On Sept. 1, Mother Nature didn’t seem like much of a Scooby-Doo fan. With Hurricane Hernan churning 300 miles from the site of their wedding at Mexico’s El Careyes resort, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze Jr., who played Scooby sleuths Daphne and Fred this summer, had to move their nuptials inside. Then, the next day, natural forces struck again: A 4.6 earthquake rocked the area just as guests were heading home. “Earthquake? Hurricane? Hey, I think it’s a great way to start,” says talent manager Ron DiBlasio, a longtime friend of the Prinze family’s. “All of those bigger-than-life natural events can only bode well for the marriage.”
Besides, who needs terra firma when you’ve got newly wedded bliss? “We are each other’s best friend,” says Gellar, 25, the star of UPN’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer. “He is my first love.” For his part, Prinze, 26, who is fond of calling his bride “my girl,” seemed love-struck on their big day. “Sarah glowed, and I’ve never seen Freddie happier,” says guest Marisa McGrath, 31, a publicist. Adds Prinze’s mom, Kathy, 52: “They’re quite the couple.”
They certainly put on quite the party, treating the 60 or so guests—including Shannen Doherty, That ’70s Show‘s Wilmer Valderrama and The West Wing‘s Dulé Hill—to four days of relaxation at the resort. But the official wedding festivities didn’t kick off until Aug. 31, when the couple held a rehearsal dinner featuring fish tacos, enchiladas and free-flowing Corona beer. Next up: a raucous pool party that lasted until 3 a.m.
That’s way past the usual bedtime for Gellar and Prinze, who say they prefer quiet evenings at the L.A. home they share with dogs Cody, Tyson and Thor. “We relax by taking drives, doing errands, walking the dogs,” says Prinze. They also “love trying out new restaurants,” he adds—including the sushi place where they first fell for each other, three years after meeting on the set of 1997’s I Know What You Did Last Summer. “We had made plans for dinner with a mutual friend and the person canceled,” says Gellar. “We decided to have dinner anyway and never looked back.”
Such no-nonsense focus is typical of the newlyweds, each of whom was forced to grow up early. Prinze was just 10 months old when he lost his father, comedian Freddie Prinze, who committed suicide at age 22. And Gellar, who began acting at age 4, was estranged since childhood from her father, Arthur, a New York City garment worker who died last year at age 60. Both stars credit their mothers with providing a stable home life. “We will make great parents,” says Prinze, “because we had great role models who raised us.”
Engaged since April 2001, the couple exchanged vows in a nondenominational ceremony officiated by their friend, film director Adam Shankman (A Walk to Remember). Prinze, in a custom-made Sy Devor white linen suit, was attended by two groomsmen, longtime friends Conrad Jackson, 26, and Joe Huff. A tanned, Vera Wang-clad Gellar—who was given away by her mother, Rosellen, 52—had three bridesmaids: actress pal Lindsay Sloane, 25 (Bring It On), and friends Caryn Bardunias, 34, and Nicole King, 26, Gellar’s publicist. Afterward the pair kicked off their shoes—literally—and celebrated with guests at the reception, where the mothers of the bride and groom offered toasts.
After a brief Mexican honeymoon, the couple returned to L.A., leaving blissful guests—not to mention a spiked Richter scale—in their wake. “It was the most incredible weekend,” says Sloane. “We laughed, danced and shared in their love.”
Michael Fleeman, Marisa Laudadio, Jan McGirk and Adrienne Bard in Costa Careyes and Elizabeth Leonard, Karen Brailsford, Pamela Warrick and Cynthia Wang in Los Angeles