First came the limousines, black, gray, then black again. Next came the thin silk dresses, covered on this damp spring morning with mink and fox. Outside the Greek Orthodox church, an old woman listened from her window as the choir sang.

Gov. Hugh Carey of New York was marrying Evageline Gouletas of Chicago. It was a wedding of brocaded vestments and designer gowns, of high finance and higher political hopes. "Gov. Carey and Chicago Millionaress," trumpeted one wire service.

The church pews held 500, dotted with New York society and national celebrities: Chicago Mayor Jane Byrne, Pat Kennedy Lawford, former Cabinet secretary Joe Califano, former New York mayor Robert Wagner and Columnist Ann Landers. It was Saturday, the governor's 62nd birthday. Gouletas, 44, had her grandaughter serve as flower girl.

The sun came out just as husband and wife emerged from the New York City church. They kissed, then stood in the limousine as it crawled through cheered crowds down East 74th Street.

"This is a whole bunch of birthdays put into one," called the governor. More cheers. "Efharisto!" he said. "Efharisto!" It means "thank you" in Greek.

A local political leader and wedding guest was standing nearby. He turned to David Garth, Carey's top political consultant.

"Dave," he said, "was this your idea?"

Garth smiled, then replied: "It's the first television commercial."

All week long in New York, the wedding had been First Class gossip. From the state assembly chambers in Albany to the East Side nightclubs Carey once haunted in his bachelor days, New Yorkers clucked and kibbitzed. Newspapers printed advance sketches of the wedding and reception gowns as well as rear-view pictures of the couple jogging in Central Park. "Just call me Mrs. Carey!" said the headline in the New York Post.

It was the spectacularly romantic union of a brooding, enagmatic Irishman and a cool Greek beauty, but it was also something much more tantalizing: the marriage of a great forture and political future.

They met in Washington during Ronald Reagan's inauguration, late Jan. 19 at the Fairfax Hotel bar. On Feb. 19, they had their first date at a large dinner in New York. Exactly 17 days later he proposed.

"I've known Carey 20 years," says Washington superlawyer Joe Califano, "and he's never been happier, never happier."

She is the successful Chicago condominium developer whose firm is projected to gross $2 billion this year; he, the charming but lonely widower with presidential aspirations. Six months ago friends say he realized Ford Co. heir Anne Ford Uzielli, the woman who introduced him to "21" and Elaine's, would never agree to be his wife. How his new marriage is one full of implications not lost on New Yorkers. Friends, like Lt. Gov. Mario Cuomo, say Carey is aglow and call him "very much in love." l

Another friend of the Democratic governor's say -- with all the early, and perhaps unwarranted, wariness of a confidante looking upon an outlander marrying the tribal chief: "'she wants an entree into New York society, both socially and politically. But it might be very difficult for her, because his entree into that society was Anne. And if Evangeline Gouletas tries to get into the day-to-day operations of the government, she's making a big mistake."

Others are more generous."She's quite attractive, dresses well, and has manners," says Phyllis Wagner, the former New York mayor's wife who introduced Carey and Uzielli at a mid-'70s dinner party.

But in the wisecrack-a-minute atmosphere of New York politics, unsubtle references persist -- to "Cash and Carey" as well as to "Evita" -- the enormously popular Broadway show about the shrewd actress who married the Argentine leader.

Certainly Carey's presidential ambitions are no secret. Edward Carey, older brother and best man, recalls discussing the governor's presidential possibilities with Gouletas last month over dinner at the East Side restaurant, Le Perigord Park.

"She says he has an excellent chance four years from now," says Edward Carey, if he devotes himself to it. She says she'd do everything she possibly could to help him."

"I never said that," Gouletas replied at a Washington dinner the night before her wedding. "I'm not very political." Crab Claws & Champagne

At the first wedding reception: Ice carvings. Caribbean sun tans. Strawberries, champagne, snapdragons, Robert Goulet, crab claws, Peter Duchin on piano.

But it had been a wedding in search of an ecclesiastical blessing. Carey had married outside his Roman Catholic Church because the Archdiocese hadn't received the papers concerning the dissolution of Gouletas' two previous marriages.

