No fuss. No fireworks. Not even a father to give away bride Jennifer Garner to Ben Affleck

By Karen S. Schneider
July 18, 2005 12:00 PM

There was nothing flashy about the newlyweds. She wore no makeup; her hair, in a losing battle with the humidity of Parrot Cay on the Turks and Caicos Islands, was tied in a loose ponytail. He wore a T-shirt and a five o’clock shadow. But as Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck chatted over pizza at Parrot Cay’s Terrace Restaurant on July 1, there was much about the husband and wife that shined. Their rings, for starters. On June 29 the couple of one year exchanged vows in a low-key island ceremony so small not even her parents attended. Two days later, sitting side-by-side on a couch at the Terrace bar, Mr. and Mrs. Affleck kissed, cuddled and ate chocolate torte. Then, at 11 p.m., they hopped in their golf cart and started the 20-minute ride to their secluded villa—and the prized alone time that made for the ultimate wedding gift. “They’re in it for one another, not for anyone else,” says Affleck’s pal, director Kevin Smith. “They didn’t need or want a crowd. They just wanted each other.”

They got their wish—with a combination of cheers and sighs from friends who were sad they could not be there but understanding of why: in a word, Bennifer No. 1, Affleck’s glitzy romance with Jennifer Lopez, which ended with the permanent postponement of their planned $2 million wedding in 2003. Affleck and Garner, who met while filming 2003’s Daredevil, were afraid that if they told anyone about their plans, the news would spread. So they didn’t—and it didn’t. “I’m so happy they pulled off such an intimate, private event,” says Affleck’s longtime friend, producer Chris Moore. “That wasn’t easy.” Now that the fait is accompli, reps for both have confirmed not only that the wedding took place but that Garner is indeed pregnant—a fact that was unofficially obvious to anyone who saw her supertaut belly swell in recent months. The fact that until now the couple had kept their private life private is, according to his pal, director Don Roos, “a sign of maturity.” Says Moore: “Ben’s got the right woman and he’s excited about this new chapter in his life. He’s really excited about becoming a father and Jen seems ecstatic. She’s so in love and really happy to be married to him.”

Of course, pulling off the secret wedding was not easy. (And not just because of logistics: The Turks and Caicos registrar general says they did not file an application for a marriage license, which foreigners may do only after being in the country for 48 hours. Reps for the couple declined to comment, but said they were indeed married on Parrot Cay.) Most of their family and friends were absent: Garner’s father, Bill; her mother, Pat; and her sisters Melissa and Susannah. So was Affleck’s mother, Chris; his brother Casey; his father, Tim (who has been divorced from Chris for more than 20 years); and his pal Matt Damon.

Still, alone in paradise was not a bad way to start a life together. After the two landed in the Turks and Caicos Islands, they went by boat to a home that, sources say, belongs to Bruce Willis. There, they were greeted by vases full of lilies and roses and platters of cheese and potato chips. The only glitch during their stay was the heat, which a source says was hard on Garner, now about four months pregnant. Luckily, she and Affleck did little more than stroll, rest, read The New York Times and hang with guest Victor Garber, who plays her dad on Alias. “They just seemed like regular newlyweds,” says a resort guest. “He was affectionate with her, but nothing over the top.”

That moderation is, it seems, a key to their success. Like so many, Roos is delighted to see Affleck—”a hot dog and cheese-fry guy”—walk down the aisle with this Jen (whose two-year marriage to actor Scott Foley ended in 2003). “Most of Ben’s friends thought [his Lopez era]… with all the bling and excesses, seemed out of character. His relationship with Garner seems more who he is. He really is an ordinary guy and she’s an ordinary girl.”

Who soon will have an ordinary baby. (They know the gender but, no surprise, are not telling.) “I can’t wait to see Ben change a diaper,” says Roos with a laugh. “He’s so huge, and the thought of him standing over a 7-lb. baby… He’ll be a great father. He’s very patient. He’s close to his mother, brother, father and family. What else do you need?”

Nothing—and Affleck knows it. “You know how you can tell Ben’s happy with Jen?” says Smith. “He married her. He never married anyone else, but he married her. It says a lot, doesn’t it?”

Karen S. Schneider. Linda Trischitta and Lisa Ingrassia in Turks and Caicos, Elizabeth Leonard and Maureen Harrington in Los Angeles and Mark Dagostino in New York City

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]