LOVE IN BLOOM
by Jennifer Wulr. Ulrica Wihlborg and Michael Fleeman in Los Angeles

Why stop at one flower girl scattering rose petals along your path when you can have seven? From the heart-shaped peony wreath over the church door to the cocktail lounge bursting with white tulips, casablancas and calla lilies to the 5-ft. wedding cake layered with roses and lilacs, flowers were more than just decoration at the June 24 wedding of actress Marcia Cross and money manager Tom Mahoney: They were a tribute to the couple's first encounter. Cross was browsing at a Los Angeles flower shop in 2004 when she spied Mahoney. She inquired about the handsome stranger with an employee, who offered to discreetly pass along her number. "He called me a week later," says Cross. Two years on, one of her few instructions to their wedding planner was that the reception should "look like a flowershop." Yet even cross was amazed at the result. "It was one of the most beautiful events I've ever been to," she says. "I wish I could go back and look at it all again!"

Though she plays consummate hostess Bree on Desperate Housewives, Cross, 44, had little interest in most of the details of her own nuptials. "It's not really my thing," she admits. Instead she left many of the particulars to Mahoney, 48 (he wanted black tie and a Saturday night affair), and event coordinator Julie Pryor of Pryor Events, who calls her "the calmest bride I've ever seen." Even having delegated, says Cross, "you have to answer questions for months. But it was so worth every annoying decision. It was exquisite."

The actress took an equally carefree attitude to getting ready. "My hair and makeup people were teasing me because I hadn't told them what I wanted. I figured it would all work out." And, amazingly, Cross didn't balk when her dressing room at the church lacked a mirror. "I had no idea what I looked like," she says. "I got into my dress, put on my veil and was sent out the door!"

She had nothing to worry about. In a satin reem Acra gown and Neil Lane diamonds, "Marcia looked as beautiful as I've ever seen her," says Desperate Housewives costar Doug Savant, who came with wife Laura Leighton (both were Cross's colleagues on Melrose Place). Also on the guest list of 240 were Housewives pals Marc Cherry, Felicity Huffman (with husband William H. Macy), Eva Longoria (with boyfriend Tony Parker) and Brenda Strong, who called the event "formal but without the formality."

Held at the church of Our Savior Episcopal Parish in San Gabriel, California the ceremony began with a procession of Cross's many flower girls (her niece and her friends' daughters), followed by her sister Susan Hett as maid of honor. The bride entered with mom Janet, 72, and dad Mark, 83, as younger sister Ellen sang Paul McCartney's "Only Love Remains." The couple's vows were traditional, but Cross deviated from the script ever so slightly. "After I said 'I will' about everything, I whispered under my breath, 'As long as I don't have to cook!'" Another moment of levity came when Mahoney's cell phone went off. "Marcia couldn't contain her giggles," says Strong.

With church bells chiming, the guests headed for Pasadena's Ritz Carlton, where they dined on sea bass and filet mignon at tables filled with vibrant hydrangeas and roses. "It was rich and warm and passionate," says Cross. "I was overwhelmed."

Even more so during her first dance with Mahoney, "I'm floating just thinking about it," says Cross. The song? "At Last," by Etta James. "You had to pick that one if you're our age!" she says. Soon, the whole party was on the floor, and only when her "feet were killing me" did Cross sit down.

Days later, she still hasn't quite recovered. "I'm exhausted, but the most happy exhausted," says Cross, who was spotted shopping for groceries with Mahoney the next day. They were hand in hand, still obviously under the spell of their big day. It was "magical, filled with love and beyond my wildest imagination."