What really happened the day Keith Urban married Nicole Kidman

In an exclusive extract, new details shed light on the wedding of the century
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Controlling the message was paramount for both Keith and Nicole, something that Father Paul Coleman, who was to conduct the marriage ceremony, learned very quickly.

He innocently told a reporter that the service would be short, sweet and simple, and that the couple was “very much in love”. 

Watch: Nicole Kidman reveals the moment Keith Urban won her over

Soon after, the padre was quietly told to “cool it” by the team running the big event, headed by Nicole’s publicist, Wendy Day.

Day had been down this road before, having corralled the media during the marriage of Russell Crowe, another high-profile client, to Danielle Spencer back in April 2003.

A few days prior to the wedding, some twenty photographers, who had set up camp outside the Kidman family home, started to stir when the garage door began opening. But they were very surprised by what they saw. Two unfamiliar women stood there, carrying a slab of beer and some water bottles. Sitting on top of this gift was a note: “Enjoy! Nicole and Keith.”

Earlier in the day, the assembled paparazzi had sung ‘Happy Birthday’ to Nicole – she turned 39 on June 20 – via the intercom. They had flowers for the birthday girl, who emerged, smiling. “Thank you for the flowers and the singing,” she said, before heading back inside. Nicole had history with ‘paps’, having famously clashed with photographer Jamie Fawcett in January 2005. She and Keith played this situation beautifully.

Come June 25 – the day before Bob Urban’s 64th birthday – and dozens of police officers and security guards patrolled the area outside the chapel, aided by some local volunteers sporting ‘Nicole and Keith’ T-shirts who helped with traffic control.

But the mood was more village fete than celebrity wedding, despite the media scrum and interested onlookers.

nicole and keith
In a service that Hugh Jackman described as “a natural, loving, real Aussie wedding”, the Kurbans said their vows. (Credit: Getty Images)

The invited guests soon began heading inside the chapel. Among them were Nicole’s adopted children, 13-year-old Isabella and 11-year-old Connor, who’d flown in from Tokyo by private jet.

Hollywood was represented by Naomi Watts, Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman and Baz Luhrmann. But they were outnumbered by music folk: Capitol Records label head Mike Dungan, Keith’s attorney Ansel Davis and his financial adviser Mary Ann McCready all flew in from the US, as did Keith’s manager, Gary Borman, and Anastasia Brown, who had worked with Keith during his days with The Ranch.

Keith’s producer Dann Huff was there, along with his engineer, Justin Niebank, his drummer, Chris McHugh, and co-writers Darrell Brown and Monty Powell. Kylie Minogue was also in the house, as was Angie Marquis, who’d started out with Keith in their duo California Suite.

Among Keith’s groomsmen were Marlon Holden, his old friend and bandmate from Queensland, and his brother Shane, who was best man. Antonia Kidman was her sister’s maid of honour; her bridesmaid was daughter Isabella, while her niece Lucia was a flower girl.

Keith, who had spent his buck’s night watching a soccer game at the Sydney Football Stadium, arrived in a silver BMW and ducked in a side door, looking slightly uncomfortable in a black tux and white vest. He was barely noticed by the crowd outside the chapel, or by the media choppers that hovered above. However, when those helicopters spotted the bride’s ride, a cream Rolls Royce, they swooped, seemingly as one – it was like a scene straight out of Apocalypse Now.

Nicole and Keith
Keith stated at the wedding, “You make me feel like I’m becoming the man I was always meant to be” (Credit: Getty Images)

None of this seemed to rattle Nicole, who emerged wearing a white Balenciaga gown. She was her usual sleek, stylish self, clutching a bouquet of white roses and working the crowd as she would an audience on opening night, oblivious to the commotion overhead.

“You are beautiful,” one onlooker called out to Nicole. “You are all beautiful,” she replied, as she headed inside the chapel, which was decorated with thousands of lit candles, white lilies and white orchids.

In a service that Hugh Jackman described as “a natural, loving, real Aussie wedding”, the Kurbans said their vows – Keith stated, “You make me feel like I’m becoming the man I was always meant to be” – and then it was over, seemingly in a heartbeat.

At 6.25pm, the chapel bells tolled for five minutes and everyone within earshot knew that the knot had been tied. The reception was held in a huge marquee, walking distance from the church.

The Urban/Kidmans chose Etta James’ ‘At Last’ as their wedding song and had taken dance lessons so they could impress their 230 guests. But what the onlookers didn’t expect was a snippet of Skyhooks’ ‘You Just Like Me ‘Cos I’m Good in Bed’, which blasted out of the speakers halfway through the song. “Just to keep it real,” laughed Keith, who was proud of their ruse. “The guests
were very surprised.”

Nicole and keith
The Urban/Kidmans chose Etta James’ ‘At Last’ as their wedding song and had taken dance lessons so they could impress their 230 guests. (Credit: Getty Images)

Later on, Keith’s fellow Kiwi/Aussie Neil Finn serenaded the newlyweds, and then Keith stepped up to the stage and sang ‘Making Memories of Us’ while looking deeply into his new wife’s eyes. It was as though the guests had somehow faded away for those few minutes. It was the second time in recent history that Keith had made his feelings known to Nicole via song.

When it came to the press, the couple played it like their wedding vows, keeping the message short and sweet. They issued a statement that read: “We just want to thank everyone in Australia and around the world who have sent us their warm wishes.”

People magazine was already working on their next cover, running the official wedding shot, which showed the couple cheek to cheek. “DREAM WEDDING!” the mag declared. “He cried, she cried – all about the couple’s romantic candlelit ceremony.”

Rob Potts and Kerry Roberts, two key members of Keith’s Aussie team, were wedding guests, and they thought it reasonable to provide 30-second grabs to the press, although they said little more than how wonderful the newlyweds looked, and how some people chose the chicken, others the fish. But this didn’t play especially well with the machine that ran the respective careers of the newlyweds.

Not long after Keith and Nicole returned from their Pacific Island honeymoon, Keith to continue working on his new record in Nashville, Nicole to shoot a film in Kosovo, Rob Potts received a terse message from Gary Borman: “Can you please take my artist off your website.” End message.

Potts, to his credit, held no ill-feeling towards Keith. As ruthless as this was, given their long association, he understood it was a flexing of managerial muscle. It wasn’t personal. “I intrinsically believe Keith is a lovely person,” Potts said in 2008.

Keith Urban by Jeff Apter, RRP $32.99 (Allen & Unwin), available now.

Keith urban
Keith Urban by Jeff Apter, RRP $32.99 (Allen & Unwin), available now.

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