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Tuesday, 19 December, 2000, 22:24 GMT
Stars arrive for Madonna wedding
Photographers at Inverness
Photographers are being kept away from the couple
Celebrities have started arriving in the Scottish Highlands for the wedding of Madonna and fiancÚ Guy Ritchie.

A day after the pop star and film director touched down at Inverness Airport, two private jets arrived containing members of the wedding party.

They included the Oscar winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow, who is expected to be chief bridesmaid, and Paul McCartney's daughter Stella, who is understood to have designed the wedding dress.

Gywneth Paltrow
Gywneth Paltrow arrives at Inverness Airport

Shortly afterwards, pop star Sting arrived at the airport on a private jet with his wife Trudie Styler, who introduced Madonna and Guy during a party at her north London home in 1998.

Gwyneth Paltrow was dressed for the winter weather as she stepped off the private plane.

The 28-year-old actress wore a black coat and jeans, a pair of dark glasses and a grey woollen hat covering her long blonde hair.

She turned and waved briefly to waiting reporters and photographers.

Miss McCartney, who designs for fashion house Chloe, was dressed in a patterned skirt and black coat and was wearing a pair of dark glasses.

'Very excited'

The guests were rushed out of the airport in a fleet of private vehicles.

Guy's father John, stepmother Shireen and stepbrother Oliver also arrived on Tuesday on a flight from Gatwick.

Mr Ritchie said he was looking forward to the wedding, commenting: "We are very excited, it is going to be great fun."

Mr Ritchie said he felt "very honoured" to have Madonna as a prospective daughter-in-law.

We are very excited, it is going to be great fun

John Ritchie, groom's father
"I think she has a fantastic strength, I have thought that for years, but she can be very down to earth and quiet," he said.

"She is also a very nice person. She has a fantastic personality and she is very charming and very kind."

Madonna, 42, and Guy, 32, arrived on Monday with baby boy Rocco and the pop star's four-year-old girl Lourdes.

The party briefly took the Scottish air but were promptly driven away in Range Rovers with blacked-out windows.

Madonna and her fiancÚ Guy have been settling in at their Scottish Highlands retreat of Skibo Castle in Sutherland ahead of their wedding on Friday.

Stella McCartney
Stella McCartney is reported to have designed the dress
It is understood that the groom-to-be spent Tuesday pheasant shooting, while Madonna and her children took a leisurely stroll around the castle grounds.

As they continued preparations for what is expected to be one of the celebrity weddings of the year, television crews, reporters and photographers continued to arrive in the town of Dornoch and outside the castle grounds.

Other celebrities expected to attend include actor Rupert Everett, Madonna's co-star in the film The Next Best Thing, and footballing hardman turned actor Vinnie Jones who starred in the director's first film Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

However, little has yet been revealed about the actual ceremony or who will be on the guest list.

A baptism ceremony for baby Rocco is expected to take place at Dornoch Cathedral the night before the wedding.

Media attention

The wedding ceremony, to be conducted by the Reverend Susan Brown, takes place the following afternoon at the 19th century castle, described by actress Catherine Zeta Jones as "the most romantic place on earth".

It is not clear how much access the media will have to either the baptism or the wedding.

Some media watchers have remarked that the last time the area received such attention was when the first sightings of the legendary Loch Ness monster were reported.

Nessie's ability to evade prying eyes has almost been matched by the wedding party.

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11 Dec 00 | Scotland
Newly webbed site for Madonna fans
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