12/22/2003 at 01:00 AM EST
seemed unusually excited to be a guest on The Tonight Show
Dec. 4. At the studio for her first public appearance since announcing her pregnancy a day earlier, "she was chatting everybody up. People congratulated her, and she was very receptive and happy," says one source. "She was very excited. She seemed a bit giddy."
Turns out that Paltrow had an additional reason for her merriment: Not only was she going to be a mother but the actress was about to become a bride as well. The following day, according to a source close to Paltrow, the actress married the father of her child, Coldplay lead singer Chris Martin. Paltrow, 31, and Martin, 26, wed in Santa Barbara, Calif., soon after receiving their marriage license at the Santa Barbara County courthouse.
The surprise nuptials—no family members, including Paltrow's mom, Blythe Danner, attended the ceremony-capped a whirlwind week for the pair, who had looked "very intimate" while dining Nov. 29 at New York City's Da Silvano restaurant, says general manager Alessandro Bandini. "I saw her look at Chris and blush. They acted like a young couple in love." On Dec. 1, after visiting a doctor's office on Manhattan's Park Avenue, they acted like any other young, happy, expectant couple, with Martin playfully snuggling and patting Paltrow's tummy.
On Dec. 3 the couple shared their joy with the world by announcing the pregnancy and headed to L.A. so Paltrow could promote her new Sylvia Plath biopic, Sylvia
. Best wishes immediately began pouring in. When Paltrow taped an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show
Dec. 4, the comedian surprised her with baby gifts, including a $3,000 Silver Cross Balmoral navy blue handmade pram (a British baby carriage). The baby is due "summer-ish," Paltrow told DeGeneres. "It's exciting." However the actress admitted to Jay Leno, "The Jewish part of me is superstitious about talking about it, so when people say, 'Are you going to find out about the sex?' 'Do you have weird food cravings?' or 'How does your mom feel?' I don't want to answer those questions." (Okay, but how does Mom feel? "I spoke to Blythe and she was thrilled," says one source close to Paltrow. "She's been wanting grandkids forever.")
Paltrow's former coworkers say she has no need to fret. "She'll be a great mother," says Aaron Eckhart, her costar in last year's Possession
. "She's tender and loving, and that baby is going to do yoga like nobody's business." Adds ex-beau Ben Affleck
: "She had a really tough year. And so it's wonderful to see somebody get some happiness."
Indeed, the death of Paltrow's father, Bruce, in October 2002, soon after she celebrated her 30th birthday, "was very difficult," the actress revealed during an Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Q&A following her Leno appearance. "He was my whole life, embarrassingly." Martin, whom she began dating in summer 2002, provided solace. Earlier this year, after she finished filming Sylvia
and the sci-fi thriller The World of Tomorrow
, Paltrow took a break, accompanying Martin on a Coldplay tour through Europe and Australia. "Blythe thinks that they really complement each other," says a source close to Paltrow. "He has been a great strength and support system. There is a really nice ease between them."
Though Paltrow and Martin—who divide their time between London and Manhattan—have been spotted house-hunting in the Belsize Park area of north London, they had been cagey whenever reporters inquired about an engagement. Now they're keeping quiet about the marriage. After the hush-hush trip to Santa Barbara, the couple escaped to the posh Esperanza Resort outside Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. As Paltrow—who has announced plans to take a break from performing while pregnant—reclined on a chaise longue with Martin on the balcony of their suite overlooking the Sea of Cortez, it seemed that marriage and upcoming motherhood suit her well. "They were just lying out, relaxing, and she was reading," says one Esperanza guest. "Her hair was down. She looked great. She seemed serene."
Jason Lynch. Elizabeth Leonard, Rachel Biermann and Ruth Andrew Ellenson in Los Angeles, Frank Swertlow in Mexico, and Rachel Felder and Kathy Ehrich in New York City