detroit. "We had no money," Joni has said. "I made my wedding dress … I walked down the aisle brandishing my daises." Joni even played guitar for the guests at the party, wedding dress and all. Two years after their wedding, the couple, then living in New York, appeared as bride and groom for a photo shoot in a bridal section in the Detroit Free Press. That same year, they went their separate ways.
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Pattie Boyd and George Harrison
In 1964, the quiet Beatle met his muse, model Pattie Boyd, who would go on to inspire the love song, "Something," on the set of the film A Hard Day's Night, in which Boyd appeared. He asked the 19-year-old to marry him on the spot and when that didn't work, he asked her to dinner. Eventually, she agreed. They fell in love and were married January 21, 1966, at the Epsom register office in Surrey. "I bought a Mary Quant pinky-red shot-silk dress, which came to just above the knee, and I wore it with creamy stockings and pointy red shoes," Boyd wrote in her memoir, Wonderful Tonight. "On top, because it was January and cold, I wore a red fox-fur coat, also by Mary Quant, that George gave me. She made George a beautiful black Mongolian lamb coat." The marriage lasted 11 years.
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The King wed his Queen, longtime girlfriend Priscilla Beaulieu, in the ultimate Las Vegas ceremony, on May 1, 1967. The wedding party flew to Vegas in Frank Sinatra's private jet in the middle of the night, and another plane brought the guests. The couple received a marriage license and said "I do" in a suite at the Aladdin Hotel, which had been decorated with candles and flowers for the occasion. The bride wore a simple dress with long lace sleeves and pretty pearl embellishments, an iconic tulle veil and rhinestone tiara, and six pairs of false lashes. Elvis wore a paisley silk brocade tux, a wire-supported pompadour, and cowboy boots. After the wedding, the rock 'n' roll couple enjoyed a Champagne breakfast (and a six-tier wedding cake!) with their 100 guests. They also had a second reception later at Graceland for friends who couldn't attend the ceremony. The Presleys divorced in 1973.
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June Carter and Johnny Cash
After several attempts to get June Carter to marry him, Johnny Cash proposed to her during a live performance, and she finally agreed. A week later, on March 1, 1968, the country stars wed at the Methodist Church in Franklin, KY, and stayed together till Carter's death in 2003. Four months later, Cash also died.
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Linda Eastman and Paul McCartney
Despite their attempts at a private wedding, screaming fans surrounded the Marylebone Register Office, where the Beatle married his musician/photographer fiancée on March 12, 1969. Following the courthouse ceremony, the bridal party headed to St. John's Wood Church for a formal blessing of the union, which ended up lasting 29 years, until Linda's death. "We were crazy," Paul said in his biography Many Years From Now by Barry Miles. "We had a big argument the night before we got married and it was nearly called off. We were very up and down, quite funky compared to the eventual image of 'Twenty-five years of married bliss! Aren't they lucky for people in showbiz?' But we are. You get this picture of us swanning along in a little rowboat managing to avoid the white water, but we were right in the middle of that white water, man, so it's even more miraculous that we made it. But we did."
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Yoko Ono and John Lennon
One of the most memorable wedding photos of musicians of all time, this shot was snapped after their 10-minute Gibraltar wedding on March 20, 1969, with marriage certificate in hand. "We went there and it was beautiful," Lennon said in The Beatles' Anthology documentary. "It's the 'Pillar of Hercules,' and also symbolically they called it the 'End of the World' at one period. They thought the world outside was a mystery from there, so it was like the Gateway to the World. So, we liked it in the symbolic sense, and the rock foundation of our relationship.”
But that wasn't Plan A for their wedding. They had initially attempted to get married on a cross-channel ferry en route to Paris. "That was the romantic part," Lennon said. "We went to Southampton and then we couldn't get on because she wasn't English, and she couldn't get the day visa to go across. They said, 'Anyway, you can't get married. The Captain's not allowed to do it any more.'" Clearly, it all worked out in the end. For their honeymoon, the artists famously staged a "Bed-In" for peace at the Amsterdam Hilton Hotel, and they remained married until Lennon's tragic death in 1980.
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The Rolling Stones frontman married Bianca Pérez-Mora Macias in a Catholic ceremony in Saint-Tropez, France, on May 12, 1971. While the union didn't last, in her plunging ivory YSL suit, It Girl-slash-human rights activist Bianca became an instant bridal fashion icon.
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Carly Simon and James Taylor
Incredibly, Carly Simon saw a photo of James Taylor on the cover of TIME magazine well before they met and told her sister, "I'm gonna marry that man." And marry him she did, on November 3, 1972. They had two kids, Sally and Ben, also musicians. But the singer-songwriters and favorite celebrity couple of the '70s didn't last long past the decade; they divorced in 1983.
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Cher and Gregg Allman
Three days after her divorce from Sonny Bono was final, Cher flew to Las Vegas to get hitched to Gregg Allman, on June 30, 1975. The marriage only lasted nine days, but those bridal party outfits will go down in history.
