04/21/2004 at 01:00 AM EDT
In July, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston held what was called the wedding of the year. In November, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones's nuptials boasted the same distinction. But this weekend before Christmas, the wedding of 2000 was between Madonna, 42, and a British movie director 10 years her junior, Guy Ritchie. Telling reporters who were wondering whether or not the oh-so-secret ceremony actually took place, church minister Susan Brown finally confirmed on Saturday morning (some 12 hours after the festivities began), "It did happen." Friday evening's gathering was held in Scotland's Skibo Castle, which became the setting after Madonna reputedly scrapped the 13th century cathedral in Dornoch in the wake of what police said was a discovery of intruders during Thursday's christening of the couple's 4-month-old child, Rocco. The exchange of the marital vows during what some British newspapers called a tearful ceremony capped a whirlwind week in which Hollywood high society headed for the Highlands, though most of the actual details of the reportedly nearly $2 million wedding and reception have been kept under tight wraps. Gwyneth Paltrow was reported to be the chief bridesmaid, while football-player-turned-actor Vinnie Jones (for Ritchie's "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels") was named as best man. Guest Stella McCartney, who designs for the Paris fashion house of Chloe, is said to have created Madonna's wedding dress. Among the first to arrive at the castle on Friday was Sting, wearing a kilt and pulling up inside a Mercedes limo. His wife, Trudie Styler, introduced Madonna to her future husband at a party two years ago. Jean-Baptiste Mondino, who shot the cover photo for Madonna's current album, "Music," was also reported to be the official photographer for the event, reliable details of which are expected to start leaking out soon after Christmas.