Zellweger-Chesney Wedding Shocks Hollywood

May 10, 2005 — -- It all started with a tsunami and "Jerry Maguire," but now the real-life Bridget Jones is a 30-something singleton no longer.

Hollywood and Nashville collided in the Caribbean on Monday, when Renée Zellweger and Kenny Chesney married on St. John in the Virgin Islands, where the country music star owns a home in the gated community of Peter Bay.

"It's a quick, surprise wedding, kind of a shocker for all of us here in Hollywood who did not see it coming," said correspondent Mark Steins of "Entertainment Tonight," which broke the story Monday evening.

"We do know that it was a very short romance," he said. "They first met during the NBC tsunami telethon, where Renée was manning the phones and Kenny was performing, and they caught each other's eye and the rest, as they say, is history."

Chesney, 37, had long ago been moved by his Oscar-winning bride. He penned his 1999 hit "You Had Me From Hello" after seeing her in "Jerry Maguire."

"When she [Renee] said that in the movie, it was like instant. I said, 'That could be a wonderful song,'" he told USA Weekend back in 1999.

But it was not until four months ago, at the Jan. 15 benefit, that the couple began dating. The 36-year-old Zellweger broke up with Jack White, lead singer of The White Stripes, eight months ago.

Zellweger had previously dated Jim Carrey, with whom she starred in the 2000 comedy, "Me, Myself & Irene." She's also been romantically linked to director Josh Pate, whom she met at the University of Texas.

Chesney, now a familiar face in St. John, retreated there four years ago after his engagement to healthcare administrator Mandy Weals ended. He has since been hesitant to speak of his love life.

The wedding is a first for both stars. Zellweger's publicist, Nanci Ryder, confirmed that the ceremony took place before close friends and family, and that the bride wore a dress designed by Carolina Herrera.

At a pre-wedding reception on Sunday, about 45 guests gathered at a restaurant in downtown Cruz Bay, according to "Entertainment Tonight." The couple wore T-shirts and jeans and drank margaritas.

Margaritas are a tradition at Chesney shows, and Zellweger brought him one on stage, at an April 29 concert in Jacksonville, Fla., People magazine reported last week.

A week later, the stars were spotted canoodling over a meal in a P.F. Chang's in Nashville, Tenn.

"They were kissing, and she kept touching him," restaurant manager Sherri Hungerbuhler told People.

Chesney grew up in east Tennessee and now calls St. John his home. The tiny island, with less than 5,000 residents, is more than two-thirds national park and popular with tourists because of its pristine beaches and luxurious resorts.

Both stars are riding high in their careers. Zellweger, a native of Katy, Texas, became a hero of lovelorn women with her 2001 performance in the smash hit comedy "Bridget Jones's Diary."

Next month, she stars opposite Russell Crowe in "Cinderella Man," the story of Depression-era fighter and folk hero Jim Braddock.

Like her new husband, she is also trying to make it as a singer. She's set to star in "Piece of My Heart," about legendary singer Janis Joplin. Her singing and dancing performance in 2002's "Chicago" earned her an Oscar nomination. She'd been nominated a year earlier for "Bridget Jones's Diary" and won best supporting actress in 2003 for "Cold Mountain."

Chesney, who was named Country Music Association entertainer of the year in November, currently has two albums on Billboard's Top 10 country albums chart. His single "Anything But Mine" is No. 6 on the magazine's hot country songs list.

His last album, "When The Sun Goes Down" earned CMA's album of the year honors. His hits include "Me and You" and "She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy."

Zellweger flopped last year in the "Bridget Jones" sequel "The Edge of Reason." But perhaps after all the tumultuous on-screen yo-yoing between Colin Firth and Hugh Grant, she's learned what she wants in real life.

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