Chelsea Clinton's Weekend Wedding Underway

Details on rehearsal dinner, the wedding guest list and tight security.

July 30, 2010, 7:55 AM

July 30, 2010— -- If the bride, Chelsea Clinton, was trying to avoid attention, the father of the bride, former President Bill Clinton, was not.

He was sighted this afternoon strolling through and stirring up the once-quiet town of Rhinebeck, N.Y.. Wearing blue jeans and a black shirt, Clinton smiled, shook hands and even took questions about his future son-in-law, Marc Mezvinsky.

"I like him very much, I really do. I admire him. I feel very blessed," the former president said. "Hillary thinks the same way. We think he's fabulous."

He was asked about Rhinebeck.

"We love it here," he said. "Chelsea loves the area, as well."

The town, about two hours from New York City, is Clinton central as friends and family gather to attend Chelsea's rehearsal dinner tonight and nuptials Saturday.

Roughly 100 of the families' closest friends reportedly were invited to tonight's cocktail party and rehearsal dinner. The evening will begin at the Beekman Arms Hotel, with the actual rehearsal dinner taking place at nearby Grassmere Estate.

The couple reportedly has asked guests to wear "country chic or cocktail apparel."

Tonight's rehearsal dinner and tomorrow's wedding are so strict that ABC News has learned all invitees are forbidden to bring cell phones, cameras or blackberries to any event.

But while most people will not get within a miles of tonight's event, or Saturday's wedding, that did not stop the curious residents and out-of-towners from getting in the spirit.

Storefront windows in Rhinebeck displayed signs wishing the soon-to-be-married couple well. Members of the media began lining up to see if they could spot the guests.

Rhinebeck's own mayor knows little about the wedding. Mayor Jim Reardon said he only started to hear rumblings about the Clinton nuptials in June. Two weeks ago, Reardon called up the Secret Service in Albany to get more details. Since the rumors began, he said, he's watched interest in Rhinebeck explode.

"I've had more media requests for interviews and phone calls for interviews, camera appearances in one week than I've had in the three years I've been in office," he said.

Chelsea Clinton's wedding is shaping up to be a lavish, glamorous and expensive affair. The cost has been estimated at anywhere from $3 million to $6 million.

A lot of effort went into keeping it quiet. Guests were invited to an "event" four months ago, but weren't given any details about what it was or where it was until just this week. Hotels were secretly booked and vendors were compelled by the Clinton camp to sign strict confidentiality agreements.

Chelsea tried to avoid the cameras as she jetted around Manhattan in a last-minute wedding rush. True to form for the former first daughter, who has been in the spotlight for much of her life, Chelsea has tried to maintain her privacy throughout her wedding planning. Still photographers and journalists spotted her getting a pedicure, going to the gym, grabbing a frozen yogurt, and picking up some rare books this week.

Hillary Clinton, the secretary of state and mother of the bride, was seen helping too, toting loot from Tiffany's and a garment bag into Chelsea's apartment.

As the day draws near, more and more details are beginning to leak.

Jim Langan, executive editor of the Hudson Valley News, said that on Saturday, the Hudson River is going to be closed for a fireworks display.

The Clintons are bracing for any possible power outages too.

"Apparently, they have an army of electricians and carpenters in case there is a thunderstorm and the lights go out," Langan said. "Electricians have been told to wear tuxedos."

Fireworks won't be the only thing shimmering on Saturday night. Chelsea is reportedly wearing $250,000 worth of jewelry.

The wedding cake will be vegan and gluten free. Laura Pensiero, one of Oprah Winfrey's favorite chefs, will reportedly be one of the caterers, for the rumored 500-person guest list.

Bryan Rafanelli, the head of Rafanelli Events and the Clintons' wedding planner, is expected to have some surprises in store.

"Rafanelli will do something really personal," said Millie Martini Bratten, editor-in-chief of Bride magazine, on "Good Morning America." "He likes to channel what is really special about the couple...Maybe they'll write their own vows... They'll be some family moment."

Martini Bratten said she expects that the former president will play the saxophone.

Adding to the elegance, the driveway at the lavish Astor Court Estate, a sprawling mansion built for John Jacob Astor IV where the ceremony will take place, is being widened to accommodate limousines. The portable toilets on site are equipped with hot water and music cost $15,000. Even the electricians working at the event will be high-classing, adhering to a tuxedo dress code.

Clinton Guest List

Security is tight in Rhinebeck, where everyone is prepared for an influx of dignitaries and A-list celebrities. Rumored guests include Oprah Winfrey, Barbra Streisand, Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks.

One person left off of the guest list: President Obama. He laughed on "The View" earlier this week that even he did not score an invite to the exclusive ceremony.

Editor Langan said that the guest list won't just be full celebrities.

It will be "a little less high profile name and more of...people who are actually friends with Marc and Chelsea, but there are still going to be some A-listers here."

Hotels and wedding staff have reportedly been instructed to act accordingly, ushering the VIP guests from a nearby helipad to their rooms through discrete entrances, like kitchen doors, to avoid the media. The FAA has established a no-fly zone over the town and the Clintons have reportedly hired $200,000 worth of extra security.

"There is a lot of security to protect the protectees, the former president and the Secretary of State, so there will be requirements to follow," said Anita McBride, social secretary under President George W. Bush and chief of staff to first lady Laura Bush. "It takes some real coordination."

Despite the dignitaries and high-profile guests expected to be in attendance, when it boils down to it, the bride and groom are the only VIPs.

"At the end of the day, it's what the bride wants," McBride said. "The bride is your number one dignitary."

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