The bridesmaids have been told not to talk. The groom has rented his tux (Size 48). Rumors are being denied almost, but not quite, as fast as they are disseminated. The police security force has been hired, the van equipped with 10 phones for reporters put in place and the pre-ceremony briefing by a priest on the steps of the church all arranged.
By 12:30 p.m. today, when the newly wed Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger leave St. Francis Xavier Church here, the wedding of Kennedy and body builder, of political heft and plain old heft, will be history. Now it still floats in the ether of gossip.
"The first priority of Maria and the Shriver family is they want it to be a traditional, private religious ceremony," says Brian Delaney, a former member of Sen. Edward Kennedy's staff who was recruited to handle the wedding press.
Traditional and private isn't easy when the bride is of Kennedy descent and cohost of "CBS Morning News" and the groom an Austrian whose shoulders dwarf the Alps and whose movies ("Conan the Barbarian," "The Terminator," etc.) have made more than $150 million.
"When the guest list is finally announced, you'll see they're all nationally sk,1 sw,-1 ld,10 and internationally known names," said Father Edward C. Duffy, pastor at St. Francis Xavier, who will celebrate the wedding mass with Father John Riordan of St. John's Church in New York City.
All those internationally known folks will total 450, a number at least one guest pointed out seemed small considering the family. "Just the Kennedys alone would be pretty close to 100," said Myer Feldman, Lyndon Johnson's counsel and longtime Shriver friend, who will fly to Hyannis for the day.
"You can see it can't be a small wedding, but they do want to make it intimate," said Feldman. "I've seen much of the guest list. It's not like some weddings. Some weddings are business events. These are close friends. But if you took the board of Special Olympics Eunice Shriver is chairman of the board , and I think they're all going to be invited, you've got another hundred people. And they know so many people. So it's a small wedding by the standards of the universe which could be invited."
The 450 close friends will include Andy Williams, Cathy Lee Crosby, Susan Saint James, Tom Brokaw, Barbara Walters, Art Buchwald and of course the Kennedys, although it is uncertain whether family matriarch Rose Kennedy, 95, will be well enough to attend. The rest of the guest list has been carefully guarded and will be released early this morning. In the name of intimacy and security, all guests will have to present identification cards before being admitted to the ceremony and reception. Dunfey's Hyannis Hotel, where 100 rooms have been reserved for wedding guests, has hired 20 extra security guards, the family has employed members of the Barnstable police force to secure the church and Kennedy compound and low-flying planes have been forbidden access to airspace over the compound for the afternoon and evening.
Schwarzenegger, 38, and Shriver, 30, announced their engagement last August after a seven-year romance. The two have been commuting between her world in New York and his in Los Angeles and will continue to do so when real life resumes after a honeymoon of a few days. Schwarzenegger is currently filming "Predator," a "science fiction adventure," in the jungles of Mexico and arrived here Thursday night direct from the jungle in time to pick up his tuxedo and attend the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner last night. Shriver did her last show Wednesday morning.
Between the guests and what are expected to be hundreds of press people, the local hotels are having what Mike Frucci, head of the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce, calls a "mini-boom." But Hyannis, which both loves and lives off the local Kennedy royalty, is predictably closed-mouthed about the whole event. One person involved in arrangements replied to questions with a "no comment" and a desperate "You have to understand -- I can't tell you anything. I have a wife and child to support."
Hyannis has long been accustomed to the gawking and the curious. Dunfey's supplies guests with a jogging map that comes complete with directions to the Kennedy compound. "You may even see Sen. Edward M. Kennedy sailing on Nantucket Sound or the grandchildren playing on the grounds, all enjoying the beauty of Cape Cod," the map advises.
When Sydney Lawford got married, her father, Peter Lawford, dropped by Mr. Perry's for a tuxedo fitting, just as members of the Schwarzenegger-Shriver wedding party did this week. Adulatory crowds then, adulatory crowds now -- Ben Perry (as in "Mr.") sounds as blase' as a movie publicist.
"We let them do what they want to outside," he says of the press and autograph-hungry. "It's good publicity. I don't mind."
(If you're wondering what someone like Schwarzenegger, who isn't exactly strapped for a clothes budget, is doing renting a tuxedo, Perry has the answer: "Why do you want to own a tuxedo? They go out of style every year.")
