Brad & Jen: The Way They Were
Aniston joined Pitt in Rome for a party honoring the cast and crew of Ocean's Twelve. The pair looked happy, but the seeds of doubt had been publicly planted. "Jen and I always made a pact, that we'll see where this (relationship) is going," he told Vanity Fair at the time. "I'm not sure it really is in our nature to be with someone for the rest of our lives, just because you made this pact."
Aniston and Pitt always seemed to look like a matched set, even when out for a casual evening in Los Angeles. A few months prior, rumors of marital trouble began when, at the Golden Globes, Aniston forgot to mention Pitt while accepting her prize for best actress in a TV comedy. "Utterly ridiculous," a pal said of the speculation. "The story is a joke and everyone knows it."
"It's a nice feeling to have somebody that you just like so much," Aniston (getting a congratulatory hug from Pitt at the Golden Globes) told Vogue in August 2002. "I think it's made me more comfortable in who I am to have someone who loves me and accepts me with all of my crap and dysfunction and insecurities and struggles. And he kind of sees it all through these beautiful rose-colored glasses."
Three years before what will likely be their final New Year's as a married couple, they spent the start of '02 in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. "It has been a huge year for her," her father told PEOPLE at the time. "She is very happy."
"They set a terribly high bar," John Stockwell, the screenwriter of Aniston's 2001 movie Rock Star, told PEOPLE that year of the romance between Pitt and Aniston (hiking in L.A.). "When we see how Brad is around Jen, my wife goes, 'Why can't you be more like Brad?'"
Two months after tying the knot in a Malibu wedding complete with 200 guests, four bands and 50,000 flowers, the Pitts graced the Emmys red carpet in style (she in Prada, he in Hedi Slimane). In November, Pitt would be named PEOPLE's Sexiest Man Alive – the first star (and only, so far) to be so honored twice. "Marrying Jennifer was the pinnacle for him," his Meet Joe Black costar Marcia Gay Harden said at the time. "Sexiness isn't just about the single bachelor and good looks. There's something gorgeous about his commitment."
Following Aniston's 30th birthday bash at L.A.'s Barfly restaurant (pictured), Pitt took her and a group of friends to Acapulco for a celebratory weekend, fireworks included. "They were kissing everywhere," said an observer.