TOM LEONARD Will the new Mr and Mrs Affleck defy the doubters and make it happy ever after?

This was, in the end, a hasty and rather tacky conclusion to a courtship that had never been low-key or lacking in glamour. And anything but hurried.

And yet for the couple once known globally as Bennifer — Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck — it was the ‘best night of their lives’.

First, there was a last-minute dash to the Las Vegas drive-through chapel before it closed, then queueing with other couples to get their wedding licence, before a short walk down the aisle serenaded by music from a Bluetooth speaker in the sort of deeply kitschy ceremony that appeals to starry-eyed young couples who want to dispense with the fuss so they can just be together.

Then again, this is a couple who have spent 20 years deciding they want to be together in a love story that might have Hollywood scriptwriters rolling their eyes in disbelief.

Affleck, now 49, first proposed to Lopez, who is three years his senior, back in November 2002. He popped the question with a 6.1-carat pink diamond ring that reportedly cost $2.5 million (£1.6 million), but the pair broke up two years later. Just three months ago he proposed again —she was reportedly taking a bubble bath at the time — and the secret ceremony in Sin City on Saturday was the result.

And having notched up four failed marriages (and five children) between them, who can blame them for opting for something a little different this time?

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez got married for the second time this week, this time in a drive-through wedding chapel in Las Vegas

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez got married for the second time this week, this time in a drive-through wedding chapel in Las Vegas

The venue, A Little White Wedding Chapel, is more of a theme park ride than a conventional chapel: couples can choose from a drive-through, cherub-decorated tunnel of love ($50); seats in an Elvis-style pink Cadillac ($95); or a ceremony conducted inside an AstroTurf-floored gazebo festooned with Roman statuary and potted plants ($50).

The Afflecks apparently decided on the Cadillac, but saved a few dollars by dispensing with the Elvis impersonator to preside over their union. They are not alone among celebrities in selecting this cheap-and-cheerful venue in which to make their solemn vows. It has been used by a small army of stars including Frank Sinatra and Mia Farrow, Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, Judy Garland, Paul Newman, Joan Collins, Pamela Anderson, Sinead O’Connor and Britney Spears.

It has to be said that many of these unions didn’t exactly last long. Indeed, Britney’s marriage to childhood friend Jason Allen Alexander was over in 55 hours, surely a Tinseltown record. But Ben and Jen weren’t about to let that spoil their moment.

As revealed by photographs and videos she posted on her website at the weekend, Lopez wore two outfits for the occasion; a sleeveless wedding dress with a cinched waist and a low-cut, off-the-shoulder Zuhair Murad lace gown with a veil.

‘Love is beautiful. Love is kind. And it turns out love is patient. Twenty years patient,’ wrote the singer and actress on Sunday in a message on her fan site which she signed ‘Jennifer Lynn Affleck’.

Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck were engaged to be married in 2003 when they arrived for the premiere of their new film 'Gigli', which proved to be one of the biggest flops in history

Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck were engaged to be married in 2003 when they arrived for the premiere of their new film ‘Gigli’, which proved to be one of the biggest flops in history

Her Oscar-winning groom, the star of Argo and Batman, sported a white dinner jacket bearing a white rose for the ceremony and posted a video showing his less than glamorous dressing room — the men’s lavatory, with graffiti-covered mirror. Lopez, 52, wrote: ‘We barely made it to the little white wedding chapel by midnight. They graciously stayed open late a few minutes.’ (It was meant to close at 9pm.)

The venue was ‘exactly what we wanted’ and they ‘stood in line for a licence with four other couples, all making the same journey to the wedding capital of the world,’ she said. ‘All of us wanting the same thing— for the world to recognise us as partners and to declare our love to the world through the ancient and nearly universal symbol of marriage.’

She added: ‘Then we read our own vows in the little chapel and gave one another the rings we’ll wear for the rest of our lives.’

Just how many guests were present is unclear. Lopez’s British celebrity stylist Chris Appleton was there, as well as the star’s 14-year-old daughter Emme, photographed lounging in the Cadillac.

Yesterday, it emerged the couple are planning a larger celebration with family and friends. They announced their engagement in April this year — with Jen sporting another huge multi-million-dollar ring — and have since bought a £38 million mansion in Beverly Hills.

