| Donald Trump with Melania Knauss. (AFP file picture)
Palm Beach (Florida), Jan. 23: A simple church wedding it wasn't.
Part-time Palm Beacher Donald Trump and Slovenian supermodel Melania Knauss ' the real-estate mogul-turned-TV star and his longtime girlfriend ' were wed last night in a brief ceremony at the Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea, followed by a reception at Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club.
Considered the celebrity wedding of the year ' and the most high-profile event to take place on this well-heeled island community in decades ' the nuptials featured a Who's Who list of 300-plus invitees from the worlds of politics, entertainment, sports, fashion and Palm Beach society.
Among those on hand: Hillary Clinton, Shaquille 'Neal, Barbara Walters, Billy Joel, Tony Bennett, Katie Couric, Rudy Guiliani, Star Jones, Matt Lauer, Regis Philbin, Kelly Ripa, Russell Simmons, Don King and Chris Matthews.
And, of course, Trump didn't forget his friends from his hit reality-TV series The Apprentice: Producer Mark Burnett and Trump's colleagues George H. Ross and Carolyn Kepcher were there.
Even infamous American Idol judge Simon Cowell showed up, arriving fashionably late to the stately church at 7.10 pm for the 7 pm wedding.
What the guests witnessed was a half-hour ceremony ' a classy, dignified affair that was uncharacteristically reserved for the normally showy 58-year-old, twice-divorced Trump, perhaps in keeping with the wishes of his 34-year-old first-time bride's wishes. (She reportedly put her foot down about plans to televise the wedding live.)
There was a short prayer delivered by Trump's daughter, Ivanka (from his first marriage to Ivana).
There was music ' of the traditional variety: Operatic soprano Camellia Johnson sang Ave Maria. And there were decorations, but it was kept to a tasteful minimum ' 'just two very simple white floral arrangements', said Palm Beach socialite Andrea Stark, who attended with her husband, Trump golf buddy John Stark. 'Nothing was over the top,' she said.
Nothing, except maybe Knauss' dress ' a Christian Dior Haute Couture creation that cost a reported $200,000. It had a 13-foot train and weighed in at 50 pounds.
'She looked ethereal,' Andrea said. 'Her veil was like a confectionery of tulle.'
And what about Trump, who was dressed in a tux'
'Donald looked debonair,' she added.
Meanwhile, the scene across the street was more befitting a circus, with hundreds of curious onlookers lining the sidewalk, and cameramen and photographers from dozens of media outlets, ranging from the New York Daily News to TV's Entertainment Tonight, perching themselves on ladders and platforms ' or in some cases, ladders atop platforms ' to get the best shot.
As the limos pulled up, the crowd roared when they recognised a celebrity. And when they didn't, they weren't shy about shouting out 'who are you'
Still, a sense of occasion prevailed.
'This is the closest you'll get to a royal wedding in America,' said Palm Beach resident Thanos Papalexis, who walked over with his own ladder.