Weddings of the Year


John F. Kennedy Jr. & Carolyn Bessette

SEPTEMBER 21, 1996

There was none of the pomp and circumstance usually associated with ceremonial weddings. No cheering crowds, no cavernous cathedrals and not a trumpet to be heard. But the clandestine nuptials of America’s crown prince, John F. Kennedy Jr., and former Calvin Klein publicist Carolyn Bessette on Georgia’s isolated Cumberland Island were all the more memorable for their simplicity. “It was very important for us to be able to conduct this in a private, prayerful and meaningful way,” Kennedy said later. The ceremony took place just after sundown in the First African Baptist Church, a tiny clapboard chapel that a friend had decorated with wildflowers and vines. By the flickering light of candles and kerosene lanterns, Kennedy, 36, and Bessette, 31, exchanged vows and matching gold bands in a traditional Catholic ceremony. Then the newlyweds, who had met while jogging in Manhattan’s Central Park in 1992, led their 40 guests to a reception at the Greyfield Inn, where they danced to “Forever in My Life,” by the artist formerly known as Prince. “I am the happiest man alive,” Kennedy said in a toast to his bride at the rehearsal dinner the night before. Judging by Bessette’s face in the photo seen round the world, the jubilance was shared.

Christie Brinkley & Peter Cook

SEPTEMBER 21, 1996

The sun was setting, the bride and groom were beaming. Were it not for the whir of a paparazzi-hired helicopter above, the nuptials of Christie Brinkley, 44, and architect Peter Cook, 37, in a meadow of the Bridgehampton, N.Y., horse farm rented by Brinkley, would have been as flawless as the couple’s smiles. “The wedding was spectacular—it was just impossible to hear what they were saying,” complained the groom’s mom, Jean Cook. Not that the newlyweds noticed. “They couldn’t take their eyes off each other,” says Today correspondent Jill Rappaport, who brought the couple together at her home in Water Mill, N.Y., last winter. Brinkley and Cook had first met in 1979 when both were Ford models. “Peter says, ‘If only we had paid attention years ago,’ ” wryly notes Brinkley, who in the interim married and divorced French illustrator Jean-Francois Allaux, singer Billy Joel, with whom she has a daughter, Alexa, 11, and real estate developer Ricky Taubman, father of her son Jack, 20 months. (Cook had been a lifelong bachelor.) After their 120 guests—including Joel and his girlfriend, Carolyn Beegan—departed, the pair changed into matching Levis and denim shirts and joined close friends and family in the kitchen for chocolate-chip cookies and champagne. “Christie said, ‘Let’s do it all again tomorrow,’ ” says Rappaport. “They didn’t want the evening to end.”

Jim Carrey & Lauren Holly

SEPTEMBER 23, 1996

Perhaps the matrimonial gods had their hands full marrying off JFK Jr. and Christie Brinkley that weekend. By the time Monday morning rolled around, Carrey, 35, one of Hollywood’s highest-paid actors, and Turbulence star Holly, 33, were able to sneak away to a hillside north of Malibu for an extremely low-key wedding (the second for each) attended by only a justice of the peace, Carrey’s brother John and Carrey’s 9-year-old daughter, Jane, whose dress was of the same lace as the bride’s. It was a very private affair until tab TV’s Hard Copy aired footage taken by some onlookers who had recorded the trip, including, Holly complained on The Rosie O’Donnell Show, her roadside pit stop to tend to even more private matters. “At least I got a wedding video out of it,” she said. As well as what she termed a “very sparkly” ring from Carrey, who had announced their engagement a month before with a press release that was equal parts ardent swain and Ace Ventura. “Despite the sometimes mind-boggling excitement I now face on a day-to-day basis,” it read, “I am striving to live a loving and honorable life. Lauren is my proof and my reward; not to mention a fantastic beard to conceal my raging homosexual lifestyle. Okay…the second part was a joke.”

Paula Abdul knows the importance of good choreography. So when the 33-year-old singer-dancer wed sportswear designer Brad Beckerman, 30, her autumn-themed wedding was scrupulously staged. Richly colored fall foliage was scattered artfully across the aisle of the wedding tent set up on the grounds of the Beverly Hills Four Seasons Hotel, while cascades of white, yellow and orange roses adorned the traditional Jewish chuppa. The effect was of an enchanted forest—one spectacular enough to impress a guest list that included Rosie O’Donnell, Magic Johnson and Brandy. “Oh, my!” Rachel Hunter whispered to husband Rod Stewart. “It’s gorgeous.”

For the groom, the wedding was almost literally a dream come true. The couple met on a blind date last February after Beckerman told a mutual friend his ideal woman was “a Paula Abdul type.” They exchanged traditional vows (the marriage is the first for him, the second for her after a two-year union with actor Emilio Estevez), then added some tender words of their own. “Tonight I’m marrying my best friend,” Beckerman told Abdul. She responded, “I’ve loved you from the day we met. You’re my best of times and my gentlest sleep.” The moment ended in a spontaneous kiss, which prompted Rabbi Alan Rabishaw to say, “Don’t use it up now.” Not to worry. The newlyweds were still starry-eyed at midnight. “We’re going to have to go soon,” Abdul told her guests. “We have plans.”

Dennis Hopper & Victoria Duffy

APRIL 12, 1996

Perhaps the fifth time’s the charm. Dennis Hopper, 60, had made four trips to the altar—if you count an eight-day, 1970 marriage to Michelle Phillips—and had sworn never to walk that well-worn path again. But there he was in Boston’s Old South Church, exchanging vows with Massachusetts-reared Duffy, 29, an actress. They met in 1992 when Duffy spotted Hopper dining alone in a restaurant near his Venice Beach home and introduced herself. During the L.A. riots the next month, they cohabited for 10 days because Venice was under curfew. “It was a very good sign if we could spend 24 hours a day together,” says Duffy. In 1995 she threw the actor an elaborate 59th-birthday party—guests included Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson—and toasted him as “the light of my life, the man of my dreams.” A week later, Hopper proposed. Now that they’re back in Venice, Duffy, who prides herself on her gourmet cooking, plans to keep her man home nights. “When I met Dennis,” she says, “he would eat every meal in a restaurant.” But look where that got him.

Brett Favre & Deanna Tynes

JULY 14, 1996

Green Bay Packer quarterback Brett Favre, 27, led his team to Super Bowl victory last month after what he admitted to reporters had been “a tough year,” one that included ankle surgery and an addiction to the painkiller Vicodin. But prior to earning his Super Bowl ring, there was a bright spot—slipping a wedding band on longtime girlfriend Deanna Tynes, 28, mother of his 8-year-old daughter, Brittany. As Deanna told PEOPLE, “Brett wanted more kids. He brought up getting married, and we thought it was a good idea.” Two weeks after he successfully completed a drug treatment program, the couple went the whole nine yards in a private ceremony at Green Bay’s St. Agnes Catholic Church, while a boom box played their favorite tunes. The 11 guests included Brittany as flower girl and Favre’s strength coach, Kent Johnston, and his wife, Pam (who baked the wedding cake), as witnesses. Deanna—who found her ivory dress in a local shop—described the ceremony as “real brief, short and sweet,” unlike the couple’s often turbulent relationship, which blossomed during their years at Hancock North Central High School near Kiln, Miss. When Deanna became pregnant while Favre was a sophomore and star quarterback at the University of Southern Mississippi, and through his ascension to two-time league MVP, “I never talked to Brett about marriage,” she says. “I wanted him to say he was ready.” Happily, he finally did.