Though Delaney has been handling calls in Boston, where he now works for a Boston-based public relations firm, and Carolyn Peachey of Washington's Campbell, Peachey and Associates has been consulting with the Shriver clan on the wedding, everyone is extremely uneasy about appearing to be courting the press. The van of phones, the "fact sheet" to be handed out before the ceremony, the priestly briefing are only to make life a little easier for the reporters standing across the street from the church, according to Delaney.
"I think it's Maria's and Arnold's sensitivity and the Shrivers' sensitivity to the interest this wedding generates," he said. The '80s being what they are, there lurks the specter of camera-carrying helicopters swooping down on champagne-sipping guests, as they did at the "private" Madonna-Sean Penn wedding. The Shriver-Schwarzenegger theory is give the reporters a fact sheet and maybe they'll be satisfied.
But some not-yet-released facts have become public. They fall into two categories -- the ones you should believe and the ones you shouldn't.
Reports you should believe:
*Dior gowns for bride and mother Eunice.
*1 1/2-hour ceremony in front of the altar the Kennedy family gave in 1947 in honor of Joseph Kennedy Jr.
*Maid of honor: Caroline Kennedy, who will herself marry this summer.
*Nine bridesmaids: Courtney Kennedy Ruhe; Sydney Lawford McKelvy; Alexa Halaby, sister of Queen Noor of Jordan; Washingtonian Theo Hayes; Linda Potter, who will soon marry Timmy Shriver; Renee Schink; journalist Wanda McDaniel Ruddy; Charlotte Hambro; and Roberta Hollander.
*Best man: Sardinian body builder Franco Columbu, former Mr. World and Mr. Olympia.
*Twelve ushers: Albert Busek, Mituso Kawashima, Patrick Knapp, James Lorimer, Neal Nordlinger, Karl Schwarzenegger, Anthony Shriver, Mark Shriver, Bobby Shriver, Timmy Shriver, Sven-Ole Thorsen and William Drake.
*Press and public kept across the street from the church. A 60-second "photo op" of the happy couple as they leave. "They'll walk down the steps slowly," said one wedding organizer. Maybe another pause at the curb for a final look, but this is still being debated.
*Reception at Rose Kennedy's house. Under tents, with a buffet by Creative Gourmets Ltd. of Boston and music by Peter Duchin and his band.
Reports you should not believe:
*Eddie Murphy will attend.
*Sylvester Stallone, Cheryl Tiegs and Jackie Gleason will also be there.
*The clan will be eating seafood, prime rib and lamb.
*Arnold arrived Wednesday. Actually, the Arnold Schwarzenegger who arrived Wednesday was a similarly stocky cousin.
"They called me from 32,000 feet in the air at 2 in the morning," said Maurice McEvoy, chauffeur and certified bodyguard. ("Say it's 'personal protection' -- I hate the word bodyguard. You know, the big hat and cigar.") McEvoy owns Cape Cod Limousine, which provided the long stretches of silver parked in the Kennedy driveway.
With the official spokesmen giving out almost nothing before that vital fact sheet is released, the gossip mills have been working overtime. Photographers and reporters waited outside the Kennedy compound yesterday, shivering in the wet air. Earlier in the day, Columbu had been seen working out at Dunfey's and had obligingly flexed for the cameras. Shriver was said to be there as well, receiving a prerehearsal massage, but did no public flexing. In midafternoon, Joan Kennedy walked briskly from the compound on her way to the hairdresser, stopping to say hello to McEvoy. "Joan -- she's a great gal!" he said as the blond figure retreated.
In a village where Kennedy loyalty is the local form of patriotism, the excessively curious, the irreverent and the purveyors of false information are traitors. As one longtime Cape Cod resident said, "Around the Cape, people really respect the Kennedys, and they're afraid of saying anything. They don't even like jokes said about them. Joan Rivers was here last year making jokes about Rose, and nobody thought it was funny."
There was some griping when it was believed the Sheraton Hyannis, where 80 rooms will be filled with guests, had been leaking names. A Sheraton spokesman wouldn't discuss it, saying, "We kind of have a gag rule on right now."
The Boston Herald, which ran a three-page special on the wedding last Sunday, has also come in for some Hyannis-bred disdain.
"The Boston Herald doesn't let the truth stand in the way of a story they write," said Chief Neil Nightingale of the Barnstable police. One person familiar with the guest list said that 19 of the 26 guests the Herald listed will not be there or were not even invited.
When told the inner circle wasn't pleased with the Herald reports, Herald gossip columnist Paul Sullivan just laughed.
"I'd say that's pretty predictable," he said.