Chelsea Clinton Says 'I Do' and Marries Marc Mezvinsky

Bill and Hillary Clinton describe "great pride and overwhelming emotion."

BySharyn Alfonsi, Jennifer Pereira and Jessica Hopper
July 30, 2010, 5:31 PM

RHINEBECK, N.Y., July 31, 2010— -- Former first daughter Chelsea Clinton married her longtime boy friend investment banker Marc Mezvinsky in a ceremony today that was marked by strict secrecy and what her parents said was "overwhelming emotion."

The wedding took place in Rhinebeck, N.Y., a picturesque town along the Hudons River, on a warm summer evening.

"Today, we watched with great pride and overwhelming emotion as Chelsea and Marc wed in a beautiful ceremony at Astor Courts, surrounded by family and their close friends," the former president and the current secretary of state said in a statement released after the wedding.

"We could not have asked for a more perfect day to celebrate the beginning of their life together, and we are so happy to welcome Marc into our family. On behalf of the newlyweds, we want to give special thanks to the people of Rhinebeck for welcoming us and to everyone for their well-wishes on this special day," they said.

The ceremony was conducted by a rabbi and a reverend as Chelsea Clinton is Methodist and Mezvinsky is Jewish. The couple read a poem by Leo Marks titled, "The Life I Have," according to the family.

The short poem includes the stanza, "The love that I have/ Of the life that I have/ Is yours and yours and yours."

The former president escorted his daughter down the aisle. The bride was elegant in a sleeveless white, floor-length gown with a veil, diamond earrings and she carried a bouquet of white flowers. The groom, who is Jewish, wore a yarmulke on his head and a tallit - a prayer shawl - over the shoulders of his dark suit.

In the moments before the wedding, stars Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen arrived together holding hands. The only other bold faced names to run the gauntlet of press and gawkers was former secretary of state Madeleine Albright and designer Vera Wang.

"I knew her since she was a baby so this is a big moment," said Steenburgen. "She's a lovely, lovely girl."

The normally quiet town of Rhinebeck, about two hours from New York City, became Clinton central as the former first family prepared for Chelsea Clinton's hotly anticipated wedding to Mezvinsky.

Storefront windows in Rhinebeck displayed signs wishing the couple well. Grateful Clintons sent neighbors of the wedding bottles of wine for their troubles.

The affair has been cloaked in secrecy. 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 forced to sign strict confidentiality agreements from the Clinton camp.

The Secret Service has issued a no-fly zone over the town and all invitees are forbidden to bring cell phones, cameras or blackberries to any wedding event.

Chelsea Clinton Has Guarded the Privacy of Her Wedding

Earlier in the week, Chelsea attempted 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 stopping at the Vera Wang boutique.

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.

If the bride was trying to avoid attention, the father of the bride, former President Bill Clinton, was not.

He was sighted Friday strolling through and stirring up the once-quiet town. Wearing blue jeans and a black shirt, Clinton smiled, shook hands and even took questions about his future son-in-law.

"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."

Of Rhinebeck, he told onlookers that "We love it here. Chelsea loves the area as well."

As the wedding drew near, more and more details leaked out.

The wedding was a lavish, glamorous and expensive affair. The costs are estimated to be anywhere from $2 million to $3 million. Friday night's rehearsal dinner reportedly cost a quarter of a million dollars. It all boils down to more than $6,000 a person.

To put things in perspective, the average American wedding costs $24,000 -- that's how much the Clintons are spending for the video crew alone. Then again, most people don't have to spend $200,000 on security.

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 were 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."

The rehearsal dinner was at the nearby Grasmere Farm Estate, and the couple reportedly asked guests to wear "country chic or cocktail apparel." Afterward the family went to Beekman Arms Hotel, the oldest inn in the country, where Madeleine Albright and Vernon Jordan came to toast the bride and groom before the big day.

Chelsea's Wedding Bling and Cake

Fireworks won't be the only thing shimmering at the wedding. Chelsea was reportedly wearing a Vera Wang dress and $250,000 worth of jewelry. The mother of the bride is rumored to be wearing Oscar de la Renta.

The wedding cake was to be vegan and gluten free. Laura Pensiero, one of Oprah Winfrey's favorite chefs, was 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, was expected to have some surprises in store.

"Rafanelli will do something really personal," said editor-in-chief of Bride magazine Millie Martini Bratten 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 expected that the former president would 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, was being widened to accommodate limousines. The portable toilets on site are equipped with hot water and music cost $15,000.

Security is tight in Rhinebeck, where everyone was prepared for an influx of dignitaries and A-list celebrities. Rumored guests include Oprah, Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks and Barbara Streisand, who sang at Bill's inauguration and may serenade the happy couple.

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

Hudson Valley News Executive Editor Jim Langan said that the guest list wasn't full of just high-profile 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," he said.

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.

"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, 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 No. 1 dignitary."

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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