Madonna's Wedding Story

07/02/2001 AT 01:20 PM EDT

Shortly after 6:30 on the evening of Dec. 22, the guests were invited, without fanfare, to take their seats. Guided by the glow of hundreds of candles, Gwyneth Paltrow, Rupert Everett, Donatella Versace, a kilt-clad Sting and some 55 others gathered near the foot of the grand staircase in the Great Hall of Scotland's 19th-century Skibo Castle. As the skirls of a lone bagpiper gave way to the music of French pianist Katia Labèque and a local organist, the wedding ceremony of Madonna Louise Ciccone, 42, and film director Guy Ritchie, 32, began.

Madonna's 4-year-old daughter, Lourdes, shoeless and draped in a long ivory dress with short sleeves and a high neck, led the processional. Descending the staircase -- its balustrade laced with ivy and white orchids -- she tossed handfuls of red rose petals from a basket, almost exhausting her supply by the time she reached the front row, where she sat in her nanny's lap. "As soon as they saw Madonna's daughter throwing rose petals," says a guest, "people were crying."

Ritchie followed, turning guests' heads as he entered in a vibrant teal blazer, a Hunting Mackintosh plaid kilt of navy and green and antique diamond cufflinks, a wedding gift from his bride-to-be. (Sitting quietly nearby in the arms of a nanny, the couple's 4-month-old son, Rocco, wore a matching kilt.) The two best men -- Matthew Vaughn, who produced Ritchie's two films, and London nightclub owner Piers Adam -- followed close behind Ritchie, trailed by maid of honor Stella McCartney, who wore a gray-and-beige silk pants outfit of her own design.

As the bride ascended the stairs, says a guest, "everyone kind of gasped. She looked like a princess." Madonna, who had assumed a '50s look for her first visit to the altar with Sean Penn in 1985, this time cast back more than a century. Her strapless ivory silk gown, designed by McCartney (who also did Lourdes's gown), boasted a fitted corset bodice and a long train. An antique veil, embroidered with 19th-century lace that covered her face and cascaded toward her Jimmy Choo shoes, was topped by an Edwardian diamond tiara loaned by Asprey & Garrard of London. Her pearl and diamond bracelets were courtesy of Adler of London, and the 37-carat, 2 1/2-in. diamond cross that hung to her cleavage was custom designed -- per Madonna's approval -- by the House of Harry Winston in New York.

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