CAPRI, ITALY: Sunday night.
Celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck married Gelila Assefa, the mother of his two sons, People.com reports. The superstar chef, who turned 58 on Sunday, and handbag designer, 38, had a three-day celebration over the weekend in Italy.
Puck’s combination marriage and birthday was a celebrity-studded affair on the magically romantic Italian island of Capri that ran around the clock for three days. It was the ultimate setting for the fairytale wedding of the decade, and Vegas was well represented for the festivities!
Guests came from as far away as Australia, Thailand, Austria, Ethiopia and all parts of America. Among those making the 8,000 mile round trip from Vegas was his restaurant executive team of Tom Kaplan, David Robins and Joe Essa. Also there boxing promoter Bob Arum and his wife Lovee, Southern Wines head honcho Larry Ruvo and his wife, Camille and yours truly! Wolf’s executive chef partner Lee Hefner from Spago, Los Angeles who will be opening Wolf’s new CUT restaurant in the new Venetian Palazzo resort early next year was also in the wedding group.
The 170 family members and close friends had a first night welcome dinner under the lemon trees of Ristorante Paolina with Wolf and his bride Gelila Assefa welcoming guests for the five course gourmet meal. She was a public relations executive at the Beverly Hills Peninsula Hotel, where they met. Gelila wore a J. Mendel couture dress and custom Christian Louboutin shoes. Before the dancing ended way after midnight, Gelila led all the guests in a “conga-line” around the tables with Wolf taking up the last spot.
Saturday’s wedding ceremony, performed by the Mayor of Capri, was a sunset 7-7-07 ceremony on a cliff-top terrace jutting out over the ocean with the bride and groom under an archway of white roses. Contractural exclusivity on the ceremony photos prevents LuxeLife from showing the actual wedding and first-kiss for now, but we will have the full collection of spectacular wedding photos later.
Actress Virginia Madson, TV mogul Norman Lear, super agent Jerry Perenchio, and Charlton Heston’s daughter, Marilyn joined my old pal, actor Peter Weller who now lives in nearby Positano on the Amalfi coast. They were among those walking through the line of traditional Italian musicians and dancers to the sunset ceremony. I had a lovely reunion with my old friend, Downtown Julie Brown who filmed “I’m a Celebrity—Get Me Out of Here” with me in Australia. Also attending: famed fashion designer James Galanos and Beverly Hills fashion king Fred Segal.
Musical superstar producer David Foster raced in after playing for Andrea Boccelli at a concert in Tuscany for a new PBS TV special. David brought a personalized version of “My Way” from Paul Anka—who had hoped to fly in from touring in Spain to sing and play to the newly-weds.
The Dom Perignon champagne reception was held pool-side at the Quisana Hotel, followed by the wedding dinner in a ballroom decorated in massive white orchid centerpieces. An impressive four-tiered white wedding cake was served after a fabulous fireworks display set off from a boat in the adjoining harbor.
Despite another pre-dawn ending to the second day of fun in the Mediterranean sun, yesterday was Wolf’s 58th birthday blast. He’d chartered a ferry-boat from near the world-famous Blue Grotto to take the group across the water to Ristorante Quatro Passi atop the village of Nerano on the Amalfi coast—and that five hour luncheon ended with yet more champagne and birthday cake.
I treasure my near 30-year friendship with Wolf, and he summed up the fabulous weekend best: “This was the happiest weekend of my life. I am the luckiest man in the world to come from a tiny town in Austria, find success in America and now love with a beautiful lady. Nothing could possibly be any better. This is the most romantic part of the world and Gelila and I wanted to share our happiness with our families and closest friends. Everything was perfect. This is heaven on earth.”