George Clooney married human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin Saturday, out of sight of pursuing paparazzi and adoring crowds.
A smiling Clooney traveled up the spectacular Grand Canal to his wedding standing coolly aboard a water-taxi, waving to hundreds of well-wishers on shore and a flotilla of photographers chasing a glimpse of his final moments of bachelorhood.
With the pink sunset casting a gleam on Venice’s most picturesque canal, Clooney rubbed his hands in sweet anticipation and disappeared into the luxury Aman hotel’s tent-covered pier, where celebrity friends including Cindy Crawford and Matt Damon had passed moments earlier.
The bride was nowhere to be seen.
Clooney’s long-time representative Stan Rosenfield announced in one sentence some 2½ hours later that the wedding had taken place. It’s expected to be the only communication on the much-anticipated marriage of the actor who long reigned as Hollywood’s most-eligible bachelor.
Clooney and friends had coolly sipped champagne before at the five-star Cipriani hotel before forming a procession to the Aman that included Damon, Crawford, her husband Rande Gerber and Bill Murray from the five-star Cipriani hotel opposite St. Mark’s Square up the Grand Canal to the luxury Aman Hotel.
Crawford wore a purple floor-length halter dress; Clooney and the other men were all dressed in tuxedos.
En route, Clooney’s boat was momentarily blocked by a passing cruise-liner and then by a water bus, giving time for dozens of boats carrying photographers to catch up. A police boat swerved in vain to try to keep the paparazzi away.
The star, standing in front of the taxi, maintained his ever-relaxed demeanor and waved to hundreds of people who crowded the arched Accademia bridge, canal banks and passing water taxis to see the Hollywood star before he took the plunge he long vowed never to take.
Alamuddin was last seen publicly on Friday riding a water-taxi down the Grand Canal with Clooney’s arm resting comfortably around her. The bride, wearing a bold black-and-white striped Dolce & Gabbana dress, beamed.
Clooney, 53, and Alamuddin, 36, who were engaged in April, have not publicly divulged details of the weekend-long celebrations — leaving plenty open to speculation.
Venice city officials had announced the closure of a 50-meter (yard) length of pedestrian way along the Grand Canal near the 16th-century Cavalli Palace, used for civil marriage ceremonies, for two hours on Monday, citing the Clooney nuptials. The Cavalli Palace is just opposite the Aman hotel.
Media speculated that the couple would have two ceremonies — one on Saturday followed by a civil ceremony Monday.
Clooney started the day Saturday relaxing over coffee with Crawford and her husband on the Cipriani hotel terrace, seemingly unfazed by photographers hovering in boats off-shore.
Cipriani staff formed a protective barrier blocking the view of Clooney and his guests, but then Clooney apparently waved them away. The actor even interacted briefly with the paparazzi.
After someone yelled “Is this really happening, George?” the actor feigned looking at a watch on his bare wrist and yelled back: “Yeah, right now.”
Clooney had vowed he would never marry again following his 1989-93 marriage to Talia Balsam. He dated a series of models and actresses that made his love life tabloid fodder, until meeting his match in Alamuddin.
Venice is perhaps a natural setting for Clooney’s wedding. The star owns a villa on Lake Como north of Milan, feels at home in Italy and is a frequent visitor to Venice, often to promote his films at the Venice Film Festival.
While the Venetian waterways offer stunning views of the city’s Byzantine and Renaissance architecture, where East truly meets West. Its islands and maze of canals also permit privacy and easily restricted access.
Singer Bono and his wife were among the late arrivals on Saturday, joining Clooney’s cousin Miguel Ferrer, Ellen Barkin, Anna Wintour and Richard Kind, among those who arrived on Friday.
Clooney and Alamuddin are among thousands of non-Venetian couples, foreign and Italian, who choose each year to marry in Venice, and the city administration smooths over the process with an on-line application form and list of documents needed to make the ceremony legally binding.
In St. Mark’s Square, a bride dressed in white was kissing her groom as photographers snapped away. The couple said they didn’t mind sharing the spotlight with the Hollywood star and his bride.
“It is a pleasure for us that a person as famous as him is celebrating his wedding here just like us,” said Michele Santoriello.
Alamuddin, a London-based human rights lawyer, is of Lebanese origin, and her wedding was also being celebrated Saturday in her family’s village of origin, Baakline in the Chouf district. Alamuddin left Lebanon during the civil war and was raised in the United Kingdom. She met Clooney, who is active in many political causes, through her work.
As the wedding party descended on Venice, the Alamuddin family house in Baakline was empty. Her neighbors said the bride’s cousins departed the night before.
Many villagers welcomed the news of the impending nuptials. “We congratulate them and we hope that the happiness will be international,” said shopkeeper Ghassan Bou Hatoum.
Alamuddin was appointed last month to a UN commission investigating possible violations of the rules of war in Gaza during the summer’s 50-day Israel-Hamas conflict. She said she could not accept the role on the UN Human Rights Council probe, headed by William Schabas, shortly after she had been appointed to it.