The bride wore a full-length ivory taffeta dress, satin vest and silk chiffon blouse, and looked calm and robust. The groom wore a midnight-blue day suit and looked nervous and wet behind the ears. The public relations woman wore a rust-colored suit, matching shoes and black blouse, and looked frazzled and beside herself.
Among other things, the bride was Maureen Reagan, the president's oldest daughter, and the details of the wedding were very complicated. Also, at the last minute, the president sent word that he wasn't able to attend.
For Helen Chaplin, a veteran publicist at the huge, excusive Beverly Wilshire Hotel, this Saturday was definitely not one of her better days. "As far as I'm concerned," she said, "this is the worst weekend in the history of the hotel."
Her weekend calender was jammed with lavish and tricky receptions, luncheons, dinner-dances, benefits and one bar mitzvah, but she knew that three events all scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m. Saturday particularly spelled trouble.
There was a brunch in the Bordeaux-Burgundy rooms honoring Countess Donna Cicogna, whom she described as "some wealthy lady from Italy." Guests would include the committee for the Princess Grace Gala Night at Monaco (a tourism ball), people like the duke and duchess of Bedford, the Baroness di Portanova, Ann Southern, Robert Stack and the Hernado Courtrights, owners of the Beverly Wilshire.
There was a luncheon and fashion show in the ballroom, produced by Georgio's of Beverly Hills for the benefit of 800 beaming Catholic alumni of Mount St. Mary's College.
And there was this troublesome, top-secret wedding and reception in Le Petit Trianon and Le Grand Trianon rooms, between the president's daughter, Maureen Reagan, 40, and her groom, law clerk Dennis Revell, 28. To be honest, Chaplin was a little miffed about the wedding. The arrangements had been changed so many times in the last few days, no one knew exactly who was coming or where they were going, Originally, the wedding was scheuled for Friday, a small private affair at the Hollywood Hills home of Jeff and Erin Butler, he the head of East West Network, publishers of airline magazines. But when it was finally announced that the president, still in pain, would not attend, the wedding was moved up to Saturday, to the hotel "for security reasons."
Then, with the president's no-show, the security was loosened. Guests were allowed to bring dates, the wedding list grew to 75, the reception to 275, and the Butlers decided they couldn't handle it.
But quantity is not quality, and frankly Chaplin was "very disappointed" at the final roster of invitees -- no celebs to speak of.
But most of the guests thought Reagan and Revell's bash came off really super. "It was very secular, but very esthetic," said Mike Farrell, a former fellow law student and "drinking buddy" of Revell's at Western State Law School. Farrell's date, Diane Archer, a political-science student at Cal State Long Beach, described the wedding as "more like entertainment -- it was not religious at all. At the end, everyone clapped."
Included in the wedding party (Reagan's third, Revell's first) were the bride's mother, actress Jane Wyman; and the bride's brother, Michael. The president's brother, Neil (Moon) Reagan, gave the bride away. The ceremony, which was closed, rather strenuously, to the press and public, began at 11:40 a.m. and was performed by Santa Monica Superior Court Judge Laurence Rittenband.
According to guests, Judge Rittenband quoted from Byron, Shelley, Lincoln and Kahlil Gibran and talked about how marriage and love still go hand in hand despite what people might say. The bride and groom exchanged vows which they wrote themselves, each telling the other, "I love you because you're going to let me be me." Then Jan Daily, who reportedly sings commercials for Sanyo, sang "You Light Up My Life," accompanied by a piano. And Danny Deardorff, a Seattle quadriplegic entertainer, sang, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," "Do You Want to Win?" and "I Want to Give You My Dreams." He was accompanied by a tape-recorded orchestra.
Later Mike Farrell, an English teacher at El Dorado High School in Placenia, Calif., said it was the best wedding he'd ever attended, even if the wine was "mediocre." He described Revell as "a really nice and sensitive guy who always went for older women." His only fault was that he is "notorious for showing up late," which is why they demanded he stay at the hotel the night before.
Farrell was so honored by Revell's invitation that he bought him this really special gift, a ceramic chip-and-dip bowl, "kind of a neo-Mexican thing," handmade by a native California artist. Then he took it to the May Co. department store and paid them five bucks to gift wrap it. Then he took it to the wedding, and the Secret Service immediately snatched it from him and he never saw it again. The Secret Service had all wedding gifts sniffed by dogs before turning them over to the bride and groom.
Reports that both the bride and groom cried during the ceremony were wrong, says Farrell. Only Revell had "teared up," but then he was "nervous" and he'd had a rough week. On Tuesday or Wednesday night -- "I can't remember which," said Farrell, "we were so drunk" -- a dozen of Revell's friends threw a bachelor party for him at Beverly Hills' posh La Scala restaurant, and "it was pretty wild."
Farrell gave Revell a couple of risque gifts wrapped in brown paper -- "Then the guys all went over to a striptease club, the Body Shop, and kept partying until dawn." So as the wedding reception drew to a close, Revell seemed a little fazed, his light blue eyes staring blankly ahead as he checked out of his eighth-floor room.
If Revell was nervous about the crowd gathered along the driveway, so was the Secret Service. And so was Chaplin. The Secret Service could sneak the couple from the rear building, over a second-floor walkway, to the front building and out the front door; but that would anger members of the press, who were already ruffled from an unsuccessful attempt by hotel security guards to kick them off the premises. Plus, Chaplin had learned of another problem: The countess had lost the key to her hotel safe.
But within minutes the situation was defused. The countess' safe was drilled open; nothing was missing. The press was quietly told to move through the front lobby and out the front door; guards temporarily cut off the crowd by locking the front building's rear door.
By the time the newlyweds were ferreted to their limousine in the front, Revell seemed much calmer. "I feel really great," he told reporters. They asked Maureen Reagan about the honeymoon, and she explained they were going to England and Germany, that it would be more of a business trip than a honeymoon. (She runs an export-promotion firm.) "But we may sneak in an afternoon," she said, scooting into the limo beside her new man.