SYDNEY — Only a homegrown celebrity circus could take the eyes of this sports-fanatic country off the World Cup in Germany.

But welcome to Sydney, where every local media outlet, not to mention an international contingent growing faster than a Bondi Beach wave, has zeroed in on the Nicole Kidman-Keith Urban wedding this weekend.

The paparazzi pack has been camped outside Kidman’s Darling Point home since the couple announced their impending nuptials on Monday, even singing Happy 39th Birthday to the actress through the intercom on Tuesday in the hopes of luring her out for the shot that could be worth $250,000 or more to the American tabloids. But while she didn’t step outside, Kidman did send them a case of beer (it is Australia, after all), with a handwritten note: “From Nicole and Keith — enjoy.” No doubt she’s hoping to be cut some shutter slack for the nuptials.

Fat chance of that happening. The wedding is shaping up to be one of Australia’s biggest-ever celebrity gatherings, with attendees tipped to include fellow Australians Naomi Watts, Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Danielle Spencer, Rupert and Wendi Murdoch, Lachlan and Sarah Murdoch, Baz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin, and perhaps, oddly, Renée Zellweger and Kenny Chesney. Zellweger and Kidman met while doing “Cold Mountain,” while Chesney and Urban are good buddies. But their presence could create some awkward moments — Zellweger and Chesney’s nanosecond marriage isn’t exactly a happy-ever-after model for an actress wedding a country music star. Kidman’s ex Tom Cruise is in Tokyo but reportedly might fly their children Isabella and Connor to Sydney on his private jet for the wedding.

Most guests have only been given instructions to keep their diaries clear from Friday to Sunday, with no other details. Locals are on 24-hours notice.

Kidman is expected to be attended by her sister Antonia and daughter, Isabella. Cousin Angela Kidman will be there, but like everyone involved in the event, from suppliers to guests, she isn’t saying anything. The Shiseido counter manager at Myer’s Sydney City flagship, Angela has found herself an unwitting celeb-by-default — albeit one who frequently inherits Nicole’s castoff couture.

“I’m keeping my lips sealed,” she told WWD. “Last time I was in the paper, it rocked the boat a little bit.”

This story first appeared in the June 22, 2006 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Although one local report claimed several wedding dresses are on standby at various Sydney salons, Collette Dinnigan said it was news to her. Dinnigan isn’t attending, but says she is dressing “several” invitees. Balenciaga is still the hot tip for Kidman’s wedding dress, especially since one of the actress’ longtime favorites, Chanel, has denied any involvement. Florist Simone Gooch has confirmed she is doing the flowers; Sydney chef Luke Mangan is expected to do the catering, and a string quartet from the Sydney Symphony Orchestra will play to accompany Nicole and father Antony Kidman down the aisle.

Kidman family confidante Father Paul Coleman, who advised Nicole on her divorce from Tom Cruise, is confirmed to preside over the service, which looks most likely to take place on Sunday at the Cardinal Cerretti Memorial Chapel. The chapel is located inside the sprawling beachfront St. Patrick’s Estate on the southern end of Manly Beach, seven miles by road from Sydney’s central business district. Although Manly Police and Manly Council said they had no knowledge of the event at press time, on Wednesday work began on a large marquee in the grounds of St Patrick’s Estate.

Of course, it could be a ruse. Two other possible chapel options are the Chapel Mary Mackillop Place or Monte Sant’ Angelo chapel, both located on Sydney’s lower north shore (the parish where Kidman grew up). The latter has already had one trial Kidman run: in 1996, when Antonia married Angus Hawley.

The Monte Sant’ Angelo chapel has one advantage: “From a press perspective it was really difficult — it’s actually quite protected there,” said designer Jonathan Ward, who dressed Antonia, bridesmaid Nicole, flower girl Isabella and mother Janelle Kidman for that wedding — and witnessed that Kidman-Cruise press frenzy firsthand.

Another clue indicating Manly might be the locale has been that guests for another area event that is confirmed for Sunday — the launch party of hip new eatery Will & Toby’s Manly Beach — report having had trouble booking local accommodation because, they have been told, rooms have been booked out for the wedding.

Several Will & Toby’s invitees have also scored wedding invitations and are expected to party-hop between the two soirees and hotel room after-soirees. They include Australian model Jason Sullivan and personal trainer Michael Ryan, who got Jackman into shape for “Van Helsing” and the “X-Men” films.

“There are going to be some crazy pajama parties going on that night in Manly,” said Will & Toby’s co-owner Toby Osmond.

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