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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 November 2006, 09:34 GMT
Keeping star weddings under wraps
By Neil Smith
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are thought to be tying the knot this weekend in Italy. But can they keep their plans hidden from the world's media?

Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise
Holmes and Cruise are tipped to wed at a castle near Rome
The flowers have been arranged. The best man's speech has been written. The cake is baked and ready to be cut.

If you're a celebrity of Tom Cruise's calibre, however, there is still one matter to be resolved: the wedding day security.

These days it is not enough for a celebrity to plight his or her troth before their nearest and dearest. The most important thing is that no one else sees them do it.

Especially not with multi-million dollar deals in place guaranteeing first-look visuals to Hello, OK! or one of the numerous other glossy magazines prepared to pay through the nose for exclusive coverage.

In November 2000 Michael Douglas and Welsh bride Catherine Zeta Jones thought security for their lavish wedding ceremony was water-tight.

Damages

Guests had to present hologrammed invitations before being allowed into New York's Plaza Hotel, while all private photography was banned.

Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones
Photographers infiltrated Douglas and Zeta Jones's wedding
Despite this, snappers from Hello! magazine gatecrashed the event and took surreptitious pictures.

The couple spent the next three years in and out of court, eventually winning damages of 14,600 and a percentage of their costs.

David and Victoria Beckham were the victims of a similar sting when the Sun newspaper printed sneaked shots of their 1999 wedding at Luttrellstown Castle outside Dublin.

Their purple thrones and naked ice sculptures instantly became much-mocked symbols of celebrity vulgarity.

That said, they at least did not have to cope with the low-flying helicopters that plagued Madonna's Malibu nuptials to actor Sean Penn in 1985 and reportedly drowned out their wedding vows.

When Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt planned their own Malibu ceremony, they made sure to organise a no-fly zone around their marquee.

Organ pipes

When the time came for Madonna to tie the knot for the second time in December 2000, she had clearly learned her lesson.

Guy Ritchie and Madonna
Madonna kept security tight for her wedding to Guy Ritchie
The wedding venue, Skibo Castle in the Scottish highlands, was completely sealed, with guards using heat sensing equipment to detect photographers trying to hide in the grounds.

The two-day festivities were not without one notable example of intrusion, however.

To film the christening of Madonna's son Rocco that preceded his parents' wedding, part-time security man Robert Podesta hid among the organ pipes of Dornoch Cathedral for more than 24 hours.

Some stars have found misdirection a useful tool in throwing the media off the scent.

In July this year, Girls Aloud member Cheryl Tweedy and footballer Ashley Cole led the paparazzi to believe they were marrying at Highclere Castle in Berkshire - the site of Peter Andre and model Jordan's wedding in 2005.

In truth, the celebrity couple were actually tying the knot at Wrotham Church in Barnet, Hertfordshire.

Geography

Sir Paul McCartney and his now estranged wife Heather Mills attempted a similar ruse by telling friends and relatives to keep one date free when they intended to marry on another.

Cheryl Tweedy and Ashley Cole
Cheryl Tweedy and Ashley Cole kept the paparazzi guessing
Alas, their deceit was uncovered when the 84-year-old owner of the Irish castle they had hired accidentally revealed their plans to the media.

Sir Paul's fashion designer daughter Stella turned geography to her advantage in August 2003 by marrying publisher Alasdhair Willis on the remote Scottish island of Bute.

But sometimes the direct approach is best, as Barbra Streisand showed when she married actor James Brolin in 1998.

After ferrying in guests in blacked-out vans, she blasted heavy metal music at the assembled press pack and trained powerful searchlights on photographers to foil their attempts to take pictures.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise in Rome



SEE ALSO
Cruise and Holmes set wedding day
24 Oct 06 |  Entertainment
The celebrity marry-go-round
25 Aug 06 |  Entertainment

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