Michael Jackson & Debbie Rowe

NOVEMBER 14, 1996

It was just a normal wedding. Well, normalish, anyway. After entertaining 40,000 fans at Sydney’s Cricket Ground as part of his HIStory tour, Michael Jackson, 38, headed back to the Sheraton on the Park hotel, removed his black mask and, at about 2 a.m., exchanged vows in front of a registrar with Beverly Hills dermatologist’s aide Debbie Rowe, 38. Rowe, then six months pregnant with Jackson’s child, had flown in from L.A. the previous day for the wedding, which was kept secret even from some of Jackson’s entourage. It’s the second time to the altar for Rowe as well as for Jackson, who was divorced from Lisa Marie Presley last August—and it raised a sandstorm of skepticism about his motives. After all, Jackson has a civil case pending against him in California stemming from earlier child-molestation charges. Still, the couple asked press and fans to respect their privacy “and let us enjoy this wonderful and exciting time.” Just hours after the ceremony, Jackson was seen cuddling at a Sydney zoo. The cuddlee was a koala. The new Mrs. Jackson was nowhere in sight.

Clint Eastwood & Dina Ruiz

MARCH 31, 1996

Well before they made it official, word had spread around California’s scenic Monterey Peninsula that Carmel’s favorite resident (and former mayor), Clint Eastwood, was feelin’ lucky, and the reason was local KSBW-TV evening news anchor Dina Ruiz. “We all knew they’d get married,” said the station’s news director, Laura Clark. “The only surprise was the timing.” Eastwood’s luck held up in Vegas, where Ruiz (who had accepted a ring the previous September) capped off an annual girls-only trip with 18 childhood friends to make Eastwood’s day at the Mediterranean-style villa of casino magnate Steve Wynn. The trip had been “a go no matter what,” the bride told PEOPLE two days after the marriage. “The wedding was a neat addition.” With just 48 hours to prepare, the anchor, 31, and the actor, 66, lassoed six of the gal pals as bridesmaids, lined up Eastwood’s musician son Kyle, 27, as best man and daughter Alison, 24, as a guest, and staged an informal ceremony on Wynn’s patio, performed by the nondenominational Reverend Judy Andrews, who usually works at the wedding chapel in Wynn’s Treasure Island Hotel. It was a storybook ending that once would have been hard for Ruiz to envision. When assigned to interview Eastwood four years ago, she readily admits, she wasn’t one of his many female fans. “After the interview, I got the attraction,” she told PEOPLE. “He has tons of charisma.” And now, a fifth child. On Dec. 12, Ruiz gave birth to 8-lb., 4-oz. daughter Morgan in Los Angeles.

Lorrie Morgan & Jon Randall

NOVEMBER 16, 1996

At times, country singer Lorrie Morgan’s life has seemed as heartbreaking as some of her songs. At 37, she has been widowed once—by fellow singer Keith Whitley, who died of alcohol poisoning in 1989—and divorced twice. But when Morgan wed singer Jon Randall, 29, in the living room of her lakeside home outside Nashville, there was no room for sadness. “She was as happy as she could be,” says her mother, Anna Trainor. “She didn’t have any doubts.” The couple met in December 1995, when Morgan’s record company asked Randall to sing a duet of the song “By My Side” on her current album. By the end of Morgan’s summer tour—on which he sometimes performed as an opening act—they became engaged. “Lorrie said, ‘He’s got the prettiest voice, and he’s so sweet and kind. He’s nice to me,’ ” Trainor remembers. The wedding was simple and family-oriented, even though, Trainor says, the menu included “all these elaborate pâtés, all the things that caterers fix up and make it look so gorgeous.” Morgan’s son Jesse, 9, from her marriage to Whitley, escorted his mom to the altar, while daughter Morgan, 16, from her first marriage to bassist Ron Gaddis, read a poem she had written. “It was so pretty and touching,” says Trainor, “about how she and Lorrie had been friends and talked and laughed as Morgan grew up.” Even Jon’s dog Elvis followed the procession down the aisle wearing a collar of pink roses. Says Morgan’s publicist Susan Nadler: “he snuck in early.”

Mary Higgins Clark & John Conheeney

NOVEMBER 30, 1996

It wasn’t that Patty Clark Derenzo thought her mother was so unhappy. Mary Higgins Clark is, after all, a multimillionaire and the country’s top-selling female suspense novelist. But when Derenzo, 38, the youngest of Clark’s five children, met retired Wall Street executive John Conheeney, 67, last winter, she couldn’t help but play matchmaker. “She’d been alone for so long, it was the one piece of the puzzle that was missing,” says Derenzo of her mother, who lost her first husband to a heart attack in 1964. (A second, six-year marriage Clark, 68, calls a “colossal mistake” ended in annulment in 1986.) The piece is missing no longer. When Patty introduced them at Clark’s St. Patrick’s Day party, the pair were immediately drawn to each other. “It was quite easy to fall in love,” says Conheeney, who had lost his wife of 40 years to cancer in 1994. After taking their vows at the Saddle River, N.J., Church of St. Gabriel, the newlyweds laughed and danced at a reception that stretched into the wee hours. Says Derenzo: “They are like teenagers in love.”

Amy Carter & Jim Wentzel


For his 1977 Inauguration, Jimmy Carter dispensed with pomp, circumstance and motorcade, choosing to walk the 1½ miles from the Capitol to the White House with his wife, Rosalynn. The Georgia peach, it seems, doesn’t fall very far from the tree, and so, when daughter Amy, 29, now a graduate student at Tulane University, married computer consultant Jim Wentzel, 28, the theme was simplicity itself, with no celebrities, no politicians and no one from the White House days. The groom’s father, retired oil executive Jim Wentzel of Herndon, Va., didn’t even wear a tie for the ceremony outside the Pond House, the Carter family’s Plains, Ga., guest house and the former residence of Miss Lillian, Amy’s paternal grandmother, who died in 1983. It was a locale with special memories for the bride, who lived there while her parents hit the campaign trail in the summer of 1976. Standing before Rev. Daniel Ariail of the Maranatha Baptist Church (where the 39th President teaches Sunday school), the bride and pony tailed groom, who met in 1994 at an Atlanta bookstore where he was manager and she had a summer job, exchanged traditional vows under a trellis fashioned from her old swing set. Although Amy walked down the straw-and-magnolia-strewn aisle between both her parents, nobody gave her away, because, as her father explained, “Amy said she didn’t belong to anyone.”

