An all-star cast. Breathtaking scenery. Smashing wardrobe design.
It was another blockbuster Tom Cruise production, as the star wed Katie Holmes Saturday in a black-tie ceremony at a 15th-century castle near Rome.
The bride and groom wore formals designed by Giorgio Armani and exchanged traditional Scientology vows, which are not unlike traditional Judeo-Christian vows, except with references to pans, combs and cats.
Because a Scientology ceremony isn't recognized under Italian law and overseas nuptials aren't necessarily legit under U.S. law, the couple needed to seal the deal in a civil ceremony. In fact, Cruise's publicist, Arnold Robinson, indicated that Cruise, 44, and Holmes, 27, had been legally married before setting foot in Rome this week, having "officialized their marriage in Los Angeles prior to their departure for Italy."
Will Smith and Jada Pinkett, Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony, Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy, David and Victoria Beckham, Russell Crowe, Richard Gere, filmmaker J.J. Abrams, Leah Remini, Jenna Elfman and, in a coup for the groom, a forgiving Brooke Shields were among the 150 guests on hand to witness the long-planned nuptials. Italian pop opera purveyor Andrea Bocelli was also in attendance to serenade the newlyweds. (Despite initial reports to the contrary, fellow Scientologists John Travolta, Kelly Preston and Kirstie Alley were MIA, as was Oprah Winfrey, whose TV show provided the venue for Cruise's first public declaration of his love of Holmes.)
Holmes' parents, Martin and Kathy Holmes, along with her three sisters and brother and Cruise's two children with Nicole Kidman—Isabella, 13, and Connor, 11—and the actor's mother and three sisters, were among the invited civilians. Suri Cruise, the newborn "joyously welcomed" by Cruise and Holmes on Apr. 18, worked the event into her schedule as well.
Following the ceremony, guests noshed on Italian hors d'oeuvres, followed by a multicourse meal and a five-tiered white-chocolate wedding cake.
The affair, with an estimated cost of $2.5 million, was declared no less than the "wedding of the year" by Bracciano, the lakeside Italian city that hosted the event via Odescalchi Castle. Locals got into the spirit by renaming pasta dishes in honor of the celebrity couple, displaying congratulatory signs and renting out spare windows to curious members of the press. The mayor was so thankful for the publicity she waived the $50,000 rental fee for the medieval venue.
Hundreds of fans braved an early downpour to flood the square outside the castle, hoping for a glimpse of the odd A-lister. Heavily armed security guards kept vigil on the edifice's torchlit walls.
The bride and groom arrived separately for the evening event. Holmes, in a black dress and boots, got there first, clutching Suri and ducking raindrops as she made her way inside, surrounded by an umbrella-wielding entourage. But as we can only presume was scripted by Cruise, the clouds parted a few moments later, just in in time for the leading man to make his entrance in sunglasses, waving to well-wishers.
The ceremony began shortly after sunset, about 7 p.m. local time. By then, Holmes had changed into her off-shoulder ivory-colored bridal gown adorned in Valenciennes lace and Swarovski beaded crystal embroidery, according to Robinson. Armani even designed a bouquet of calla lilies for the bride. The groom wore a handmade navy-hued tuxedo. Their rings were custom platinum jobs by Cartier. (The Cruises switched into evening wear for the reception.)
One of Holmes' sisters, Nancy Blaylock, did matron of honor chores, while David Miscavige, the head of the Church of Scientology and one of Cruise's closest friends, served as best man.
As for the choice of wedding sites, Robinson said, "Rome is where [their] relationship first became public and holds particular significance for the couple."
Cruise and Holmes touched down in Italy on Monday, en route to a whirlwind week that saw them embraced by officials and trailed by paparazzi. (For the complete photographic chronicle of the wedding week, check out our Big Picture gallery.)
The marriage is the first for Holmes, a former Dawson's Creek teen idol. She previously was engaged to American Pie star Chris Klein, who was to spend Saturday helping light holiday chandeliers along Beverly Hills' Rodeo Drive.
It is the third wedding for Cruise, who was previously married to Nicole Kidman and Mimi Rogers. According to People, Kidman gifted her former husband and Holmes with a present and a note "wish[ing] them both a lifetime of happiness together."
As far as gifts go, Holmes presented her betrothed with a Vacheron Constantin watch engraved with "I Love You," the company touted in a press release. The jeweler reported that Holmes purchased the timepiece last week in Los Angeles.
The Cruise-Holmes union comes despite conventional wisdom that said the so-called "TomKat" pairing was chipping away at to the groom's carefully constructed career.
The bad buzz began last year when Cruise pounded and pounced on Oprah Winfrey's talk-show couch in a demonstration of love for Holmes, then, turning to the topic of postpartum depression, lectured Today's Matt Lauer and chided Shields, his former Endless Love costar.
It became deafening this past August, when Viacom chieftain Sumner Redstone blasted Cruise for perpetuating "creative suicide" and ended the longstanding production deal between the star and his corporation's Paramount Pictures. The Redstone rip came in the wake of Paramount's and Cruise's Mission: Impossible III, which cost $25 million more to make than M:I2 but grossed $150 million less worldwide, per stats at BoxOfficeMojo.com.
But as if pulling a third-act page from one of his hero turns, Cruise began to turn things around. First, he got some good press by apologizing to Shields. Then he got some revenge on Redstone by sealing a deal to head up United Artists with his producing partner, Paula Wagner.
Cruise and Holmes met in April 2005. Within weeks, if not minutes, they went public as a couple. By June 2005, Cruise was proposing to Holmes atop the Eiffel Tower. Months later, in October 2005, the couple announced Holmes' pregnancy.
Along the way, Holmes fired her longtime publicist, dropped out of a movie and took up Scientology, her new husband's religion. The romance and its attendant publicity overshadowed her big-screen breakout work in Batman Begins, which opened shortly after she and Cruise began dating.
Speaking to October's Vanity Fair, Holmes sounded fed up with the TomKat monster and the press' coverage thereof, including speculation that the couple's baby daughter somehow didn't exist.
"It's really frustrating the amount of s--t that's out there," Holmes told the magazine. "And the stuff they say about Suri?! You shouldn't say that about us, and you can't say that about my child."
Given Holmes' attitude, it's probably best the wedding was so low-key.
[Originally published Nov. 18, 2006 at 11:21 a.m. PT.]