As Ant McPartlin and Anne-Marie Corbett emerged from the church after exchanging vows last week, it was clear by the huge smiles on their faces how happy they were to finally become husband and wife. The couple tied the knot in front of 100 guests in Hampshire on Saturday 7 August, and posed for photos outside the church before being driven away to their reception at the exclusive Heckfield Place Hotel.
Bride Anne-Marie, 43, wore a £15,000 bespoke, floor-length off-the-shoulder dress by Suzanne Neville, while Ant looked dapper in his black tux. The couple held hands and smiled as they stood together beneath a beautiful floral arch. But what happened behind closed doors once they and a gaggle of showbiz pals gathered for speeches, toasts and partying? Quite a lot actually…
“When Anne-Marie walked into the church, I had to fight to hold it together as she looked so beautiful,” Ant said during a heartfelt monologue. He also thanked Anne-Marie’s mother for allowing him to marry her, and added, “This beautiful woman saved my life.” After warming up the audience by rather awkwardly joking, “My name is Ant and I’m an alcoholic,” the TV presenter went on to talk about how his new missus had “put him back together again” after his life fell apart.
Ant, 44, and Anne-Marie got together soon after he split from first wife Lisa Armstrong and had been in rehab twice for his drink and drug issues, which culminated in his being arrested. Anne-Marie used to work as his PA and has two teenage daughters, Poppy and Daisy, from her first marriage. They both played a big part in the day. During the ceremony, the girls performed readings, including Richard Bach’s The Bridge Across The River. Ant also told guests how he loved being part of their lives and said, “I’m grateful they call me Dad,” while Anne-Marie’s mother thanked him for being a “great stepdad”.
Declan Donnelly was unsurprisingly Declan Donnelly ©Getty
Unsurprisingly, Ant’s best man was his TV sidekick Declan Donnelly, who told guests that Ant was the “best friend a man could have”. He also read a prayer. Ant and Anne-Marie had their first dance to a medley by Coldplay, then the wedding party danced the night away to Abba tribute band Björn Again and barbershop quartet The Herringbone Cocktail Club. And, according to guests, it was quite the party.
Christine Lampard attended with husband Frank, and still appeared to be suffering when she was back on TV the following Monday. “Ant and Anne-Marie, they tied the knot on Saturday, beautiful wedding ceremony, beautiful wedding and clearly an even better night-time party,” she said. “Because not only was I screaming over the music talking to everybody, but I was obviously singing as well, and the voice went yesterday.”
CHECK OUT Ant and Dec’s career timeline
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And & Dec: Early career
Ant & Dec as PJ and Duncan
In 1989 Dec landed a part on BBC children’s drama Byker Grove, playing Duncan. A year later Ant was cast as PJ – PJ and Duncan was born.
Another career change for the boys came in 1994, when they began as co-presenters of children’s show Gimme 5 on CITV. Just a year later they landed their own programme, The Ant & Dec Show, this time on CBBC.
Cat Deeley and husband Patrick were among the guests ©Getty
And it seemed as if everyone who’s anyone in British telly got an invite. Ant and Dec’s Britain’s Got Talent co-stars Alesha Dixon and David Walliams – who brought along his model ex Keeley Hazell – were there, as was Dermot O’Leary and his wife Dee, Phillip Schofield and his wife Steph (who didn’t seem to be wearing her wedding band), and the lads’ SM:TV co-star Cat Deeley, who attended with her husband Patrick Kielty.
But there were some notable absentees among Ant’s closest starry friends, including Amanda Holden, Simon Cowell, Piers Morgan and Holly Willoughby. Amanda was on holiday and wrote on Instagram that she was “so sorry” to miss the special day, before adding, “Sending our love and huge congratulations to Ant & Amzie on this amazing day.”
Reports claimed that Holly had decided to miss Ant’s big day because she’s currently embroiled in a legal battle with her old management company, which also happens to represent Ant and Dec. An insider claimed, “Holly is an incredibly close friend of Ant’s, so when she failed to turn up at the church or the reception, it got people talking. People who know her said she swerved the wedding, as it would have been hugely awkward for her to come face-to-face with the people she is battling with.”
However, sources close to the 40-year-old This Morning star insisted it was for very different reasons, saying, “Holly would not have missed Ant’s wedding if she really couldn’t help it. She wouldn’t miss a friend’s wedding because of anything business-related. That’s just not the case. Anyone who knows her will tell you how important friendships are to her. There’s another reason she couldn’t be there, and she’s explained this to the people who matter: Ant and Anne-Marie.”
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Another MIA guest was Ant’s beloved chocolate Labrador Hurley, who he shares with ex-wife Lisa Armstrong. On the weekend of the wedding, the pooch was spotted with Lisa and her new boyfriend James Green. As heat told you last week, Lisa, 44, found the wedding day hard, especially because it was so public. And she couldn’t help spreading a little bit of mischief on Twitter. On the morning of Ant’s big day, it had started raining before the sun came out, and Lisa liked a tweet that said, “Terrible weather in Hampshire today.” She also liked one that read, “Lisa, you have been in my thoughts… true legend. Stay head high.”
Our sources say Lisa wanted people to know she was finding it hard. “Lisa is really happy in her own life, but she was upset on the wedding day,” we’re told. “It was understandably hard for her to see all the pictures and everyone talking about it, but she’s happy she had James with her to support her. Now she’s just glad it’s all over.
The new Mr and Mrs McPartlin are now said to be gearing up for a familymoon with her two daughters, as they take some time out to relax after all the stress and build-up to the big showbiz event. “Ant and Anne-Marie both say the wedding was the greatest day of their lives and they can’t wait to start their new life together with Anne-Marie’s daughters,” we’re told. “They feel like a proper family now. They had always been close, but getting married has just tied them all together and they were just so grateful they had so many people attend their wedding.They wanted it to be a thank you to everyone who has been there for them over the past few years.”
Read more in the latest issue of heat magazine – OUT NOW.