Veil of secrecy drawn around Catherine Zeta Jones wedding

 

The actress Catherine Zeta Jones sealed her fairy-tale romance by marrying Hollywood big shot Michael Douglas on Saturday night, but did so under a wedding veil of secrecy.

Stars streamed in to the lavish bash at New York's Plaza Hotel to see the Welsh-born actress marry the Oscar-winning multimillionaire.

Around 1,000 onlookers gathered to spot celebrities arriving, who included actress Goldie Hawn and Zeta Jones's former lover, Simply Red star Mick Hucknall.

Other stars who stepped out of limos beneath the Welsh flag and Stars and Stripes which waved in the breeze above the hotel entrance included singer Art Garfunkel and the UN Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Annan.

But there was no glimpse of Zeta Jones and Douglas for the waiting crowds.

The newly-weds and many of their other star guests were already holed up in the hotel where the wedding party had taken over 130 rooms.

The lavish celebrations, rumoured to be costing more than £1.2 million, were conducted in secret so as not to jeopardise an exclusive picture deal with a celebrity magazine.

The couple had happily posed for photographers and smiled at onlookers as they arrived at the opulent Russian Tea Rooms on Friday for a wedding rehearsal, but have not left the confines of the luxury hotel since.

Sir Michael Caine, Sir Sean Connery, Sharon Stone, Christopher Reeve, Jack Nicholson, Steven Spielberg, Brad Pitt and Sir Anthony Hopkins were among those invited to the event at New York's luxurious Plaza Hotel.

The ceremony was late getting under way with guests including producer Quincy Jones, director Oliver Stone, and movie stars Danny de Vito, Ellen Barkin and James Woods arriving just minutes before 7 p.m. as the nuptials started.

In a fairy-tale story worthy of a Hollywood script itself, the girl from the Welsh valleys has risen from humble beginnings to marry into one of the leading US acting dynasties.

The event took months of planning, and there had been suggestions that the glitzy bash might have taken place in Ms Zeta Jones's native south Wales or in Majorca where Douglas also has a home.

The actress's wedding ring, which includes a Celtic motif, was bought from a tiny family jeweller in the west Wales coastal town of Aberystwyth.

An aunt of Zeta Jones, who had regularly used the shop, T.J. Davies, called in to buy it on Douglas's behalf earlier this year.

The ceremony took place in the President's Suite of the hotel, where guests were served a seven-course meal.

The menu featured starters of New England clam chowder or terrine of foie gras, and in a nod to Zeta Jones's heritage guests could choose rack of roasted Welsh lamb with rosemary as an alternative to the lobster main course.

Desserts offered were cheesecake, apple pie or a cheese board which included Welsh Caerphilly.

Kirk Douglas, the father of the groom, gave his blessing to the nuptials. "I'd marry her myself, but my wife won't let me," said the film star.

Douglas and Zeta Jones got engaged on New Year's Eve in Aspen, Colorado, and she gave birth to their son, Dylan Michael Douglas, in August.

Stores in The Mumbles, the seaside corner of Swansea where Zeta Jones was born and raised, put out bunting and flags.

The couple's choice of the Plaza with its an opulent, chandelier-filled interior on Central Park South falls in line with their decision of glitz over privacy.