May 05, 1997 12:00 PM

LIKE SO MANY OTHER BRIDES ON THEIR BIG DAY, Brooke Shields awoke on April 19 determined to steer clear of her fiancé until that evening’s ceremony. With her betrothed, Wimbledon champ Andre Agassi, staying in a different building at the Stonepine Estate Resort in Carmel Valley, Calif., the actress, who plays the sweet, klutzy Susan Keane on NBC’s Suddenly Susan, first had breakfast with her bridesmaids, then got an hour-long massage. When even that failed to calm her jitters, she decided to take a stroll on the grounds. Finding a soft patch of grass, she lay down and began to meditate—until the hotel’s sprinkler system went off. “She came running back, and her hair was all wet and stringy,” recalls Mindy Weiss, whose Beverly Hills party consulting company planned the wedding. “But it didn’t faze her. She laughed and said, ‘Mindy, I’ve just had a Suddenly Susan moment.’ ”

It would have taken more than ill-timed lawn maintenance to dampen the day’s revelry. With 150 guests including Susan costar Judd Nelson and Nastassja Kinski assembled at Monterey’s St. John’s Episcopal Chapel, the actress and the tennis ace made their love-love match official. At 6:15 p.m., Agassi, 26, decked out in a classic Alfred Dunhill tuxedo, arrived at the rust-colored wooden church in a chauffeured Lincoln Town Car with police escort. Thirty minutes later, as a nine-piece string and wind ensemble played “Gabriel’s Oboe” from the 1986 movie The Mission, Shields, 31, carrying a lily of the valley bouquet, entered the candlelit chapel packed with white roses, calla lilies, hydrangeas and ivy. As her mother, Teri, maid of honor Lisa Sansone (a Princeton classmate) and two bridesmaids (stepsister Diana Cunningham and friend Audrey Fosse) preceded her down the aisle, she glowed in a corseted ivory Heidi Weisel gown with a pleated ball skirt—made from $200-a-yard duchess satin by the Manhattan designer—and a 16-foot-long antique lace veil.

“Everything came together in that one perfect moment,” says Weisel, who was in attendance. “It was so beautiful and romantic.” Edwige Fareed, wife of U.S. Davis Cup doctor George Fareed, agrees. “When Brooke walked down the aisle, I felt like I was in a fairy tale. If perfection exists, this was it.”

As Fr. Charles Gard, a Catholic priest from Glendale, Calif., and Shields’s longtime friend, presided, beads of sweat formed on Agassi’s brow. The groom (a born-again Christian) wasn’t scared, just hot—the windows had been closed to block the noise from the paparazzi choppers hovering overhead. But the hubbub didn’t diminish the ceremony. At the altar, Agassi and Shields used separate candles to light a third as a symbol of their union. “When they spoke the vows, it was very intimate, a special moment,” says a friend. Shields, who at one point paused to fight back tears, lovingly dabbed a tear off Agassi. “They were absolutely in love with one another,” says Andre’s brother Phillip, 34, executive of Agassi Enterprises and one of two groomsmen (the other was conditioning coach Gil Reyes; best man was Perry Rogers, manager for Agassi and Shields). “I’ve never seen a sparkle in Andre’s eye like when he looked at her.”

Indeed, after the exchange of rings (both platinum, hers with 16 diamonds), George Fareed recalls, Agassi “tried to kiss Brooke [before Father Gard gave permission], and she shook her finger at him and everyone laughed.”

Lightheartedness prevailed through the recessional as husband and wife exited to Vivaldi’s “Spring” and 35 members of the San Francisco Boys Chorus—bused in for the occasion—offered an upbeat rendition of Martin Shaw’s “Gloria.” At one point a chestnut-tressed decoy bride—something that may soon be a must at every celeb wedding—was sent away in a Town Car to try to thwart the ever-present press (one enterprising photographer, disguised as an indigenous bush, had been arrested earlier in the day at Stone-pine). Meanwhile, the guests piled into rented vans for the 15-mile return trip to Stonepine, a sprawling compound in the rugged Carmel Valley with 17 rooms, a restaurant and stables. Back at the resort, which Agassi and Shields had rented for five days (estimated price for lodging alone: $50,000), guests sipped cocktails by a pool aglow with floating candles. When the newlyweds arrived in a horse-drawn carriage at 8 p.m., revelers showered them with white rose petals.

The fairy-tale mood continued inside the reception’s chiffon-draped tent. Ivory satin-and-Battenberg-lace tablecloths offset white linen napkins, each embroidered with the couple’s new monogram, BAA (for Brooke and Andre Agassi), and holding a single lily of the valley. Once seated, the guests unwrapped surprise gifts: miniature porcelain wedding-cake-shaped boxes for the women, engraved silver luggage tags for the men. “Their main concern was that everybody felt at home,” says wedding planner Weiss. “It was not a Hollywood scene. Every time Brooke spoke, she would say, ‘I love you all.’ ”

After the dinner—a choice of veal scallopini with mushroom risotto or chicken paillard with penne—guests toasted the newlyweds, who first connected in September 1993 after mutual friend Lyndie Benson (wife of saxophonist Kenny G), suggested they’d make a good match. Unable to meet for three months, the two communicated by fax as Shields, whose past beaux included Liam Neeson and Dean Cain, filmed a movie in South Africa, and Agassi, the ex-love of then college student Wendy Stewart and sometime escort of Barbra Streisand, toured the tennis circuit. Finally meeting face-to-face at an Italian restaurant in L.A. in December 1993, they set off sparks. In February ’96, Agassi popped the question while the two vacationed in Hawaii. “I said yes to more than just a feeling or an emotion but to a whole person who I couldn’t imagine not sharing life with,” Shields told PEOPLE last year.

Their families couldn’t have been happier. At the rehearsal dinner at Stonepine the night before, Brooke’s father, Frank Shields, a former cosmetics industry executive, gave Agassi a medal that Brooke’s grandfather Francis Xavier had been awarded as a member of a U.S. Davis Cup team (Agassi has played on three winning teams). Mother Teri, Brooke’s former manager (and onetime notoriously clingy chaperone), who was divorced from Frank soon after Brooke’s birth, gave her daughter an antique linen cloth to put under the wedding cake—a four-tiered dark chocolate valrhona-filled creation topped in white rolled fondant icing. At 1 a.m., the party was still hopping as an 11-piece orchestra and 3 singers kept everyone on their feet well after the couple’s first dance to “True Companion,” sung by Grammy winner Marc Cohn. “There is something about them that is contagious in a positive way,” says Father Gard of the newlyweds. “They love life and love people.”

The couple spent the night in Stonepine’s elaborate Tattinger Suite, then awoke on Sunday for a 10:30 a.m. mass followed by an old-fashioned barbeque. Agassi wore jeans and a cowboy hat; Shields came with a red bandanna in her hair. “You really felt their love,” says Weiss. “Whenever they looked at each other or kissed, everyone would gasp.” Not that the couple, who departed that night for an undisclosed honeymoon location, were merely caught up in the moment. “Every kiss they’ve had is of great intensity and beauty,” says George Fareed. “It’s pure love.”



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