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Rory Kennedy weds in Athens

By Elena Bacatoros, Associated Press, 08/03/99

ATHENS, Greece -- Rory Kennedy, whose wedding was called off after the death of her cousin John F. Kennedy Jr., was married in a private ceremony at the home of a Greek shipping magnate.

Ms. Kennedy married Mark Bailey late Monday on the grounds of the family compound of shipowner Vardis Vardinoyiannis in the exclusive northern Athens suburb of Ekali, ``in a close family circle,'' Vardinoyiannis' office said today.

His office would not confirm or deny media reports that the couple had left on a honeymoon cruise aboard the Vardinoyiannis yacht.

Footage broadcast by the private Skai television channel showed distant images of a blond woman in a white wedding gown boarding a yacht, reportedly a Vardinoyiannis family motor cruiser, at 2 a.m. after getting out of a dark limousine.

JFK Jr., his wife Carolyn Bessette Kennedy and her sister Lauren Bessette were killed July 16 when their plane crashed en route to Martha's Vineyard and Cape Cod for Ms. Kennedy's wedding. The wedding, which had been scheduled at the family compound in Hyannis Port, Mass., on July 17, was canceled. The small number of guests at Monday night's ceremony reportedly included Ms. Kennedy's mother, Ethel Kennedy, as well as Vardinoyiannis and his wife, Marianna Vardinoyiannis, who are family friends. Their office declined to release a guest list.

Ms. Kennedy, 30, is the last of 11 children born to Ethel and the late Sen. Robert Kennedy. She was born after her father was assassinated in 1968.

Mrs. Vardinoyiannis is the representative here of the Washington-based Robert F. Kennedy Memorial foundation and is on the board of directors of the Special Olympics, which was founded by one of the bride's aunts, Eunice Kennedy Shriver.

The Vardinoyiannis compound, which covers a whole block in the leafy suburb, is surrounded by a nine-foot-high wall, and several guards kept media at a distance Monday night.

Candles lined the driveway leading to a reception area, while the sounds of Frank Sinatra music and the clinking of glasses could be heard coming from inside the compound.

According to Skai, Ethel Kennedy was to return to the United States soon after the wedding. Ties between the Kennedys and the Vardinoyiannis family reportedly go back several years. In 1993, Mary Courtney Kennedy, an elder sister of the bride, married Paul Hill on the same yacht, the Varmar VE.

Kennedys have been frequent guests on the Varmar VE -- most recently, Maria Shriver and her husband Arnold Schwarzenegger, who were reportedly on board last month.

According to the Athens daily Eletheros Typos, Mr. and Mrs. Vardinoyiannis, who had been invited to the Hyannis Port wedding, suggested using the yacht for the ceremony to Ethel Kennedy after JFK Jr.'s death.


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