A Look Back at Prince’s Valentine’s Day Wedding
In an emotional scene in the movie Purple Rain, the father of The Kid (portrayed by Prince) tells him, “Never get married.”
Prince later confirmed that moment was true-to-life in his memoir, The Beautiful Ones. He was 12 years old and had witnessed a tumultuous relationship between his parents. His father also told him, “Don’t get anybody pregnant.”
Prince said that foundation stayed with him for the next 25 years.
At 37 years old, he married dancer Mayte Garcia, 22, on Feb. 14, 1996. The wedding took place in Minneapolis at Park Avenue United Methodist Church, which Prince attended when he was younger. Both the bride and groom wore white, and Prince had the back of his suit jacket embroidered with the Love Symbol (his name at the time) and Garcia’s first initial.
The couple did their best to keep the ceremony private. Prince even traveled to the church in the back of a van with the flowers. But about 200 fans and multiple news crews hovered outside, according to the Star Tribune, which managed to get a detailed scoop of the event.
The church was full of orchids, gardenias and roses, but not people — only a small group attended. Among them were Prince’s mother and stepfather, Mattie and Hayward Baker, and mother-figure Bernadette Anderson. Garcia’s father, John, walked her down the aisle in his military uniform. Prince’s father, John Nelson was absent. Prince would later tell Oprah Winfrey that the two men were “estranged.”
New Power Generation member Kirk Johnson was the best man, and his brother, Rev. Keith Johnson, officiated.
The ceremony was both traditional and eccentric. Music consisted of both “The Lord’s Prayer” and “Kamasutra,” a classical suite by Prince that was officially released a year later by the NPG Orchestra. There was a casting call for a whopping seven flower girls, who participated in the wedding.
The wedding program, titled “Coincidence or Fate?” -- also an NPG Orchestra track -- included a fantastical account of Prince and Garcia’s love story. According to the tale, they were soulmates who devised a plan to recognize each other during their “last lives on Earth.” Prince included the program on his first official website, thedawn.com, that launched that day.
Garcia said those details about their relationship were imagined on occasions when Prince would put her in a meditative state, speaking softly to her and stroking her face.
“After the wedding he asked me under hypnosis if I was upset that we didn’t have a big church wedding,” Garcia wrote in her book, The Most Beautiful. “I told him, ‘I’m glad there were only a few people in the church. More room for angels.’”
Following the wedding, there was a private dinner at Paisley Park, where the bride and groom danced to “Friend, Lover, Sister, Mother/Wife.” The song “Let’s Have a Baby” was reserved for the wedding night. Both songs were included on Prince’s 1996 Emancipation album.
Their honeymoon was in Hawaii, where they played three concerts.
“It ended up being the perfect honeymoon for us,” Garcia wrote. “Hard to imagine having more fun than we had when we were onstage together.”
Though Prince and Garcia would endure the tragedy of losing a child and eventually divorce, Prince remained open to marriage. He walked down the aisle again with Manuela Testolini in 2001. And years after their subsequent divorce, he told Rolling Stone that a third marriage was “up to God.”
“It’s all magnetism anyway,” he said. “Something would pull me into its gravity, and I wouldn’t be able to get out from it.”
But Prince’s union with Garcia is immortalized on Emancipation, a snapshot of their love story and the contentment it brought him at the time.