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Pattie Boyd and Eric Clapton
Pattie Boyd had frequently dismissed Eric Clapton's advances (she was married to one of his close friends, George Harrison), even when he played her the album she had inspired him to write, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. But years later, when Boyd and Harrison were separating, they finally became a couple, with Harrison's blessing. Five years later, on March 27, 1979, they tied the knot, and two months after that, they celebrated with a reception in Clapton's garden. Harrison was in attendance. The rock couple divorced in '88, but not before Boyd inspired Clapton's most well-known song, "Wonderful Tonight."
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Ringo Starr and Barbara Bach
The drummer for The Beatles got his girl—model and Bond girl Barbara Bach. They were married on April 27, 1981, in a civil ceremony at Marylebone Register Office in London, and are still together today. "I think I love Barbara as much [today] as I did [when we met]," Starr told People, "and I'm beyond blessed that she loves me and we're still together."
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Joni Mitchell and Larry Klein
Joni Mitchell met her second husband, Larry Klein, when he served as bassist on her album Wild Things Run Fast. The two wed on November 21, 1982, but the marriage was dissolved in 1994.
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Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne
The Prince of Darkness, Black Sabbath vocalist Ozzy Osbourne, married his princess, manager girlfriend Sharon Levy, in Maui on July 4, 1982. Sharon wore a traditional lace gown, and Ozzy looked beachy with blonde locks and a white suit. The Osbournes welcomed three children, and though divorce rumors have been swirling, these days the couple seems to be amicable.
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Diana Ross and Arne Naess, Jr.
The musical legend officially married the Norwegian businessman in a civil ceremony on October 23, 1985. But four months later, they had a grand church wedding in Romainmôtier, Switzerland, which Ross referred to as "the biggest show" of her life. In front of 240 guests, Ross, in a cathedral-length veil of antique Belgian lace and a pearl-studded satin gown, kissed her new husband for so long, the pastor joked, "That's enough!" The couple had enough of their marriage in 1999, when they divorced.
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Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown
It's hard to believe the beaming newlywed musicians pictured here would go on to have such a tumultuous marriage. On their wedding day, July 18, 1992, at Houston's estate in Mendham, New Jersey, the two were nothing but smiles. The diva donned an intricately beaded veil and a Marc Bouwer-designed high-neck gown made of ivory satin, which was recently sold in an auction. They divorced in 2007.
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Sting and Trudie Styler
Two days after their legal ceremony, the musician and actress celebrated with 25 guests at their Elizabethan mansion in Wiltshire, England. Styler rode into the August 20, 1992 wedding on horseback (because why not) in a gold-embroidered white satin off-the-shoulder ball gown by Gianni Versace; Sting, naturally, wore stripes (he got his nickname, after all, for a bumblebee-esque black-and-yellow striped sweater he used to wear). The Troggs played for the reception, as well as a surprise performance by The Police; "I had had a few drinks by that time and I was kind of happy, so I said, 'Okay, let's do this,'" Sting, who hadn't jammed with his bandmates in more than six years at the time, told VH1's Behind the Music.
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Mariah Carey and Tommy Mottola
The five-octave superstar wed the music executive on June 5, 1993, at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in New York City, followed by a reception at the Metropolitan Club. Carey stunned in a princess-worthy Vera Wang ball gown. The pair split in 1998.
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Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale
You can't get much more "rock 'n' roll royalty" than Gwen Stefani's custom dip-dyed pink-and-white Dior by John Galliano gown and veil, which she wore to marry British rocker Gavin Rossdale on September 14, 2002. Stefani (pictured here with her dad) and Rossdale said "I do" in an Anglican ceremony held at St. Paul's Covent Garden in London, and the couple celebrated a second time in Los Angeles. They divorced in 2016.
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Elton John and David Furnish
Though they had been together for two decades and in a civil partnership for nine years, the rock legend and filmmaker decided to formally wed on December 21, 2014, following England's legalization of same-sex marriage. The Rocket Man and his man's Windsor, Berkshire ceremony included a star-studded guest list, with their sons Elijah and Zachary serving as ring bearers.
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Who could forget this famous photograph from the Prince of Pop's fairytale wedding to the former 7th Heaven star at Borgo Egnazia Resort in Fasano, Italy? Biel was pretty in her pink floral Giambattista Valli Haute Couture gown, and Timberlake jumped for joy in a custom Tom Ford tux. The couple invited 100 guests to the weeklong celebration, and during the ceremony, JT serenaded his bride with an original song he wrote for the occasion (because DUH, he's JT). "It was a total fantasy experience," Biel said. Since then, the couple has welcomed a son, Silas.
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The queen of selfies has released a flood of throwback photos from her May 24, 2014 wedding to the musician, but none stands out as much as this kissing portrait in front of the elaborate flower wall at the lavish Italian celebration—both dressed to the nines in Givenchy. The wedding is reported to have cost $2.8 million—not including the prewedding week in Paris.