After years of speculation about his romantic life and a weekend flurry of hot rumors, John F. Kennedy Jr. was reported yesterday to have been married on Saturday to Carolyn Bessette, his girlfriend, in a private ceremony at a small resort on a secluded Georgia barrier island.
Judge Martin O. Gillette of Camden County Probate Court, whose office is in Woodbine, Ga., confirmed late last night that his office had issued the couple a marriage license on Thursday, though the license had not been returned to confirm that a ceremony occurred.
Usually, couples fill out the license questionnaire together at the courthouse, the judge said, but Ms. Bessette and Mr. Kennedy asked to be questioned separately aboard different planes at St. Mary's Airport near Cumberland Island. Ms. Bessette was questioned at 6:15 P.M. and Mr. Kennedy at 7:30 P.M. by two of the judge's clerks, he said.
''They wanted privacy,'' Judge Gillette said.
There was no wedding announcement, and members of the Kennedy family who may have attended the ceremony -- including Senator Edward M. Kennedy and the groom's sister, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg -- said nothing as they hurried to planes yesterday at an airport a few miles from Cumberland Island, where the wedding and a reception apparently took place.
But Ms. Schlossberg responded with a thumbs-up sign when a television crew shouted questions about reports of the wedding. And the groom's cousin, Representative Patrick Kennedy, a Rhode Island Democrat, provided what seemed to be more certain confirmation yesterday at a political appearance in Steubenville, Ohio.
''My cousin John did tie the knot yesterday,'' Patrick Kennedy said, according to The Associated Press. He made the comments at a fund-raiser for a fellow Democrat, State Senator Robert Burch, who is running for a seat in the House of Representatives. Mr. Kennedy gave no details of the wedding, to which he was not invited, but his spokesman, Larry Berman, confirmed that Ms. Bessette was the bride. ''I think it was, from what we heard, very small,'' he told The A.P.
The 35-year-old son of President John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis had been the object of gossip and speculation for years in tabloids that have dubbed him ''The Sexiest Man Alive'' and ''America's Most Eligible Bachelor.'' He had been romantically linked for five years to Ms. Bessette, 28, who most recently worked in public relations for Calvin Klein Ltd. in New York City.
Mr. Kennedy, the co-founder and editor of George, a magazine of political commentary, ended a lengthy relationship with the actress Darryl Hannah not long after his mother's death in 1994. Last September, Mr. Kennedy denied reports that he and Ms. Bessette were engaged, but over the past year they were seen together in New York and at the Kennedy compound at Hyannis, on Cape Cod. The couple were videotaped last February in a New York park having what was taken to be a lover's quarrel. It was shown on television and turned up in newspapers and magazines.
New York magazine reported last week that Mr. Kennedy, apparently seeking privacy, had made wedding plans without divulging the date or place even to many of his closest relatives and friends.
Fewer than a dozen people were reported to have attended the ceremony at 4 P.M. Saturday in a chapel on Cumberland Island, an unspoiled barrier beach in the southeast corner of Georgia that was once a vacation home for the Carnegie family. The wedding party stayed on the island at Greyfield Inn, a bed-and-breakfast resort, where a reception was held.
The Cumberland Island National Seashore on the island is operated by the National Park Service, which has a small staff there. The Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville reported, however, that security was unusually high on the island over the weekend, with private guards turning the curious away from Greyfield Inn. The newspaper also quoted a park volunteer as saying that members of the Kennedy family were on the island and had been arriving under the cover of darkness for several days at Fernandina Airport in Fernandina Beach, eight miles south of the island, just across the Florida state line.
Friends of the Kennedy family said that the groom's uncle, Senator Edward Kennedy, flew down on Friday evening. Danny Newton, of Island Aviation Services at the airport, said yesterday that the Senator, with a party of eight people, and Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, with one or two companions, had left the airport in separate private planes yesterday shortly before 1 P.M.