Even by Las Vegas standards, it was clear that Aug. 13-15 was no ordinary weekend of club-hop-till-you-drop revelry. From a fully clothed Tara Reid leaping into the Palms casino pool to a stripper at a local club attempting to give Paris Hilton a lap dance (she demurred), Hollywood’s reigning party posse—including Paris, her sister Nicky, pals Reid, Nicole Richie, Kimberly Stewart and Bijou Phillips, along with power couple Lindsay Lohan and Wilmer Valderrama—took Sin City by storm. And that was before the weekend’s big capper: At 2:30 a.m. on Aug. 15, Nicky Hilton wed New York City money manager Todd Meister in an hour-long ceremony at the Vegas Wedding Chapel. “It was a beautiful, small wedding with an amazing energy,” says pal Jeff Beacher, a Hard Rock Hotel entertainer who served as best man. “The two of them are very much in love.”
Nearly as big a surprise as the wedding itself was the Hilton beneath the veil: not the publicity-basking Paris, 23, but Nicky, 20, who has long preferred to leave the limelight to her sister. Also turning heads is the fact that until their nuptials, Nicky, a handbag designer who will debut her new sportswear collection on Aug. 30, had never publicly mentioned Meister as her boyfriend.
Still, Meister, 33, a Harvard grad who has known Nicky since she was 15, “didn’t pop up out of nowhere,” says Kyle Richards, whose sister is Hilton matriarch Kathy. “Todd has known our family for years and we all really love him a lot.” So why the quickie wedding, at which maid-of-honor Paris was the only family member present? “They were planning on getting married this fall, but while in Las Vegas they felt there’d be less attention if they did it there,” says Nicky’s spokesperson Elliot Mintz. “They also felt it would be more intimate. And it was. This was not a spontaneous decision. Todd had actually proposed several weeks earlier.”
And while the impromptu “I dos” did take most of the Hilton clan by surprise—”They were dating off and on, but this was out of the blue,” says Francesca Hilton, the daughter of Nicky’s great—grandfather Conrad and second wife Zsa Zsa Gabor—close friends of Meister’s weren’t completely shocked. “Todd will dance all night, he’ll jump on a plane at the last minute and go anywhere to have a good time,” says Ginny Donahue, a longtime friend. “I think Todd and Nicky share the same philosophy—live for the moment.”
That was clearly the driving philosophy during the Vegas weekend, during which the Hilton sisters were trailed by a camera crew from Entertainment Tonight‘s new spinoff The Insider, which premieres next month. The festivities centered around Stuff magazine’s annual Casino Weekend and kicked off with Tara Reid leading a round of Lemon Drop shots aboard a chartered flight on Aug. 13. Once in Vegas, Paris and Nicky decamped to adjoining penthouse suites at the Palms hotel and casino, then proceeded to party-hop until 4:30 a.m.
The next day brought more of the same: a pool party at the hotel in the morning and shopping in the afternoon. Meister, who flew in on a private jet on Saturday, met up with Nicky for dinner that evening, then they joined their friends for more poolside revelry.
Following two more party stops, the caravan pulled up to the Clark County courthouse, where Nicky and her groom applied for a marriage license before tying the knot in the nearby chapel. Their wedding song: Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You.”
The newlyweds next surfaced at the Beverly Hills hotel on Aug. 15, where they checked into a private bungalow and dined at the Polo Lounge. “They were a little bit tired,” says ET executive producer Linda Bell Blue, “but from the way they looked into each other’s eyes, you could tell they were very happy.” But the honeymoon was short-lived: Nicky, who with Paris plans to appear in National Lampoon’s Pledge This!, was due to fly to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, later in the week for a Maxim photo shoot; her husband, meanwhile, was heading back east for business meetings. Still, says Nikki Haskell, creator of StarCaps diet system and a longtime friend of Meister’s, “This is a perfect place to start. They are both young, attractive, sophisticated. They might have a real chance.”
Michelle Tauber. Sean Daly in Las Vegas, Todd Gold, Marisa Laudadio and Kwala Mandel in Los Angeles, Lori Rozsa in Miami and Rachel Felder in New York City