05/05/1997 at 01:00 AM EDT
NO ONE WOULD HAVE BLAMED Chris O'Donnell for getting frazzled on his wedding day. After all, the 26-year-old Batman Forever star had been partying hearty before his April 19 nuptials to his longtime girlfriend, Caroline Fentress, 24, a kindergarten teacher from Washington. It all began with rehearsal dinner toasts at D.C.'s exclusive Metropolitan Club on Thursday; cocktails and a mariachi band at the posh ANA Hotel on Friday evening; and later that night, more drinks and dancing at the '70s theme bar Polly Esther's. And yet, at 7 p.m. on Saturday, moments before the ceremony at St. Patrick's Church in downtown D.C., it was not O'Donnell who blew a fuse. It was his 4-year-old nephew Matthew Murphy. The pint-size ring bearer got the jitters, burst into tears and refused to go on. While 250 guests—including O'Donnell's In Love and War costar Sandra Bullock
, Batman Forever director Joel Schumacher and Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy (a friend of the bride's family)—waited in the rose-and lily-filled chapel, the groom went into Super Uncle mode. A brief man-to-man chat later, Matthew pulled himself together and proceeded down the aisle.
A full Catholic mass and the sounds of Schubert's "Ave Maria" lent a formal air to the 60-minute ceremony. But the ambience of the reception, at the nearby National Museum of Women in the Arts, was anything but. After guests dined on lamb chops and spring asparagus, the bride and groom took their first married spin to Jerome Kern's "The Way You Look Tonight" And then, says orchestra leader Gene Do-nati, "everybody went wild." O'Donnell and friends—many old pals from his hometown of Chicago and from his Boston College days—grabbed the microphone and chimed in, says Donati, "anytime they knew part of a song." They led the room in the conga line—and in the requisite hooting to the Isley Brothers' "Shout." Not surprisingly, by 2 a.m, even Boy Wonder had run out of steam. Husband and wife, first introduced when Caroline was a high schooler by her brother Andrew, who was O'Donnell's college roommate, climbed into their own Batmobile—a 1929 Cadillac. Next stop: a tour of the Caribbean on a private yacht and, if the wedding was any clue, Happily Ever After land. "It was a wonderful wedding," says Fentress's mother, Diane. "Perfect from beginning to end."