From the location to the celebrity-heavy guest list, speculation grows about the former first daughter's July 31 nuptials

By Tim Nudd
July 19, 2010 12:20 PM
Patrick Mcmullan/Sipa Press

She’ll wear Oscar de la Renta or possibly Vera Wang. It will be near Manhattan, perhaps at a Versailles-style mansion about two hours north of the city. Oprah Winfrey, Barbra Streisand, Steven Spielberg and Barack Obama are on the ultra-exclusive guest list, although the president likely will not attend.

These are among the few tightly held secrets that have leaked in recent days about the July 31 wedding of Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky – a ceremony that is shaping up to be a potent combination of D.C. power and Hollywood glitz.

On Friday, New York Times reporters Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Nate Schweber did some sleuthing about the wedding planning – but it wasn’t easy. The process, they wrote, “is so cloaked in secrecy that details are harder to ferret out than the president’s Afghanistan strategy.”

They did, however, uncover a few juicy tidbits.

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• As for the location, the smart money is on the Astor Courts, a century-old, 13,000-square-foot Beaux Arts pavilion in Rhinebeck, N.Y. Speaking on NBC’s Today show Monday, Stolberg said the guests have simply been told, “Get yourself within New York City driving distance, and we’ll give you the details with a week to go.”

• The wedding planner is Bryan Rafanelli of Boston. Jeff Leatham, artistic director of the Four Seasons George V hotel in Paris, is doing the flowers. And Jimmy Vali, president of Vali Entertainment in Norwood, N.J., is coordinating the music.

• About 400 people are expected to attend – a relatively small number, given the Clintons’ vast social network. To make the cut, guests must have had a personal connection to Chelsea, 30, and her groom, 32, and not just to her famous parents. Stolberg says the Obamas were invited but declined, in an effort to help keep the press corps from swamping the proceedings.

RELATED: How Bill Clinton Is Helping Chelsea with Her Wedding Plans

Hillary Stays Mum

Chelsea’s mother, Hillary, is said to have been closely involved in all aspects of the planning, but she isn’t spilling any beans herself.

“My lips are sealed,” the Secretary of State told NBC’s Andrea Mitchell over the weekend. “I am under very strict orders not to talk about it, and I think for the right reasons, because it is her [wedding], and it is a family wedding. The people coming are her friends and people who have been meaningful in her life, as it should be.”

Nor should anyone expect former president Bill Clinton to reveal much. He’s already got his hands full, anyway. “You should assume that if he makes it down the aisle in one piece, it’s going to be a major accomplishment,” Hillary told Mitchell with a laugh. “He is going to be so emotional, as am I.”

Asked why there is such fascination with Chelsea’s wedding, Stolberg told Today: “We don’t have royalty in this country. We’re particularly fascinated with Chelsea, because she was such a gawky teenager. She grew up obviously into a lovely young woman.”

“Everyone remembers that picture of her walking to the helicopter with her parents,” she continues, “holding the hands of each after the president confessed to infidelities. People wondered, how is this kid going to turn out? She’s obviously turned out really well. It’s a nice ending.”