When Sonny Bono, 46, married model Susie Coelho, 28, it was the minister, not the groom, who flubbed his lines. The Rev. Gregg Anderson looked over the 100 or so dearly beloved who had gathered on New Year’s Eve in a snow-covered nondenominational chapel in Aspen, then smiled at the happy couple and called them “Sonny and Cherie.”
“Who’s Cherie?” asked the bride in the candle-lit hush. The groom mumbled, “Oh, my God.” After all, it had taken the couple six and a half years to reach the altar. His first marriage ended when he was 27. His second, to Cher, ended in a costly divorce settlement. “I got beat up bad,” he says. As a result, he asked Susie to sign a prenuptial financial agreement shortly after he first proposed. That didn’t go over well at all, but the couple continued to live together until last May when Coelho cooled the relationship and headed for Europe to model. Bono panicked at losing her (“It makes you real scared”), and he courted long-distance with renewed fervor. After Susie’s return in August, he remained attentive, even providing $100 champagne for her to sip while lounging in the whirlpool. The idea of a financial agreement was quietly scrapped.
The longtime lovers suddenly decided to marry while vacationing last month in Aspen. The bridesmaids, including Chastity Bono, 12, were rigged out in holiday red-and-ivory above-the-knee tunics and white hose. Soprano Heide Nitze sang Hark the Herald Angels Sing and The First Noel, and by the time Sonny vowed “I do,” his voice was cracking and his cheeks were damp with tears.
Friends carrying candles escorted the newlyweds to a horse-drawn carriage. But, deterred by the cold, Sonny and Susie instead went by car to a condo reception where guests as disparate as Andy Warhol, Tatum O’Neal and Lynn Swann kissed the bride. Sonny, who is working on a comedy series titled Lt. Detective Guido Pasquali, toasted her with a beer. By the end of the evening he had one hand on a friend’s shoulder and the other hand around a glass and was chortling happily, “I’m a Mrs. again.”