Sunday, July 31, 2011

It's official: Bill and Hillary Clinton 'so happy' as they see their daughter Chelsea marry in front of 500 guests
By Laura Collins

Idyllic setting: Chelsea Clinton and new husband Marc Mezvinsky pose for photographs after getting married at Astor Courts, in New York state

Chelsea Clinton has finally become a married woman, saying her vows in an idyllic gazebo decked with white roses under the late afternoon summer sun.

The groom was ‘a bundle of nerves’ and the father of the bride ‘so emotional’ he considered just getting his daughter down the aisle was ‘a major accomplishment’. As for the bride, she had, she told friends jokingly, rather hoped for a small wedding.

But it’s hard to be low-key when your big day is hailed as America’s ‘Royal wedding’, and last-minute preparations include shutting down a chunk of federal airspace, with the secret service making sure access roads to the venue are secure.

Proud father: Bill Clinton leads his daughter down the aisle in front of 500 guests who had gathered in Rhinebeck for the occasion

Happy family: (left to right) Marc Mezvinsky with Hillary Clinton, his bride Chelsea and father-in-law Bill Clinton after the couple's wedding

Chelsea, 30, married childhood friend, financier Marc Mezvinsky, 32, in a ceremony that took place at 5pm local time in Astor Courts, the former home of millionaire businessman John Jacob Astor IV, set in 50 acres of land overlooking the Hudson River in Rhinebeck, New York state.

Shortly afterwards her proud parents released a statement saying: 'Today, we watched with great pride and overwhelming emotion as Chelsea and Marc wed in a beautiful ceremony at Astor Courts, surrounded by family and their close friends.

'We could not have asked for a more perfect day to celebrate the beginning of their life together, and we are so happy to welcome Marc into our family. On behalf of the newlyweds, we want to give special thanks to the people of Rhinebeck for welcoming us and to everyone for their well-wishes on this special day.'

Flower bower: The couple had an interdenominational service as Marc is Jewish and Chelsea is a practising Methodist

Perfect day: Chelsea and Marc's big day is said to have cost around £3.2million while her Vera Wang dress came in at around £20,000

When it came down to it, the ‘hoopla’, as Chelsea described it, that comes with being the daughter of Bill and Hillary Clinton, was worth it.

President Obama had reportedly offered the White House as a venue, while actor Ted Danson, a family friend, suggested his home on Martha’s Vineyard. But the couple opted for a small town 90 miles north of Manhattan and the relative seclusion of the Astor estate.

Residents inconvenienced by the circus surrounding the wedding were given a bottle of wine from Clinton Vineyards – coincidentally the name of the wine producer that neighbours the Astor estate

The bottle came with a hand­written note of apology from the couple’s wedding planner and offered a telephone number to call if there were any problems.

Sacred spot: The gazebo with a horseshoe of white flowers where Chelsea and Mark are saying their vows this afternoon

Here comes the bride: The rows of white seats for the wedding guests neatly set out in the sunshine, with a white carpet leading up to the gazebo

The night before, wellwishers lined the streets of Rhinebeck as the wedding party enjoyed a rehearsal dinner at the local Beekman Arms Inn. But though they smiled and waved, Chelsea and Marc’s parents were silent about the details of yesterday’s ceremony, which is estimated to have cost £3.2million.

With a guest list of 500, it could hardly be described as intimate but, according to one source, ‘Chelsea actually has a very small circle of friends.

Of course she understood that, her parents being who they are, she didn’t have much choice but to have a big do.

Glammed up: A wedding guest makes her way through to one of the buses in Rhinebeck which was ferrying the exclusive congregation to Chelsea's wedding

Glittering: Guests wait for a bus to depart from the Delamater Inn to go to the wedding

So her one stipulation was that she and Marc had to have at least met everybody who was invited.’

Who received an invitation has been the subject of much speculation, but Steven Spielberg, producer Steve Bing, Barbra Streisand and Oprah Winfrey were expected to attend.

Tony Blair was believed to have been invited, but was unable to go.

Chelsea has been a vegan for more than ten years and instructed society caterer Olivier Cheng to provide vegetarian and vegan dishes for the wedding feast.

Her £7,000, five-tier wedding cake was gluten-free. But the meat-eaters among her guests would have been relieved to see that organic beef was also on the menu.

Protection: A team of security patrol the Rhinebeck streets ahead of the ceremony which took place at 5pm

Line up: Limousines wait outside a hotel in Rhinebeck before yesterday's service

The scale of the wedding has been made clear by the small army of workmen employed over the past week to construct pavilions and marquees at a cost of £400,000.

Tables and crockery are believed to have added another £75,000 to the bill.

But though Chelsea’s dress – thought to be designed by Vera Wang – reportedly cost between £16,000 and £20,000 and she was expected to wear £160,000 worth of jewellery (as well as her £600,000 engagement ring), her own style, according to one friend, is, ‘low-key and modest’.

She is currently studying for a masters degree at Columbia University’s School of Public Health.

And though she may be a far cry from the awkward, curly-haired 12-year-old who stood with her parents on the steps of the White House in 1992 when Bill was first elected President, Chelsea has no desire to follow her parents – mum Hillary is the US Secretary of State – into public office.

The couple met as teenagers and their friendship gradually turned into romance. According to a friend of the couple: ‘Chelsea adores Marc and her parents do, too’.

It's all for our girl: Former U.S. president Bill Clinton and his wife, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary arrive for the rehearsal dinner at the Beekman Arms Inn in Rhinebeck, New York