From PEOPLE Magazine Click to enlarge
What romantic last-minute instructions did Catherine Zeta-Jones issue to Michael Douglas before they became husband and wife? "I just told Michael, 'No crying,' " says the new Mrs. Zeta-Douglas (she still uses Zeta-Jones professionally). "He doesn't even have to have a tear in his eye. He just has this look where I know that he's about to start, and that does me in. I said, 'I don't even want you to look at me until I'm halfway down the aisle.' "

Good thing the pair vowed to love, honor and cherish and not to obey. "With a 40-member Welsh choir singing in full voice and the scent of 20,000 cream-colored roses filling the air, Douglas, 56, shed more than a few tears when he wed Zeta-Jones, 31, his girlfriend of two years and the mother of their 3-month-old son, Dylan, at Manhattan's Plaza Hotel on Nov. 18. From the outset, Zeta-Jones insists, she wanted a "homespun wedding—with no gimmicks." What she got was a $1.5 million extravaganza with 350 guests—including Goldie Hawn, Jack Nicholson, Meg Ryan and U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan—a lobster and lamb dinner followed by a 10-tier cake, and an entertainment lineup featuring Gladys Knight, Art Garfunkel, Jimmy Buffett and Bonnie Tyler. Still, a sense of warmth and intimacy permeated the fanfare. "The ceremony felt like a royal wedding," says Dana Reeve, who, with husband Christopher, was a guest at the bash. "Then going up to the reception, it felt like a friend's wedding. That's what was so lovely. After this feeling of graciousness came this fun party."

One that guests will be talking about for some time to come. "It surpassed anything that anybody could have foreseen," says Zeta-Jones's uncle, car dealer Bob Jones, 60, who flew in from Wales. "Even the Hollywood stars will always remember it, I expect."

"The ceremony felt like a royal wedding"

As Douglas's mother, Diana Douglas Darrid (escorted by his younger brother Joel), walked in with baby Dylan, "the whole room melted," says wedding planner Simone Martel. "I looked at Michael, who was waiting to enter the room, and there was such a look of pride on his face."

"May they love one another forever and smile always as radiantly as they do today," said New York Chief Judge Judith Kaye (looking on as the couple signed their marriage certificate).

"I'm not sure who was the more nervous," friend Rose says, "Catherine or her dad" (right, who is two years younger than his new son-in-law). With that 6-ft. train, she adds, "I imagine she didn't want to trip."

To fit in the ballroom, two tiers of the 6-ft., 10-tier, vanilla-and-butter-cream cake (covered with thousands of sugar flowers) had to be removed, then reassembled.

Douglas's friend of 30 years Danny DeVito (enjoying the reception with his wife, Rhea Perlman, left) offered to sing with the Welsh choir and later danced with the bride. "I'm having a ball," he declared.

The couple had the cake's top tier removed to keep as a souvenir and gave it to Zeta-Jones's mother for safekeeping at the end of the night.

Beahm, who used 28 varieties of roses, recalls laboring over table settings with the bride. "We were picking out tablecloths, and the enormity of it all hit us," he says. "I said, 'Oh boy!' and she said, 'I know, darling.' "

"The music was blasting, people were dancing," Dana Reeve says of the bash. Goldie Hawn, Jack Nicholson and his date, Lara Flynn Boyle (right), shared a table.

The wedding was reportedly the first for Meg Ryan's date, Russell Crowe (with Simply Red's Mick Hucknall, an ex-beau of the bride's).

Cameron Douglas, 21, Michael's son with ex-wife Diandra, "gave his blessing and said he loved Catherine and wanted them to be happy," says composer Jimmy Webb. "Those things are important when there's a previous marriage involved."

At a post-reception sing-along that lasted until 5 a.m., revelers included (from left) Mick Hucknall, Cameron Douglas, the newlyweds, Catherine's mother, Pat Jones, her grandmother Kathleen Fair, aunt Valerie Bradshaw and friend Henry Hey on the piano.

"Kirk [getting down with his daughter-in-law] looked great on the dance floor," Motion Picture Association president Jack Valenti says of Douglas Sr. "Those legs still work!"

"Catherine's vision for the wedding was to be very romantic," says wedding planner Simone Martel, who began planning with Zeta-Jones in May. "She knew what she liked—something dramatic but intimate."

"We danced the whole night," says style maven Martha Stewart, who reserved at least one turn on the floor for Welsh actor Anthony Hopkins.

Even with the presence of dignitaries like U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan (in the foreground), the wedding "wasn't stuffy or starchy," says Zeta-Jones's uncle Bob Jones. The bride (with Nick Ashford) could have danced all night.

Art Garfunkel (at the mike with, from left, Valerie Simpson, Stephen Stills, Gladys Knight and Mick Hucknall) sang "Bridge over Troubled Water." Afterward, he says, "Catherine greeted me on the dance floor with a hug and a 'Thank you.' "

"It was a beautiful wedding," says Barbara Walters, who wasn't at all furtive about chatting with Kirk Douglas. Earlier, son Michael quipped that the screen idol, who turns 84 on Dec. 9, "is turning into an old flirt."

"Those two are very caring about their parents," telecommunications exec George Blumenthal says of Douglas (dancing with his mother-in-law, Pat Jones) and Zeta-Jones (with her father, David).

"I don't take any of this for granted," says Zeta-Jones. "When I look at Michael, I run around like a little girl. I can't believe I came into his life and he came into mine."

Anne-Marie O'Neill
K.C. Baker, Joseph V. Tirella, Elizabeth McNeil and Lucia Greene in New York City, Michael Fleeman in Los Angeles, Nina Biddle, Caris Davis, Pete Norman ånd Martin Townsend in London and Cathy Nolan in Paris

  • Contributors:
  • K.C. Baker,
  • Joseph V. Tirella,
  • Elizabeth McNeil,
  • Lucia Greene,
  • Michael Fleeman,
  • Nina Biddle,
  • Caris Davis,
  • Pete Norman,
  • Martin Townsend,
  • Cathy Nolan.