08/15/2005 at 01:00 AM EDT
Never mind that both Sheryl Lee Ralph and Vincent Hughes had been wed before—or that the groom, a 48-year-old Pennsylvania state senator, says that in his heart, "we've been married a long time, so this in some ways is just a formality." For the actress best known for her star turn in Dreamgirls, only an extravaganza would do.
So on July 30 at L.A.'s First African Methodist Episcopal Church, the procession began with 10 bridesmaids—including Patti LaBelle, who danced down the aisle—and ended with Ralph, who arrived in a silk Tadashi gown with a 7-foot train. Despite her 4¾-inch heels, she says, "Baby, I was stepping like I've got diamonds on the soles of my feet. That's how good I felt." During the 80-minute ceremony, the pair presented necklaces to their new stepkids (each has two children) and then released a dove outside the church. But the most memorable moment for the 425 guests? The newlyweds' epic lip-lock. "I think the honeymoon has begun," quipped one of the four presiding reverends.
At the City Club reception, which boasted a Jamaican buffet, Ralph, 49, changed into an ivory halter dress, one of four outfits she had Tadashi design before she settled on two. "Let's face it," says bridesmaid Victoria Rowell, "she's queen diva." Make that Mrs. Queen Diva.