BACK ON JULY 20, AT THE TAX-evasion trial of Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss, actor Charlie Sheen, in a videotaped deposition, admitted two important things under oath. The first was that he'd paid more than $50,000 for "sexual services" from "Heidi girls" over a 15-month period between 1991 and 1993. The second had nothing to do with the case but much to do with a change of direction in his life: while answering a question, he said he planned to marry model Donna Peele, 25.
Okay, so it wasn't the most romantic time to mention his future bride. But Sheen, who once called himself the consummate bachelor—and who was briefly engaged to actress Kelly Preston (now Mrs. John Travolta) in 1990—followed through—and in style. On Sept. 3, his 30th birthday, he and Peele exchanged vows under a billowing white tent on a sprawling ranch in Malibu, Calif. "She's an angel sent from heaven to take me through the rest of my journey," he said.
Those seeking entrée to Sheen's very private wedding needed to flash their invitation to a phalanx of security guards. To discourage airborne paparazzi, party-planners launched antiaircraft balloons of the sort used during World War II to snag enemy planes. Inside the safe zone some 300 guests—including Luke Perry, Nicolas Cage, Kiefer Sutherland, George Hamilton and Kato Kaelin, as well as Sheen's father, Martin, and brother Emilio Estevez—sipped champagne and dined on rack of lamb. Sheen and Peele, who wore a Vera Wang wedding dress, shared a dance to "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face," performed live by Roberta Flack, and festivities continued until nearly 2 a.m.
The first time Sheen saw Peele was five months ago, while they were filming a Japanese cigarette commercial in New York City. Six weeks later he proposed. "I'm in kind of a transitional phase of my life," Sheen recently said. This includes his career: After the couple's honeymoon (the destination is a closely kept secret), Sheen—perhaps best known for the Hot Shots! comedies—has a full slate of dramatic roles lined up. (He just wrapped The Shadow Conspiracy, due next April.) And for skeptics who can't believe he has abandoned his freewheeling bachelor ways, he has a terse response: "They wouldn't call it the past if it wasn't."