It was, after all, supposed to be a happy occasion. So then why was everybody boohooing? There was joy, certainly, but perhaps those were also tears of relief at Robert (R.J.) Wagner's wedding to longtime love Jill St. John last weekend at his west Los Angeles ranch. It has been, after all, eight years since the couple began going steady in the shock and grief that followed the 1981 drowning death of Wagner's wife, actress Natalie Wood.

The principals were also relieved, no doubt, that the very private, flower-filled nuptials in Wagner's backyard went ahead as planned—despite the best efforts of fourth-estate gate-crashers. As early as 7:30 that morning, a photographer in camouflage uniform was flushed from the bushes in front of Wagner's house by hired security guards. Soon, a phalanx of paparazzi and TV cameramen began jockeying for position in front of the house. By noon, St. John, 48, and Wagner, 60, were pacing nervously as guests arrived for the 1 P.M. wedding. Just before the ceremony, two helicopter loads of photographers began buzzing overhead. Fortunately, the day before, a member of Wagner's staff had alerted police to the event, and the cops' chopper shooed the interlopers away—but not before its noisy rotors had nearly drowned out the couple's self-written wedding vows.

As Hollywood weddings go, this one was subdued. True, St. John (who, like Wagner, was taking her fourth trip down the aisle) had overseen placement of hundreds of peonies and roses banked around the lawn and looked elegant in a peach silk suit designed by Thierry Mugler. But the happy couple seemed intent on limiting the guest list to several dozen family members (Wagner's daughter Katie and sister Mary stepped into respective roles as maid and matron of honor) and dearest friends (among them, actors Roddy McDowall and Loretta Swit).

Members of the coterie were mum about what prompted the lovebirds to formalize things after so many blissful years unwed. Perhaps they finally just had a heart to heart.