Wayne Rooney and Coleen McLoughlin may have spent £5m on a performance by Westlife, a lavish reception in an abbey and an extraordinary fireworks display – but they could not stop the bride getting wet.
Sunshine on Italy's Ligurian coast in June is normally as reliable as it is in the Sahara, so the bride-to-be – wearing a £200,000 dress and four-inch heels –must have thought herself truly unlucky to have to make her way down the gangplank to a luxury yacht in Genoa harbour during a monsoon-like rainstorm yesterday.
Perhaps a kindly local was on hand to murmur in her ear the proverb sposa bagnata, sposa fortunata – "sopping wet bride, lucky bride" – with which Italians cheer themselves up on such occasions.
The couple, watched by just eight witnesses, became Mr and Mrs Rooney in a 20-minute civil ceremony in the town of Santa Margherita, conducted by the deputy mayor, Gianni Costa. It was the day's only low-key moment.
The proper celebrations took place at La Cervara – a former abbey which has hosted three popes and imprisoned a French king. There, each guest was handed a butterfly in a box, to be released instead of confetti while the champagne flowed courtesy of OK! magazine, which paid a reported £2.5m for exclusive rights to cover the nuptials.
Despite huge media interest in the wedding in Britain, in Italy it has gone almost unnoticed, with unflattering locals comparing it to Rod Stewart's bash last year. The same 17th-century location for the vows, the same monastery for the reception and the same early start for the paparazzi. "We have these things all the time," said a waiter at the Skipper restaurant in Santa Margherita. "Every year, some celebrity or other comes here to get married. Of course it makes us proud but this is the Pearl of Liguria and we've grown accustomed to it."
Only three differences lifted the Rooneys' event above the celebrity standard: the groom did not wear a tie, the couple (bizarrely, from the Italian point of view) did not exchange rings and, of course, the weather.
The rest of Italy took the wedding in its stride, too. The event fought vainly for television attention but lost out, not only to the visit to Rome of President Bush but also to a nasty industrial accident in Sicily, the swelling budget deficit, the price of petrol, a hospital scandal in Milan and Italy's Euro 2008 match against Romania tonight.
But then Italy feels it has the right to be blasé about such things. Il belpaese ("the beautiful country"), as it calls itself without irony, does celebrity weddings the way Madame Tussaud's does waxworks. Even Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes's "wedding of the year" in a castle overlooking Lake Bracciano in 2006 was given the "who cares?" treatment.
The two most important daily newspapers, Corriere della Sera and La Repubblica, could not have been less keen, while La Stampa buried a short piece about it at the bottom of page 21."Rooney, marries today between yacht and butterflies" was its headline. Its female reporter got the Manchester United and England striker's age wrong, claiming he was 23 when, in fact, his birthday falls in October, and devoted most of her attention to the butterflies trapped in their crystal boxes, ready to be released by the guests at the crucial moment. It was, in her judgement, "a crime".
The wedding menu also attracted vaguely critical attention. Italians always expect foreigners to get Italian food wrong, from over-cooking spaghetti to drinking cappuccino after dinner, so the Rooneys' decision to lay on "every type of beer in the world", along with lashings of raw prawns, came as no surprise.
From the perspective of the Ligurian coast, it seems there is very little to choose between Croxteth and Los Angeles.Reuse content