Chelsea Clinton wedding a lavish and very private affair
On a breezy summer night, behind the stone walls of a 106-year-old estate, hundreds of celebrities, dignitaries, family and friends gathered Saturday to witness Chelsea Clinton make Marc Mezvinsky the newest member of the Clinton political clan.

Clinton and Mezvinsky wed just before sunset on the secluded Astor Courts estate after frenzied days of anticipation among a nation of wedding-watchers. On Saturday, townspeople and media hordes converged on sidewalks of this community north of New York City hoping for a glimpse of the festivities.

The bride's father, former President Bill Clinton, whizzed up to the sprawling grounds half an hour before the wedding in a four-vehicle motorcade, arriving soon after his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The interfaith ceremony was officiated jointly by Rabbi James Ponet, a Jewish chaplain at Yale, and the Rev. William Shillady, a Methodist minister from New York City. Chelsea Clinton, 30, wore a Vera Wang dress, and the couple exchanged vows under a gazebo of white flowers.

Afterward, the parents of the bride released a statement saying, "We watched with great pride and overwhelming emotion as Chelsea and Marc wed in a beautiful ceremony at Astor Courts, surrounded by family and their close friends. We could not have asked for a more perfect day to celebrate the beginning of their life together, and we are so happy to welcome Marc into our family."

Mezvinsky, 32, is a former Goldman Sachs investment banker who now works at a hedge fund. He is the son of Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky, a former Democratic U.S. representative from Pennsylvania, and former U.S. Rep. Ed Mezvinsky, a Democrat from Iowa. The bride and groom met while growing up in Washington, D.C., and both attended Stanford.

Although there's been much buzz about the wedding — guessing the costs, imagining Chelsea Clinton's dress, trying to identify invited celebrities — the event remained shrouded in secrecy. All involved, including guests and caterers, were asked to keep the details private.

In the end, the wedding seemed notable for how low-key the guests and family managed to keep it, and for the big names who did not attend, including former Vice President Al Gore and Oprah Winfrey.

Guests in tuxedos and formal gowns were picked up by chartered green buses from a few nondescript Marriot and Hampton Inn hotels in neighboring towns.

On Saturday morning, police SUVs guarded the unmarked entrance to the Astor Courts, backed up by "No Trespassing" signs. A no-fly zone was in effect over the area throughout the night.

Across the street, neighbors put up a modest handwritten sign that said, "Mazel Tov Chelsea," a nod to Mezvinsky's Jewish heritage.

At the Chamonix Bridal Shop in town, owners Heather Graham and Allison Sims dressed a window mannequin in a wedding gown and hung a banner reading "A toast to Chelsea and Marc."

Sims' 3-month-old daughter had a bow in her hair for the occasion, and Graham's son wore a tuxedo. Graham said that some wedding guests had stopped by to pick up last-minute hairpieces and jewelry.

"It's like a carnival," Graham said. "Everyone is just so positive and upbeat."

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and political power player Terry McAuliffe lunched Saturday at Gigi Trattoria, where Bill Clinton ate on Friday before strolling around town. Vera Wang, the designer and a friend of the Clintons, tried to eat at Gigi but was driven away by a media horde hungry for celebrity sightings.

Friday night, Bill and Hillary Clinton attended a wedding party at the Beekman Arms, where news anchor Diane Sawyer and businessman and film producer Steve Bing were among the guests.

Later on Saturday, Ted Danson and his wife, Mary Steenburgen, checked in at the historic inn before heading to the wedding.

"She's a beautiful girl and he's a wonderful guy," Steenburgen said of the bride and groom.

Face Stockholm, a makeup store in Rhinebeck, quietly groomed several wedding guests in back. Megan Martino, a manager at the store, said the guests had not wanted anything fancy.

"They all wanted a very simple, natural country look," Martino said.

A number of guests were staying in town at the Looking Glass Bed & Breakfast. The owner, Cari Metzer, said that over breakfast people going to the wedding were all talking about the lack of fancy frills in the weekend's plans.

"There are no horse-drawn carriages or anything like that," Metzer said. "Chelsea just wanted to have a nice, normal wedding."

nathaniel.popper@latimes.com