Vivian Wu & Oscar Costo

DECEMBER 30, 1996

As every successful lover knows, timing is everything. So actress Vivian Wu, 30, star of The Last Emperor and The Joy Luck Club, consulted the Chinese calendar for a lucky day on which to marry producer-director Oscar Costo, 43. After making their union legal Dec. 18 in Las Vegas, Wu and the Cuban-born Costo jetted to her native Shanghai for a ceremonial banquet that lasted through 10 courses and three changes of bridal wear. Wu’s traditional Chinese parents had placed a price on her head: 99 roses and $999 (9 being a symbol of eternity), which Costo presented before escorting his bride into the Jasmine Room of the Garden Hotel, where 100 guests showered the couple with rose petals. Costo had begun pitching Wu a year after he met her on the set of the 1994 syndicated miniseries Vanishing Son, which he produced. “I told her I was the original model for the Oscar statue and that if she took me home with her, I’d be her Oscar forever,” he says. About a year ago, from the phone in her BMW, Wu recalls saying, “Let’s go to Shanghai together, but maybe you should propose to me first.” He did, from the phone in his Porsche. “They’re very open-minded and have a strong foundation,” said actor Luoyong Wang (star of Broadway’s Miss Saigon) as other guests joined the couple in the honeymoon suite for the traditional teasing of the bride and groom. Costo caught candy in his mouth, mimicked Wu’s Chinese opera singing and carried her piggyback into the bedroom to prove he was worthy of her greatest assets: “her liveliness, her smile—and her ears. They’re just beautiful.”

Lorenzo Lamas & Shauna Sand

APRIL 27, 1996

Lorenzo Lamas certainly has a talent for romance. When the actor proposed to actress Shauna Sand, 25, in September 1995, he filled a limousine with roses, sprang for dinner at New York City’s Le Cirque, and presented Sand with a four-carat, pear-shaped Tiffany diamond. “Lorenzo believes in taking a big bite out of life,” says his mother, actress-turned-astrologer Arlene Dahl. In the past, life hasn’t always been sweet. But, promises the thrice-divorced actor, “this is my last marriage.” And Sand, who met Lamas, now 39, in July 1995 when she was cast as an extra on his syndicated series Renegade, was impressed. “Lorenzo has a very charming, romantic way of doing things,” says Sand, who was married once before. Their wedding ceremony—Dahl charted the couple’s stars to help them pick a date—on the grounds of Dahl’s Rockland County, N.Y., estate was a Victorian extravaganza featuring bouquets of pastel roses and a carriage drawn by two white horses. The couple’s wild side had come out several weeks earlier on a trip to the island of Mooréa, where they draped themselves in togas for a Tahitian ceremony.

Lionel Richie & Diane Alexander

DECEMBER 21, 1996

After 10 years together, Lionel Richie and clothing designer Diane Alexander decided to get hitched for the sake of their 2-year-old son. “Miles is getting to the age where he’ll know the difference between being married and not,” says Diane, 30. “We knew we were going to be together. But this is much better for Miles.” Given carte blanche by Richie, Alexander planned the wedding some 2,500 miles away from their L.A. home. “We wanted a small wedding,” says Diane. “If we had it in Los Angeles, we’d be up to 200 people.” So while Richie, 47, was on tour promoting his 1996 comeback album, Louder Than Words, Alexander—who met her husband at the 1984 Olympics in L.A.—orchestrated an elegant evening with “an Old World feel” at New York City’s tony Metropolitan Club. Setting up base camp in a nearby brown-stone, she and renowned party planner Robert Isabell bedecked the library with silver candelabra and garlands of ivy. While 40 guests sat on leather couches, Alexander, in an ivory Vera Wang gown and little makeup (“I wanted to look back at the photos and see someone I remember”), threaded her way to the fireplace, where Richie was waiting with bodyguard and best man Bobby Adams and ring bearer Miles. For their first dance, Richie surprised his bride by having the deejay play “Say I Do,” which he co-wrote with her in mind.

Nadia Comaneci & Bart Conner

APRIL 26 & 27, 1996

When two Olympic gymnastic greats go for matrimonial gold, it’s appropriate that there be an opening ceremony, a closing ceremony, thousands of cheering fans and national TV coverage. And that’s just what Comaneci, 35, and Conner, 38, had for their nuptials in Nadia’s homeland, Romania. First came the civil wedding in Bucharest, after which the couple went out onto a balcony to address the crowd. “I gave a little speech in Romanian and said, ‘Thank you for accepting me,’ ” says Conner, who lives with Nadia in Norman, Okla. The next day, in an historic monastery, they were married in grand Orthodox style, again with a throng of fans waiting outside and Romanian TV running live coverage.

It was a happy homecoming for Comaneci, who fled Romania in 1989 as Nicolae Ceausescu’s regime tottered toward its bloody downfall. She had become a national heroine (and worldwide sweetheart) in 1976 when, at just 14, she returned from the Montreal Olympics with three gold medals. She also took two golds in Moscow in 1980, but in the decade that followed, amid rumors that she was involved with Ceausescu’s son, she was a virtual prisoner in Bucharest. After her flight to the West, she was contacted by Conner, a double gold gymnastics medalist in 1984, whom she had met in 1976. They began dating in 1991, and he proposed in ’94. ”She was so surprised, I had to ask her again,” says Conner.

His exposure to Romanian culture has given Conner a few surprises too. At one point in the church service, Comaneci ground her heel on his foot. Later, Conner found out that it hadn’t been an accident. “If the woman stomps on your foot,” he says, “she establishes her power in the relationship for the rest of your life.”

Vendela & Olaf Thommessen

AUGUST 24, 1996

After it was all over, the bride had a last name (as if she needed it), the groom had one of the world’s most beautiful women by his side—and the guests most likely had a pressing need to go somewhere quiet, take aspirin and catch up on their sleep. Swedish-born Vendela (maiden name Kirsebom), 30, and her 30-year-old Norwegian bridegroom celebrated their nuptials in marathon style. After a Roman Catholic ceremony in Stockholm, the wedding party repaired to the Grand Hotel in suburban Saltsjöbaden, where about 20 of the 150 guests gave speeches and toasts. “We ate at midnight, and it wasn’t over until about six in the morning,” said bridesmaid Lynda Murray, an L.A. producer. “There were five courses, and in between each course came a speech. Some of them were in foreign languages, but it was never boring.” The two had first met as teenagers 15 years ago when Vendela was working at her first job, selling ice cream at a Norwegian-resort, but really clicked in 1995 when they met again while she was vacationing in Norway. Olaf, a businessman who has just completed his MBA studies in Switzerland, will live with Vendela in their new home in Oslo. Vendela is already settling into married life onscreen. For her first movie role, she plays the villainous Mrs: Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger is Mr. Freeze) in next ‘summer’s Batman and Robin.

