...Mary Lou Retton Revels in Texas

updated 01/14/1991 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/14/1991 AT 01:00 AM EST

Six years ago Mary Lou Retton sprinted, swooped and sprang her way into America's heart as she became the nation's first woman gymnast to win an Olympic gold medal. This time she floated serenely in folds of white silk and satin into the heart of her main man, Shannon Kelley. Mary Lou's latest bid for the gold meant exchanging rings with the former University of Texas quarterback in a Dec. 29 wedding ceremony that the bride called "a dream come true." Moments after the I dos were solemnly pronounced in St. Michael's Catholic Church in Houston, the powerful pixie's natural exuberance returned: She leapt into the air and crowed, "Yeeee-haaa!"

As the clock neared midnight during the reception at Houston's plush River Oaks Country Club, some 800 guests, including a core group of Retton's '84 Olympic teammates, continued to crowd for kisses. Even Retton's familiar oomph had begun to fade. 'This is harder than the Olympics," confided the weary bride. "There I only had one thing to try to do."

Retton had no way of knowing that she was winning more than an Olympic championship back then, but Shannon Kelley had a premonition. "I know it sounds like a fairy tale," he says, "but when I first saw Mary Lou on television, I told my mom I had the strangest feeling that someday I would meet her and we would get married." Introduced 10 months later by a mutual friend, Kelley was attracted by Retton's competitive spirit—"When we play a game, she really gets in there and tries to beat me"—and delights in surprising her.

During a drive home from the airport on Valentine's Day two years ago, Kelley, 25, announced he was having second thoughts about their planned engagement. But as they passed through a toll-booth, the collector handed Retton, 22, a note. It read, "Will you marry me?" Recalls Retton: "I just started bawling."

The newlyweds plan to settle in Houston, where Kelley sells real estate. Prized possessions in their condo include a glass-encased Wheaties box bearing Retton's likeness, and three TVs—so that the ex-quarterback can watch several sporting events at once. Retton says she'd like to have "a bunch of kids" but plans to put off starting a family for a few years while she pursues a career as a motivational speaker. By Mary Lou's reckoning, they have plenty of time. Says she: "I think we will live together forever."

...And Rod, Vanna And Barbara Ring In The New Year

British rocker Rod Stewart, 45, married New Zealand-born model Rachel Hunter, 21, in Beverly Hills Dec. 15. Courtship: a heart-stopping four months. It's Stewart's second marriage, Hunter's first; he has two children by first wife Alana and a daughter by longtime companion Kelly Emberg—whom, until recently, he was expected to wed. "Rod has a bit of a reputation," conceded the bride's mother, Janine Philips. "But he says this is the one romance that will last him forever."

Former I Dream of Jeannie star (and current Dallas regular) Barbara Eden, 56, planned to say "I do" in San Francisco on Jan. 5 to L.A. real estate developer Jon Eicholtz, 52. It's her third marriage, his second (his wife of 16 years, Jeanine, died in 1974). Friends for two years, they became lovebirds last January, when she took an Egyptian cruise; he learned of her plans and secretly booked himself a cabin. "I spent the entire trip wearing no makeup," says Eden. "True love!"

It was vows, not vowels, that were exchanged New Year's Eve in Aspen, as Wheel of Fortune letter-turner Vanna White, 33, wed L.A. restaurateur George Santopietro, 44. Santopietro had proposed only the week before, mid-dinner, at Aspen's Caribou Club. White took less than 30 seconds to give him an emphatic Y-E-S. It's the second marriage for Santopietro (Linda Evans is a former steady) and the first for White. George Hamilton (on view in The Godfather Part III) served as Santopietro's best man. He caught the garter.

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