31st December 2000
Wedding dress: $500,000
There are times in one's life when you know the pur- pose of what you're supposed to be doing. Sometimes it comes to you early in life, at other times you have to wait for it," said a beaming Michael Douglas in the toast to his new wife at New York's Plaza Hotel.
"I've found my purpose.... indeed, I've found my reason for living. I will love you for ever, my darling," he continued.
"Every day I say a little prayer of thanks for this lady. She's my angel sent from heaven.... she's my wife!" With that heartfelt message, the groom brought tears of joy to Catherine Zeta-Jones's eyes as he toasted her after their $4-million fairytale wedding.
And after ecstatic Catherine rose to join her proud husband in a passionate kiss, he let slip that within moments of their first meeting, 27 months ago, he'd earmarked her as his future wife. A hush fell on the galaxy of star guests as blushing Michael, 56, broke off from a sizzling smooch to speak. "Does anyone here believe in love at first sight?" he asked. "I never used to. But I do now. I loved this lady from day one."
The ceremony itself took about 25 minutes, with Michael and Catherine teary-eyed throughout. Then he gave her a lingering kiss after they were pronounced married. Catherine wiped tears from Michael's eyes as they turned to greet those assembled as hushand and wife.
"Catherine was radiant in a duchess satin, two-piece beaded gown by Christian Lacroix, with a long, antique Chantilly lace train. Her hair was worn up with a diamond tiara on loan from Tiffany & Co., reportedly worth almost $2 million, holding the veil.
The Welsh beauty was escorted by her proud salesman dad, Dai, who, at 52, is four years younger than the dashing groom. She walked smiling down the flower-strewn aisle to meet her Armani-clad prince. "This was straight out of old Hollywood," said a friend of Catherine.
Michael and Catherine paid $130,000 to fly 30 members of her family, including her father, mother Pat, two brothers and beloved grandmother, Zeta, 85, for whom she's named, and friends from Wales and England to be at the affair. Another of Catherine's special guests was her dance instructor, Hazel Johnson, who's credited with launching Catherine's incredible career.
As the ceremony was about to begin, "Michael seemed a little nervous," a guest said. "Every few minutes he was checking his watch."
First down the aisle was the matron of honour and Catherine's closest friend of 10 years, British TV presenter Anna Walker, and three bridesmaids in gembeaded white Lacroix sheaths. Then Catherine appeared with her father.
"Catherine had the ballroom decked out so beautifully," a friend of the family says. "She wanted an intimate Welsh-chapel feel. The flowers that were on display included her favourite white roses, calla lilies and freesias, and the aisle was dotted with white candles in marble holders." And guests "hummed merrily along" as the sounds of a Welsh choir filled the air.
"Seconds after Catherine appeared, Michael turned to Cameron," a guest says. "His chest seemed to puff out an extra inch, he looked so proud! Michael shook his head and whispered, 'Isn't she a vision?'
"When she got to the top of the aisle, Michael glanced over and mouthed the words, 'I love you.'" At an altar of white roses and tulips, the couple exchanged their vows, Catherine opting not to promise to "obey". After she looked lovingly into Michael's eyes and whispered, "I do", he placed a gold band on her ring finger next to the sparkling engagement ring he gave her 11 months ago.
As the 350 guests silently watched in awe, Catherine slipped a simple wedding ring with a Celtic motif on Michael's finger - both rings have the inscription 'Love endures all'. Then, after they were pronounced husband and wife, the groom tenderly kised the bride, followed by a thundering cheer from the throng.
"Just then, Catherine's mum held up their baby son," a guest says. "Catherine turned and waved to Dylan in the front row, then blew him a kiss! At that point Catherine's gran just burst into tears!" The newlyweds played host to some of the biggest names in Hollywood as they legally declared their love for one another. Michael's dad, Kirk Douglas and his wife Anne, and Michael's mum, actress Diana Dill, were on hand. New lovebirds Russell Crowe and Meg Ryan wept the moment the bridal march hymn was played and didn't stop until the dinner. Even good friend Jack Nicholson was in tears during the ceremony.
At the dazzling reception a beaming Russell put his arm around Meg and said, "I've never seen more happiness and goodwill than I've seen here tonight. This is what it's all about!"
Although there's a 25-year age gap, Michael looked younger than he has in years - with the help of a light hair tint. Guests said it was hard to believe she was an infant when he won an Oscar for producing One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.
To end the night, there was a piece of the five-tier wedding cake. Good friend and old roommate, actor Danny DeVito, made a speech, followed by Jack Nicholson, who gave a rather ribald send-off to the couple. "Had I met Catherine first, you'd all be toasting me!"
As the night's revelry drew to a close, Michael led his bride up to their five-bedroom suite, a message from feisty Zeta ringing in his ears.
"I got a chuckle out of Michael," she disclosed. "I told him, 'Take good care of her son.' And he said, 'Ma'am.... I sure will.'"
The newlyweds spent the night in the famed $30,000-a-night Astor Suite.
The next day, they handed over a $70,000 tip to the staff.
Find out who they are...