Wayne Knight & Paula Sutor

MAY 26, 1996

Hellooo, Newman.” For once, Jerry Seinfeld did not greet Wayne Knight that way, even though the whole Seinfeld gang (minus Jason Alexander, who was filming a movie in New York City) was on hand to witness the actor’s biggest role. The location was Michael Richards’s decidedly un-Krameresque Italian villa-style house in Pacific Palisades, Calif., as Knight, 41, wed makeup artist Paula Sutor, 44. The two met in 1993 on the NBC sitcom Second Half, in which he starred and she powder-puffed. “I’m a prolific perspirer,” says Knight. “She was dabbing constantly to keep me dry.” To her surprise, says Sutor, “when we went on hiatus, I missed him.” The show was canceled after 17 episodes. During the last week of taping, Knight “just grabbed her and kissed her,” he says. They spent the final wrap party making out in the corner.

The 90 wedding guests were greeted in Richards’s front yard by a statue of a frog in a bridal veil and a plush teddy bear in a top hat (representing the pair’s favorite animals). When the ceremony ended, says wedding coordinator Randy Pelligrini, “the guests stood and applauded for 10 minutes.” As the couple began their getaway, they found Knight’s 68-year-old mother, Grace, hiding in the limo as a joke. “I love you, Mom,” said Knight, hauling her out, “but not tonight.”

Forest Whitaker & Keisha Nash

MAY 4, 1996

Who would want to date an actor? Fashion model Keisha Nash didn’t, even if it was Forest Whitaker, whose girlfriend she played in 1993’s Blown Away. “It was like, ‘Do I have the word victim on my forehead?’ ” Nash, 23, recalls her first reaction. But Whitaker, 35, won her over. “He is very honest and sensitive and romantic,” she says. “He swept me off my feet—not with material things, more like the way he displayed his emotions.” Whitaker proposed the following year, but he was busy directing Waiting to Exhale, so they put off the wedding until last spring. They arranged to bring the wedding party to Montego Bay, Jamaica, where a local minister performed the marriage on the beach. Her daughter, Autumn, 5, was the flower girl. His 6-year-old son, Ocean, was the ring bearer. Afterward, the guests partied to reggae music and dined on tropical cuisine by the pool. The honeymooners stayed in Jamaica for four more days, then spent a weekend in Miami before returning to their L.A. home. There they sent out wedding announcements made of handmade paper embedded with little bits of seashell.

Cynthia Rowley & Bill Keenan

MAY 11, 1996

The unresolved issue wasn’t who, what, why or when—but where. The couple met on March 20, 1995, at a Manhattan dinner party, bandied about lines from I Love Lucy and “fell in love in the time it took to develop a Polaroid,” says the bride’s best friend, Allure senior editor Ilene Rosenzweig. Just 16 weeks later, while they were on vacation in Venice, Italy, retail store designer Bill Keenan, 43, knelt on one knee and asked fashion designer Cynthia Rowley, 39, to live happily ever after. But several months passed before the self-professed “hopeless romantic” and his betrothed found the right space for launching their union. “We wanted it to be odd, like the kind of party we would have,” says Rowley. Once they had settled on an empty, 20,000-square-foot airplane hangar at Brooklyn’s Floyd Bennett Field, the couple registered for a trampoline, among other items, at F.A.O. Schwarz, mailed invitations that included a subway map for getting to the Manhattan City Hall ceremony and decorated the hangar with large palm trees and a DC-3 plane. After New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani performed the ceremony, the 160 guests were driven to Brooklyn in yellow school buses.

Rowley waited until the crowd had had a few drinks before singing “You Made Me Love You” to Keenan, which, she concludes, “everyone says was the worst.”

Gary Busey & Tiani Warden

SEPTEMBER 23. 1996

Okay, it was probably not the first time actor Gary Busey hadn’t listened to his mother. What with the life he has led—the near-fatal 1988 motorcycle accident, alcoholism, cocaine addiction and rehab—Ginny Busey, 74, thought her son should just skip the drama and elope. Instead, the Oscar-nominated star of The Buddy Holly Story and Tiani Warden, 29, a former stuntwoman from Dallas, surrounded themselves with more than 250 guests, 12 attendants and a 40-member church choir in a Dallas symphony hall modeled after the great opera houses of Europe. “I’m 52, but I’m just starting my life over,” said Busey, who was so eager to get his bride to the altar that he ran down the aisle to meet her. “Tiani is a blessing. I feel very safe with her.”

The newly sober (he for 16 months, she for 10) rededicated Christians, who make their home in Malibu, served no alcohol at the reception but spirits rose when butterflies were released as the couple escaped into their limo. “We are taking it one step at a time and praying,” said Tiani of the union (the second for each). Busey, meanwhile, proved he has mastered at least one important marital concept. “Know what the two most important words are? ‘Yes, dear.’ ”

Eva Herzigova & Tico Torres


When the five-foot-eleven Herzigova met the five-foot-six Torres at Sting’s 1994 New York City benefit to save the rain forest, neither was prepared to enter one of those model-rock star romances. “I figured he thought he knew my face,” says Herzigova, 23. “But he really didn’t.” Four days later, Torres, 43, took Eva out on the town and saw her other assets bursting over Times Square in a Wonderbra billboard. “The whole block was her!” he says. “I go, ‘That’s you!’ ” Meanwhile, Torres had told Herzigova that he was a roofer and an upholsterer. So when he brought her up to his Manhattan office and she saw the Bon Jovi posters on the wall, she pointed to the drummer and said, “You know, you look very similar to this guy.” Explains Torres: “I used to be a roofer and an upholsterer. I never really mentioned the things I was working on these days.”

The couple—who now live in Manhattan—modeled their wedding (her first, his second) on the 1942 classic Casablanca. They transformed a friend’s Sea Bright, N.J., property into a seaside Casbah, complete with imported palm trees and freshly rolled Cuban cigars. She wore a white Galliano gown, and he had Richard Tyler design a tux like Bogie’s. After his Bon Jovi bandmates had ushered in the 350 guests and the ceremony was over, Torres sang “The Way You Look Tonight” to his wife, “the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.”

Jim Kelly & Jill Waggoner

MAY 18, 1996

Football fans know how good Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly is at making plays. But his November 1994 proposal to former marketing director Jill Waggoner proved he’s equally adept at creating a mood. After a romantic dinner at Di Paolo’s, the couple’s favorite Buffalo restaurant, Kelly, 36, ordered dessert and waiters carried out a heart-shaped cake inscribed with “Will you marry me?” and topped by a three-carat diamond ring. Jill, 27, burst into tears. “I said, ‘Well, will you?’ ” recalls Jim, “and she said, ‘Yes!’ It couldn’t have been any more special.” Nor could their wedding 18 months later. Cheered on by 25 attendants and 800 guests, the couple took their vows at St. Christopher’s Catholic church in suburban Buffalo before heading to a food-and-music-filled celebration at the historic Armory reception hall, where they cut an eight-tier wedding cake of varied flavors and danced with their now 21-month-old daughter, Erin Marie. (The pair, who met at a party in 1991, expect their second child this month.) “It was gorgeous,” says Jill, “like a fairy tale.”

