By Tom Gliatto
Updated October 19, 1998 12:00 PM

On the eve of his wedding to Dutch model Annette Roque in New York’s affluent Hamptons, Today coanchor Matt Lauer did not disappoint staffers at the Village Latch Inn, where he and best man Bryant Gumbel, his predecessor on NBC’s morning show, were bunking. (The bride-to-be, as is proper, stayed elsewhere.) “Matt was very serious—he had a lot to deal with, to organize everything,” says inn owner Marta White. “But he was nice. And so handsome. We all thought so.”

But the next day, Oct. 3, the 40-year-old Lauer, previously married to television producer Nancy Alspaugh, put a serious dent in the fantasy lives of multitudes of early-rising American women. At 4:30 that afternoon, following a round on the links with Gumbel and other friends—and five months after proposing to Roque, 32, in Venice—Lauer wed the J. Crew model at the Presbyterian Church in Bridgehampton, less than 10 minutes away from the reception site in the town of Water Mill.

And while the couple invited only 100 guests—”They wanted to keep it intimate,” says wedding coordinator Elizabeth Allen—the attendees made up in wattage what they lacked in numbers. The power crowd included Lauer’s colleagues Katie Couric, Ann Curry, Jill Rappaport and executive producer Jeff Zucker, as well as ABC News correspondent Elizabeth Vargas and Lauer’s friend, actor Peter Gallagher (The Secret Lives of Men). Upon entering the church, which was austerely decorated with a springeri and pepper-berry garland and a large wreath in the vestibule, each guest lit a white candle and placed it on the altar. “It was all so beautiful and natural,” says Curry.

The glow of the candles was reflected in the hand-beaded pearl and crystal trim of Roque’s Vera Wang gown of ivory Chantilly lace. “She has extraordinary taste,” says weeding florist Preston Bailey of the bride, who carried a bouquet of roses with berry sprigs. “And because of her Dutch background, she knew a lot about flowers.”

The groomsmen—including second best man, Lauer pal John Horan, a media consultant—were turned out in classic, single-breasted black tuxes. Roque’s two bridesmaids (including stylist Maria Santoro, the mutual friend who matched the couple on a blind date in July 1997) wore red V-neck sweater tops and matching satin skirts, while the flower girls were in burgundy velvet dresses. One of them, Roque’s niece, a toddler named Lola, “was full of energy late into the night,” according to a guest. “Annette is crazy about her niece.”

The reception took place at the secluded, paparazzi-proof bayside home of Linda and Ben Lambert, a real-estate mogul who got to know Lauer through charity events. While a band played swing and jazz, each guest in the heated outdoor tent was served a mini three-tiered cake. “Everything just went like clockwork,” says Lauer’s friend, Boston Globe political cartoonist Paul Szep, who had read aloud a 16th-century love poem by Christopher Marlowe at the church service.

The mood at the reception “was very much like the two of them,” says Today show weatherman Al Roker, who missed the actual exchange of vows due to his brother’s own marriage that day. “It was very cultured and yet fun” (as guests hoped the couple’s honeymoon, reportedly in Europe, would also be). Asked about his favorite moment, Roker says, “Their first dance.” Then he edits himself. “Not even so much their dance, but watching them at the table. They would be talking to somebody, and when that person would leave, the two of them were looking into each other’s eyes. You could see they were truly, truly happy.”

Tom Gliatto

Courtney Callahan and Mary Green in Bridgehampton