When perennial bachelor Hugh Hefner meets his bride-to-be Kimberley Conrad at the altar on Saturday, he won't be wearing pajamas, she won't be in a skimpy negligee and there won't be a hidden bunny logo anywhere.
The two will be married in an elaborate but traditional ceremony at the Playboy Mansion in Holmby Hills, witnessed by 400 guests who will then party the night away under a tent of 15,000 yards of white satin twill, inhaling the wafting scent of 10,000 white roses, eating imported cheese and smoked fish flown in from Europe and dancing to a 25-piece band.
It's all under the control of 27-year-old Colin Cowie, a dapper, tanned former model who was brought in (via a Playboy exec who knew his work) a scant five weeks ago to organize and cater the affair.
"Originally they were going to do the wedding in-house," he explains in a clipped British accent while sitting in his small but tasteful office across from the Beverly Center. "There was no real focus as to someone taking control, making decisions, getting the ball rolling. I had one interview with Hefner and Kimberley, and she said, 'You must go and do what you have to do.' From then it was like 24-hour days, preparing the budget, concept and plan, running around with swatches of fabric.
"One thing I must say," he adds, "is it's not at all Hollywood. It's not glitz. It's like taking a little piece of Europe and putting it in Beverly Hills for eight or nine hours. My background is totally European in terms of entertaining, and I think we've come up with a very tasteful and elegant ambiance the way the whole thing runs."
Cowie declined to discuss the cost of the wedding, or reveal the guest list with the exception of one name on it, Bill Cosby.
According to Cowie, guests will enter the mansion from the Mapleton Drive entrance (garlanded) after being carefully screened by security. Following light drinks and serenading by a string trio in the pool pavilion, they'll be escorted to the front lawn and the wishing well, where Hef proposed to Conrad last year.
They'll be led to their seats by ushers dressed in uniforms with white tunic tops trimmed with gold braid, gold epaulets and brass buttons, while a string quartet plays off to the side.
The 63-year-old Hefner, wearing a vested tuxedo, will walk to the wishing well from the side. Conrad's entrance down the mansion's grand staircase (also garlanded) will be heralded by trumpeters playing Jeremiah Clarke's "Trumpet Voluntary." It's the same music that filled St. Paul's Cathedral when Princess Diana strolled down the aisle.
Conrad, 26, will be given away by her father, Robert Conrad (not the actor), and her matron of honor will be her sister, Resa Miller (there are no bridesmaids). Hef's best man will be his brother Keith, and the Rev. Charles D. Ara will perform the nondenominational ceremony described as traditional, meaning there won't be any original vows or recitation of Kahlil Gibran.
The bridal gown was created by New York designer Jim Hjelm, whose gowns wholesale for $600 to $2,000. Conrad's is a slightly off-white dress of taffeta-style silk with a drop waist and full, gathered skirt. The strapless brocade bodice is decorated with pearls and bows. For the ceremony she'll wear a jacket with a high neck and sleeves that are puffed at the shoulder and tight from the elbow down. The chapel-length train is embroidered with the couple's initials, and Conrad will have a short veil with a wreath-style headpiece dotted with pearls. Her blond hair will be worn long and slightly curled.
Her sister will wear a rose gown and a wreath-style hairpiece braided with lily of the valley. Both bouquets will feature white roses and lily of the valley.
After the ceremony guests will go through the house to the party tent with its rug of Astroturf for champagne and canapes before the multicourse buffet dinner begins.
Cowie describes the buffet set-up as having "elements of change on a regular basis." Two buffet tables will be set up on opposite sides of the tent, decorated with urns of white roses (the only decorative flower) and busts of women on garlanded pedestals (being custom-made in Palm Springs). After each course a curtain of white satin twill will be electronically lowered while the food and the settings are changed. Ceiling lights will be fitted with different color gels to alter the mood as well. Each table, draped in white taffeta with a centerpiece of white roses, will have a copy of the menu displayed inside an antiqued silver frame.
Starts With Caviar
For the first course of caviar the top of the buffet will be draped in purple satin and accented with purple orchids. Waiters--wearing those white and gold uniforms--will have matching purple sashes.
The cheese course features imported cheeses flown in from Europe, served on sheet of glass that will rest on a bed of real oak leaves. Red wine and port will be served alongside.