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United Skates

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They’ve spent their careers on ice, but figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi and Florida Panthers hockey player Bret Hedican, both 29, opted to begin married life in a warmer locale. After a picture-perfect sunset over Hawaii’s Kohala coast on July 8, the couple exchanged vows in front of 300 guests, including skating stars Peggy Fleming, Scott Hamilton, Brian Boitano and Ekaterina Gordeeva. Wearing a hand-painted, off-white silk Vera Wang gown and a diamond tiara on loan from Fred Leighton, the 1992 Olympic gold medalist glided down the aisle at the island’s Orchid at Mauna Lani resort, and “everyone lost their breath,” says guest Lea Ann Miller, a friend. Adds pal David Baden: “She was radiant.”

As they dined on peppered beef, Hawaiian snapper and strawberry-and-cream wedding cake at the reception, guests were entertained by San Francisco pop band Pride & Joy—and jokes from the wedding party about Kristi’s passion for shopping and dining out. “If you ever get traded again,” her sister and matron of honor, Lori Yamaguchi Costas, told Hedican, “make sure there’s a Nordstrom close by. And don’t expect home-cooked food.”

Certainly not during the winter, when Hedican travels with his team and Yamaguchi hits the road with the Stars on Ice tour. Despite their busy schedules, they’ve been a couple ever since meeting at a 1995 gala to celebrate the opening of Vancouver’s new ice hockey arena. “He was clean-cut and soft-spoken,” Yamaguchi told PEOPLE after they became engaged on Christmas Eve, 1998. “Figure skaters have awful perceptions of hockey players, and I thought, ‘This guy’s a little different.’ ”

Indeed: How many other professional tough guys would stand up before everyone and serenade his new bride with the Bob Dylan-penned song “Make You Feel My Love”? “They let us share an amazing moment of intimacy,” says Hamilton. “Every single woman in the room was crying.” As for the beaming Yamaguchi, she looked as if she rated her nuptials a perfect 6.0. Says Baden: “She was living out the wedding she always wanted.”