First Lady Visits Mexico for Wedding

The U.S. ambassador to Mexico (search) and Mexico's richest woman gathered with hundreds of family members and friends to tie the knot in a civil ceremony on Saturday night outside this popular resort in central Mexico.

Ambassador Tony Garza (search), a Texas native appointed by U.S. President George W. Bush (search) in 2002, and Mexican heiress Maria Asuncion Aramburuzabala already married at a small religious ceremony in February.

Guests including U.S. first lady Laura Bush (search) strolled the streets of Valle De Bravo, 90 miles west of Mexico City, in the afternoon before filing into an exclusive golf club for a ceremony that was closed to the press.

An embassy spokesman said details and photographs of the wedding would be released on Sunday.

Laura Bush, who was seen poring over handicrafts at shops in the town center, was among 400 people invited to dine, dance and feast on old-fashioned Texas barbecue during three days of festivities. The White House on Friday said the president would not attend.

"It is odd to see so many body guards," said Estevan Garcia, 39, a grade-school teacher, commenting on stepped-up security near Valle de Bravo's central square.

A Texas couple visiting for the wedding said the guests included some of Garza's grade-school friends from Brownsville, Texas, and that Friday's festivities lasted until about 3 a.m.

As evening approached on Saturday, a steady stream of sport utility vehicles with tinted windows filed through towering gates outside the wedding grounds. The entrance was flanked by Mexico's elite presidential military guard, the Estado Mayor.

U.S. Embassy officials said about one-third of the invited guests are from Texas.

Garza, a second-generation American whose four grandparents were from Mexico, is a former Texas secretary of state and railroad commissioner. This is his first marriage.

Aramburuzabala, 41, is vice chairwoman of Grupo Modelo, the maker of Corona and Negra Modelo beers. With an estimate fortune of US$1.8 billion, she was ranked 366th among the world's billionaires, Forbes magazine reported in March. This is her second marriage.

The wedding has been the talk of Mexican society, on all levels.

"If they had wanted to, they could have married in Paris," said Raul Ramirez, 60, of Mexico City, a professional tour guide accompanying wedding guests. "She has a lot of money. I believe he doesn't have quite as much."

Taco vendor Maria Sandoval, 70, said she knew a lot about the bride, but not the guests.

Asked about Laura Bush, Sandoval said, "We wouldn't even recognize her."