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  • TomKat Weds in Italy
    The Italians and I read all about it, which at first makes me feel like someone who needs to get a life but then makes me feel like an idealistic fool. Which is worse?
    Our Paesani

    by Francesca Di Meglio

    NOVEMBER 19, 2006 - Sometimes, I have a hard time coming up with a topic for this column. When that happens I start scanning the headlines to see what news is coming out of Italy. I did just that this weekend. Without a doubt, the biggest story today is Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes' lavish wedding, which took place yesterday in Bracciano, Italy, a lakeside town just outside of Rome. The whole thing has me disappointed in Italy - and myself.

    In fact, TomKat, as the couple has been named by the media, had more Google news articles than Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, who won approval of his proposed budget, which included heavily protested spending cuts and tax increases, something the Italians have been debating for months. Even talk about 2006 World Cup hero Fabio Cannavaro's possible win of the Ballon d'Or, soccer's highest honor, took a backseat to the Hollywood newlyweds who aren't even Italian.

    Holmes and Cruise certainly took their cues from the Italians - who do everything and especially weddings - big, big, big. The $2.5 million affair took place at the 15th century Orsini Odescalchi castle, where 150 guests, who reportedly included Jennifer Lopez and Will Smith, literally witnessed fireworks. They also listened to a live performance by Andrea Bocelli, who serenaded the couple at the reception.

    Bride, groom and their 8-month-old daughter Suri were decked out in outfits designed by Giorgio Armani, who also reportedly created the bouquet of calla lilies that Holmes carried. At the Scientology ceremony - which the Italian government does not even recognize as being official and which caused the couple to really wed in California first - Cruise and Holmes exchanged white gold Cartier diamond rings. And red and white rose petals fell from the ceiling when the couple cut into their five-tier white chocolate cake. At least that's what all the news articles are saying.

    Why did I read so many news articles about the nuptials of a couple I don't even know? Why did hundreds of Italians stand out in the rain to catch a glimpse of Cruise and Holmes and their guests? Have we all lost our minds? What is this all about?

    My first theory is that reading about celebrity weddings is all about fantasy. We could never afford such an over-the-top affair, so we want to live vicariously through the super rich. Instead of being happy in our own lives, we always think the grass is greener elsewhere. Shame on us!

    Or maybe we just like to get ideas for own weddings and events. Sure, we know we can't have fireworks but we could have sparklers. And we certainly could re-create the calla lilies bouquet if that's what we fancied. Some people - those who are engaged or in bridal parties now - could argue that reading up on these celebrity weddings is just part of their research, I suppose.

    I'd like to think, however, that all those Italians, anyone else who is reading up on the so-called event of the year, and especially me are doing so because weddings are a symbol of hope and a celebration of love. The bride and groom are, after all, sharing their optimism with their closest friends and family.

    Most of us, including Italians, may have thrown out old-fashioned traditions and values for a set of rules that makes more sense in modern times. But we still walk down the aisle in white and kiss our beloved and set out to make a life and family on our wedding day. The Italians and I -- we can relate to that simple yet most difficult desire. Heck, even two scientologists like Cruise and Holmes understand that weddings are one of the few ways people can witness love and actually believe in it.

    So, I'm disappointed that I get snookered into reading these celebrity wedding stories and that the Italians, who invented the paparazzi, went wild for this one. But I forgive myself and them because we're all just looking for love - even if it's someone else's.

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