She Wore Serious Satin and Tulle, but Debbie Harmon Made Her 'I Do's' Sheer Sitcom

UPDATED 05/22/1989 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 05/22/1989 at 01:00 AM EDT

It all looked fairly normal. The guests assembled beneath a billowing white tent outside the Four Seasons Hotel at Beverly Hills. The bride, resplendent in a $3,000 pearl-embroidered gown, wafted down the aisle without incident, and the groom stood manfully by her side. Then the minister spoke. "Will you, Deborah, vow to remember that clothes shopping is a recreational, not a religious, activity?" he asked, Bible in hand. "I will," she said meekly. He turned to the groom. "Will you, Bill, vow-to always tell Deborah when she has spinach in her teeth?" Bill will. Reassured, Debbie went on to swear, before 60 witnesses, to let Bill park his Nissan in her garage, while her Mercedes braves the elements, at least twice a week. In return—proving he is the perfect beau—Bill promised to "really, really look before screaming, 'Honey, I can't find it!' "

The egregiously nondenominational ceremony that joined Debbie Harmon, 38, who plays sitcom mom Elizabeth Lubbock on ABC's Just the Ten of Us, and Bill Blackwell, 36, an investment adviser, went beyond special, even by Hollywood standards. From the vows written by the show's staff to the surprise ballad sung by actor Wally Kurth (Justin in Days of Our Lives), the wedding was pointedly contemporary and utterly personalized. Harmon's Ten friend, Jo Ann Willette (Connie), signed up Kurth, for example, because Harmon had cried when he warbled his song on TV. Debbie repeated the tears at the wedding, shortly before the minister announced the ceremony a take. "I present to you for the first time on any stage—Mr. and Mrs. Bill Blackwell!" he proclaimed. "Once you go Blackwell, you never go back well! Let's party!"

"It was great," said Blackwell, "but I'm glad it's over." He had wanted to wed in Vegas, but that's where Harmon got married the first time, eight years ago. For the Ten cast members in attendance, the reception was better than a wrap party. "It's the most exciting wedding I've been to," said Heidi Zeigler, 10, who plays Sherry. Heather Langenkamp (Marie) groaned with the sappiness of it all while adjusting her shoulder pads. "I've never heard them say anything that wasn't loving to each other," she said. "It's nauseating."

Harmon, who grew up in Chicago, met Blackwell where he grew up, in Palm Springs, during a Thanksgiving vacation in 1987. Spying him in a bar, she opened with, "My girlfriend and I were admiring your suit. Who makes it?" Bill says "she was pretty pushy at first," but he was intrigued. Maybe too much. On their first date, he crashed his car while attempting to simultaneously drive and gaze into her eyes. He proposed six months later ("It seemed the right thing to do") with a two-carat, $10,000 diamond ring.

Now the question is when TV's most prolific mom will start a brood of her own—and how the show would handle that eventuality. "I know she's planning to have a baby," says Bill Kirchenbauer, Harmon's TV husband, who figures the sitcom's producers wouldn't write the star's pregnancy into Just the Ten of Us plot lines. After all, he says, "Just the Eleven of Us doesn't quite fit in TV Guide."

—Margot Dougherty, Vicki Sheff in Beverly Hills

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