The Rev. Susan Brown confirmed that the wedding came off as expected Friday night in Skibo Castle in the Scottish Highlands. Her terse confirmation - "it did happen," she told reporters outside her home - ended long hours of speculation. The ceremony was shrouded in secrecy, and until Saturday there was no official word that vows had been exchanged.
Hundreds of reporters posted for hours outside the castle in freezing weather gave up their vigil and retreated in the early hours Saturday. They were at a loss to know what transpired inside: No guests spoke with them, Madonna's public relations staff refused to talk and even the Material Girl's Web site withheld any details.
Everything from the time of the ceremony to the guest list and the details of the pop diva's dress was secret.
Until Brown spoke out, the only reports on the ceremony came from the British tabloids, which said the wedding took place and provided a few details without revealing their sources.
The Sun and The Mirror declared the ceremony took place with 60 guests present in the castle's chapel. The Mail said "Madonna the Secret Bride" was wed surrounded by red roses.
The Rev. Brown, who has been dubbed "Holy Spice" by her parishioners, baptized the couple's son and also conducted the wedding. She says she worked through third parties without knowing who the bride was until the last minute to plan most of the wedding. CBS News Correspondent Kimberly Dozier reports from Dornoch that the Reverend Brown says she had a special gift for the couple a roll of toilet paper to demonstrate a symbol of love that is "strong, soft and long."
Asked if the couple had had pre-wedding nerves, she replied, "It would be an unusual couple if either party didn't have a turn of nerves before the event. I get nervous before every service."
Secrecy also surrounded Madonna's first marriage, to actor Sean Penn in 1985. The elaborate procedures required guests to telephone almost at the last minute to find out where the celebration was being held. The couple divorced in 1989.
Movie director Ritchie is best known for the film "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels." It is his first marriage.
One of the first clues Friday afternoon that the wedding neared was a sighting of pop star Sting, wearing a kilt as he entered Skibo Castle. His wife, Trudie Styler, who first introduced Madonna and Ritchie, arrived later.
Fashion designer Donatella Versace later swept through the gates. Gwyneth Paltrow, designer Stella McCartney and actor Rupert Everett were known to have arrived, but other celebrity guests apparently eluded reporters.
McCartney, daughter of ex-Beatle Sir Paul McCartney, is believed to have designed Madonna's wedding dress but not a word of description leaed out of Skibo. London jeweler Susy Lauder said that the singer had chosen an antique $72,000 French bracelet studded with diamonds because it was "in keeping with the gothic style wedding dress Madonna is going to wear."
The Alfred Dunhill company announced that Ritchie would wear a lovat green jacket of Shetland tweed with matching tie and socks, and a plain white cotton shirt with a 1930s-style straight collar.
The ensemble may have included a Mackintosh tartan kilt, the garment which has fascinated the tabloids and caused fevered speculation about whether he would follow the Scots tradition of spurning underpants.
On Thursday evening, Madonna, 42, and Ritchie, 32, took their 4-month-old son Rocco to the cathedral in nearby Dornoch to be baptized by Rev. Brown, to the delight of several hundred local people who joined the media crush outside.
But in the chill of Friday evening, with no idea when the media vigil might end, local people were a little scarce. They were far outnumbered by representatives of the news media of many nations, all waiting for a wedding announcement.
Rev. Brown, the Church of Scotland clergywoman who was to marry the couple, said beforehand that the wedding would be a "special and meaningful" occasion for Madonna and Ritchie.
"I hope the service is one we can enjoy above else. It's good a couple want to commit themselves to each other for life. It is a big day for them and their friends and family," she said.
Asked if the couple had pre-wedding nerves, she replied, "It would be an unusual couple if either party didn't have a turn of nerves before the event. I get nervous before every service."
On Friday evening, police released a 51-year-old unemployed man who was discovered in the cathedral and arrested after Rocco's christening. He is to appear in court next week to be charged. Police said he did not interrupt the service and was detained after the ceremony finished.
A 33-year-old man arrested in Dornoch early Friday was also released, to appear in court next week. Details of that case were not available but police said the incidents were not connected and neither man was involved in the news media.
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