Gong Li & Ooi Hoe Seong

FEBRUARY 15, 1996

The wedding itself was decidedly low-key. For the brief civil ceremony at Singapore’s Registry of Marriages, Chinese actress Gong Li, 30, wore a green polo shirt and slacks, while her groom, Singapore-born businessman Ooi Hoe Seong, 46, donned a shirt and tie. Afterward, Gong, who won international acclaim for her performances in Raise the Red Lantern and Farewell, My Concubine, even denied a wedding had taken place until a Singapore tabloid printed the marriage certificate. But once the news was out—the initial secrecy, says Gong’s manager, Christophe Tseng, was to spare the feelings of Gong’s former lover, Chinese director Zhang Yimou—the celebration was on. In November, the newlyweds (who met at a 1993 auto race) gave a reception for 200 at Hong Kong’s China Club. Gong greeted guests in an off-white embroidered Western-style wedding dress before changing into a Chinese gown of figure-hugging red velvet. Ooi, who has an adult daughter from a previous marriage, also traded his tux for traditional garb as the evening of dining and dancing wore on. Says Tseng: “It was a noisy, happy night.”

William Cohen & Janet Langhart

FEBRUARY 14, 1996

The guest list may have read like the year-end wrap-up of Meet the Press, but when Secretary of Defense (and former Republican senator) William Cohen of Maine married Black Entertainment Television host Janet Langhart on Valentine’s Day, power players from both sides of the aisle gathered in the Capitol Building’s Mike Mansfield Room and swayed to a classical trio. Done up in an ivory Norma Kamali ensemble, Langhart, who won’t divulge her age, and Cohen, 56 (attended by sons Kevin, 34, and Chris, 31), exchanged rings handed down through their families. After House chaplain James Ford pronounced them husband and wife, the bride audibly sighed. “It was very romantic, sweet and touching,” said CBS anchor Dan Rather, rubbing elbows with Colin Powell and Janet Reno at the Hay-Adams Hotel reception. “I chose this day so he wouldn’t forget it,” said Langhart. Meanwhile, political pundit John McLaughlin gloated that he’d predicted the union on his syndicated show, The McLaughlin Group. Said Cohen: “I need to find out who his sources were.”

Nicole Miller & Kim Taipale

FEBRUARY 29, 1996

Their leap year wedding was as lighthearted as her scarf designs. Ten months earlier, Taipale, 42, a Swiss-born computer specialist, had proposed to Miller, 45—that they start a family. “That was like saying he wanted to make a commitment,” she says. “I said fine, let’s have a kid.” After Miller got pregnant, Taipale said, “Don’t you think we should get married?” They did—she in a cocktail dress and coat of her own design, he in one of her fanciful ties—in the office of New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who presided over a brief ceremony witnessed by 25 friends. “Traditional weddings always seemed like too much work and then anticlimactic,” says Miller. Not hers. Ten days later, son Palmer was born.

Bonnie Blair & David Cruikshank

JUNE 23, 1996

You’d think that with her five Olympic gold medals (a world record) and his training for 1998’s Winter Games in Japan, the wedding of speed skaters Bonnie Blair, 32, and David Cruikshank, 28, would find the two souls on ice. Wrong. The former teammates, friends for four years before they began dating in 1990, opted for a traditional wedding at Milwaukee’s Wisconsin Club six months after Cruikshank proposed in a Lake Geneva hotel room by hanging the ring box on the door. “My thought,” said Blair, “was that the maid must have left some chocolate.” Blair wore the first wedding dress she tried on (an ivory silk gown), and Cruikshank donned what he jokingly calls his “George Clooney-look” collarless shirt and tuxedo for their glide to the finish line, where the officiating Dr. Donald Kinloch summed up the feelings of the 300 guests: “We’re glad this is finally happening.”

Howard Baker & Nancy Kassebaum

DECEMBER 7, 1996

When former Tennessee Republican Sen. Howard Baker, 71, told daughter Cissy that he and retired Kansas GOP Sen. Nancy Kassebaum, 64, were talking about a date, Cissy, 40, asked, “To what?” She and the rest of the Beltway never suspected that Baker, widowed in 1993, had even been dating the divorced mother of four since 1995, let alone planning to get married in a D.C. ceremony followed by a reception for 200 at a nearby mansion. “We’re not teenagers,” said Kassebaum of their reticence surrounding “this new and wonderful adventure.” But Baker gave himself away to Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.). “Before the wedding he had lost 18 pounds,” said Cochran. “I figured he must be in love.”

Stephen Stills & Kristen Hathaway

MAY 27, 1996

Here’s one way to kick back during a break in the tour: get married. Stephen Stills, 51, of Crosby, Stills & Nash, did just that with girlfriend Kristen Hathaway, 30, a recording-studio manager, at the Ritz-Carlton in Palm Beach, Fla. Why Palm Beach? Well, the band liked it from a previous tour, and as L.A. resident Stills says, “It was far enough away from everyone so that basically we could insult all our friends by not inviting anyone.” After the ceremony, Tallahassee businessman and political consultant Jeff Sharkey, who as a notary public can legally perform weddings in Florida, riffed on a sacred Stills text. “Now that you are with the one you love,” he said, indicating the rock star’s third wife, “you can love the one you’re with.”

Gennifer Flowers & Finis Shelnutt

NOVEMBER 2, 1996

Bill Clinton was three days away from reelection, but did Gennifer Flowers care? No, she was in Dallas, writing Finis to that chapter. Flowers, 46, figured prominently in the 1992 presidential election when rumors of her alleged 12-year affair with then-Gov. Clinton began to circulate. At the time, she was dating Shelnutt, 46, a Little Rock securities analyst. “He asked me about the affair, and initially I denied it,” she says. “I think he could tell I wasn’t telling the truth.” The relationship was strained, but when Flowers went public, Shelnutt came through. “Finis [pronounced Fine-is] was one of the first people trying to get ahold of me,” says Flowers, “to see if I was okay.” The two now live in Dallas, where he’s a vice president of Prudential Securities. “I’m ready to shut out the darkness, go for the light and get on with my life,” says Flowers.

