October 10, 2005 12:00 PM

In the end, it didn’t happen in Israel, at Bruce Willis‘s house on Parrot Cay or at any of the other far-flung locales that had long been rumored as potential wedding sites for Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher. Instead, on Sept. 24, the couple of two years quietly exchanged vows in their own Beverly Hills home, joined by 100 close friends and relatives, in a ceremony that honored the duo’s Kabbalah beliefs. Standing beneath a chuppah, or Jewish marriage canopy, the pair repeated blessings led by Rabbi Eitan Yardeni, Moore’s longtime Kabbalah teacher, and exchanged wedding bands designed by jeweler Neil Lane. “It was a beautiful wedding,” says a close friend of Moore’s who attended. “It was incredibly unpretentious, representing who they really are.” Adds another friend: “There was just so much love in the room.”

And with that, the couple whose famously May-December romance—she’s 42, he’s 27—has inspired much Are they for real?-type skepticism finally proved the doubters wrong: Yes, they really got married. No—rumors to the contrary—the wedding was not Kutcher’s most elaborate Punk’d prank ever. Rather, guests say it was an intimate, heartfelt affair that showcased the couple’s shared passions: Kabbalah and family, with Moore’s daughters Rumer, 17, Scout, 14, and Tallulah, 11—along with their dad, Willis, 50—all present. “The girls gave beautiful tributes,” says Moore’s friend. “It was just down to earth.”

Still, the ceremony did catch many in their inner circle off guard, with final preparations completed just 24 hours in advance. “It all came together at the very last minute,” a source close to the couple says of the big day, which featured modern decor and a powder blue vanilla-bean wedding cake. Among the guests were actress Soleil Moon Frye and her husband, Jason Goldberg, who is Kutcher’s producing partner. But such was the level of secrecy that even Kutcher’s twin brother Michael did not find out about the wedding until after the fact. “I didn’t even know it was happening,” says Michael, who last saw the couple at Thanksgiving. And yet if he was surprised by the timing, the wedding itself had long seemed like a given. “It’s obvious that they care for each other,” he says. “You can tell that they love each other very much.”

Less obvious, at least initially, was what drew the two stars together in the first place: Kutcher, who had previously dated actress Brittany Murphy after arriving at stardom on FOX’s That ’70s Show by way of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and Moore, once Hollywood’s highest paid actress, who was previously wed to rocker Freddie Moore (1980-84) and Willis (1987-2000). Despite their differences, the pair have said they experienced instant chemistry after a pal introduced them in ’03. “We ended up going back to my apartment and talking all night long,” Moore told Harper’s Bazaar in the September issue. The key to their bond, Kutcher told Oprah Winfrey, “is that she calls me on my crap…and I call her on her crap. We’re both willing to look at it and look at ourselves and go, ‘Okay, maybe it is me.’ ”

Friends say the relationship has had an especially profound influence on Kutcher. “Since they’ve been together, he has blossomed and has become a lot more responsible,” says Greg Link, who has known Kutcher since his early modeling days in L.A. Famous pre-Demi for his club-going ways and flashy friendship with Sean “Diddy” Combs, Kutcher “has grown into a very mature, loving person,” says Link, who is a partner in Fingerprint Communications, which reps Kutcher’s L.A. eateries Geisha House and Dolce. Certainly the actor’s close connection with his new stepdaughters has changed him (see box). A source in his business circle notes that these days Kutcher “is more of a family man.” Adds another friend: “Ashton just loves [Demi]. He’s very loyal. He doesn’t flirt with anybody, ever. When they’re together, they look at each other and smile.”

And more often than not, they are together. The newly-weds, who recently moved into their airy new home in the Hollywood Hills, enjoy “sharing a bath…and watching Court TV,” Moore told Harper’s. “Snuggling up naked.” (Perhaps apropos, the bride’s camp ordered the honeymoon-ready “Mom’s Busy Kit” from Booty Parlor, including body glitter and “I’m So Sexy” lip gloss.)

Both Moore and Kutcher have made no secret of wanting to add to their family in the future. But for now the pair are focusing on building their new life together. “They are very much an in-love couple,” says Link. “I have a feeling they will be together for a long time.”

Michelle Tauber. K.C. Baker in New York City, Julie Jordan, Elizabeth Leonard, Oliver Jones, Amy Keith, Kimberly Lansing, Brenda Rodriguez, Nicholas White and Ulrica Wihlborg in Los Angeles and Amy Green in Cedar Rapids

You May Like