BRACCIANO: Actors Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes were married in a medieval castle near Rome on Saturday in an evening ceremony attended by some of Hollywood's biggest stars.
Cruise's spokesman Arnold Robinson confirmed the couple had exchanged vows at the Odescalchi Castle in Lake Bracciano, Italy.
The wedding was celebrated by a Scientologist minister. The twice-divorced Cruise is an ardent follower of the church founded by science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard. Holmes was raised a Catholic.
As darkness fell over the castle, throngs of onlookers and paparazzi continued their vigil outside, many impatient for a glimpse of the stars after braving rain during the day.
Actors Jennifer Lopez and husband Marc Anthony, Will Smith and wife Jada Pinkett and Brooke Shields were among guests who followed the bride and groom's arrival earlier in the afternoon.
Cruise, wearing sunglasses, waved to the crowd as he arrived in a black Mercedes. Holmes earlier arrived clutching their baby daughter Suri in her arms, then briefly appeared at a castle window when Cruise's vehicle pulled up.
Holmes, 27, gave birth to their baby daughter in April. Cruise, 44, also has two older children adopted during his marriage to Nicole Kidman.
Candles lined the entrance to the castle, its towers and windows. A steady stream of dark Mercedes with tinted windows drove up to a side entrance of the frescoed castle, eliciting cheers from the crowd each time. But they offered little in the way of star sightings.
"We've seen the chefs, the waiters, and a lot of security people, but as far as the rest is concerned we haven't seen anything," said Barbara Giuri, one of the thousands waiting outside.
"And now my feet are starting to hurt."
The wedding ended a week of Hollywood mania that had swept Italy and transformed Bracciano from a sleepy town 40 km north of the Italian capital into a hotbed of media activity. Satellite TV trucks stood on the streets underneath the castle while shops put up balloons and other decorations.
"The few cars that have arrived, we couldn't see who was inside but I'm happy anyway," said Paola Iela, a 34-year-old student.
"Normally, Bracciano is a dead town, but I'm enjoying the media frenzy. I've had a crush on Tom Cruise since I was a teenager. I think he's too sexy."
Details of the ceremony had been kept mostly secret.
Fans started gathering in the main square facing the Odescalchi castle early in the day, though a downpour deterred some in the afternoon. Residents looked out from their balconies, some of them decorated with the American flag.
Photographers with long lenses stood perilously on window ledges at the top of a building overlooking the castle, where the mayor is charging 1,000 euros ($1,278) for each position. A helicopter carrying a TV crew clattered overhead.
But much of the action was hidden from public view inside the fortress, surrounded by a 10-metre (yard) high wall and manned by snipers and bodyguards.
Other guests expected to attend include "Mission: Impossible III" director J J Abrams and John Travolta, who shares Cruise's belief in Scientology.
Local authorities said this week Cruise, star of Hollywood hits like "Top Gun" and the "Mission: Impossible" trilogy, had not sought permission for a civil service, meaning the wedding could be purely ceremonial and have no legal value.
Scientologist weddings are similar to others, with rings, music and flowers. The bride wears white and the groom a dark suit. Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli was expected to sing Ava Maria during the celebrations.
The cost of the event is estimated at over 2 million euros ($2.5 million). The pair's outfits were designed by Giorgio Armani, who also created the bride's bouquet. Armani's niece was among the first guests to arrive at the wedding. Bracciano was closed to traffic early on Saturday.
"We hope everything works well and this event brings happiness and joy here," said street cleaner Mario Nardi as he finished some last-minute tidying up.
Pictures of the pair and goodwill messages in English were displayed all over town. "Best wishes for your fairy tale," read one message in a bar. A cake shop had a wedding cake in its window with "Tom and Katie" written in icing.