06/15/1998 at 01:00 AM EDT
As celebrity weddings go, the May 29 ceremony was most notable for what it lacked, namely pomp and pretension. The bride, barefoot like the groom, went veilless. And though her dress of ecru lace was a Galliano, she bought it off a Michigan department-store rack on a shopping trip with her mother. Fewer than 100 guests saw the couple exchange white-gold wedding bands. There was no best man and no bridesmaids, and the only stars appeared soon after in the evening sky. "Everything was so natural and lovely," says florist Michelle White, who provided the bride's bouquet of frangipani and orchids. "That's the way she wanted it."
Of course, there were bound to be some unusual touches as übermodel Cindy Crawford, 32, wed nightclub entrepreneur Rande Gerber, 36. The event, on Paradise Island in the Bahamas, was held at the Ocean Club, an exclusive, 58-room resort that, for this weekend, had been closed to all except the couple's friends and family. Among the guests were Crawford's mother, Jennifer Moluf, her father, Dan (divorced from her mother in 1982), her sisters Chris and Danielle, and Gerber's divorced parents (his father, Jordan, is a retired clothing retailer from Hewlett, N.Y.) and brothers Kenny and Scott. To ensure privacy, guests (many had been told merely to expect a party) had to flash special Swatch watches. "It was a breathtaking weekend," says one.
And a much more promising start than Crawford's elopement with actor Richard Gere, then 42, in 1991, when the two wed at a Las Vegas love chapel and celebrated at Denny's. They split amicably less than four years later, Crawford has said, because they had spent too much time apart pursuing their careers. But as the relationship with Gere petered out, Crawford's involvement with Gerber, a longtime confidant whom she has known almost a decade, grew deeper. "Finally, she saw that true love had been right in front of her the whole time," their friend, celebrity journalist George Wayne, told New York magazine last year. A former Ford model and a 1985 graduate (in TV and radio) from the University of Arizona, Gerber is one of the country's trendiest bar owners, with the Whiskey in New York City and L.A.'s current hot spot SkyBar. Not that Crawford married to further her party life. "She's been wanting to have a family for a long time," says a pal (who scotches the rumor that Crawford is already pregnant).
The couple, who were spotted scoping out the resort in April with Ocean Club exec and longtime friend Gerard Inzerillo, arrived early on Thursday, May 28. The next day dawned muggy and overcast, but just as the wedding party began gathering by the beach at 6:15 p.m., skies cleared. Then Crawford joined Gerber on the sand for the brief, traditional vows. Afterward the party moved to a nearby patio for a dinner of seafood, pasta, roast beef and carrot cake with white cream icing, Cindy's favorite. Crawford's personal decorator Michael Smith provided such touches as paper lanterns and green votive candles. The effect, says florist White, was "natural, the colors of the islands."
A long weekend in Paradise was all the honeymoon they got—Crawford is taping an ABC special about sexual attitudes—but the newlyweds have already set up house in the $1.8 million Spanish-style home Crawford bought in L.A.'s Brentwood last year. One neighbor describes the place as "beautiful and romantic"—like its occupants. Says a friend: "They are very, very happy."
Don Sider on Paradise Island, Sue Miller and Jennifer Longley in New York City and Anne-Marie Otey in Los Angeles