DORNOCH, Scotland -- Apparently as star-struck as everyone else in Dornoch, the government did its bit Thursday to shield Madonna and her husband-to-be from public attention on the eve of their wedding.
Officials waived the usual rule that a marrying couple has to collect the official paperwork. Instead, the government went to Madonna.
The registrar in Dornoch, Lesley Conner, delivered the official registration Thursday morning to the couple, who are keeping to themselves in the luxury of Skibo Castle. Usually, a couple has to collect the papers, or banns.
"I can't say anything about it," Conner said, intoning a phrase which could serve as the theme for a wedding surrounded by much secrecy and security.
The registration formalities, which require the names of all marrying couples to be publicly posted, gave the world the first confirmation that Madonna Louise Ciccone, 42, would marry Guy Stuart Ritchie, 32, on Dec. 22.
The Scotland Office later released an official statement explaining that, "In view of the situation, special arrangements have been put in place. The couple will not have to go to collect the banns, they are being delivered to them."
Special arrangements reportedly were also in place to insure that photographers stayed on their tall ladders opposite the cathedral and didn't crash the baptism of the couple's 4-month-old son Rocco.
The Church of Scotland, a Presbyterian church, forbids private christenings unless elders are allowed in as witnesses. Elders were duly found for the Thursday evening ceremony.
The wedding on Friday is expected to be strictly private and safely inside Skibo Castle, developed a century ago as steel baron Andrew Carnegie's palatial vacation hideaway overlooking Dornoch Firth.
Madonna's people have shared no information with the public, but apparently some secrets were shared with Gwyneth Paltrow, fashion designer Stella McCartney, Sting, Madonna's sister Melanie Henry and Ritchie's father, who all turned up in the Scottish Highlands this week.
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