"There is no way the church can sanction his getting married," said Father Damien Pickel. a spokesman for the Archdiocese.

The first wedding reception started at noon in several rooms of the St. Regis-Sheraton Hotel. The ceilings were 25 feet high, the walls lined with unopened books by Thackeray, the atmosphere a mixture of political fundraiser and spring society function.

The bride and groom stood by their 11-tiered wedding cake, shaking a stream of 500 hands. In an opposite corner was New York Mayor Ed Koch and Tom Quinn, the Washington lawyer who introduced the couple.

"What do they call a matchmaker in Tiddish, your honor?" asked Quinn of Koch.

"Ah, shotkun," replied the mayor. "S-H-O-T-K-U-N. It means marriage broker. You get a commission from the bride's father. Three cows, two horses and in this case, $1 million."

"In this case," continued Quinn, "he'll have to build the city of New York."

"You refer to it as an economic development," replied the mayor. "I refer to it as love."

But a Koch had said earlier during the reception: "This is no lady who's going to be hanging around the kitchen." Success Story

Evageline Gouletas came to this country with little material wealth. Her success is widely attributed to her diligence, intelligence and charm.

Athens, World War II. Evageline Gouletas, the eldest of four, remembers sharing a piece of bread with her two brothers and sister. "We had to share to keep each other alive," she says.

The Nazis had taken over her father's prosperous spice business, and when the war ended, the family left Greece for Chicago. Her mother worked for the Singer Co., sewing sequins on dresses. Engie, pronounced "Angie," got almost all A's in school.

In college, too, at Northeastern Illinois State. B.S. in math. Then Illinois Teachers College, M.S. in education. More studies, Johns Hopkins and Loyola. Just one B, she recalls, in her graduate work.

She taught school, worked as a mathmatician for the Minuteman missile program, was married twice to two Greeks. Her first husband was Frangiskos Kallaniotos, whom she divorced. Her second husband was Evangelos Mestaxes. She had one daughter by her first marriage, as well as two grandchildren.

In 1969, she and her two brothers formed the Chicago-based American Invsco (pronounced Invesco) conglomerate, now the nation's largest converter of condominium apartments. In Chicago it is widely known as a high-quality and high-powered company; in Washington on April 1, the same week Carey and Gouletas announced their engagement, Invsco chairman Nicholas Gouletas was testifying before a Capitol Hill subcommittee investigating his firm. The day before, seven elderly men and women had told Rep. Benjamin S. Rosenthal's (D-N.Y.) subcommittee how they were forced from their apartments by high condominium conversion prices.

And the Sunday before that, Invsco had been the subject of a "60 Minutes" broadcast that showed tenants picketing outside the Promenade Apartments in Bethesda, Md., last summer. They were protesting Invsco's planned conversion of the building. Nicholas Gouletas declined to appear on the show, and in his Hill testimony denied the charges. The investigation is continuing.

Evangeline Gouletas says she will be "First Lady of New York" and give up her role in the business, a role that for 10 years included raising the profile of the firm in Chicago's corporate and social hierarchy. By several accounts, she got almost all A's in that, too.

"For anybody to have come from the complete outside to the access level she has now is really extraordinary," says one insider from the community where industrial leaders -- Brooks McCormick of International Harvester, John and Bonnie Swearingen of Standard Oil -- are social landmarks up and down the north shore of Lake Michigan. "The Gouletases have penetrated, slightly, the fringe of that. But she's not part of the inner circle."

Evangeline Gouletas began as most newcomers to an established community do -- working diligently for the correct volunteer groups, sitting on the best committees, smoothly running some benefit balls. She hired an administrative assistant solely for her charity work.

"There's no way she could do all those things at once," explains Mary Spellman, a vice president of a Chicago real estate firm who worked with Gouletas on the 1980 Literary Arts Ball.

Gouletas usually had a company photographer with her at charity events. The pictures were used for corporate public relations and were also, according to one Chicago editor, sent frequently to newspaper society sections. The company had outside public relations firms as well.

