Courtship of Bridgette Wilson was like Hollywood film
Boston Herald (Publication date: 2001-01-31)
When tennis superstar Pete Sampras proposed marriage to Bridgette Wilson last June, the actress had just finished working on the film "The Wedding Planner." Given that film's story line - the fiance (Matthew McConaughey) falling in love with the wedding planner (Jennifer Lopez) - it would have been understandable if the actress had balked at bringing in professional help for her own nuptials on Sept. 30.
But she didn't. Then again, neither did she hire Lopez.
"It's funny," Wilson-Sampras said, "because, going back to `The Wedding Planner,' I never thought about having it done that way myself. Doing this movie made me realize how much planning there is for a wedding. Whether it's a ton of flowers or a small number of flowers, you still have to do it - and we did ours in six weeks. A planner allows the bride to focus on all the details.
"It was definitely a luxury to have someone be so helpful and willing to do that. But everything went so smoothly at my wedding, I can't think of anything that was a snafu."
"The Wedding Planner" is a full-out romantic comedy, but it deals with anxiety common among brides-to-be.
"I was very different from Fran, my character," Wilson-Sampras said. "She is having this thing of, `Oh my gosh! What am I doing?' She was checking in her heart for what she wanted. She'd kicked into autopilot. Personally, I didn't have those moments. One minute before I walked down the aisle, I hoped I wouldn't trip."
In "The Wedding Planner," Lopez and McConaughey experience love at first sight, which is no rarity in the movies. But Wilson-Sampras said she felt something pretty close.
"Love at first sight is so bizarre to me," she said. "Oh, you see someone walk in and you'll spend your life with this person? But it can happen very quickly with that chemistry and evolve into something special.
"Within three months I knew Pete was the person I wanted to spend my life with. I never had that before. People had said to me, `Oh, you'll know when it happens' - and I never trusted that. Until it actually happened."
Her instincts, she said, were confirmed at a party given by her sister.
"It was cool because we were doing these questions," Wilson- Sampras said. "My sister sat down and interviewed me, and then she interviewed him with all these questions. It was something fun she did for my bachelorette party. For instance, she asked me, `When did you know?' and `What was the first thing you noticed about him?' and `What was the first thing he noticed?' - and every single one of our answers was the same."
Wilson-Sampras says she didn't know much about Sampras' awesome athletic career - even though, at 29, he has been a world champion for 14 years.
"We met - it was not really a blind date; he'd seen me in a movie, `Love Stinks,' " she said. "He saw it in theaters when it first came out and he was half-joking with a friend when he said, `I'd like to meet her.' That friend got in touch with a friend of mine - and they were both at our wedding."
Their "first date" was "a little phone conversation. The first five minutes are painful and then you get over that hump. But I didn't know who he was. I hadn't watched tennis before and when somebody called and said his name, I wasn't sure who he was. I said, `Is he taller than me?' . . . Then I remembered I'd seen a picture and I saw his face and that was familiar but I hadn't put the two together, because I wasn't familiar with tennis.
"I don't play tennis and I never had a racket before in my life," she added. "He's very patient about it."
Pete Sampras was the top-ranked player in the world through most of the '90s. He has slipped somewhat from that lofty position, but the family isn't without a top ranking.
"The Wedding Planner" was No. 1 at the box office last weekend.