Here's the thing about being Jennifer Aniston
and being in love: The universe is invested. On Feb. 24 the star hit the red carpet in scarlet Valentino, her fiancé, Justin Theroux, by her side. Flashes shimmered, fans roared, and the pair ducked into Hollywood's Dolby Theatre to take in the show. But there, the girl everyone presumes lives next door (who knew we all owned mansions?) was confronted by a friendly but curious employee who boldly asked That Question: Are you pregnant? "No, I'm not!" replied Aniston, laughing politely. But, "I feel great," she told PEOPLE later that evening. "Wonderful!" And on the outside? Forget about it. "She looks the greatest she possibly could," says Chris McMillan, her old pal and partner in her new hair-care line Living Proof. "Look at where she is in her life."
There's the man. There's that ring. There's a slate of films and new beauty ventures, renovating a $21 million L.A. estate in hopes of soon "normalizing and nesting," as she recently told PEOPLE, and, yes, planning a wedding. With her film, based on an Elmore Leonard novel, set to wrap in Connecticut on March 8, "Jen and Justin have a date" set for soon after, says a source close to the actress, noting that the twosome have designed their wedding bands and Aniston has a dress in mind. "It will be a small affair with their closest friends." Likely among them: Aniston BFFs Courteney Cox
, Chelsea Handler and Mandy Ingber, all of whom headed to New York to celebrate the actress's 44th birthday at the Greenwich Hotel on Feb. 11. The bride-to-be "is crazy about Justin and can't wait to be his wife," says the source. "She plans on privately changing her name to Theroux. She likes the way it sounds and jokes that [Jennifer Theroux] sounds very posh."
In the 41-year-old screenwriter-actor Aniston has found an ideal partner who shares her passion for hard work and penchant for being a (very well-toned) homebody. "They both have the same work ethic and love to bounce ideas off each other," says the source. "Jen seems more confident than ever, and they've become a great team." Their partnership was on full display at the Oscars, where Theroux kept a supportive hand on Aniston's back throughout the red carpet gauntlet and held court by her side at the Vanity Fair
bash. "They really seem to have perfect chemistry, like they complete each other," says a fellow party guest. "There's a perfect balance. He was doting when she turned to him, but the overall vibe was simply fun and effortless."
Aniston has also adopted a very Zen approach to their future together-including any plans to start a family. (Busybodies, take note.) "Jen never thought that kids automatically mean a happy life," adds the source. "She's always said that she would love to have a baby, especially since Justin came into her life, but she won't be upset or disappointed if it doesn't happen. She loves life with Justin as it is."
Since their engagement on Theroux's birthday last August, that life has included cozy parties with friends such as Cox, Ben Stiller and Ellen DeGeneres
in L.A. and holidays in Mexico, where Aniston recently showed she still has one of the most enviable bodies in Hollywood. Yet the actress-who says she's gained a little weight because of a knee injury-is "comfortable in her own skin and doesn't feel a constant pressure to be perfect," says the source. "And Justin has always made it clear that he loves her just the way she is."
What more could a girl want? At work on her movie, she's been in high spirits: "happy, smiling and joking around," says Eve Sullivan, who saw Aniston filming with costar John Hawkes. (Aniston also stars with Jason Sudeikis in the comedy We're the Millers
, out this August.) And she's getting plenty of pampering from Theroux, who surprised her with her favorite tre colore salad from the Terra Ristorante Italiano in nearby Greenwich on Valentine's Day. "She'd loved a dish she had before so he wanted to get her the same thing," says the restaurant's assistant manager Jean Maxine De Givenchy. (The salad features radicchio, baby lettuce, arugula, shaved parmesan and a balsamic lemon vinaigrette.) At home with Theroux and their two "babies," dogs Dolly and Sophie, Aniston "feels like she is at a high point," says the source. What advice would she have given herself 10 years ago? "I would just say, 'You're doing exactly what you're supposed to be doing,'" the actress recently told PEOPLE. Before Theroux, "Jen was always very grateful for everything that she had. But now life could not be better," adds the source. "And she deserves all the happiness in the world."
- With Aili Nahas/Los Angeles,
- Pernilla Cedenheim/Los Angeles,
- Sara Hammel/Greenwich.