Fred Hayman & Betty Endo

SEPTEMBER 28, 1996

There were two mariachi bands, 75 fiddlers on the hoof and 90 chefs, so if the gentle breeze that blew in off the Pacific wasn’t scented with Giorgio, no one noticed. Hayman, 70, lost the fragrance empire that he founded with ex-wife Gale after a bitter divorce battle, but rebounded with his 273 North Rodeo Drive store, Fred Hayman Beverly Hills, and a new fragrance called 273. So when he celebrated his marriage to Betty Endo, 52, he did it in high Hollywood style. The couple, who have been together for 18 years, were actually married on June 21 in Endo’s home state of Utah, but they threw what they billed as a Full Moon Garden Party three months later at their pink Mediterranean-style Malibu beach house. The Old Guard A-list included Merv Griffin, Ed McMahon, Robert Stack and Cyd Charisse, not to mention the entire Beverly Hills City Council. Griffin sang “Betty’s Eyes,” specially written by Norman Gimbel and Jack Elliott for the occasion, and an 80-member gospel choir belted out “Oh Happy Day!” Then a plane flew overhead, trailing a banner expressing for Hayman what was already clear: “I Love You, Betty.”

Lenny Clarke & Jennifer Miller

OCTOBER 19, 1996

Just because the groom is a comedian, it doesn’t mean the wedding has to be wacky. When Lenny Clarke, Officer Hampton on The John Larroquette Show, married former TV producer Jennifer Miller on Martha’s Vineyard, everything was in sedate New England taste, right down to the white clapboard church. In addition to a large contingent of Clarkes from Cambridge, Mass., guests included cast members such as Liz Torres, who sang “Love Me Tender” at the reception. “Larroquette can’t make it because he has network commitments,” Clarke, 43, told The Boston Herald. “This way I’ll get a bigger gift.” Clarke and Miller, 31, who live on the Vineyard and in Marina Del Rey, Calif., met in Boston four years ago, but didn’t stay in touch. She was in L.A. when she saw his name on a marquee. “I said, ‘What the heck, I’ll go in and say hello,’ ” she remembers. The result: “I asked her to marry me every day for “a year,” says Clarke. One of eight children, he’s already thinking family. “I’ll have whatever she wants,” he says, “kids, goats, chickens.”

Lorna Luft & Colin Freeman

SEPTEMBER 14, 1996

They had a bagpiper and a jazz quartet. The piper played as Luft, 44, came down the grand staircase of Highclere Castle, an hour west of London, on the arm of her father, producer Sid Luft. “We did that for Colin’s mother, who’s of Scottish descent,” says Luft, a divorced mother of two, who met Freeman, 30, when they toured with Hollywood and Broadway (she was the star, he was musical director). The quartet, all of them musicians from the show, entertained the 100 guests at the reception. Although big sister Liza Minnelli couldn’t attend because she was performing, another famous family member, Lorna’s mother, was not forgotten: Her father, brother Joe and son Jesse, 12, each wore a yellow Judy Garland rose.

Carole Bayer Sager & Robert Daly

JUNE 8, 1996

After her 10-year marriage to fellow songwriter Burt Bacharach broke up in 1991, Carole Bayer Sager wasn’t looking for love. Nor was Warner Bros, cochairman Robert Daly, now 60, whose own 30-year marriage had also recently ended. “I was not feeling fabulous about life,” says Sager, 52, who was divorced from first husband Andrew Sager in 1977. “And Bob was feeling less than great too.” But when the two met at a dinner party in November 1991, they found company in their misery. “We became friends immediately,” she says. “I think we helped each other to heal.” They moved in together in 1994, and last June formalized the bond on the grounds of their Bel Air, Calif., home. “A friend told me that I was holding rhinestones to my breast and God was waiting to give me diamonds,” says Sager, who wore an off-white chiffon gown by Zandra Rhodes. “Bob is that diamond.” Sager’s son Cristopher, 11, walked his mom down the aisle for the brief ceremony, witnessed by guests such as Elizabeth Taylor, Shirley MacLaine and Goldie Hawn. Afterward, MacLaine and Hawn shimmied on the dance floor. “They’d probably get an NC-17 rating,” says Sager. “They were phenomenal.”

Evander Holyfield & Janice Itson

OCTOBER 4, 1996

As Mike Tyson knows, Evander Holyfield doesn’t fall easily. So when Holyfield met Chicago internist Janice Itson at a 1994 Philadelphia evangelical revival, the boxing champ struck up a friendship, nothing more. But over the next two years, Holyfield often called Itson from his home in Fairburn, Ga., to chat about his health, his children (he has six by four women) and his faith. Little by little, their relationship deepened. Finally he left it to God. “I prayed and asked for the right person,” says Holy-field, 34, who had been married once before. “That’s when it came out to be her.” In August, Holyfield asked Itson, 34, to move to Georgia to help care for his kids, then began making up for lost time. On the evening of Oct. 4, they packed sons Ewin, 6, and Evander Jr., 12, in the car and drove to the Glynn Wedding Chapel in nearby Fayetteville. “On the way, he said, ‘You’re going to marry me, right?’ ” recalls Itson, who’d donned a brown suit for the occasion (Holyfield wore jeans and a T-shirt). Though their wedding dinner took place at Shoney’s with the kids, the couple did manage some time alone together during a four-day Bermuda honeymoon in December. For that, says Itson, “it was just the two of us.”

Judy Collins & Louis Nelson

APRIL 16, 1996

Fittingly, it was songwriter Leonard Cohen who said it best. When singer Judy Collins wed industrial designer Louis Nelson last spring, Cohen’s gift to his longtime friends was two dozen roses and a note that read simply, “I love you. It’s about time.” The two had been together 18 years, ever since they met on a blind date at a New York City fund-raiser for the Equal Rights Amendment. Together they weathered career ups and downs and even the 1992 death of Collins’s 33-year-old son, Clark C. Taylor. But it wasn’t until Nelson suffered a near-fatal attack of appendicitis in 1993 that the two decided to wed. “I said, ‘I really think we should get married,’ ” recalls Collins, 57. “And he said, ‘Getting married is not going to prevent me from dying, but yes, let’s do it.’ ” At the ceremony, conducted by Rev. James P. Morton at New York City’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Collins sang a song she composed for her husband-to-be, while Nelson, 59, read a poem he wrote about Collins, and most of their 350 guests wiped away tears. “For many years, we thought, ‘Why do it?’ ” says Collins. “But marriage is a different kind of commitment, very valuable, I think, and very life-confirming.”

As the Bells Ring

Happy endings abound for daytime drama stars…

Stephanie Dicker & Greg Shanfeld

OCTOBER 12, 1996

He was a friend of her older brother’s and she had known him all her life, but it never occurred to General Hospital’s Stephanie Dicker, 27, that Greg Shanfeld might find her attractive. “I think he just thought of me as the kid sister with braces,” she says. But when her parents set them up in 1992, the pair sparked. Shanfeld, 27, an attorney, proposed in December 1995. They were married in L.A.’s Bel Age Hotel by Rabbi Eli Herscher, who had presided over the bat and bar mitzvahs of Dicker and Shanfeld at Stephen S. Wise temple in Bel Air, Calif. The rabbi told them to wax poetic on what they loved about each other. “At the risk of sounding shallow,” Shanfeld said, “I think she is really beautiful.”

