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Wednesday, 12 December, 2001, 21:00 GMT
Castle hosts star wedding
Wedding graphic
Celebrity guests had been expected to attend
The wedding of racing driver Dario Franchitti and American actress Ashley Judd is believed to have taken place at an exclusive Scottish castle.

About 300 guests are reported to have attended the ceremony, which was held in the main entrance hall of Skibo Castle near Dornoch in Sutherland.

The event remains surrounded in secrecy, disappointing star-spotters who had hoped to catch a glimpse of a celebrity.

But the town itself is still hoping that the large media presence will lead to a repeat of the Madonna effect which followed the American pop star's marriage to film director Guy Ritchie last December.

Fire engine
Fire crews were called out to Skibo
Tourist operators said this year's season has been the best for years - and they hope the latest seal of star approval will bring more benefits.

A special website was launched to capitalise on the interest generated by last year's big-name wedding.

The Scottish Parliament was told earlier this year that the marriage had generated an estimated 2.5m for the Sutherland economy.

That mini boom included the booking of 200,000 worth of accommodation in the vicinity.

Guests at the Madonna wedding included the pop star Sting and designer Stella McCartney.

Security guards

However, there have been few big names spotted by those camped out at Skibo Castle for this week's ceremony.

Security has been tight at Skibo, where about 35 security guards have been patrolling the grounds.

There had been speculation that the guest list would include film stars Sandra Bullock, Gwyneth Paltrow, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones.

However, the only Hollywood names spotted by the waiting media were Fight Club actor Edward Norton and Salma Hayek, star of the movie From Dusk 'Til Dawn.

Madonna, Guy Ritchie and Rocco
Madonna and Guy Ritchie were wed last year
There was also no sign of either the bride, who has been voted one of the most beautiful women in the world, or her husband.

Edinburgh-born Franchitti is said to be Scotland's best-paid sportsman, earning millions on the Indycar racing circuit in the United States.

A spokeswoman for Skibo Castle would not confirm whether or not the couple had married.

The couple were reported to be planning an extravagant ceremony which is estimated to cost about 1.3m.

However, the only excitement for the waiting press pack proved to be the sight of fire engines entering the grounds after a golf buggy caught fire.

BBC Scotland's Craig Anderson reports
"Famous faces were conspicuously absent"
See also:

23 Sep 01 | Motorsport
The pits for Franchitti
06 Apr 01 | Showbiz
Actress Ashley Judd wins damages
18 Dec 00 | Scotland
Madonna's Highland retreat
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