Unfazed, the pair decided to go ahead with the dinner anyway and leave the nuptials for a later date. But when they arrived at the Manele Bay Hotel on May 31 with family and friends—including Thorne-Smith's old Melrose Place colleagues Rob Estes and wife Josie Bissett—in tow, "we just felt silly," says the actress. "We knew getting married was something we wanted to do. We were around all these people we loved. So we thought, 'Why not do it now?' "
So, less than 24 hours later, Thorne-Smith, 32, and Conrad, 36, were wed by the minister of the local Assembly of God church in a hilltop garden. The bride wore a champagne-colored gown from L.A.'s Les Habitudes boutique (she had packed the dress for the formal dinner) and a headpiece of stephanotis and roses whipped up by the hotel florist along with a matching bouquet. "I guess we could have fashioned a veil out of a bed-sheet," jokes Thorne-Smith. "But that would have been going too far." Music was provided by the guests. "As Courtney and her mother and father walked down the aisle together all of us hummed the wedding song," says Lisa Rinna, who attended with her husband, Harry Hamlin, a friend of the groom's. "It brought tears to our eyes."
Later, in the hotel's wood-paneled library, the quasi newlyweds and 40 friends feasted on coconut-encrusted Hawaiian snapper, yellowfin tuna, Caesar salad and a Grand Marnier sponge wedding cake.
The wedding sealed a three-year romance between the Almay poster girl, who quit Ally last season, and Conrad, who runs his own biotechnology company in L.A. Introduced by Thorne-Smith's sister Jennifer in 1997, the couple now share a Malibu mansion with pooches George, Ed, Buzz and Max. Recently they purchased a plot of land for around $1 million overlooking the Challenge golf course on Lanai. "We want to build someplace really comfortable, someplace that has enough rooms for family and friends," says Thorne-Smith. "That," she adds, "is the plan."
Courtney Thorne-Smith had her wedding plans all in place: First, the former Ally McBeal star and her fiancé of 18 months, genetic scientist Andrew Conrad, intended to have a quick civil marriage in Las Vegas. Then they would fly their families and closest friends to their favorite holiday spot, the Hawaiian island of Lanai, for a formal dinner to celebrate. Only something happened on the way to paradise. Or, more precisely, it didn't. "We never got around," says Thorne-Smith, "to getting the license."