Paul, from St. Albans in Hertfordshire, trained as an actor and sang in two heavy rock bands before joining S Club 7. "At 16 I joined the National Youth Music Theatre's production of Pendragon," says Paul. "Funnily enough, Hannah was also in the show - she had a little crush on my best mate! Then S Club 7 came round the corner like a truck out of nowhere. Someone from Simon Fuller's management company saw me at drama school and asked if I'd like to be in S Club 7. 'We quite like the look of you,' they said.
"What makes us different from all the boy bands and girl bands is that we're seven people doing not-very-serious pop and having a laugh. The only downside to our success is that the relationship I was in came to a crashing end because I was away so much. Now I don't want to be in a relationship. It's too distracting."
Hannah Spearitt, 19
Hannah, from Great Yarmouth, was three years old when she did her first modelling assignment. At 12 she starred in the title role of Annie and later appeared in the West End's Bugsy Malone.
"When I was doing my first musical, I never wanted to leave the stage," Hannah says. "That's when I knew I had to perform. I was 16 (going on 17!) and in the London production of Bugsy Malone when S Club 7 was being planned.
"It was at that time that I heard about the auditions for S Club 7, and here I am! It's such a thrill to be in a band when someone like Simon's behind it, because of his association with the Spice Girls. Being in S Club has been a real rollercoaster ride and it still doesn't seem quite real to me - first the Brit Award, then Children In Need was the icing on the cake. That's one of the best things about this job, being able to do stuff like that for charity."
Jo O'Meara, 21
Jo, from Romford, Essex, was bitten by the performing bug at 12 singing karaoke. "I just sort of fell into singing, when someone pushed me up onto the karaoke stage," she recalls. "At that time I was mesmerised by Michael Jackson. His genius inspired me to perform. I was singing in a bar when somebody from Simon's management company spotted me and asked me to do an audition for this new band called S Club 7.
"At the moment, though, I don't have much time to be with my fiance Lee, who's a mechanic."
Bradley Mcintosh, 19
With his parents singing in the Eighties band The CoolNotes, beating him on to Top Of The Pops by 15 years, Bradley was born into music. Today his dad is a music producer and his mum a backing singer.
"I started playing drums at the age of four and from then on I was hooked on music," says Bradley. "With my mum and dad being in the business, I stupidly took it for granted that it was going to be dead easy to get started in music - and it was the exact opposite. I was working for Pizza Hut when S Club came along.
"Elton John once said the reason English bands aren't really successful in America is because of outfits like S Club 7. What can I say? We've won our fair share of music awards and have made a hit TV series. Being constantly recognised makes it difficult to go shopping for my favourite chicken, rice'n'peas, and it frustrates me that people are nervous when they approach me at clubs.
"I love 'laydeez', women, females! And I want to get a relationship going, but I can't because the band takes up all my time. So right now I'm at my happiest in the studio, writing and creating. One day I'd like to be manager of my own band - but, for the moment, S Club is my life."
Tina Barrett, 24
A dancer from West London, Tina has worked with a range of stars from Toni Braxton to Jarvis Cocker. Her art-director boyfriend lives in LA. "I knew all about Simon's success with the Spice Girls," Tina says, "and he started working on the idea for S CIub 7 literally a day before he parted company with them. Little did I realise when I started dancing at five that I'd be doing a chewing gum ad one minute and the next I'd be in one of the biggest pop bands in the world!
"What we do is for the kids and it's all light-hearted, high-energy stuff. We know our music doesn't appeal to everyone, but that doesn't worry us we were still the biggest-selling singles artists between June 1999 and June 2000. The band's been so good to me because it was while we were filming in LA that I met my boyfriend. It's hard to have a good romantic relationship when you're in a band, but he flies here and I fly there."
Jon Lee, 18
"I was very influenced by the music my parents played around the house, Diana Ross and all the old Motown stuff and people like Lionel Richie. So when I got on Top Of The Pops with S Club 7, with Bring It All Back, I couldn't believe I was actually there. After all, this was just the beginning for us, our very first single, and it had gone straight to number one.
"I was in EastEnders when I heard about the auditions for this new TV show that was going to spring out of a band. I hope one of the reasons we've become so popular is that we're not walking around like superstars - we're just seven regular kids having a laugh. Our music is upbeat, positive and all about achieving your dreams.
We were waiting outside a gig when a girl said, 'I absolutely love your music: it makes me smile, it makes me happy.' That choked us up because that's what we're doing it for."
Rachel Stevens, 22
A Londoner, Rachel won a J17, modelling competition at 15, studied at the London College of Fashion, and worked in fashion PR before finding success acting and singing.
"Showbiz was always my dream career; I just got into modelling by accident. I watched Top Of The Pops religiously and planned for the day I'd be up there on stage. When it actually happened, it was 'Wow! I've made it', and yet I always knew what I wanted to do - I'm the sort of person who always tries to get what she wants.
"We're all really good mates. Obviously we have our arguments, because we spend 24 hours a day together, but we believe life is all about having a laugh. We don't take things too seriously. The downside is that our personal lives tend to suffer."
Although the group was put together by Simon Fuller, creator of the Spice Girls, the seven stars are determined to be taken as individuals. "We dress how we want to dress and we just come across as ourselves," says Jo.
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