By Richard Jerome
June 06, 2005 12:00 PM

Mary Kay Letourneau waited seven years behind bars to marry the boy-turned-man of her dreams, so what was another two hours? That’s how tardy the 43-year-old former teacher was for her May 20 wedding to Vili Fualaau, 21, the ex-pupil she first bedded when he was 12—an affair that produced two daughters and sent her to prison for child rape. The 225 guests waiting in an orchid-filled tent at the Columbia Winery in Woodinville, Wash., grew edgy. Would she now add “runaway bride” to her résumé? Not a chance: The crowd cheered as Mary Kay materialized at 10 p.m. Dressed in white, she glided down the aisle as one of Vili’s cousins sang the gospel number “His Eye Is on the Sparrow.”

Mary Kay and Vili’s daughters Audrey, 8, and Alexis, 6, served as flower girls, and the two oldest of four children from her first marriage were also there: Steve, 20, and Mary Claire, 17, who was maid of honor. According to Entertainment Tonight and The Insider, which taped the event, the couple exchanged these vows:”…My one true love,” said Mary Kay.”…Where you stay I will stay, and where you die I will die.” And Vili promised, “from the beginning till eternity ends, to love, honor and respect every aspect of your journey.” Reports Wendy Cracchiolo, Mary Kay’s roommate at the University of Arizona: “There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.”

So now their strange liaison bears the sanctity of marriage. “She weathered her time and they’re in love. Who are we to argue?” says Robert Eldridge, a friend who attended. Well, Mary Kay’s mom, Mary Schmitz, for one. She boycotted the wedding because, as another friend of the bride explains, “it had to be a Catholic service or it wasn’t valid.” In addition, four of her five siblings missed the big day. Says Eldridge: “It’s sad more of her family didn’t come.”

Mary Kay showed up an hour late with Fualaau to the reception, then feasted on macadamia-nut-encrusted halibut, ham, prime rib and a five-tier cake. It was after 1 a.m. when they danced for the first time as Mr. and Mrs. Fualaau, to Mariah Carey‘s “Melt Away.” An ominous title? Time will tell, as the reality of legal wedlock sets in. For one thing, Mary Kay’s parole rules make a honeymoon out of state difficult. Instead of a romantic getaway, says Cracchiolo, “they need to go into seclusion and get their ducks in a row.”

Richard Jerome. Stacey Wilson and Johnny Dodd in Woodinville and Lorenzo Benet in Los Angeles