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High security and high society at Clinton wedding

IT WAS high society inside and high security outside as Chelsea Clinton wed her longtime boyfriend at an elegant estate in a Hudson River village where several prominent guests were spotted beforehand, but the husband-and-wife-to-be stayed out of sight.

The wedding site, a Beaux Arts riverside estate called Astor Courts, was sealed off from the general public.

Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton issued a statement announcing that their daughter exchanged vows on Saturday evening with investment banker Marc Mezvinsky, and a few photographs were later released to media outlets.

"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 Clintons said. "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."

Chelsea Clinton, wearing a strapless white Vera Wang gown with a full skirt and and carrying a bouquet of white flowers, was escorted down the aisle by her father.

The former president and the groom wore dark suits, while the mother of the bride wore a fuchsia dress.

The event was the culmination of weeks of secrecy and buildup that drew onlookers to the small village of Rhinebeck, 145km north of New York City.

It is estimated that hundreds of guests gathered at the historic estate near the end of a near-perfect summer day of warm temperatures, blue skies and cottony clouds. The ceremony was conducted by a rabbi and a reverend as Chelsea Clinton is Methodist and Mezvinsky is Jewish, and included a poem by Leo Marks titled, The Life That I Have, according to the family.

The road to Astor Courts was blocked off on Saturday – neighbours received bottle of wine for their troubles – and the sky above was declared a no-fly zone by federal aviation officials.

Police and security guards fanned out around this usually sleepy town.

Consistent with Chelsea Clinton’s desire for privacy, the family had released no details of the wedding beyond the date. But the scope of the event became apparent when more than a half-dozen busloads of wedding guests – men in black tie, women in dresses – were transported from a hotel in the village to the riverside ceremony as gawkers looked on.

Celebrities spotted in Rhinebeck for the event included actors Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen, fashion designer Vera Wang, Madeleine Albright, who was secretary of state during Bill Clinton’s second term as president and Terry McAuliffe, former Democratic National Committee chairman. The former president’s half brother, Roger Clinton, was spotted early on Saturday afternoon with his son Tyler.

Reporters, who had been searching for celebrities in vain for most of the day, quickly zeroed in on Danson and Steenburgen, prompting Danson to ask, "Are we the only celebrities in town?"

Celebrity seekers jockeyed with reporters for sidewalk space over most of the day too. Donna Vena drove 50 miles to Rhinebeck from her home of Mount Kisco, N.Y., in the hopes of spotting a celebrity.

Chelsea Clinton and Mezvinsky were friends as teenagers in Washington, and both attended Stanford University.

They now live in New York, where Mezvinsky works at G3 Capital. a Manhattan hedge fund. Mezvinsky is a son of former US Reps. Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky and Ed Mezvinsky, longtime friends of the Clintons

Clinton completed her master’s degree in public health earlier this year at Columbia University. Mezvinsky is a son of former US Republican Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky and Ed Mezvinsky of Iowa, longtime friends of the Clintons.