By People Staff
September 29, 2008 12:00 PM

SURPRISE!

JENNIFER THROWS A TOP-SECRET BASH FOR MARC’S 40TH BIRTHDAY

THE HAPPY COUPLE

New York City, Sept. 14

Jennifer Lopez told Marc Anthony they were hopping a plane to New York after her triathlon for dinner with pal Katie Holmes. But Lopez had something else in mind—a Havana-themed surprise birthday bash, complete with hand-rolled cigars, gambling and showgirls. “I can’t believe we pulled it off,” Lopez tells PEOPLE. “He never thought I would do it the same weekend!”

MAKE A WISH, MARC!

After blowing out his candles, Anthony told Lopez, “You are the cutest thing!” He then turned to guests and said, “We are so happy together. I’m 40 years old. Let the music roll!”

THE BIG REVEAL

“My favorite moment was as we walked in—Marc was in shock,” says Lopez. “It made my knees go weak. He was so happy.”

TRYING THEIR LUCK

Guests gambled into the night with “Marc money” (inset).

‘I WANTED TO DO SOMETHING SPECIAL!’

Did Marc have any idea?

JENNIFER LOPEZ: We planned it for so long. There were a few times it was close—he’d walk in the room or we thought he was sleeping and we’d be talking about it. Marc is so smart, we had to make it [all] sound natural.

Marc didn’t think jumping on a jet immediately after the triathlon was a little strange?

LOPEZ: I don’t like to be away from the babies so I told him, “I have to get right back to them,” and that made total sense.

He was with you the whole day—how did you get ready?

LOPEZ: We made up a story that we had a photo shoot the next day so I had Ken [Paves, her hairstylist] and Scott [Barnes, her makeup artist] on the plane. Then very casually I said to them, “Maybe we can practice some looks?” Marc was like, “That’s cool.”

Were you sore at the party?

LOPEZ: I didn’t feel horrible, just a little tired. I had a little headache, maybe it was the relief of the stress. Maybe I was clenching my jaw. I just took aspirin.

What did you do after the bash?

LOPEZ: After I sang [Barbra Streisand’s “My Man” to Marc onstage] I told him we were leaving for Italy and then Greece right after the party. We got on the plane around 4 a.m. We talked about how we pulled it off, then it was 6:30 a.m., and the babies [Max and Emme] were hungry, so I got up to feed them!

Have you caught triathlon fever?

LOPEZ: If I wasn’t [so] nervous. I just didn’t enjoy the swimming, but at least I know I can do it. Setting a goal, working hard for it and accomplishing it—I was very proud of myself.

SHALL WE DANCE?

Said Lopez (in Marchesa): “At one point I asked one of my girlfriends, ‘Am I crazy to do this all in one day?’ She said, ‘You’re not crazy, you’re just Jennifer.'”

THEIR FRIENDS & FAMILY

Chris Henchy and Brooke Shields danced to salsa music while Lopez’s mom, Lupe, sister Lynda and her boyfriend Adam Goldfried mugged for the camera. “So many people he loves were there,” says Lopez.

EARLIER THAT MORNING …

On the same day as the party, Lopez completed the Nautica Malibu Triathlon

SHE SWAM …

“Getting in the ocean was terrifying for me. It was conquering a fear. I’m not a great swimmer,” Lopez said of the half-mile stretch. “When I came out, I was in tears, I was so happy.”

SHE BIKED …

Would she do another triathlon? “I don’t know. I was so stressed out and scared.”

SHE RAN

Finishing in 2 hours, 23 minutes and 38.8 seconds, Lopez, who raised $127,000 for the Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, got the idea when she was 8 months pregnant and watched a triathlon on TV.

GWEN’S NIGHT OUT

Los Angeles, Sept. 14

Gwen Stefani had a romantic sixth-anniversary dinner at Osteria Mozza with rocker hubby Gavin Rossdale sans kids Kingston, 2, and month-old Zuma.

JESSICA & HONOR

New York City, Sept. 10

Jessica Alba, who recently described motherhood as “the best thing ever,” totes 3-month-old daughter Honor.

COACH MARK

Brentwood, Calif., Sept. 13

Mark Wahlberg huddles with 5-year-old Ella Rae during soccer practice.

PRINCESS PALS

Los Angeles, Sept. 14

Selena Gomez and Taylor Swift put their crowns together at the premiere of Another Cinderella Story.

DAVID & JULIA

New York City, Sept. 10

Dave Matthews, still mourning the death of his band’s saxophonist LeRoi Moore, caught up with longtime friend Julia Roberts before headlining the Stand Up for a Cure charity concert.

MATT AND WYCLEF’S GOODWILL

Cabaret, Haiti, Sept. 13

Matt Damon joins Wyclef Jean and his charity Yéle Haiti to deliver food and supplies to flood-ravaged Haitians following four tropical storms that hit the area since mid-August.

LOOKING GOOD, VALERIE!

Los Angeles, Sept. 13

Jenny Craig spokeswoman Valerie Bertinelli—who is developing a talk show—looked sexy in a David Meister dress before presenting awards at the 60th Annual Creative Arts Emmys.

Beyoncé Knowles: TRAFFIC-STOPPER

New York City, Sept. 12

Beyoncé makes one arresting officer while filming the video for her “If I Were a Boy” single.

WELCOME HOME, MOM

Fairbanks, Alaska, Sept. 10

Sarah Palin embraces daughter Piper, 7, before heading off to a campaign rally.

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