It has all the makings of a typical over-the-top wedding: the Web site, the gift registry, the story of how the couple met.
With a reported 18,000 guests from all over the world who have sent in their RSVP, according to the wedding Web site TheKnot.com, this wedding is anything but typical.
For one thing, the guests will only be able to catch this wedding on television. That's because the bride and groom, Meredith Grey and Derek Shepherd, are actually fictional characters played by Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey on the ABC drama "Grey's Anatomy."
To build up anticipation for the couple's walk down the aisle Thursday, the show has created a wedding Web site through the popular TheKnot.com.
According to a publicist at ABC, the site has gotten more than half a million page views, and nearly 9,000 guests from all over the world -- the United States, Sweden, Brazil and Estonia -- have signed the guest book.
Supposedly written by Meredith's best friend Isobel "Izzie" Stevens, played by Katherine Heigl, while she recovers from surgery to remove the cancer that spread from her skin to her brain, the site offers details on how Derek proposed to Meredith, pictures of Meredith trying on wedding dresses and the pair's most memorable moments.
It's a feast for fans of the show who have been waiting for this moment since the couple had a one-night stand the day before discovering that he was actually her boss at the fictional Seattle Grace Hospital.
"WOW!!! FINALLY the day has finally come. You 2 are made for each other. Congrats and have fun. By the way, you 2 will make sweet awesome cute babies," wrote Regina Fochs on the Web site's guest book.
Another guest wasn't so sure about the babies. "Finally, good luck & God Bless!!! I'd wait to think about kids w/your track record tho [sic]," Rocky Dahl wrote.
Some got into the spirit of the site. "I slept with the groom. But congrats!" wrote Tori Bedknocker.
Patty wrote: "This is the best news!!!! I have been helping plan a July 11, 2009 wedding for my son and his future bride and I can say that this is the time of your life!"
Others weren't so sure, but played along anyway.
"I can't wait to see this week's episode, finally what we have been waiting for. I know it is silly leaving a message here but it is all in fun just like Izzie creating this page. I wish Mer and Derek many years of happiness and beautiful babies!!" Gloria Garcia-Mitchell wrote.
Not everyone who signed the guest book was happy for MerDer.
A guest named Melanie wrote, "Choke on your breath mint before the wedding! GO TEAM ADDISON!!!"
Addison Fans Come Out
She was referring, of course, to Addison, the woman Derek was married to when he slept with Meredith. Played by Kate Walsh, Addison divorced Derek and moved to a private clinic in Los Angeles for her spinoff show "Private Practice."
Addison was just one of the obstacles the star-crossed lovers had to overcome. Izzie recounted a few others on the wedding Web site: "the Vet, the Nurse, the divorce, the shared dog custody, the prom, the dead mommy, the dead fake mommy, Derek's mommy, the bomb, the drowning, the clinical trial, the house of candles, the woods, the baseball bat, and finally now…The engagement!"
Loyal viewers will, of course, remember each episode. For those who missed the proposal, however, Izzie details it on the site. Derek outfitted the elevator that is the frequent site of their rendez-vous with brain scans of all the patients they worked on together. As he took her through a chronology of each of the scans, it was also a chronology of their romance.
Izzie, who has given herself the title "Wedding Planner Extraordinaire," also keeps a blog -- from her hospital bed -- because she said Derek is too busy operating on her brain and Meredith is too averse to anything to do with a wedding.
On the blog, she wrote about her mission to get Meredith in a white dress and a tiara and Derek in a morning jacket and whether shrimp, chicken, lamb or pork should be on the menu. (Alex Karev, her former flame, played by Justin Chambers, voted for the shrimp.)
Some of the guests were cheering on Izzie in her new role. Heigl played a similar role on the big screen as the perenial bridesmaid in "27 Dresses."
"Good job, iz, go on and make full advantage of your cancery condition to make them bow down to the best wedding of the ceremony! but honestly? i would rather have you and alex standing there, exchanging vows, and kiss each other like no tomorrow," a guest named Mel wrote.
Even though guests won't actually be able to attend the wedding, they can send a gift. The registry lists three organizations, the American Skin Association, the American Academy of Neurology Foundation and the Alzheimer's Association, where viewers can make a charitable contribution.