One of the world’s most glamorous couples, Desperate Housewives star Eva Longoria and basketball champion Tony Parker, married today in a civil ceremony in Paris that kicked off a weekend wedding extravaganza expected to include church vows and a star-studded chateau bash.
About 40 guests, including French soccer hero Thierry Henry and some of Parker’s teammates from the San Antonio Spurs, attended today’s 45 minute-long ceremony, held in the town hall of the capital’s fourth district.
“The atmosphere was very warm and very authentic,” said Dominique Bertinotti, the district mayor.
She said the bride was all smiles and that no tears were shed. “It was very joyous.”
Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe officiated and gave a speech praising the couple’s choice to wed in the City of Light, and called Parker a model in the fight against racism, Bertinotti said.
The couple arrived separately – she with a gaggle of girlfriends in a white stretch limo and he with a group of towering ball players in a pearl grey Mercedes mini van.
Longoria, wearing a pink Chanel mini dress and towering silver heels, arrived first and turned to wave and smile at the crowd of hundreds of waiting photographers, reporters and fans – kept well back behind two rows of police barriers. Her guests, wearing white, cream, pink and purple dresses, carried small shopping bags from the French luxury label.
Longoria then changed into a short white dress for the ceremony, said Bertinotti – whose office acted as the dressing room.
Parker, a 25-year-old who was born in Belgium and grew up playing basketball in France, arrived about 10 minutes later, wearing a dark suit, reportedly from French menswear label De Fursac, which he models for.
He and his entourage, which included fellow French players Boris Diaw of the Phoenix Suns and the Los Angeles Lakers’ Ronny Turiaf, went straight in without waving.
A friend of Parker’s helped translate the ceremony, which was held in a salon with blue-and-white trimmed walls, a French flag and a portrait of French President Nicolas Sarkozy. It was followed by a small reception that lasted about 45 minutes, Bertinotti said.
Fans in the crowd outside, many of whom had been waiting behind the police cordon for hours, grew testy as the events inside the town hall dragged on.
When, an hour after Longoria and Parker went into the building, the doors opened and another couple emerged, the crowd first booed and then cheered the newlyweds, who posed coyly and threw kisses at waiting photographers.
That was all the eager fans were to get. Longoria and Parker got into a black Mercedes parked away from prying eyes in the courtyard of the town hall and sped off.
The couple’s big event isn’t until tomorrow, expected to start at a Paris cathedral that used to serve French royals, adjacent to the Louvre Museum. French law requires a civil ceremony even when couples marry in a church.
The couple and their entourage have given very few details about the nuptials, but media reports said they were to follow the religious service with a star-studded bash at Vaux-le-Vicomte, a 17th century chateau 34 miles south-east of Paris.
Rumoured guests include Victoria Beckham, movie stars Catherine Zeta-Jones and husband Michael Douglas, and Longoria’s Desperate Housewives co-stars.
Le Parisien daily reported today that fellow “housewives” Teri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman and Nicolette Sheridan arrived today at Bourget airport in a private jet. Marcia Cross, who stars in the series as pernickety Bree and recently gave birth to twins, is not expected to attend the wedding.
In an interview published by Le Parisien today, Parker said he was eager to have kids.
“That would be even better than my NBA titles, even if I don’t compare private life and sports,” he said. “Eva talks to me about it all the time. I’d like to have girls, because I come from a world of boys.”
He also said he considers himself “the luckiest guy in the world. I feel blessed, lucky, and I realise it,” he said.