NEW ORLEANS: Star wattage abounded in New Orleans on Thursday (Friday in Manila) as A-list celebrities gathered for the wedding of tennis superstar Serena Williams and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.
Despite the media frenzy, the happy couple released few details of their ceremony. But unnamed sources told People magazine and the Daily Mail that some 250 guests were invited to the festivities at the southern US city’s Contemporary Arts Center.
Legendary Vogue magazine editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, reality TV star Kim Kardashian, actress Eva Longoria and singer Ciara were all spotted arriving at the arts complex. Music royalty Beyonce was also expected to attend.
Security for the event was tight. An entire block in the Big Easy — a city known for its jazz music and party atmosphere — was closed to traffic.
A steady train of black SUVs brought members of the wedding party to the event, as workers hurried final preparations for the festivities.
According the entertainment website ETonline, the wedding was to have a “Beauty and the Beast” theme. It said the tennis star’s sister Venus was seen late Wednesday leaving the arts center.
Workers could be seen early Thursday transforming the arts complex for the ceremony, while the parking lot beside the building was full of tents and trucks unloading flowers, tables, carpets, wardrobe, and musicians.
Chefs cooked in an outdoor tent, and the locally popular New Orleans band Naughty Professor were seen arriving in the late afternoon.
The Daily Mail said the event would cost more than $1 million and guests would be asked not to bring their cell phones, because an exclusive photo deal had been signed with Vogue.
Williams, 36, a 23-time Grand Slam champion, and Ohanian, 34, welcomed their first child, daughter Alexis Olympia, on September 1.
They announced their engagement in December after meeting in 2015 in Rome.
While New Orleans was no stranger to celebrities and weddings, the star wattage Thursday stirred up extra excitement in the city.
Linda Davis and Cora Riley drove four hours from the small Louisiana town of DeRidder just to get a glimpse of the tennis champion. They waited outside the arts complex for several hours.
“We love her. She’s classy. She and Venus. They never complain,” Riley told Agence France-Presse.
“We’re so glad she found happiness. Little baby Alexis is so precious,” said Mary Huber, who was among a small group who took a break from work to observe the hectic scene.
Williams won this year’s Australian Open while pregnant, and is expected to defend her title in Melbourne in 2018 — just four-and-a-half months after giving birth to her child.
The Contemporary Arts Center is a large, four-story, multi-disciplinary complex boasting of approximately 10,000 square feet (929 square meters) of gallery space.