Wayne and Coleen: The Wedding of the Year

A week today, British football's first couple will tie the knot on the Italian Riviera. Rob Sharp kicks off the celebrations
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The Independent Online

Dress and rings

Coleen's gown comes from the New-York-based British designer Georgina Chapman's Marchesa label, has a 25ft train, and cost £85,000. It is the result of six return trips to Manhattan for fittings – after the WAG became obsessed with acquiring that "personal touch". Coleen is in auspicious company: Chapman, the 32-year-old wife of the movie producer Harvey Weinstein, has previously designed dresses for Nicole Kidman, Renée Zellweger and Penelope Cruz. (Coleen has already laid a cunning plan to stand out at the main event: she has asked female guests to wear black).

The fashion-conscious shopaholic should have no trouble squeezing into the number. She has reportedly gone down a bust size after a crash diet. Wayne's mother, Jeanette, has shed seven stone. The two rings are worth £100,000, and were designed to the couple's specification by a New York jeweller.

Magazine deal

After a furious bidding war, the pair have signed a contract with OK! magazine reckoned to be worth at least £2.5m, making it the biggest wedding deal in history. It dwarfs similar agreements, such as the Beckhams' alliance with OK!, which went for a paltry £1m, and beats the £1m paid to Elizabeth Hurley for coverage of her celebrations in Britain and India. The deal was finalised in March and also included Coleen's 21st birthday party the same month. The couple had been impressed by the security arrangements around the Hurley wedding. They have pledged to donate a large chunk to charity.

Stag do

This week's gruelling farewell to Wayne's bachelorhood was typically extravagant. The striker and his pals soaked up the sunshine in Ibiza, running up a bill climbing towards £250,000. "He has budgeted for £10,000 a head. He doesn't want anyone paying for anything," said one lucky reveller. Upon touching down on the baking Balearic isle, the 13-strong group of friends moved to a sumptuous turreted villa on a hillside six miles from Ibiza town. It houses 18, has a large pool, outdoor bar and a games room in the cellar. A chef and waitresses are permanently on call for any impromptu midnight snacks.

Those soaking up the sun include Rooney's father, Wayne senior, 44, and his younger brothers, Graham, 20, and John, 17. They are joined by Coleen's father, Tony, 49, her brother, Stephen, and uncle, Sean. Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand, Wes Brown and John O'Shea. Liverpool's Steven Gerrard, Peter Crouch and Jamie Carragher are also expected to be there.

Food and reception

The reception will be held in La Cervara, a 700-year-old former abbey, where Rod Stewart last year shimmied the night away after his own wedding to Penny Lancaster. The shindig is organised by the Manchester party-planning firm Revellers, which will take care of the catering and the cake.

Early reports indicate that the knees-up will be more akin to a summer festival than an opportunity for grandmother Rooney to cut some Ligurian rug. A rumoured £400,000 has been shelled out to book Coleen's favourite band, Westlife, and a similar sum stumped up for an unnamed rapper beloved of Wayne. But if you think it's going to be hardcore, do reconsider; Rumour has it Coleen is rationing the beer available to guests as she thinks over-consumption is "vulgar".

A second, £250,000, reception will be held in Liverpool after the couple have returned from their honeymoon, believed to be on Necker, Richard Branson's Virgin Islands hideaway.

Hen nights

Coleen is believed to be embarking on her third hen night imminently, in the form of an excursion to the Canary Isles, set to cost £50,000. Rather than opting for an L-plate and a veil (as is traditional), Coleen had dressing gowns embroidered with the explanatory words "Coleen's Hen Party".

It follows jaunts to Miami and a weekend at Manchester's Lowry Hotel. The US trip, with five friends, cost £60,000, and included first-class flights from London to Miami at £8,000 a ticket. "The girls ran up a huge bill drinking Cristal champagne at £1,000 a bottle," said one source.

In Manchester, there was a £50,000 lunch, dinner and "pampering session" which included Coleen's mother, Colette, and Wayne's mother, Jeanette. "We all had treatments done while we relaxed and chatted," Coleen said in a recent interview. "We had a game of hen bingo. Then we had a cocktail evening and went to a club."

Guests

Brides-to-be can sometimes be demanding in getting their dream day just right, but Coleen is pushing the gilt-edged envelope: while five jets will fly 64 guests from the UK to the celebration, Coleen is thought to have banned most of Wayne's family. This includes his cousins Stephen, a gay cross-dresser, and Natalie, who flashed a boob at Coleen's 21st birthday bash. There has been much speculation about any potential "celeb-factor" on the list, although it is rumoured that the Beckhams will not be coming along. One insider speculated: "There is no love lost between the couples."

Most of Wayne and Coleen's guests will be billeted in the top-drawer Hotel Splendido, close to the wedding venue, reached by a steep, winding road that leaves little margin of error for drunk-drivers. The hotel is a member of the Orient Express group and was once a monastery attacked by Saracen pirates. Today, it has 64 rooms, and is close to Rex Harrison's former villa. Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana's summer residence is perched on the headland opposite, adding a much-needed touch of glamour.

The location

Imagine glancing up from your wedding programme to take in panoramic views of Portofino, jewel of the Italian Riviera. Imagine sitting there and smelling the lush aroma of a wealth of rose gardens. Imagine sliding across marble floors, looking up to antique chandeliers ... Yes, the 400-year-old Castello Brown is a dream location for a flying visit, let alone a wedding. If we are to believe the foam-mouthed frenzy of the red-tops – whose sources are an array of anonymous "insiders" and "friends" (are these always the same people?) – the lovebirds, both 22, are renting the venue for a tidy £24,000. This, though, is a mere drop in the Mediterranean; the total budget for the wedding is £5m.

The Ceremony

After formalising their marriage at a secret civil ceremony in Cheshire, the participants in the year's highest-profile wedding will jet off to Italy, where Coleen's local priest from Croxteth will conduct the public nuptials. While the footballer's wife will walk away with her husband's famous surname, she will retain her maiden name for media work.

Formalities aside, those attending the marriage will be given a live, rare species of butterfly inside a ribbon-tied box on arrival. At the exact moment the couple are declared husband and wife, the guests will be asked to release the insects into the sky. (Sick bags are not provided.)

The ceremony itself is just part of the story. There will be plenty of time for guests to kick back during the four-day jamboree. Events laid on include a champagne breakfast and lunch on The Alysia, the world's largest charter yacht (costing £42,000 per day). It's all very different to Wayne's proposal five years ago, when he popped the question on a garage forecourt.

Additional reporting by Caroline Henshaw

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