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Saturday, 18 November, 2000, 11:42 GMT
Hollywood: Love in the Air?
Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston got married in Malibu
Pitt and Aniston's wedding was the event of the year... until now
By Peter Bowes in Los Angeles

Michael and Catherine, Brad and Jennifer, Madonna and Guy, Julia and Benjamin - love is clearly in the air in Tinsel Town.

There's nothing Hollywood likes more than a fairy tale marriage - usually the culmination of a highly public courtship that is followed in every detail by the world's press.

Recent Hollywood weddings have turned into a cat and mouse game between the happy couple and the paparazzi.

Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones
Douglas and Zeta Jones will hold a lavish party in New York
In July, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston were able to foil the photographers in a way in which few other celebrities have managed.

Shielded by a huge marquee, in the grounds of a Malibu mansion, the Fight Club star wed the Friends actress well away from the gaze of the media.

The only official insight into the nuptials came in the form of a press statement. Publicists revealed Aniston wore a floor-length white satin silk gown designed by Lawrence Steele with ivory-coloured, suede high-heel sandals. Pitt wore a black tuxedo designed by Hedi Slimane.

Security zone

Most estimates put the cost of the lavish wedding at about one million dollars. Much of the money was spent on security. Described, by Aniston, as the wedding "all of Hollywood never forgets," the events was conducted in what amounted to a military-style exclusion zone.

Guy Ritchie and Madonna
Will Guy and Madge surprise us before the year is out?
The couple were adamant that there should be no prying eyes.

Their tactics included a 500 feet no-fly zone imposed by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Huge balloons were also flown to keep photographers in private helicopters from approaching too close.

Celebrity wedding organisers are learning from past mistakes. Madonna's first marriage to Sean Penn, also a glitzy Malibu affair, got off to a bumpy start when the couple could hardly hear their own marriage vows through the din of news choppers hovering over head.

Along the same stretch of Pacific coastline, Barbara Streisand and James Brolin had similar problems.

Heavy metal tactic

Arguably one of the most sensitive of celebrities, when it comes to privacy, Streisand hired black vans to ferry 'A' list Hollywood stars into the party - no luxury limousines for the likes of John Travolta, Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and Quincy Jones.

Las Vegas
Shy, retiring couples head for Las Vegas
Intrigued by the spectacle, the media gathered in huge numbers outside the home of the singing legend.

In a desperate effort to upset their efforts, Streisand set up large loudspeakers to blare heavy metal music at the reporters.

In addition, powerful searchlights were trained on the assembled photographers to scupper their attempts at snapping the arriving guests.

Not all celebrities opt for a fairy-tale, day-to-remember.

Quickie option

Unconventional couple, Angelina Jolie and Billy Bob Thornton - both Oscar winners - tied the knot in May with a 'quickie' Las Vegas ceremony.

The pair, who have both been divorced, sport tattoos in honour of each other.

The wedding of Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones, in the Grand Ballroom of New York's Plaza Hotel, will be a more stately affair.

Unlike other celebrity couples in recent months, the pair have made no secret of the location or their plans for a "sumptuous party." Security, nevertheless, will be tight.

The occasion has been dubbed the celebrity wedding of year - although the nuptials of Pitt and Aniston were afforded the same fleeting honour.

Julia Roberts and Benjamin Bratt
Julia Roberts and Benjamin Bratt say they won't be tying the knot
Indeed as the year draws to a close, Madonna and British director Guy Ritchie may have a closely guarded secret of their own.

Julia Roberts and Benjamin Bratt are, according to Roberts, "ecstatically happy" together. But they say they have no plans to make it official.

"We both know we're in it as deep as you can get," Bratt said recently.

The Erin Brockovich star is well known for her string of broken relationships and failed two-year marriage to Lyle Lovett.

With Roberts currently the movie-world's most bankable actress - and a frequent winner of sexiest celebrity polls - her next journey down the aisle would surely qualify as the wedding of the year.

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See also:

18 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Zeta Jones to tie the knot
30 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Brad and Jennifer tie the knot
07 Apr 00 | Entertainment
Jolie lands Lara role
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