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Date: August, 1999
Source: People Magazine

As Discreet As It Gets

A secret wedding was made to order for Helen Hunt and Hank Azaria, who cherish privacy- and each other- above all In the course of her five-year relationship with actor Hank Azaria, Helen Hunt appears to have heeded the advice of Austin Powers’s nemesis Dr. Evil: Zip it. The Oscar-winning star of As Good As It Gets and NBC’s Mad About You has always resisted answering questions about Azaria, best known as the flamboyant butler in The Birdcage and as the voice of more than two dozen supporting characters on Fox’s The Simpsons. As Hunt told Cosmopolitan in 1996, their love is “precious.” But, she cautioned her interviewer, “talking about it would be like rubbing a cat the wrong way.”

Presumably Hunt, 36, was a bit more verbal on July 17, when she and Azaria, 35, exchanged vows before almost 10 guests, including her Mad About You costar Paul Reiser, Friends’ Mathew Perry and Austin Powers himself, Mike Myers. Says one attendee: “It was a very intimate, beautiful wedding.” And so private Garbo could have been marrying Garbo. Most guests, says the attendee, arrived at 5 at the couple’s still-under-construction L.A. house, probably not even knowing they were about to witness a traditional Jewish wedding. Perry, in a toast, joked about the price of celebrity- which for the couple included hiring guards with night-visiongoggles and posting them in the trees surrounding the property.

At an open-air reception featuring shrimp, chicken and grilled veggies, the couple un-spooled a homemade movie spoof of their romance, which began in 1994. Already acquaintances, they bumped into each other, struck up a conversation and had an impromptu four-hour lunch. “As great as anybody thinks she is, she’s greater,” Azaria told PEOPLE two years later. By early 1995 they had such a hankering to be together that Azaria took the recurring role of a dog-walker on Hunt’s sitcom, which ended its seven-year run in May.

As the reception wound down, the barefoot bride exchanged her simple, understated gown for sweats. Guests danced beneath the stars or shot pool in a makeshift billiard room. By 2 a.m. the newlyweds, who already share a three-bedroom home in L.A. and won’t embark on a honeymoon before October because of work, were lingering amid bouquets of roses and sunflowers. “Helen,” says one acquaintance, “has a thing for yellow flowers.”

And she’s apparently mad about Hank- if still wary of her public. Five days after the ceremony the newlyweds arrived smiling and waving at the L.A. premiere of Mystery Men, the action comedy in which Azaria plays a superhero who hurls silverware. But faced with reporters’ questions, Hunt kept her silence. In fact she let her new husband continue down the red carpet alone, while she took a roundabout route to the theater entrance. There the couple reunited and walked cozily down the aisle.