No doubt everyone will wish the couple all the very best as, finally, they embark on married life, but their combined history might suggest challenges ahead.

While Jennifer Lopez undoubtedly has musical talent, she is arguably not Hollywood’s greatest gift to acting (she has been nominated seven times in the Golden Raspberry awards for cinematic disasters). However, perhaps she’s been underestimated because anyone who can stand next to Ben Affleck as he takes his wedding vows and keep a straight face is surely Oscar-worthy.

It was a marriage 20 years in the making but last night it emerged that Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck had finally tied the knot. The couple confirmed they had married in a secret ceremony in Las Vegas just three months after they got engaged for a second time

It was a marriage 20 years in the making but last night it emerged that Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck had finally tied the knot. The couple confirmed they had married in a secret ceremony in Las Vegas just three months after they got engaged for a second time

He has had a car crash of a private life, with an appalling record on marital fidelity. A much-publicised relationship with Gwyneth Paltrow in the late 1990s ended with her saying that his perfect woman would be ‘any sort of stripper at Scores. Anyone that serves cold beer in a bikini’.

Lopez’s turbulent romantic experiences, on paper at least, are not exactly promising either.

The couple first met in 2001 on the set of romcom Gigli.

Affleck took out full-page adverts in the film industry Press to pay gushing tribute to Lopez after she’d been accused of being difficult on set. ‘I only wish I were lucky enough to be in all your movies,’ he enthused. ‘With love, respect and gratitude, Ben Affleck.’

However, Lopez had married second husband, dancer Cris Judd, only that year and rumours of a new romance took time to circulate. Affleck later insisted that their romance didn’t start until her marriage to Judd was over, claiming (with heavy irony given his subsequent behaviour) that marital infidelity ‘goes against the fundamental code I believe in and live by: being honest, doing things with which I can live, rather than be ashamed of’.

Gigli was a dismal flop, despite the huge media attention that the affair between its stars attracted.

In July 2002, they were seen kissing and cuddling at a surprise 32nd birthday party for Lopez at a New York restaurant at which her new love gave her a bracelet of yellow and white diamonds.

The same month, Lopez filed for divorce from Judd citing irreconcilable differences. At ten months, that marriage had lasted about the same length as her first, to waiter-turned-occasional actor Ojani Noa, in 1997.

Bennifer famously smooched in the video for Lopez’s hit single Jenny From The Block, filmed a few months later and released in November 2002. In the video, Affleck kissed her bikini-clad bottom — a posterior rumoured at the time to be insured for $27 million (£17 million). That same month, he proposed to her, Lopez revealing the news in a TV interview in which she said he’d gone down on one knee at his mother’s house in Boston.

The new wedding ring. 'Love is beautiful. Love is kind. And it turns out love is patient. Twenty years patient,' wrote the singer and actress on Sunday in a message on her fan site which she signed 'Jennifer Lynn Affleck'

The new wedding ring. ‘Love is beautiful. Love is kind. And it turns out love is patient. Twenty years patient,’ wrote the singer and actress on Sunday in a message on her fan site which she signed ‘Jennifer Lynn Affleck’

‘It’s just a blanket, a quilt of rose petals, all over the whole entire house,’ she trilled. ‘So many candles, and vases, bouquets. And my song Glad was playing . . . I walk in and I was just, like, overwhelmed.’ As well as the diamond ring, he gave her a Rolls-Royce and a Bentley.

Meanwhile, Lopez and Affleck immediately embarked on another critically underwhelming film together, comedy drama Jersey Girls, in which she played his wife.

In July 2003, Affleck reportedly visited a strip club in Vancouver. A stripper claimed she and Affleck frolicked with three other lapdancers after he picked them up in the club.

Affleck denied the claims, but it wasn’t the only problem in the relationship. The couple couldn’t decide whether to live at his house in Georgia or her mansion in Miami and she had issues with his love of gambling. Lopez was reportedly livid after he lost £450,000 in a single night.

And she learned that Affleck and buddy Matt Damon — they had made the Oscar-winning Good Will Hunting together in 1997 — had visited a Berlin nightclub, while the latter was filming The Bourne Supremacy. They caroused until 4.30am, before returning to Damon’s apartment with a number of girls.