"She and I would spend several hours talking about new buildings and so forth," remembers William Tripp, who worked for the PR firm that handled the Invsco account in 1977. "And then at the end, she would try to involve me in work for one of her charity balls, as if we hadn't had the previous four-hour conversation. She thought I should be getting her in those lists like the 'Nation's Most Admired Women' or something. And she never quite understood why Bonnie Swearingen was getting into 'Town & Country' -- and she wasn't.

"But Engie has a way of being very charming," continues Tripp. "She's a delightful person, and she can captivate you. But she has a mission, and it's a mission around herself. She can get other people involved in that mission to the point where you almost lose yourself. It's frightening."

"Look," says Miles Berger, chairman of the Chicago Planning Commission and a friend of the Gouletases, "everybody's trying to hit it, but this really is a great American success story. And you know, she really is very warm. The Gouletases are strong, they are powerful -- and if you're going to do it, that's the way you do it." The Public Reception

The second reception was on another floor of the St. Regis. There appeared to be considerably more reporters and camera people than authentic guests, but as one of the governor's press people put it, "this is the public reception."

Carey and his bride danced briefly and quickly in a tight circle of flashbulbs, doing a number reminiscent of "Zorba the Greek."

"Anthony Quinn, eat your heart out," said one woman.

"Gotta admit that for 62, the old man does all right," said another guest.

Then the band struck up "Fame" as the two left the room. The crush might have killed a Republican state senator or two.

"Presidents and governors," said one woman in a jammed elevator. "Those are people I never want to marry."

"This is an event," pronounced New York City Council president Carol Bellamy, safely arrived in the hotel lobby. "It's the 1981 tall ships." The Promise

Hugh Carey promised his wife, as she was dying of cancer in 1974, that he would continue his campaign for governor without her. He did and won, the former Brooklyn congressman with 12 children who was directed by political consultant David Garth to lose 30 pounds and shed his shiny suits for Dunhill pin stripes.

In side the new image was a wounded man, widely known to be suffering painfully from the trauma of Helen Carey's death. An aide once recalled that it took him a year and a half before he could bring a picture of her to his office.

In the mid-'70s, he met Anne Ford Uzielli. Slim, blond and rich, she was the woman who led the Irishman from Brooklyn into the intoxicating lifestyle of dinners with Woody Allen at Elaine's and lively paragraphs in the New York gossip columns.

"He enjoys all that," says one friend, "but I don't think he understands the rules by which it is played. He got into a world where marriage wasn't the outcome of every relationship. He kept pushing marriage -- and she said, 'Why?' Her entire life is very clean and simple, and to have the sudden responsibility of a husband and 12 kids . . ."

"She didn't like political life, she didn't like Albany, she didn't like the late dinners, she didn't like the flashbulbs," says another friend. On the night he won reelection in 1978, Carey announced he was launching a second campaign, which seemed clearly aimed at winning Uzielli's hand.

"But she was consistent from Day One," says a close friend of Uzielli's. "She said, 'I don't want to get married.' But I think he felt he could talk anybody into anything."

By September 1980, it seemed clear Uzielli wasn't listening. "She dumped him," says a Carey colleague flatly. Uzielli herself couldn't be reached for comment; she was out of the country during the weekend.

After the split, the governor submerged in his work. "From September to the end of January, he was more active than I'd ever seen him," says a former aide. "Romance was the farthest thing from his mind. But then, Bingo! Everything else stopped."

Bingo spelled Gouletas. Here's how they met:

It was just a few hours after the inaugural gala at the Capital Centre. Several groups, including Gouletas and Carey, had come back for drinks to the elegant Fairfax Hotel bar with its wood-paneled walls and Oriental rugs. tGouletas was talking on one plump couch to Chicago socialite Bonnie Swearingen, and Carey was talking on another to a small group of friends.

Enter Tom Quinn, a well-connected Democratic lawyer who used to play golf with Carey and now represents Invsco in Washington. He walked in, started talking to the governor, then spotted Gouletas nearby. "It kind of struck me," he recalls, "My God, the governor ought to meet Evangeline." The subsequent conversation lasted five minutes, but the governor called Quinn soon after. Maybe lunch or dinner with Evangeline? he asked.

