/ 3 September 2014

Celebrities’ privacy: Whose wedding is it anyway?

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie got married two weekends ago without the media’s knowledge
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie got married two weekends ago without the media’s knowledge

The world was waiting for Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt’s wedding day. No doubt tabloids had paparazzi choppers ready to get snaps of the dress, and exclusive wedding photo rights had been negotiated. But just like the secret agent duo they played in the 2005 movie Mr and Mrs Smith, the two got married two weekends ago without the media’s knowledge. 

News broke last week that the couple finally tied the knot, after their two-year engagement. This week, exclusive photos of their wedding day were revealed by People and Hello! magazine. According to the Guardian, the couple’s spokesperson confirmed that Jolie and Pitt – who have six children together – got married in France on Saturday August 23. 

It was reported that the wedding took place in Château Miraval, at the couple’s 1 000-acre property in the south of France. The public has been speculating about the wedding day for longer than their engagement was announced, yet Jolie and Pitt managed to preserve one of modern day’s most sought-after commodities – privacy. 

Question is; if Brangelina can lock the media out of certain aspects of their life, why is it so hard for other celebrities to do the same? To what extent are those nude photos, sex tapes or topless selfies orchestrated “leaks”? 

“Brad and Angelina’s wedding was only ‘secret’ until People came out with the pictures this week. And it wasn’t actually secret because we all heard about it on Monday, no doubt leaked by People to increase interest in the issue that came out a couple of days later,” said Melinda Shaw, who works as a publicist for some of biggest celebrity names in South Africa. 

So how did Brangelina pull off their private-intimate wedding ceremony? According to Shaw: 

  • They kept a low profile and avoided discussing or theorising about their wedding with the media;
  • They kept it simple (in other words they didn’t fly their celebrity friends from one city to another for wedding festivities);
  • They got married in their own private space (in their French estate), at an inaccessible venue;
  • They invited their nearest and dearest loyal friends who refrained from tweeting cryptically on social media; and
  • They hired discreet people to plan their wedding. 

A lesson from the Carters
Brangelina are not the first celebrity couple to have fooled the press. Beyoncé Knowles and Jay Z tied the knot on April 4 2008 in what was reported to be a private affair as desired by Jay Z. According to TMZ reports, the wedding guests’ cell phones had to stay in the car with the hired drivers. 

The drivers told TMZ that they were hired three days before the wedding but their arrangement was cancelled early on the wedding day. The drivers were called back on later that day to drive around the guests. 

This was probably the couple’s security detail’s way of throwing people off the scent. Knowles and Jay Z did not release an official statement to comment on their nuptials when rumours and speculations were doing the rounds. But when the time was right for Knowles, she opened up about her wedding day to Essence magazine in its November 2008 issue. 

“[Not speaking] controls your brand; it controls what you want to put out there and kind of forces people to talk about what you want them to talk about,” she told Essence. Knowles’s wedding, like Jolie’s, was close to home, which made it harder for outsiders to infiltrate their personal space. 

Shaw believes the best way to have a private wedding is to hold the ceremony somewhere inaccessible. “Privacy is totally possible. But then the celebs really have to want it, which, in the case of most people who live their lives in the public eye and gets validation from the spotlight, they usually don’t, not really.”

Keeping up with Kimye
Unsurprisingly, Kim Kardashian of leaked sex tape fame, and her rapper husband Kanye West did things differently when it came to their nuptials. Kardashian and West, who got hitched in May this year in Forte di Belvedere, Florence, invited the media into their personal space by building up the hype.

The couple appeared on the cover of Vogue magazine’s April issue a month before their wedding. In the magazine, Kardashian was draped in a Lanvin wedding gown as she posed with her beau. With a reality show monster to feed, as well as being part of a social media-obsessed family and entourage made it an impossible task to keep the media out. 

The new super-celebrity has arisen, built up mostly by social media, the media and superfans. This has created a relationship where one can almost not exist without the others. Some may argue though that the relationship is not quite as symbiotic as it would appear; that the media is like a parasite and celebrities are, in fact, not fair game. 

Thulane Hadebe, managing director of PR and marketing company Brand Ambassadors, said, “I do believe that when you become a celebrity, an invasion of privacy comes with the job. Regrettably this is what happens, and instead of focusing on the celebrity’s craft, their private life is under a magnifying glass,” said Hadebe. 

“Celebrities such as Kim Kardashian are self-indulgent and narcissistic. It’s a choice you make to share what you want. It’s difficult because the media builds the celebrities up, just to tear them down.”