After all the mayhem of the hen party, stag do, wedding ceremony and reception in the 7 star Aman Palazzo Papadopoli Hotel, it apparently took just a 10 minute €600 off-the-peg civil ceremony to register the wedding of one of the world’s most acclaimed human rights lawyers and the renowned bachelor at Ca’ Farsetti, Venice’s City Hall, today and to make it official.
Streets had been closed off around the 14th century palazzo from early in the morning by order of the Venetian Police so paparazzi took to the water.
Meanwhile fans risked a dunking as they clung precariously to the bobbing San Silvestro ferry pontoon waiting for a glimpse of the couple.
Waterfront space was precious. Locals and office workers hung out of their windows whilst I managed to wangle my way onto a tiny wooden jetty across from City Hall along with TV crews from Sky, Rai and Reuters who took up their positions as close to the action as possible.
And as the late summer sun relentlessly beat down, the morning was spent chatting about what we knew so far, what we’d seen and how much longer we might have to wait before the couple would arrive. All we knew was that it was likely to be between 12pm and 2pm but news kept coming through that they were running late!
Tensions ran a little high when a new TV crew arrived late and hustled their way onto the jetty. Two TV presenters even had a rather spikey dispute over positions as both jostled for space just before going to air simultaneously. But generally the atmosphere was friendly as updates on the expected arrival time of the convoy were shared across the group.
And finally, things started to move. A boat-load of security men, known in Italy as “gorillas”, arrived to check out the preparations at City Hall. Police and city officials waited on the canalside. And fans grew more excited until at last, at around 1.30pm, the blue flashing lights of the Polizia Locale launches leading the flotilla rounded the bend in the Grand Canal on the approach to the Ca’ Farsetti.
Slowly the convoy of Police, paparazzi, locals and the star couple made its way up the canal overlooked by the 16th century white marble Rialto Bridge. But George and Amal were not riding up front today, choosing to remain in the cabin as their, now famous, taxi called Amore docked.
The bride wore white, as is traditional, but rather than the usual dress chose a trouser suit with black trim to the waist, together with a glamorous wide-brimmed hat with matching black ribbon. The groom wore his trademark Armani suit and sunglasses.
The couple briefly greeted officials and the crowds before entering Ca’ Farsetti for the civil ceremony. The couple had already tied the knot on Saturday exchanging hand-written vows and rings in front of friends and family as Clooney’s friend and ex-Mayor of Rome, Walter Veltroni, officiated. Today’s ceremony was for the couple to sign the City’s register and thus officially become husband and wife. And the City presented them with a glass lion in a royal blue presentation box to commemorate their wedding.
In fact the ceremony was so fast that many of the TV crews near me actually missed the reappearance of George and Amal from the building as they’d taken a break! Whoops!
Looking unsurprisingly besotted the pair waved to the crowds, thanked Walter Veltroni and Police officials. George then gallantly helped Amal aboard the Amore to cruise slowly off up the Grand Canal and off to the airport to begin their married life together.
Meanwhile, as the crowds dispersed, photographers and cameramen raced to upload their pictures to their agencies and networks. Talk was already of finishing their commissions before hitting the restaurants and bars of Venice to celebrate a job well done!
And so, after 4 days of paparazzi, celebrity spotting and general mayhem, the beautiful city of Venice can finally bring the curtain down on the wedding of the year. It’s not hard to see why George and Amal chose La Serenissima for their nuptials, as Venice has been charming couples for centuries. And undoubtedly they won’t be the last pair to celebrate their wedding here. But for now, we bid the couple “Ciao e tanti augur!!!”