SUMMERFIELD — If not for the multiple tour busses parked out front and the small crowd of fans lining the highway, it might have been any other traditional Island wedding.
But they were – and this wasn’t.
This was the wedding of adoptive Islanders, Dion Phaneuf, captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and Hollywood actress, Elisha Cuthbert.
The wedding took place at St. James Catholic Church in Summerfield, a modest looking little white church on a hill, replete with a commanding view of rolling farmland on all sides.
Large “D & E” lettering had been attached to the side of the building for the big day, as if people needed the hint to know what was happening inside.
The nuptials, supposedly a closely-guarded secret, have been anything but.
Islanders have been talking about this particular shindig for months.
So, it should have come as no surprise to the bride and groom when they were greeted at the church by cars lining the highway on either side, a small crowd of fans, cameras at the ready, standing just off the church property and handful of reporters, all wilting in the 30 degree heat waiting for their shots.
The wedding was rumoured to start at 3 p.m. It was actually supposed to start at 4.
The bride arrived late at 4:30.
According to a reporter from the Toronto Star, who crashed the ceremony, Phaneuf asked Rev. Paul Egan “Is this normal?’’ as the clock ticked away and his bride was still nowhere to be seen.
“Calm down, son. Brides are always late,” reportedly replied Egan.
Though, he added, “Never had one late by half an hour though.’’
In fairness to Cuthbert, she wasn’t really late.
The big SUV carrying the starlet and her bridesmaids was roughly on time. But the guests just kept coming and coming and it took a while to fit them all into the small wooden church.
There were at least four tour buses filled with guests arriving from Charlottetown, not to mention a parking lot filled with cars.
About 300 guests were expected — if reports are to be believed — and were to include a goodly amount of current and former Leafs.
Somebody who wasn’t on the guest list but who showed up anyway to take a look was Julie Walker.
She went to school with Phaneuf’s parents, Paul and Amber (nee MacArthur), and has kept in touch with his mother over the years.
His mother was born and grew on P.E.I. He has family on the Island, including his grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.
The Island’s Attorney General, Janice Sherry, is Phaneuf’s aunt.
Julie was curious to see what all the hubbub was about so she came to take a look with her mother, Elizabeth.
The bride and all the guests looked very pretty, said Julie, but she couldn’t help but feel a twinge of disappointment.
“It’s not as glamorous as I thought it would be. It’s an Island wedding,” she said.
“But I’m glad I witnessed it. We wish them a long and happy life.”
“We wish we knew more of those hockey players,” added Elizabeth with a grin.
But, this being P.E.I., everyone standing along the highway seemed a bit uneasy about being there, a bit embarrassed to be intruding but curious enough to stay put.
When Cuthbert finally made her big appearance, resplendent in her flowing white gown, there were a few giddy sighs amongst the onlookers and murmured comments about how beautiful the bride was.
As the bridesmaids and Cuthbert arranged themselves outside the church the starlet started giving out high-fives to her attendants.
And, as they ascended the stairs into the small church, the people along the roadway started clapping and a few called out well wishes.
Cuthbert turned and waved before taking her escort’s hand and finally entering the church to take her vows.
Later, after the couple reemerged as husband and wife, they drove away from the ceremony in a vintage Camaro SS that Cuthbert gave to Phaneuf as a wedding gift.
The reception, which was reportedly a star-studded affair, took place at their New London summer home.