George Clooney and fiancee Amal Alamuddin in Venice for wedding extravaganza

George Clooney and fiancee Amal Alamuddin in Venice for wedding extravaganza

VENICE - George Clooney and his Lebanon-born British fiancee Amal Alamuddin arrived in Venice on Friday for a spectacular waterfront wedding billed as the party of the year.

Riding on a watertaxi dubbed "Amore", the celebrity pair crossed Venice's Grand Canal at around 3pm (9pm Singapore time), gliding up to the Hotel Cipriani on the island of Giudecca, where they will be hosting A-list guests for a gala dinner.

The silver-haired actor, director and producer, was seen helping his father Nick Clooney onto a "vaporetto" boat, as they headed into the first night of the nuptials, set to draw out over the weekend.

Travelling with them was former supermodel Cindy Crawford, one of dozens of stars to have flocked to Venice - paparazzi in tow - for the wedding of the world's most sought-after catch and his human rights lawyer fiancee.

Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Sandra Bullock and Matt Damon, will also be checking in to the Cipriani before the gala meal rustled up by Italian chef Riccardo de Pra.

Damon was among the first guests spotted at Venice airport on Friday, along with Clooney's cousin Miguel Ferrer and the Spin City stars Ellen Barkin and Richard Kind.

"If I'd known there would be all of you here, I'd have put on some make-up and done my hair," quipped Kind, one of Clooney's oldest friends.

The 53-year-old actor and Alamuddin, 36, are expected to be officially married in a civil ceremony on Monday, but the city of masks is preparing for a weekend of serious partying before then.

Sources said the actor would be celebrating with 136 guests at a reception on Saturday at the fresco-adorned Aman hotel, an exclusive seven-star hotel in the 450-year-old Palazzo Papadopoli.

"Clooney's on everyone's lips here in Venice, the girls in particular are all in a tizzy, they'll be lining the banks of the canal to see him," said watertaxi driver Bruno Bartolini.

"The city has ground to a halt because they're using the Grand Canal, but what does that matter: there's nothing better than getting married in Venice," Bartolini said.

Guests will be escorted by police boats to the exclusive seven-star Aman on Saturday, to keep over-excited Clooney admirers and hundreds of photographers at a distance.

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