updated 01/14/2002 AT 01:00 AM EST
•originally published 01/14/2002 AT 01:00 AM EST
"I've never had a big wedding before," says the four-times-divorced actress. "They've always been on the rush, in Vegas or Jamaica with just a few people. I'm very, very excited."
The nuptials, which will take place in London, will be the second for Gibson. His first marriage, which lasted 10 years, ended in divorce in 1999. He and Collins met in March 2000 in Manhattan, where she was autographing copies of her just-released celebrity self-help book My Friends' Secrets, and last spring he ran her six-city tour of A.R. Gurney's play Love Letters. Gibson brings no children to the union; Collins has three, ranging in age from 29 to 38.
For Collins the wedding will cap an impressive streak. She has married in every decade but one since the 1950s: to actor Maxwell Reed (1951); singer Anthony Newley (1963); producer Ronald Kass (1972); and Swedish pop singer Peter Holm (1985). "She's a high-powered woman," says longtime friend Nikki Haskell. "A lot of men are intimidated by Joan, but Percy's not."
As for the age difference, Manhattan pal Connie Jones insists it's irrelevant. "Joan," she says, "has never dated anyone over 40. Besides, she was born an ingenue."
And Gibson, a New Yorker who grew up in Lima, Peru? "He is intelligent and conversational, and he adores her," says Manhattan socialite Nan Kempner, another Collins confidante. "They are a great team."
Collins seconds that emotion. Says Haskell: "She told me this is the great love of her life."