It was decades ago that John F. Kennedy married Jacqueline Bouvier in a star-studded wedding in Newport, Rhode Island. Today, visitors can relive the moment with a tour that takes them back to the place and the time.
“We are quite proud to have that as part of our heritage here,” said Rev. Kris von Maluski of St. Mary’s Church.
For the last few years, von Maluski has helped organize a presentation at the church that recreates the day the couple exchanged vows. With an organist playing their ceremony music, guests can view footage of them, see where they kneeled during their mass and talk about stories from their day.
“It was like a fairytale wedding,” von Maluski said, “That really struck a nerve in the world, not just the United States. Worldwide, tourists know about this church.”
However, they were not always able to access the church. Prior to von Maluski’s arrival at St. Mary’s nearly four years ago, the church was mostly closed outside of Mass hours. It was not until he heard complaints from several visitors that they decided to come up with a weekly plan to keep it open.
“When you become a pastor of St. Mary’s, you become a steward of a national historic place,” von Maluski explained. "I am responsible for this."
Since the tours began, visitors have come from all around the world to enjoy them.
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“It’s not often you get a chance like that to visit a place that’s historic like this,” said John Troendle, who came from Iowa with his wife.
This season’s tours will run from July-October, beginning at 3 p.m. every Tuesday. The cost is $15 per person. All proceeds will go to restoration and preservation efforts at the church.