Julie Jordan and Michelle Tauber
September 01, 2008 12:00 PM

As the minutes ticked down before their wedding, Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi spent most of the day padding around their L.A. house in matching “I Do” slippers, busily putting the finishing touches on the preparations. “They were walking on air from the minute they woke up,” says their wedding planner Mindy Weiss. Then, at 7:15 p.m. on Aug. 16, the women—both in custom-made Zac Posen designs and carrying Hot Chocolate spray roses—walked together into their candlelit den, where they were greeted by 19 of their closest friends and relatives. Taking a seat on floor pillows at the front of the room, the couple exchanged personal vows—with the talk show host, naturally, showing off her signature self-deprecating humor. “Portia went first, and when she finished, Ellen said, ‘Well, that was everything I was going to say! Now what do I do?'” recalls Weiss. “They were both sensitive, funny, and they both cried a bit. They just promised ‘forever’ to each other.”

It’s a forever that the newlyweds can’t wait to begin together. “What can I say? I’m the luckiest girl in the world,” says DeGeneres, 50. “She’s now officially off the market. No one else gets her. And now she’ll cook and clean for me.” Adds de Rossi, 35: “The love we felt from the people surrounding us, and the love we have for each other, made it the most beautiful and emotional day. And one that we’ll never forget.”

The intimate affair—which was officiated by their friend, author Wayne Dyer—was far smaller than originally envisioned, which “just got to be too big and stressful,” says DeGeneres. Instead “it was really important for us that the wedding be something that we would enjoy,” says de Rossi, “and that would be fun for our close family and friends.”

And so it was. From the vegan red-velvet wedding cake to the hand-calligraphed (by Ellen’s mom, Betty!) place cards to the vintage handkerchiefs given to weepy guests before the ceremony, every detail was a reflection of the brides. After the ceremony, the group—which included Betty, and de Rossi’s mom, Margaret Rogers, who flew in from the actress’s native Australia—gathered around the fireplace, where “everyone just talked and laughed,” says Weiss. “Their moms never thought they would ever see their daughters get married, so they were having a wonderful time.”

At the reception that followed, guests dined on vegetable spring rolls and miniature “beef” sliders (the food was all vegan) prepared by their personal chef David Silberkleit along with chef Tal Ronnen. Later the newlyweds danced to their favorite love song, Stevie Wonder’s “Ribbon in the Sky.” DeGeneres also surprised her bride with an acoustic performance by one of her favorite singers, Joshua Radin. Says Weiss: “Portia was so surprised, she was just crying.”

It was a moment—and a union—DeGeneres and de Rossi, who have been dating since 2004, didn’t always know if they would get to experience. But after California’s Supreme Court ruled a previous ban on gay marriage to be unconstitutional last May, DeGeneres decided to propose—with a Neil Lane marquis-cut diamond—while the animal-loving couple were tending to some goldfish de Rossi had rescued from a TV shoot earlier that day. “We were watching the fish and she said, ‘This is a pretty romantic moment, right?'” recalls de Rossi. “And I said, ‘Every moment with you is romantic.’ And then she gave me the ring.”

Now that they are officially wed, the couple couldn’t be more thrilled. “It feels different,” DeGeneres says of being married. “I didn’t think it would, because I already had the commitment. I was already planning on spending the rest of my life with her. But until you’re married, you just don’t know. It feels wonderful.”

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