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(photo credit: AP)
Nicole Kidman's wedding to countryman Keith Urban at a clifftop chapel in her hometown of Sydney is more than a homecoming for the Australian star.
Yesterday's wedding put a final cap on more than a decade of tumultuous association with Tom Cruise, and marks a shift toward simpler things for the actress who has juggled A-list celebrity with a drive for acting credibility that has made her one of Hollywood's most powerful women.
An Oscar winner who commands more than US $10 million per movie, Kidman has indicated a strong desire to tone down the spotlight on her personal life.
The low-key nature of her relationship with Urban, an up-and-coming Nashville singer-guitarist with rock star good looks, stands in stark contrast to the Cruise-Kidman celebrity melodrama that played out on cinema red carpets, the Oprah Winfrey show and supermarket tabloids.
She and Urban, who won a Grammy this year but whose celebrity glow is far outshone by Kidman's, kept their relationship secret for months, and only confirmed the wedding this week after arriving in Australia, saying they wanted to their celebrations to be close to home.
The ceremony was a traditional Catholic affair, held in private - but after Kidman rode across Sydney in a limousine, waving to the crowds. Kidman wore a white Balenciaga gown, draped in a veil and clutching a bouquet of white roses. About 90 minutes after arriving, the bells of the church rang out, indicating the ceremony was over.
Urban's manager Rob Potts said they wanted the event to be "normal," like any other gathering with family and friends.
When they return to the United States, Kidman has said she will leave Hollywood to make a home with Urban in Nashville. The Roman Catholic wedding ceremony also marks a break with the Church of Scientology Cruise brought Kidman into, and is a childhood dream, friends have reportedly said. The pastor who performed the ceremony, Father Paul Coleman, told the Catholic News Service recently, "For Nicole, you know this is a spiritual homecoming, coming back to the church and her faith."
But with friends like Kidman's, making a return to humble origins is a tall order.
Helicopters buzzed over the gothic-style church full of media hoping to snap an exclusive photograph that could be worth a fortune in gossipy magazine sales.
Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman and Naomi Watts - all of whom are antipodean expatriates made good in Hollywood that Kidman has known for years - are among guests on the bride's side of the church. Fox Studios owner and media magnate Rupert Murdoch also attended.
Urban's side was less star-studded, including family who flew in from Maroochydore in Queensland state on a budget airlines flight.
Kidman had a meteoric rise in Hollywood, marked in part by her willingness to take on challenging roles that defined her as not just Cruise's wife.
Kidman and Cruise fell in love on set and they married in December 1990, but Kidman was careful to protect her reputation as an actor in her own right.
The couple adopted two children, and Kidman joined the Scientologists. Their last film together was Stanley Kubrick's 1999 sexual thriller Eyes Wide Shut, in which they played a wealthy couple in a troubled marriage.
Kidman and Cruise separated in 2001, after a decade as the Hollywood couple - long before Brad and Angelina. Kidman has said the split was painful for her, perhaps made more difficult by Cruise's high-profile relationships, culminating in the highly anticipated birth of his daughter Suri with actress Katie Holmes in April.
Kidman and Urban were introduced by Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer at an Australian promotional function in Los Angeles in January 2005, the minister revealed recently.
Urban, at 38 one year younger than Kidman, was born in Whangarei, New Zealand, and was raised in Queensland. He moved to Nashville in 1992 where he admits he struggled with cocaine abuse. He has cleaned up, and his career hit a high note this year when he won the Grammy for best male country vocal performance.
Kidman has indicated their relationship is the key to a less melodramatic lifestyle.