Her first crown was a $3 number that she had picked up at a flea I market when she was 11. Thirteen years later, she earned a 24-karat gold, ruby-studded replacement when, last fall, she was named Miss America. On Oct. 27 Heather French, 25, again wore a crown—this one a tiara, on loan from a jeweler, featuring 100 carats of fine diamonds and three emeralds—as she exchanged vows with Kentucky's Lt. Gov. Stephen Henry, 47, in Louisville's Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Assumption.
After exchanging rings—for French, a platinum band with six rectangular diamonds to match her emerald-cut diamond engagement ring; for Henry, an orthopedic surgeon, a platinum band—the nervous groom tried to plant a kiss on the bride's cheek. "You can't do that until I tell you," the Rev. Byron Z. Mills gently chided. Says an amused Henry, a potential gubernatorial candidate in 2003: "I think everyone had a good laugh."
The newlyweds were then borne by horse-drawn carriage to the historic Seelbach Hilton Hotel, where they were announced by Kentucky native and TV personality Nick Clooney—father of George, who used to call French "Piggy Sue" back when she wore pigtails. Some 1,450 guests, who feasted on paddlefish caviar, beef "Wellington, bourbon-smoked trout and a 58-inch-tall, seven-tier wedding cake topped by a miniature castle, watched as the couple shared a first dance to the Glenn Miller tune "At Last."
The pair, who met briefly three years ago, hit it off after French was crowned Miss Kentucky in '99. They rankled the apolitical Miss America Organization a few months later when she boarded Henry's campaign bus. Her Miss America tour having ended Oct. 14, French begins her reign as Mrs. Henry with a top priority: "We want to have children."
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