David Bowie & Iman Wedding


On June 6, 1992 David Bowie and Iman were married in a church service at the American Church of St James in Florence, Italy.

(In a bizarre coincidence, that was the 20th anniversary of the release of Ziggy Stardust!)

They had already married in a civil ceremony in Lausanne, Switzerland on 24 April, with just two witnesses present and no guests.

David and Iman had sailed down the coast of Italy on a six-week boat trip the previous year and both had a special fondness for Italy.

Bowie arrived the day before the wedding service, having celebrated his son’s 21 birthday a few days previously on the Caribbean island of Mustique, where David owned a holiday home. His son Duncan Jones – at that stage calling himself Joe – was David’s best man at the wedding.

On the day of the wedding – a Saturday – the service began at 4pm, lasting fifty minutes.

While something like a thousand people jostled outside the church restrained by police, Reverend Mario Marziale conducted a service which in one respect was non-traditional.

Instead of the traditional ‘Here Comes The Bride’ for the entrance of the bride, the couple chose a Bulgarian folk song called ‘Kalimankou Denkou’ (The Evening Gathering) by Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares, a Bulgarian female choir. (See end of article.) Bowie composed the other music played during the service.

David and Iman both wore black and white. Iman’s dress was designed by Herve Leger and David’s suit by Thierry Mugler. Leger and Mugler were guests at the wedding, as was hairdresser Teddy Antolin who styled Iman’s hair.

Antolin had introduced Iman and David to each other at a dinner party in 1990.

David & Iman with Bono, Yoko Ono and Brian Eno

David Bowie and Iman with David’s mother Margaret Jones

Most guests were family (including David’s mother Margaret) and non-famous friends. Only 68 people were invited, which included a few famous guests such as Yoko Ono and Bono, who missed the service through missing his flight. He arrived in time for the photos and the reception.

The guests were so few in number that they were accommodated at just eight tables at the reception, which was held at the luxury Villa La Massa hotel, a sixteenth century Medici mansion.

David and Iman left the party at 1am, leaving the next day on their honeymoon and beginning a very successful, happy marriage.

Postscript #1: Why Did David Bowie & Iman Have A Church Wedding?

As I mention above, they had already been married in a civil ceremony, but David was quoted as saying that “our real marriage, sanctified by God, had to happen in a church in Florence”.

Given Bowie’s lifestyle, it may seem surprising that he felt this way, but David has said, “I’m not a religious person – I’m a spiritual person. God plays a very important part in my life”.

On his Station To Station album, his beautiful song, ‘Word On A Wing’ is partly a prayer, although an ambiguous one.

Iman is Muslim, but accepted being married in a church. She said, “Getting married did not convert me from a Muslim into a Christian.”

Postscript #2: The Impact of the Wedding on David Bowie’s Music

Some of the instrumental music Bowie wrote for the church service would be used in songs on his next album, Black Tie White Noise, an album intended to celebrate his wedding with Iman.

While the album overall celebrated his wedding and his relationship with Iman, most of the tracks do not have that theme.

The title track of the album is in fact about the Los Angeles riots, which broke out as David and Iman arrived in the city a few days after their Lausanne registry wedding.

Also, the big hit from the album ‘Jump They Say’ is at least in part about his half-brother, Terry. In a future post, I will tell you more about Terry.

At the wedding David entered into some discussions with another famous guest, Brian Eno, which would result in the two of them working together on Bowie’s 1995 album Outside.

Postscript #3: David & Iman’s Bulgarian Wedding Song and David’s ‘Word On A Wing’

‘Word On A Wing’

Lord, I kneel and offer you
my word on a wing
And I’m trying hard to fit
among your scheme of things
Lord, lord, my prayer flies
like a word on a wing