George Clooney wedding: Husband and bride-to-be prepare to party from dusk till dawn

Tight security grips Venice as A-list stars fly in for the celebrity wedding of the year

Michael Day
Sunday 28 September 2014 10:37 BST
George Clooney and his Lebanon-born British fiancée Amal Alamuddin take a water taxi after arriving in Venice
George Clooney and his Lebanon-born British fiancée Amal Alamuddin take a water taxi after arriving in Venice yesterday

In the lagoon city of Venice there are no motorboats left for hire, luxury restaurants are booked up for the whole weekend and gondoliers are doing a brisker trade than usual.

George Clooney’s love affair with Italy comes to its natural conclusion this weekend when he marries his Anglo-Lebanese fiancée Amal Alamuddin in Venice, the Bel Paese’s most romantic spot of all.

The wedding is already treading a fine line between opulence and vulgarity in a city which, as Italy’s Disneyland, does the same.

Mr Clooney will attempt the balancing act of letting everyone know he’s bought up Venice for his wedding without allowing hoi polloi to see too much of the action.

There will, of course, be more celebrities than you can shake a stick at. Yesterday, the crowds and legions of papparzzi had a brief glimpse of Matt Damon. Today, Brad Pitt, among others, will be travelling from venue to venue in motor launches, while Venetian authorities, hotel staff and hundreds of private security personnel try to keep the crowds at bay.

One gondolier, Giovanni, told The Independent: “It would be nice to see Clooney and his bride. I’ve love to take them for a ride. That would make it a really romantic wedding.”

Giovanni’s wish is unlikely to come true: they will be moved on if found lingering outside the super-luxury Aman Hotel, in the 16th-century Palazzo Papadopoli on the Grand Canal, where the main festivities are taking place.

Claudio Scarpa, head of the Venice Hoteliers Association, said the “Clooney effect” had given hotels a boost.

But there are signs that even the celebrity-fixated Italians are fed up with the hype. “Venice’s longest weekend had started,” groaned the usually earnest Corriere Della Sera, as fans and not just a few journalists descended on a lagoon city already sinking under the weight of 50,000 late summer visitors.

The American gossip magazine Us Weekly was getting excited. It informed us at the nuptials in the “ancient, watery city” would be “all very classy”.

All classy indeed, but to other observers the whole jamboree seemed like a battle between the forces of good and bad taste. The pack heard that the actress Cate Blanchett was arriving – eliciting purrs of approval from even the most jaded hacks and Venetians. But then there was less enthusiasm for the U2 frontman, Bono.

Some Venetians were noting that at least Clooney was famous for something – not another reality television star, but an Oscar-winning actor, director and producer.

The Aman Canal Grande Hotel
The Aman Canal Grande Hotel (Getty Images)

Clooney’s public relations teams and the Venice authorities have stressed how private this weekend’s nuptials will be.

The hotels where the main events will take place, the five-star Cipriani on the Giudecca Island and the seven-star Aman on the main island, are on lockdown.

But the exquisitely banal details have poured out. The Aman, a pleasure palace with a main entrance on the banks of the Grand Canal “oozes opulence” and has a small boutique. “This specialises in Murano glassware designed by Count Giberto Arrivabene, the owner of the palazzo,” the hotel says.

Rooms in Count Gilberto’s establishment cost up to £3,200 a night. For that you, and Mr and Mrs Clooney, get Tiepolo frescoes on the ceilings.

Events kicked off last night with Clooney, 53, slumming it at the five-star Cipriani for his stag party. The main wedding fest takes place tonight as the Cipriani guests are boated over to join the bride-to-be at the Aman Hotel.

To keep out fans and uninvited guests there will be 400 bouncers and private security staff on hand, according to local sources. And to ensure complete privacy, low-paid hotel staff have been threatened with €5m (£4m) lawsuits if they take selfies or pass on information to journalists.

Alamuddin reportedly has 12 changes of outfit ready for her nuptials (Getty Images)
Alamuddin reportedly has 12 changes of outfit ready for her nuptials (Getty Images)

Ms Alamuddin, 36, reportedly has 12 changes of outfit ready for her nuptials, each chosen with the advice of the American Vogue editor Anna Wintour. That magazine is said to have bought up the exclusive rights to cover the wedding for which it is expected to be making a seven-figure donation to Clooney’s main charitable cause, Darfur in Sudan.

After all this seven-star, Hollywood partying, there is still the official civil wedding to perform on Monday. This being Clooney, the rules have even been waived again. His old friend, Walter Veltroni, the ex-Mayor of Rome, has had special dispensation to carry out the service in the town hall.

Venice might be the most romantic spot on earth, but money and celebrity talk here as they do everywhere else.

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