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The Girl Next Door


TomKat Join Packer Wedding Party

By Valkerie Mangnall

Cruise, wife Katie Holmes and their daughter Suri joined in the wedding celebrations for James Packer and Erica Baxter in the French Riviera today.

The Cruise family were at the exclusive Hotel du Cap Eden Roc, which Mr Packer has hired out for the wedding party and guests ahead of the nuptials, which are expected to take place tomorrow night local time.

Rumours were gathering pace in the south of France and on Hollywood gossip websites that fellow Scientologist and Hollywood star Cruise would act as celebrant at the wedding.

Cruise is now apparently qualified to perform Scientology weddings.

Cruise, wearing a multi-coloured striped polo shirt, walked down the front steps of the hotel with his wife, who was wearing what appeared to be a black wrap draped over her shoulders and was carrying the couple's 14-month-old daughter.

They got into a waiting silver car and waited for a short time, possibly discussing how to evade the throng of photographers and camera crews gathered at the front gate.

The car then drove off, using a side exit before driving straight past the main entrance with the media in hot pursuit.

Earlier, Mr Packer and Miss Baxter caught a zodiac across to the hotel from their luxury cruiser, the Arctic P, closely followed by Packer family matriarch Ros.

They were joined by several friends, many of whom carried matching white and blue beach bags packed to the brim.

The party has well and truly started on the Cote d'Azur. All that remains is the wedding ceremony itself.

But exactly where, when and how Mr Packer and Miss Baxter will marry remained a tightly-protected secret as preparations continued.

Friends and guests of Australia's richest man jetted in from all corners of the globe for the $A6 million wedding, but none admitted to knowing what they were in for.

"We've all been kept in the dark, so it's a nice surprise," said Sarah Murdoch, the wife of Packer's mate Lachlan Murdoch.

The wedding of the 39-year-old media and gaming mogul to the 29-year-old model turned singer from Gunnedah looks set to take place aboard the Arctic P.

The converted icebreaker last year hosted Cruise and Holmes on their honeymoon.

Much of the pre-wedding action has been taking place on the cobalt waters of the Mediterranean off Cap d'Antibes.

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch yesterday enjoyed time on his yacht, the Rose Hearty, with his wife, Wendi Deng, and their two daughters, Grace and Chloe.

Murdoch's son Lachlan swam to his father's craft from his own yacht moored nearby, the Graziella, spurning an offer of a lift with his wife, Mr Packer and Miss Baxter as they sped past in a zodiac.

Ms Murdoch said she had been looking forward to days of water sports and relaxation, adding: "All the Aussies are here."

As with all good weddings, details of the bridal gown remain a closely-guarded secret, although one report suggests it will be a $A100,000 haute couture number.

For guests, the dress code for each lavish occasion appeared to be one thing they had been briefed on.

Ms Murdoch, who married Lachlan in 1999, will appear at the wedding in an outfit by Australian designer Willow.

Nine Network reporter Leila McKinnon, who is married to former Nine boss and Mr Packer's close friend, David Gyngell, will wear a dress by Carolina Herrera.

Television and AFL personality Eddie McGuire said he won't be acting as MC, which perhaps points to broadcaster and Packer friend Alan Jones filling that role.

"I'll be giving them a toaster," Mr McGuire said of his wedding gift.

Miss Baxter will walk down the aisle with her father Michael, a solicitor from Gunnedah in north western NSW.