In September 2003, just a few days before their scheduled wedding in Santa Barbara, California, the couple announced they were postponing the ceremony, citing excessive media attention. By the following January, it was all over when Lopez’s spokesman announced she had ended their engagement, adding: ‘At this difficult time, we ask that you respect her privacy.’

But if she was in mourning, it didn’t last long. In June that year, Lopez married singer-songwriter Marc Anthony, someone she’d dated in 1999. ‘All the heartache and pain of my recent break-up couldn’t have been for nothing, could it?’ Lopez reasoned in a 2014 memoir, True Love. ‘Maybe I had to go through the bad so I could end up with the person I was meant to be with all along.’

Or maybe not. Lopez and Anthony had two children, but separated in 2011 and filed for divorce. Last year, she and baseball star Alex Rodriguez called off a two-year engagement having twice postponed their wedding.

Affleck, meanwhile, first appeared publicly with actress Jennifer Garner in October 2004, later claiming that he’d first fallen in love in 2002 while making the superhero film Daredevil together, and while both of them were in other relationships. They married in 2005 and had three children. He insisted he’d finally settled down and for a time played the part of the family man. But his Hollywood bad-boy habits were ingrained.

The venue, A Little White Wedding Chapel, is more of a theme park ride than a conventional chapel: couples can choose from a drive-through, cherub-decorated tunnel of love ($50)

The venue, A Little White Wedding Chapel, is more of a theme park ride than a conventional chapel: couples can choose from a drive-through, cherub-decorated tunnel of love ($50)

Seats in an Elvis-style pink Cadillac ($95); or a ceremony conducted inside an AstroTurf-floored gazebo festooned with Roman statuary and potted plants ($50)

Affleck — the son of an alcoholic father — claimed to have given up drinking in 1998, but three years later he checked himself into rehab for alcohol abuse. And while he has insisted that he has never been addicted to gambling, he has played poker compulsively.

His womanising has seen him linked variously with the model Emily Ratajkowski, actress Blake Lively and, most infamously, with the Garner/Affleck family nanny, Christine Ouzounian. His reputation was such that when Ricky Gervais hosted the 2016 Golden Globe awards, one of the biggest laughs of the night came when he introduced Damon as ‘the only person who Ben Affleck hasn’t been unfaithful to’.

Affleck insisted he never cheated on Garner, although she later confirmed the affair with Ouzounian had happened — though she said it wasn’t why they announced their divorce in 2015.

Sources have since claimed she got sick of his gambling and that Affleck had secretly started drinking again. She later said: ‘I always say, ‘When his sun shines on you, you feel it.’ But when the sun is shining elsewhere, it’s cold. He can cast quite a shadow.’

In 2017, Affleck was accused by two women of inappropriate behaviour. He apologised to an actress, who said he’d ‘tweaked’ her breast years earlier during a television interview, admitting he’d ‘acted inappropriately’. His spokesman didn’t respond to claims by a make-up artist that he’d once groped her bottom.

Actors Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez sit together during Game 4 of the Western Conference Semi-finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and the San Antonio Spurs, May 11, 2003 during their first engagement

Actors Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez sit together during Game 4 of the Western Conference Semi-finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and the San Antonio Spurs, May 11, 2003 during their first engagement

In 2018, Garner turned up at his house with a Bible and a lawyer and took him to rehab. The following year, he suffered a ‘lapse in sobriety’ at a charity ball, staggering off drunk with a blonde to a casino and buying $20,000 worth of poker chips. In late 2019, he was filmed stumbling in the street in Los Angeles and acknowledged he had a ‘slip’ after a year of sobriety. He now claims he has managed to stay sober since early 2020.

Reports first surfaced that Bennifer might have reunited in late April last year when — just two weeks after it was announced her relationship with Rodriguez was over — Affleck was seen going to and from her LA home. The following month, they spent a week in Montana together, with an insider reporting: ‘It’s natural between them and the chemistry is unreal.’

In June 2021, they were photographed kissing again in the Malibu branch of celebrity restaurant Nobu. By September, they were holding hands on the red carpet at the Venice Film Festival — and now they are Mr and Mrs Affleck.

Lopez is teetotal and his friends believe it will be helpful to Affleck should his struggle with alcohol become an issue again.

Matt Damon once said it would be ‘awesome’ if the pair ever got back together. Only time will tell if their marriage can live up to that expectation.

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