Apale sun shone warm, and the afternoon storm stayed at bay. But hanging in the humid air, along with the scent of the bride’s bouquet of orange calla lilies and tulips, was a sense of déjà vu. On May 26, eight weeks after exchanging vows with sitcom writer and producer Chris Henchy in a secret ceremony off the California coast, Brooke Shields did it again—this time before 75 relatives and friends. Standing on a carpet of rose petals upon the manicured lawn of a family friend’s oceanfront Palm Beach estate, Shields, in a strapless silk faille Vera Wang gown and cocktaillength veil, beamed as Henchy read his handwritten vows. “Mine are a little longer,” she announced when it was her turn, producing a sheaf of index cards. Among her many pledges: always to laugh at her husband’s jokes, “even if I’ve heard them before.”
That seemed only fair, given that the wedding itself was a repeat performance. In fact the 6:45 p.m. Roman Catholic ceremony was in the works long before Shields, 36, and Henchy, 37, turned up on Catalina Island April 4 for a small civil wedding. That affair was a decoy of sorts for the paparazzi, whose helicopters had disrupted Shields’s 1997 wedding to tennis star Andre Agassi. “We wanted to do the religious part of the ceremony with the rest of our family and friends,” said the actress, barefoot and in a sundress at a post-wedding barbecue May 27, “so that everybody could be included.”
Among those at the weekend event were Brooke’s father and stepmother—Frank Shields, a real estate broker, and his wife, Didi, a gift-shop owner, both 60—her half sisters Marina Shields Purcell, 30, Cristiana Shields, 26, Olympia Shields, 19, and her stepsister Diana Cunningham, 37. Henchy’s clan, including his parents—Patricia, 58, an educator, and Michael, 68, a retired public health nurse—and sister Michele, 38, traveled from Georgia, while pals Kathy Griffin, Garry Shandling and Kevin Nealon were on hand to keep the toasts light. (“I was proud to be part of their wedding tour,” said Griffin.) Also there was Brooke’s mother, Teri Shields, 67, who has long had a troubled relationship with her’ daughter. They hadn’t spoken for 18 months until Brooke called two weeks before the event to invite her. Says Marina: “It’s been a great family reunion.”
After the 25-minute ceremony the group moved to a tent lit by two large hanging candelabra and decorated with lilies, sweet peas and peonies. After dining on carrot-and-ginger soup, sliced chicken and vegetables and a three-tiered coconut-covered wedding cake, guests kicked off their shoes to dance to a six-piece band the couple had flown in from L.A. In all, says the bride, “It was absolutely perfect.”
Life has been that way for Shields since she and the New York-born Henchy first became friends while working together on the 1998 NBC special Christmas in Washington. After her marriage to Agassi ended in 1999, they became inseparable. Then, in April of last year, Henchy, a supervising producer on Spin City, called her father to tell him he was coming to Florida on business. Instead, over breakfast, Henchy asked him for Brooke’s hand. Says Frank: “I’m old-school enough to like that.”
Three months later the pair became engaged at the beach resort of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, and the plotting began. Shunning wedding planners, Shields orchestrated every last detail of her big day, from the pink Lilly Pulitzer dresses worn by her flower girls—4-year-old twins Mackenzie and Emma Cunningham—to the matching pink porcelain plates and silver salt spoons the guests took home as favors. “It all fell into place at the last minute,” says Shields. All, that is, except her hair, which in the sticky air, she admits, “just curled up.”
Something she had better get used to—at least during her honeymoon on a tropical island. Upon her return, Shields is expected to take over the role of Sally Bowles in the Broadway run of Cabaret, while Henchy continues to work on Spin City. But their families have other ideas. “We really want them to start having kids soon,” says Brooke’s sister Diana. “And so do they.” If weddings are anything to go by, they can count on having at least two.
Don Sider and Michael Cohen in Palm Beach, Jennifer Longley in New York City and Pamela Warrick in Los Angeles