A Weeklong Wedding

Last June, it was Nicole Kidman's wedding to Keith Urban that dominated headlines Down Under for a week.

James Packer and Erica Baxter

James Packer and Erica Baxter

Photo By WWD Staff

SYDNEY — Last June, it was Nicole Kidman's wedding to Keith Urban that dominated headlines Down Under for a week. Now, almost a year to the day later, Australia is gearing up for another megawedding — and this one's not even on home turf.

At sunset on Wednesday, James Packer, Australia's richest man, is expected to marry model-turned-singer Erica Baxter. Like last year's Kurban wedding, these nuptials will be staged against a seaside backdrop. But unlike Kidman's choice of Sydney's quaint Manly Beach, the Packer-Baxter nuptials will occur on the glamorous Côte d'Azur, with guests and a media pack assembling there at press time. They include Kidman's ex, Tom Cruise, a Packer confidante and fellow Scientologist, who was winging his way with wife Katie Holmes as early as this Tuesday or Wednesday, according to a source close to TomKat.

With a week's worth of planned festivities — including Monday's meet-and-greet party, Tuesday's beach bash-cruise and the wedding — Sydney's fashion set has been agog for months. "The ladies I've dressed are really dressing," said eveningwear designer Jonathan Ward. "All I know is I need lots of frocks," noted one guest who, like several others WWD spoke to, claimed to be in the dark about most of the wedding details.

Baxter will wear John Galliano for Christian Dior haute couture — an ivory and white version of a strapless, embroidered, flamenco-style tiered gown with a train from the spring collection, and an embroidered silk veil. Price is no object when your future husband boasts a net of worth 7.25 billion Australian dollars, or $6.32 billion at current exchange, according to the BRW Rich 200 list published in May — only weeks before Packer sold a further 25 percent of his PBL company to private equity firm CVC Asia Pacific, ceding control over his family's historic media empire in order to concentrate on its interests in gambling.

The Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat and the Hôtel du Cap- Eden Roc each report having been booked out by one mystery client from June 16 to 23. A shipboard civil ceremony on Packer's Arctic P superyacht is one mooted scenario — ditto a separate Scientology "celebration." In France as in Italy, where Cruise and Holmes celebrated their already-sealed union in November, a Scientology ceremony alone would not be legally recognized. But although a Nice, France-based Scientology minister told Sydney's Daily Telegraph that a large Scientology wedding in the region is imminent, with a senior representative flying in to officiate, he was unable to elaborate on speculation that Cruise himself might perform the ceremony.
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