The kiss was smoochy, the cake divine and the dancing nearly till dawn, but George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin were expected to make the most of their first day as a married couple with a Sunday gondola ride through Venice.
Hordes of excited tourists and media staked out their hotel, hoping to catch the first public appearance of the Hollywood heartthrob and his bride.
Clooney and Alamuddin, a Lebanese-born British lawyer, said “I do” late Saturday at a private ceremony in Venice’s stunning Aman hotel palazzo, before celebrating with a star-spangled guest list in one of the most high-profile celebrity weddings in years.
There were wolf-whistles and cheers as the actor scooped Mrs Clooney into his arms for a nuptial kiss, and his hands were shaking so much that he did a botch job on cutting the wedding cake, a source close to the hotel said.
Attendees including Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Cindy Crawford and her husband Rande Gerber — rumoured to be Clooney’s best man — reportedly boogied well into the early hours to hit tracks by Blondie, Jackson 5 and Daft Punk.
Those not sleeping off a hangover were tipped to be meeting for a lavish late lunch Sunday in the garden of the luxurious Cipriani resort, or recovering with Bloody Mary cocktails on sun loungers by the hotel’s Olympic size, waterfront pool.
But rumours among paparazzi staking out the hotel in speed boats were that the Clooneys would ditch their guests for a few hours to glide through the City of Canals, with a possible stop at the historic Bridge of Sighs, where legend has it lovers secure themselves eternal bliss with a kiss.
– Singing gondoliers –
On Saturday at sunset, a euphoric-looking Clooney, 53, swept up Venice’s Grand Canal to his wedding, accompanied by some 20 boatloads of paparazzi and the screams of adoring fans.
Singing gondoliers, who had spent the day showing off the romantic candle-lit resort to snap-happy tourists, were swept aside in their wake as the world’s most famous waterway erupted with excitement.
The silver-haired actor and director, looking dashing in an Armani tux, grinned and rubbed his hands in glee as he entered the fresco-adorned Aman.
Alamuddin, 36, who stayed out of sight inside the hotel, reportedly wore a gown by red-carpet maestro Oscar de la Renta.
Clooney was thought even to have invited his Venetian taxi driver Alessandro Greco along, after he was pictured in a tux hopping out of his boat and entering the Aman with other guests.
As journalists clambered up drain pipes to try and get a glimpse over the walls of the 450-year-old Palazzo Papadopoli, the rich and famous downed lashings of bubbly and canapes, including polenta with wild mushrooms and prosciutto ham with figs.
A source said the sumptuous five-course dinner included lemon risotto with lobster and a choice for the main between sea bass and a mouth-watering Chianina steak.
Clooney reportedly dedicated the song “When I fall in Love” to Alamuddin, before a string orchestra and jazz trio performed a number of ballads including the “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes”, made famous by The Platters in 1958.
Despite having already exchanged vows, the couple are still tipped to officialise the marriage under Italian law at the town hall on Monday.
Clooney, who has owned a home in northern Italy for years, was married once before, to “Mad Men” actress Talia Balsam, but the pair split in 1993, just before his breakout role in “ER” propelled him to the status of global sex symbol.
Alamuddin’s rights work has involved representing Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and the pair met in Rome at the end of last year, before getting engaged in April.