It wound up as a dinner in honor of Walter Cronkite, Feb. 19, in New York. "It was real electricity," remembers Quinn. Immediately, Gouletas and Carey began appearing in public together: a real estate conference in Florida, a Greek Independence Day parade in New York, the governor's box at the Metropolitan Opera House for young Ron Reagan's dancing debut, a party in Chicago where he gave her a diamond and sapphire "friendship" ring.

"He was smitten," says Carey's brother, Edward.

"I think he definitely found the right person," says Carey's 23-year-old daughter, Nancy.

"He was taken with her," says a friend, "but I also think it was a little bit to stick it to Anne -- and Anne's friends. It's a little bit of a teen-age rebound."

"I think he felt there was a big hole in his life," says another. "I think it began when he turned 60. He started worrying about not being president, about not being married, about not accumulating any amount of money."

And finally from friend and financier Felix Rohatyn: "The governor is not a man who really functions well alone. Having a structure that married life provides is really important to him, and that's been missing ever since his wife died. This man has been through a bad time personally, and if this makes him happy . . . yeah, I hope it does." The Toast

"I wish to make a toast," said Gouletas at the end of one reception. She held her glass up toward the governor. "It's not long, but I think it says it all. I love you." Political Perspectives

Politically, the marriage is viewed in New York from several perspectives.

Some say Gouletas' ties to a company under congressional investigation will hurt the couple, as will her image as a landlord in a state with a large city of renters. But many others say this marriage could be the "greening" of Hugh Carey -- a single socializer turned married man, brought to life by a woman who intends to be an active first lady and a valuable political asset.

"In politics," Carey told The New York Times as he prepared for his wedding, "two can live better than one."

The job of governor hasn't been an easy one for Carey these past weeks. The state legislature has been fighting over the 1981-82 budget, and on April 1, began operating without passing it. This meant bills couldn't be paid.State employes got their paychecks in scrip, a form of I.O.U. redeemable at banks.

On Monday, April 6, Carey called a special session of the legislature to resolve what he called "critical" budget issues. One Tuesday, he left for New York to make wedding arrangements, a move that was not unnoticed by his Republican opponents. He went back to budget negotiations yesterday, the day after the wedding. The honeymoon, both he and his bride said, will have to wait.

During the past year, Carey has made several embarrassing public gaffes, including one last fall when he referred to the position held by then-Sen. Jacob Javits (R-N.Y.) as "the Jewish seat."

"Those are the things people remember," says one of Carey's political consultants. "They don't really know what he's doing substantively. I don't think they've ever had a clear fix on him no matter what he did. He was always an enigma."

Perhaps no more, if the ebullient Hugh Carey who surfaced during his wedding on Saturday continues into what will be a rough reelection for governor next year -- or a larger campaign in succeeding years.

"This coupling," says Lt. Gov. Cuomo, "could produce extraordinary ambition. There could be a whole surge of vitality."

With an eye for the White House, perhaps?

"I do not believe," laughs Cuomo, "that she would abandon him if he were president." The First Couple

By 2 p.m., a large crowd had gathered on E. 55th Street just outside the St. Regis, waiting for the new First Couple to emerge on their way to another reception and a dinner in Albany.

At 2:30 p.m. Carey and Gouletas stepped out. Cheers. Waves. He'd changed into a fresh blue suit and crisp white shirt, and she into a blue satin suit and hairdo No. 2. (There would eventually be three that day, all done on the spot by Nancy Reagan's New York hairdresser, Monsieur Marc.)

Gouletas carried a bouquet of long-stemmed red roses. "It's been everything a girl could ever dream of," she said on the sidewalk. Then she and Carey walked across the street, toward the crowd. They started shaking hands outside the restaurant La Cote Basque, moving slowly up toward the shop called "Nat Sherman, Tobacconist to the World." There were still rain puddles in the gutters.

"His feet are going to be soaking wet," said one aide. "What the hell is he doing?"

Then Gouletas threw one of her red roses to the crowd. Shrieks. Then another. Squeals.

"She really enjoys this," observed Jill Schuker, the governor's press secretary.

Finally, at 2:45 p.m., the two got in the limousine, again standing and waving from the open roof. Gouletas grabbed a photographer's hand. "Send me some pictures!" she called.

And then off they went down 55th Street, across Fifth Avenue. They waved and waved.