Kidman's 'normal family wedding' halts a nation

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When you are one of the most bankable actresses in Hollywood, you can expect anything your heart desires - except privacy.

Despite protestations by Nicole Kidman and country singer Keith Urban this week that they simply wanted a "normal" family wedding, a spectacle worthy of her box-office hit Moulin Rouge ensued.

As the actress, 39, arrived at the imposing gothic-style St Patrick's College building in Sydney pursued by helicopters yesterday, she was greeted by a crowd of onlookers, many of whom had sought vantage points in trees and on walls.

The cheering fans and throng of paparazzi surged forward towards the cream Rolls-Royce as the police tried to clear a path and security guards kept unwanted gatecrashers from scaling a high wire fence.

Bemused friends and family ­ many of whom had flown in from Maroochydore, Urban's home town in Queensland's outback ­ were greeted by flashbulbs.

Amid frenzied speculation that Kidman ­ who commands more than £6m a picture ­ may have sold the rights to a magazine, all general media were banned. The 230 guests, including actors Russell Crowe, Naomi Watts and Hugh Jackman, were sworn to secrecy.

After the bells rang to indicate the end of the ceremony, the couple released just one photograph showing the statuesque Kidman looking elegant in a white Balenciaga gown and flowing veil, designed by Nicolas Ghesquière, beside Urban, 38, in a black suit with a white rose boutonniere to match her bouquet. "We just want to thank everyone in Australia and around the world who have sent us their warm wishes," they said in a brief statement.

Predictably, the secrecy was to no avail. Within hours, sugar-coated reports of the "fairytale ceremony" emerged.

Baz Luhrmann, who directed Kidman in Moulin Rouge and was said to have been invited to make the "wedding video", said: "It's a very special love story."

The couple were married by a long-time Kidman family friend, Father Paul Coleman, in a traditional Roman Catholic ceremony, leading to comments that she had returned to the fold after her foray into the Church of Scientology with her ex-husband, Tom Cruise, whom she married in 1990.

Yesterday's candlelit, sundown ceremony was held in the cliff-top Cardinal Cerretti Memorial Chapel in the beachside suburb of Manly.

A guest said she wept during the "very traditional" ceremony, adding: "Nicole looked ethereal with her veil floating, like a vision in white. Keith cried when he looked at her. It was so intense. Everything went from being quiet and elegant and intense to really loud, like we were suddenly at a soccer game."

The wedding party then moved to a marquee where the red colour scheme set a passion theme and Urban ­ who won a Grammy this year for best male country vocalist ­ serenaded his new wife.

Jackman and Crowded House's Neil Finn were also said to have performed. Local papers reported that the newlyweds planned to honeymoon in Fiji or Bora Bora.