Eva LaRue & John Callahan

NOVEMBER 30, 1996

They didn’t realize how much the tabloids would care. But after Eva LaRue and John Callahan, already married for three years on ABC’s All My Children as Dr. Maria Santos and Edmund Grey, announced their engagement in October, they read in the Star where the wedding would be before they had even chosen the location. Then a photographer from The Globe crashed the nuptials at the five-star Lodge at Koele in Lanai, Hawaii. Swift-thinking hotel security guards nabbed the intruder and locked him up, but he was released after the ceremony and managed to snap a few frames. The bride and groom sealed their bond in front of a waterfall and picnicked with their 15 guests under a 500-year-old banyan tree. For all the hullabaloo, LaRue, 29, and Callahan, 42, remained unshakable. “I was really calm, and John played the best round of golf in his life the morning of the wedding,” LaRue says.

Shawn Christian & Deborah Quinn

MAY 18, 1996

He plays the cool-as-crystal Mike Kasnoff on As the World Turns, but Shawn Christian flubbed his lines when he wed personal trainer Deborah Quinn on Gun Lake in Michigan. “Everyone started laughing,” recalls Christian, who won’t reveal his age or his bride’s. “I said, ‘I guess we could use a cue card. Can we take that again?’ ” The actor was only showing his sentimental stripes, which also led him to propose to Quinn in 1994 by sending her on a romantic treasure hunt through Chicago in a horse-drawn carriage. Her journey ended at the Four Seasons Hotel, where she followed a trail of rose petals to a diamond ring. “The whole thing took four months to plan,” he says. After all that, naturally he wanted to enjoy the rites. “I took time out to feel everything that was around us,” he says.

Kassie Wesley & James De Paiva

JUNE 16, 1996

Kassie Wesley rolled into One Life to Live’s Llanview in 1993 as Blair, a character who was out to recapture the heart of onetime flame Max, played by James De Paiva, 39. The romance withered onscreen but blossomed off. Both actors had been down the aisle once before, so they decided on a fast 10-minute ceremony in May in the courthouse of Wesley’s hometown of Morgan-field, Ky. “I had to squeeze my wedding in between a dentist appointment and a golf game,” says Kassie, 35. The De Paivas held a more formal affair in June at their country home in the Catskills featuring self-written vows and De Paiva’s daughter Dreama, 4. “Jimmy said a vow to me and a vow to Dreama,” says Kassie, who is expecting their first child in May. “They were straight from his heart and quite beautiful.”

Kelley Menighan & Jon Hensley

MAY 25, 1996

She didn’t tell him, but one week after she first kissed Jon Hensley, Kelley Menighan booked the church for their nuptials. A month later she was trying on wedding gowns. “If I didn’t marry him, I would have felt like a horse’s ass,” she says. But luckily for Menighan, 29, her As the World Turns costar experienced similar vibes. Hensley, 31, proposed in November 1995 on the same stretch of California beach where the momentous smooch occurred and gave her a ring inscribed with his nickname for her. “I love you Smuie,” it said, his play on her alma mater, Southern Methodist University. “It’s a little big, but I’m afraid if I get it sized, it will ruin the inscription,” says Menighan. Many of the pair’s World colleagues flew out for the Chicago ceremony, with costars Martha Byrne singing a mass and Allyson Rice-Taylor reading a Bible passage. “Jon has been on the show for eight years,” says Menighan. “They’re family to us. It meant a lot to have them there.”

All My Children costars Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos decided to get hitched over pizza and a bottle of wine in his Manhattan apartment. “The next thing you know, we were on a plane to Las Vegas,” says Consuelos, 25, who plays Ripa’s fiancé on the daytime drama. They departed the next day. “All we had to do was brush our teeth, iron our clothes and we were there,” says Ripa, 26. They chose the Chapel of the Bells from the Yellow Pages and headed on over for a ceremony featuring, according to Consuelos, some “very scary, fake organ music” and a minister with a sinister voice. The newlyweds kept their status a secret until AMC executive producer Francesca James got wind of the marriage from a reporter. She called the young lovers into her office and told them to call their families before further word leaked out. “My mother asked, ‘Were you drugged, did you have a drink?’ ” says Ripa, who is now pregnant and due in May. “I said no, and she said, ‘You should have. It’s much easier if you have a drink.’ But we were completely sober.”

Liz Keifer & Robert Convertino

SEPTEMBER 14, 1996

Their love story endured a long arc of frustration not unlike those the bride plays out daily as Blake Mar-ler on CBS’s Guiding Light. After Keifer met construction supervisor Robert Convertino in 1990, the two carried on a long-distance relationship between her home in L.A. and his in Syracuse, N.Y., for two years before a painful breakup. After a few false starts and arguments, they rekindled the romance in 1995, and Convertino, 41, proposed last March. Another bit of fortune struck the bride when she went shopping for her wedding clothes and ran into designer Isaac Mizrahi at Bergdorf Goodman in Manhattan. “I went up to him and said, ‘You’re my hero, and I’m getting married,’ ” recalls Keifer, 33, “and he put this outfit together for me out of the blue!” She walked down the aisle at New York City’s Rihga Royal Hotel wearing a Mizrahi off-white raw-silk sleeveless dress with a lace overlay and matching coat. Convertino, wearing an Armani suit, remembers waiting at the altar and marveling: “The first thing I thought was I just love this woman beyond belief.”

Charles Grant & Anne Jordan

OCTOBER 26, 1996

Charles Grant walked into a Mexican fast-food joint with his mind on a burrito and got sidetracked by the sight of Anne Jordan, sitting with a friend and her pal’s two children. “I noticed her when I walked in, and I thought ‘God, that woman is really beautiful,’ ” says Grant. Jordan and her friend noticed him too and sent one of the children over with a note scribbled on a napkin. “Are you single, married or divorced?” it read. He wrote “divorced” and sent the paper back. Jordan, an entertainment lawyer who was also divorced, gave the star of CBS’s The Bold and the Beautiful her phone number, and he called within the hour. The decision to marry came in just weeks. “At the point we were at in our lives, we were both ready for a long-term relationship,” says Grant, who like Jordan, plays coy about his age. “We understood the meaning of what it takes for two people to be together.” They wed on a balcony of the Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur, lit by the glow of the setting sun and graced by the spontaneous flight of a flock of birds overhead just as the ceremony began. “The only thing I would have done differently was to do it sooner,” says Grant.

