In January 1954, Doreen Provost, a UCLA graduate, was working as an assistant buyer in the bridal department at the Joseph Magnin Company, a high-end San Francisco department store specializing in women’s fashion.
“In those days, a bridal consultant was the person who not only sold you your wedding dress, but offered advice and services on all aspects of a wedding,” said Provost. She was called on to assist a couple getting married at City Hall. Provost walked into the designer salon to find Marilyn Monroe and her fiancé, Joe DiMaggio.
“Everyone was making a fuss over DiMaggio, because he was San Francisco’s golden boy,” said Provost. But Provost said she was focused on Monroe, who appeared, “nervous and out of her element.” The couple indicated they wanted to have as traditional a wedding as possible, even though they could not be married in the Catholic Church due to DiMaggio’s previous divorce, said Provost.
“Marilyn was sweet, shy and very quiet,” said Provost. After Monroe chose a suit with a fur collar, Provost helped her find a matching hat and white fur muff. She also made sure Monroe had something old (her earrings), something new (her suit), something borrowed (a sales lady’s handkerchief), and something blue (a garter from Provost’s department).
“She thanked me profusely as she left,” said Provost. “But what I learned that day was that beauty, fame, money and a charismatic husband cannot overcome feelings of insecurity.”
Just eight years later, Monroe was found deceased at her home, at only 36 years of age. Provost remembers hearing of her passing. “I thought, ‘I don’t believe anything I’m hearing,’” said Provost, who remembers Monroe as an unassuming woman seeking just a little confidence. “The waste of that sweet young woman still haunts me.”