Making Room for Daddy
Approaching her wedding day, LeAnn Rimes had a lot on her plate. There was a shower to attend, gifts to open, guests to greet. But the biggest item on her list was also the most personal: The teenage country star had to make peace with her estranged father.
The last came after she and dad Wilbur, 49, settled—on undisclosed terms—a 22-month-old lawsuit in which LeAnn had charged him with fleecing her out of more than $7 million while acting as her comanager from 1996 to ’99.
By the time the 19-year-old Rimes exchanged vows with professional dancer Dean Sheremet, 21, in Dallas on Feb. 23, all seemed forgiven. “I cried the whole time,” says Wilbur, a record producer, who received his wedding invitation in a phone call from Rimes 10 days before the big event. “She looked absolutely beautiful.”
The wedding took place at Perkins Chapel on the Southern Methodist University campus before 150 guests, including Rimes’s mom, Belinda, 49, a Garland, Texas, homemaker. “They kept it small and exclusive,” says Jennifer Rickard, Sheremet’s dance teacher during his childhood in Michigan. “The ceremony was very traditional and very beautiful.”
As a string ensemble played, the Grammy-winning singer—in an ivory Vera Wang strapless gown—walked solo to the altar to meet Sheremet, who wore a gray Hugo Boss suit. “They were beaming like they were on top of the world,” says Johnnie High, owner of a country-music theater in nearby Arlington, where Rimes performed in her early days. “They were just giddy.”
The pair met last May when Rimes hosted the Academy of Country Music Awards show and Sheremet performed as a backup dancer in one of her numbers. When Rimes split from her boyfriend of three years, Andrew Keegan (FOX TV’s Party of Five), 23, two months later, she and Sheremet began a whirlwind romance. Sheremet, who moved to L.A. after high school to pursue a showbiz career, proposed in December. “Dean’s a good kid with a huge heart,” says Rickard. Even Wilbur is impressed. “LeAnn found herself somebody real special,” he says. Leaving the church parking lot, a cowboy-hat-wearing Wilbur honked the horn of his white Ford 4×4 and whooped out the window as his second wife, Catherine, 40, waved a bouquet at onlookers. At the Four Seasons Resort and Club ballroom, guests dined on beef tenderloin with asparagus and danced to Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand songs. To Catherine, the father-daughter dance—to “Unforgettable”—was the highlight of the day. “It was like it erased all that’s been,” she says. “It was just perfect.”