Danny Sullivan & Brenda Bosveld

MAY 15, 1996

Auto racing champ-turned-TV commentator Danny Sullivan and former Manhattan financial planner Brenda Bosveld pictured a quiet wedding aboard a friend’s yacht in the Monte Carlo harbor. But the best man was Monaco’s future monarch, Prince Albert Grimaldi—and privacy wasn’t an option. “We just wanted to get married in front of a few friends,” says Sullivan, 46, who met the Prince when Albert hosted the 1983 Monaco Grand Prix. Instead, “we had this crowd standing behind the boat, and afterward it was in the papers all over Europe.” Sullivan and Bosveld, 33, neither of whom had been married before, hadn’t planned to include racing in the wedding either, but because the ceremony took place the week of the 1996 Grand Prix, that too came with the territory. “Right before I said my vows, someone started revving one of the Formula One cars in the background,” says Sullivan, who lives with his bride in Aspen and L.A. “Everybody said afterward, ‘Did you pay that guy to do that?’ ”

Andrew Young & Carolyn Watson

MARCH 24, 1996

Former Atlanta mayor and UN ambassador Andrew Young found love just around the corner. For nearly two decades, elementary schoolteacher Carolyn Watson had been his neighbor in Atlanta’s Cascade Heights, where Young, 64, raised four children with wife Jean. But after Jean died of cancer in 1994, “I became his sounding board,” says Watson, 49. “We talked and talked. A bonding took place that we didn’t even know was taking place. I think the first real date was when we went to South Africa to get married.” Watson, who had been married once before, wore an ivory-lace caftan for a ceremony blessed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. At the champagne reception that followed at the U.S. ambassador’s residence, Young, a Congregationahst minister who has wed many couples, toasted his bride. “I’ve been on the wrong side of these weddings,” he said. “I just want to thank God for this woman.”

Vaclav Havel & Dasa Veskrnova

JANUARY 4, 1997

It was the New Year, and Czech president Vaclav Havel, 60, was forging a new beginning after a season of darkness. Credited with leading his country’s transition to democracy after communism fell in 1989, the beloved leader—who had half of his cancerous right lung removed in December—was out of the hospital just eight days when he married Czech actress Dagmar (known as Dasa) Veskrnova, 43. The two had been seen together many times (including at a September Michael Jackson concert in Prague) after Havel’s wife, Olga, died early in 1996. A tiny civil ceremony at Prague’s town hall was followed by a small gathering at Havel’s home and a radio address the next day. “Olga was my companion for almost 45 years. She is and will always be an irreplaceable part of my soul,” he said. “I married Dasa not to replace Olga, but simply because we love each other and want to live together.”

Dick Smothers & Denby Franklin

JANUARY 4, 1997

Denby Franklin took the traditional route to Dick Smothers’s heart—through his stomach. In 1994 the comedian arrived in Ft. Myers, Fla., to give a concert, despondent over the fact that two days prior he had been served divorce papers by his second wife. He got a good meal and sympathy from Denby, the backstage caterer, as well as her phone number. “I recommend getting to know someone over the phone,” says Smothers, 58, who tours six months a year. “You don’t get any trick things, no perfume or nails or winking and grabbing. It gave us a more honest playing field.” Still, when he publicly proposed at a personal-growth seminar on relationships, she didn’t take him seriously. “The whole class was like a Ping-Pong ball waiting to see if I was going to say yes,” recalls the twice-divorced Denby, 47. When she accepted his second proposal, in Las Vegas, they picked a chapel out of a guidebook for a quick ceremony but had to scrounge for a bridal bouquet. “Try finding flowers after New Year’s,” says Denby. “Everything in the West had been bought out for the Rose parade.”

Angle Everhart & Ashley Hamilton

DECEMBER 1, 1996

There was a time, says model-actress Angie Everhart, when she didn’t even “want to be introduced” to actor Ashley Hamilton. But she learned never to say never when she married the son of George Hamilton and Alana Stewart in front of both sets of parents, Joan and Jackie Collins and 400 other guests at the Beverly Hills Presbyterian Church. Hamilton’s reputation for past alcohol and drug use and his stormy, five-month-long union with actress Shannen Doherty “kind of scared me,” admits Everhart, 27, a veteran of a two-month 1995 engagement to Sylvester Stallone. She’d scotched a friend’s earlier plans to fix her up with Hamilton, who stars in daytime’s Sunset Beach. But several months later she ran into him in a hotel lobby and “walked over to him,” she says. “He’s the most beautiful man on the planet. He gets prettier and prettier the more you look at him.” While doing so over the next nine months, she explains, there “was no moment of clarity” when she realized she was in love with her now-sober beau. “It just builds and builds.”

The bride didn’t pay attention to the menu at the reception at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel—”I didn’t eat”—but she’s sure that the flowers were white, her “very classic” gown, with a 50-foot train, was by Valentino, and she prepared a 10-minute slide show that included shots of the two as babies. She’s also sure she made the right choice. “Ashley could be a spokesperson for changing for the better, and he’s only 22,” says Everhart. “I can’t even imagine what he’ll be like when he’s older.”

Yvette Freeman & Lawny Hartley

JANUARY 27, 1996

When Yvette Freeman, who plays ER’s nurse Haleh Adams, pulled up to the Hollywood Hills house of musical director Lanny Hartley in October 1994, she wasn’t so much in need of a husband as a ride home. Freeman, who had come to rehearse the music for a stage show about jazz singer Dinah Washington, had driven her 1979 Ford Pinto, and the car barely sputtered to the curb. “I’m knocking on his door, and my car is smoking and dripping oil all over the place,” recalls Freeman, 39. Hartley, 49, persuaded her to come inside and go ahead with the rehearsal. Afterward, their romance heated up. “I’ve never known someone I felt so comfortable with,” he says. The pair wed in Freeman’s hometown church in Dunleigh, Del. (because the nuptials took place mid-season, the bride’s ER costars couldn’t attend), with Freeman wearing a satin-and-silk chiffon gown she designed herself. “Being a large woman, it was hard finding something I liked,” she says. “So I drew what I wanted.” As for the Pinto, it has been repaired and bequeathed to a friend.

Candace Cameron & Valeri Bure

JUNE 22, 1996

Guests probably recall the bride tossing her bouquet smack into the crystal chandelier at the reception. But for former Full House star Candace Cameron, 20, the most memorable moment of her wedding came as she gazed at the altar of the Church of the Valle in Van Nuys, Calif., and spotted her husband-to-be, Montreal Canadiens hockey player Valeri Bure, 22, in his Versace tux. “Valeri just took my breath away,” says Cameron. “It was just really emotional.” Those feelings became more ebullient, though, at the reception, as Cameron and dad Robert, a gym teacher, turned the traditional father-daughter waltz into a four-minute choreographed performance of swing, tango and western dancing. For the occasion, Dad wore a tailor-made rip-away tuxedo shirt, which he tore off to reveal a T-shirt emblazoned with photos of the bridal couple. Afterward he handed out prizes to guests who could answer trivia questions about the newlyweds. (Sample answer: They were introduced by Full House costar Dave Coulier at a charity hockey game in 1994.) It was such fun that Cameron and Bure didn’t leave until midnight. “We closed the place,” she says.

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