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Lopez runs from the media with her marriage

Los Angeles, Sept. 11 (Reuters): Their first movie together bombed and they endured weeks of nasty headlines over his strip club visit.

Now Hollywood lovebirds Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck say that a media frenzy has forced them to postpone their wedding.

“When we found ourselves seriously contemplating hiring three separate ‘decoy brides’ at three different locations, we realised that something was awry,” the couple said in a joint statement issued yesterday through their publicists.

The pair, who reportedly planned to wed on Sunday at a swank estate in the hills near Santa Barbara, gave no indication when or where they would ultimately tie the knot.

A source close to the couple stressed that the wedding had merely been delayed, not cancelled, saying, “They’re totally and completely together.”

Some celebrity watchers wondered whether the announced postponement was itself a ruse to throw media hounds off the scent.

But Lopez’s spokesperson, Dan Klores, said, “I don’t see that as even remotely possible.”

He added that guests were being called yesterday to inform them the wedding was off.

For their part, Lopez, 33, and Affleck, 31, blamed the glare of unwanted publicity for slowing their trip to the altar.

“Due to the excessive media attention surrounding our wedding, we have decided to postpone the date,” their statement said.

“We began to feel that the spirit of what should have been the happiest day of our lives could be compromised. We felt what should have been a joyful and sacred day could be spoiled for us, our families and our friends.”

For months, the couple and their representatives had been tight-lipped about wedding plans in hopes of keeping the media away from a lavish ceremony to which 400 guests had reportedly been invited.

However, details have been leaking out during the past several days in various publications.

Hotels in and around the usually quiet seaside town north of Los Angeles have been filling up as reporters, photographers and TV crews booked rooms hoping to get close to the event.

A rehearsal dinner reportedly was set for Saturday, with the wedding slated for the following day.

According to various media reports, initial invitations were made by phone with guests to be informed of details just days before the wedding in order to keep the ceremony a secret.

The syndicated celebrity TV show Extra, quoting a source close to the couple, said Affleck and Lopez would prefer to sneak off at a later date with only their immediate families.

Doubts were cast about the couple’s engagement last month when stories surfaced in tabloids and celebrity magazines about Affleck visiting a strip club without Lopez in July. Lopez publicly shrugged off Affleck’s night out as no big deal, saying she knew he was going there.

The couple suffered more bad publicity when their first movie together, Gigli, was panned by critics and flopped at the box office.

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