Much Ado About I Do

updated 10/03/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/03/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN...NOW entering, stage left...please give a hearty welcome to...Blair Underwood and His Galloping Groomsmen!!!

Okay, the name just sounds like a great, forgotten '40s swing band. Actually, the romantic entrance on horseback was how Underwood, a former L.A. Law star, and his side-men made their appearance before 350 startled guests at the actor's Sept. 17 wedding to freelance talent coordinator Désirée DaCosta.

A tad outré, perhaps, but the groom's swashbuckling arrival, at a plush private estate 50 miles south of Los Angeles, was clearly a hit with the crowd, which included Will Smith, Angela Bassett, Kim Fields, Malcolm-Jamal Warner and, of course, several members of the old firm. Says former Law partner Michael Tucker: "Every groom should gallop to meet his bride."

"It's been my dream ever since I was a kid," Underwood explained later. "Thank God I had the means and, most importantly, I had the right lady."

In keeping with the equine theme, DaCosta and her bridesmaids arrived in carriages. The couple, it seems, has always had a certain flair. Their meeting four years ago at a Hollywood party was "an instant love connection," says DaCosta, 29. When Underwood, 30, got around to popping the question, he did it last New Year's Day under the Eiffel Tower, which also served as the model for their six-foot-high lemon wedding cake.

The exchange of vows during the 45-minute ceremony was no less lofty. "I believe before we came to this earth, God chose us to be together," DaCosta told her betrothed. Countered Underwood: "When your hair turns to silver and our faces are weathered with age, I will see God shining through your eyes as I do now." Bishop Kenneth Ulmer, pastor of L.A.'s Faithful Central Missionary Baptist Church, then invited the new husband and wife to seal the deal with "a holy, big, fat, juicy, sanctified kiss." They did.

At the reception, serenaded by the 50-strong Echoes of Faith youth choir in black robes accented with colorful kunte cloths, some of Underwood's colleagues at the now-canceled L.A. Law got a bit misty. "I feel a little fatherly," said Tucker, 50, of Underwood. "This little boy came into the series, and an intelligent, accomplished, mature man went out." Echoed his wife and Law costar, Jill Eikenberry: "I feel like Blair's my baby. The wedding completely captured my fancy."

If the number of guests lingering past midnight was any indication, she wasn't the only one. "I can't compete with this. I'm ready to run to the justice of the peace," said actress Holly Robinson (Hangin' with Mr. Cooper), who plans to tie the knot with Dallas Cowboy backup quarterback Rodney Peete next June. "This was the mother of all weddings."

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