IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

New documentary features rare look at John F. Kennedy Jr. and Carolyn Bessette's wedding

John F. Kennedy Jr. married Carolyn Bessette in a secret ceremony in 1996 — and now you can get a rare glimpse at that event.
/ Source: TODAY

It's been 20 years since John F. Kennedy Jr. and his wife, Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy, died when their plane went down over the Atlantic Ocean. Now a television special is set to mark that tragic anniversary with a celebration of their lives and love — and with a never-before-seen look at their nuptials.

In "JFK Jr. & Carolyn's Wedding: The Lost Tapes," TLC will showcase scenes from the iconic young couple's secret 1996 ceremony — from their wedding prep to their vows to their first dance.

TODAY shared an exclusive look at some of the never-before-seen footage Wednesday and heard from the wedding guest who filmed it all.

In the clip, Kennedy, who was widely regarded as American royalty and one of the nation's most eligible bachelors at the time, could be seen addressing the friends and family who gathered at Cumberland Island, Georgia, where he and Bessette were soon to say their "I do's."

"Carolyn and I owe all of you a great debt of gratitude," Kennedy said in a scene from the rehearsal dinner. "I realize that we imposed certain conditions upon this event."

Those conditions are what helped keep the secret event under wraps — from arranging for a private plane to send guests to Florida to then ferrying them to the island off the coast of Georgia to limiting personal photography.

But Kennedy's longtime friend, Billy Noonan, was allowed to keep his handheld video camera rolling throughout, and he's the one who's now made it possible for the rest of us to get a peek.

"It was amazing to have experienced, and when I look at the video now, I realize how magical it was and how special it was," Noonan told TODAY.

After leaving the rare footage to collect dust for decades, he felt the time was right — as the anniversary of the couple's deaths approached — to share scenes from the happiest time in their lives.

While much of the content is grainy, it offers viewers glimpses they never thought they'd get, including JFK Jr. standing outside the small church in which he and Bessette would soon swap vows and the newlyweds' cutting the first slice of their wedding cake.

In another clip that aired on TODAY last month, the former first family member, then 35, and Bessette, 30, appeared picture-perfect as they were surrounded by their loved ones.

"Carolyn has changed my life in a way that I never thought was possible, and just made me, tonight, the happiest man alive," the groom said as he raised a glass to his bride.

The two-hour program, narrated by actress Elizabeth McGovern, will feature interviews with Noonan, as well as other friends and associates of the couple — even the caterer from their big day.

"This special celebration encapsulates their fairytale wedding weekend as the public has never seen, and we are honored to share it with our passionate viewers," TLC's president, Howard Lee, explained in a press release Tuesday.

"JFK Jr. & Carolyn's Wedding: The Lost Tapes" airs July 13 at 8 p.m. ET on TLC.