LOS ANGELES >> Will and Kate were just the warm-up for the true wedding of the century.
After years of cohabitation, six kids and countless tabloid headlines, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie made it official: They plan to make it official.
If you thought the media circus involving the world’s most glamorous couple was on overdrive before, just wait. Now that Brangelina are officially engaged, expect endless speculation about where and when they’ll wed, what they’ll wear, what their kids’ roles will be, and who might get to attend the celebration.
"This is really a state wedding," said Stephen Galloway, executive editor of features at The Hollywood Reporter. "This is America’s equivalent to Prince William and Kate Middleton."
He called the Brangelina wedding "the media event of the new century."
Pitt’s manager confirmed the couple’s engagement Friday after Jolie was spotted wearing a diamond ring on her wedding finger. Jeweler Robert Procop said he spent a year working with Pitt to design the ring.
"The prominent engagement ring is giving the world a warning," Galloway said. "It says look out, get ready."
But Bradley Jacobs, a senior editor at Us Weekly, sees things differently. He anticipates the wedding will be a private, even low-key affair.
"I don’t think you’re going to see a bunch of fanfare," he said. "It’s certainly not going to be a Kim Kardashian-style wedding… It’s going to be very subdued."
Still, expect massive media coverage either way: "We will not rest until we know when and where and how and who’s going to be there," Jacobs said.
Entire magazine issues could be devoted to each star’s wedding-day outfits and hairdos.
"Every single designer on the planet will be pursuing Angelina for the dress," Galloway said. "It’s literally worth millions of dollars in business."
Jolie’s wedding dress is a career-making outfit for the winning designer.
Even Pitt’s look leaves room for ample speculation: Long hair or short? Facial scruff or clean shaven? A classic tuxedo? And designed by whom?
Then there’s the guest list. Who will be the best man and maid of honor? Will Jolie’s father, Jon Voight, attend? Will George Clooney be in the house? Jolie has said she doesn’t have many close friends.
"This is going to be a map of the inner state of their private life," Galloway said. "This is like Kremlinology. You’ll be able to read all sorts of things into this wedding."
Unless, of course, the two elope.
The timing of the engagement and the wedding are also fodder for editorial exploration. The couple long maintained that they wouldn’t marry until the right to do so was extended to all Americans, but when Galloway interviewed Pitt for a February cover story, the 48-year-old actor said he didn’t think they’d be able to hold out that long.
"It means so much to my kids, and they ask about it," Pitt said at the time. "And it means something to me, too, to make that kind of commitment."
But days later, he backtracked, saying he’d spoken too soon.
"There’s a certain mystery in these contradictory statements made in the weeks leading up to this (engagement news)," Galloway said. "People who’ve been together a long time get married when things are great or when you want to shore up things that are not so great."
The A-listers have been partners since they began a relationship in 2005 while working on the film "Mr. & Mrs. Smith."
Already megawatt superstars in their own right, the romantic pairing of Pitt and Jolie instantly made them Hollywood’s most glamorous and photographed couple. The fact that Pitt was still married to Jennifer Anniston when he met Jolie only fueled the tabloid fire; Pitt and Aniston divorced in 2005 after five years of marriage.
Jolie was previously married to Billy Bob Thornton and British actor Jonny Lee Miller.
Regardless of the size of the celebration or where it takes place, the Jolie-Pitt wedding has major economic implications. Journalists from all over the world will swarm to the wedding location; the designers of each nuptial element will see their businesses boom; the rights to the photos and footage will be haggled over by publishers and broadcasters with deep pockets.
Galloway predicts the bidding has already begun.
"A mini-industry in itself will be created as a result," he said. "The money generated by the wedding in direct fees to them and indirect income to other people will be more than the equivalent of everything the two of them have earned in their career. You’re talking about two empires meeting."
Some of that revenue will, of course, be in magazine sales.
After the rash of celebrity divorces last year, Brangelina fans "will be happy to see them affirm their relationship and what they mean to each other," Jacobs said.
And they might be just as eager to read accounts of why the wedding is not to be. Galloway speculates that "between now and whenever the wedding takes place, there will be at least a dozen stories that say it’s off; Brangelina call it quits."