The Clooney Wedding
Images: Getty Images
They come from different worlds. And he had vowed never to marry again. But George Clooney appears finally to have met his match in the form of Amal Alamuddin.
The couple met at a charity event a year ago, after which 53-year-old Clooney - often described as one of the world's most eligible bachelors - is said to have pursued the 36-year-old British human rights lawyer with a string of flirty emails.
Oxford-educated Alamuddin was initially reluctant, according to reports. But she eventually surrendered to the Hollywood heartthrob's charms, and the couple announced their engagement barely six months later, in April.
And while their mutual attraction radiates for all to see, their relationship is no doubt based at least in part on another shared passion: human rights, and fighting for those who cannot fight for themselves.
Few would have predicted their marriage, even until recently.
Clooney was married to Mad Men actress Talia Balsam from 1989-1993, but had shown little interest in settling down since, instead dating a string of younger model and actress girlfriends over the years.
Even after striking up a relationship with Lebanese-born Alamuddin, he was typically self-deprecating when talking about his first stab at wedded bliss.
"I haven't had aspirations in that way, ever. I was married in 1989.
"I wasn't very good at it," he said in December.
His background is well known: a dashing global star, Clooney epitomises suave Hollywood flair, with an easy charm and effortless on-screen charisma that have earned him frequent comparisons to Cary Grant.
Clooney has two Oscar statuettes to his name: the first for supporting actor role for 2005's Syriana, the second as co-producer of 2013 Best Picture winner Argo.
The happy couple as they arrive in Venice ahead of their wedding ceremony. Source: Getty Images
He shot to fame in 1994 as a doctor in the hit US television series ER, although his first big-screen lead role, in 1997's Batman and Robin, was widely panned as a disaster.
But things started to look up the following year with crime thriller Out of Sight by Steven Soderbergh, and he became a major A-list star with the blockbuster The Perfect Storm in 2000.
He formed his own production company, making such hits as Ocean's Eleven (2001) as well as more thoughtful fare such as Solaris and Syriana. He is also a favourite of quirky directing duo the Coen Brothers.
More recently, he was nominated for another Academy Award for 2011's The Descendants, and co-starred in the multiple Oscar-winning sci-fi adventure Gravity in 2013.
Earlier this month, he announced plans to direct Hack Attack, a movie about Britain's phone-hacking scandal - ironically, since he has long been staple fodder for the tabloids.
Clooney's rise has been matched by an increasing activism.
He has campaigned tirelessly to draw attention to the conflict in Sudan's Darfur region. In 2010, he was named a United Nations Messenger of Peace by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in recognition of his work.
Clooney was also one of the driving forces behind a star-studded telethon that raised more than $US58 million ($A62.75 million) for victims of the Haiti earthquake.
It is no doubt this kind of work - as well as his obvious charms --that attracted him to Alamuddin.
Her clients have included former Ukrainian premier Yulia Tymoshenko, whose detention she challenged before the European Court of Human Rights, and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, during his extradition proceedings.
Alamuddin, who is fluent in Arabic, English and French, worked with the international tribunal probing the assassination of late Lebanese premier Rafiq Hariri, and helped ex-UN head Kofi Annan in efforts to make peace in Syria.
The British law firm that employs Alamuddin sang her praises when the engagement was announced.
"Amal has been utterly wonderful since she arrived in chambers," Doughty Street Chambers chief executive Robin Jackson said.
"She brings a bright light to everything she is involved in, and I am so delighted at her happy news."
Clooney and Alamuddin were expected to spend the weekend partying with celebrity friends and family in Venice, before saying "I do" in a civil ceremony on Monday.