Hollywood's party of the year

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The world's most famous bachelor, George Clooney, broke a vow to remain single last Saturday and married British human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin during a weekend of lavish celebrations in Venice.

The Italian city of gondolas and palazzi looked like Hollywood on the Adriatic as A-list guests cruised between luxury hotels for the extravaganza, billed as the party of the year even as details were kept largely secret.

Clooney spokesman Stan Rosenfield issued a statement saying: "Confirmed. They were married Saturday evening in Venice."

The pair had been expected to wed officially today in a civil ceremony at Venice's 14th-century town hall. It is not clear if that will still take place.

Venice's Grand Canal turned into an aquatic red carpet as the tuxedo-clad Clooney, 53, and his guests crossed the lagoon from the Cipriani hotel for dinner at the seven-star Aman Canal Grande Venice, housed in the 16th-century Palazzo Papadopoli.

Actors Matt Damon and Bill Murray mingled with model Cindy Crawford and her husband Rande Gerber (rumoured to be Clooney's best man), Vogue editor Anna Wintour and singer Bono at a reception on the terrace of the plush Cipriani before embarking.

Passing "vaporetti" public boats tilted sideways as passengers crowded to see two-time Oscar winner Clooney, who waved to onlookers and rubbed his hands together in glee on arrival at the Aman to join his guests.

Drinks were laid on in a rear garden before dinner in the main dining room of the Aman, where local media had reported the pair was to say vows informally.

People magazine said they were married by the former mayor of Rome, Mr Walter Veltroni, a film buff and Clooney's friend.

Kentucky-born Clooney had vowed never to remarry after his 1993 divorce from actress Talia Balsam, and is said to have made a US$100,000 bet with Michelle Pfeiffer that he would stay single.

The Lebanese-born Alamuddin is based in Britain and has represented former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko at the European Court of Human Rights, and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in extradition proceedings. She had also advised former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan on the conflict in Syria, an issue about which Clooney has spoken publicly. The actor has also led campaigns to highlight the plight of refugees in Darfur, Sudan, and is expected to donate the fees earned from selling rights to the wedding photos to that cause.

A slick, wooden speedboat called Amore, or Love, brought the couple into the city last Friday in a convoy of boats. Alamuddin, 36, who was rumoured to have 12 outfit changes prepared for the weekend, was wearing a black-and-white striped dress.

She reportedly wore a red Alexander McQueen dress that evening at a soiree with close friends including actress Ellen Barkin - who threw her a hen party several weeks ago. Reports said she wore a McQueen wedding gown, while others said it was an Oscar de La Renta dress.

As reported, the wedding dinner was to include lemon risotto with lobster, a sea bass main course and a wedding cake. Clooney also had 100 cases of his own tequila label flown in for his wedding.

He said goodbye to bachelorhood with a stag party last Friday night at the Da Ivo restaurant near Saint Mark's Square.

Guests were ferried around the city in speed-boats bearing small flags marked with "AG", for Amal and George, and a brown swagged canopy was put up in front of the Aman last Saturday to shield guests from prying eyes and photographers' long lenses.

 
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