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      Ellen's & Alex's secret wedding

News about Ellen's friendships...Lesbian comic exchanges rings and vows with actress girlfriend.

Lesbian comedian Ellen DeGeneres has exchanged matching gold bands with longtime love Alexandra Hedison in a secret "marriage" ceremony, Star has learned.

"We wear them proudly as a symbol of our commitment," Ellen tells a friend.

And the gay couple are even talking about starting a family!

"Ellen has discussed having kids before, but Alexandra wanted a full commitment before she'd even consider having a baby," says a source.

Happily hitched Ellen was flashing her ring, which she wears on the third finger of her left hand, at the opening night of her new stand-up routine at The Ice House in Pasadena, Calif.

As she spoke, her partner Alexandra beamed from the VIP seats and proudly waved her matching ring.

After the show, the galpals left holding hands, and chivalrous Ellen opened the car door of her black Mercedes for Alexandra.

"We have to get home to our two cats," Ellen joked as they drove off to their shared place in Beverly Hills. "They're our life right now."

Sources say Ellen, 45, popped the question two and a half years after Anne Heche broke her heart and ran off with cameraman Coley Laffoon.

"Ellen and Alexandra had a romantic dinner at home and Ellen asked her to be hers forever. Then she held out matching gold bands for each of them," says another source. "Alexandra didn't hesitate. They've been wear-ing them ever since. It's really a private commitment just between the two of them."

Neither wants to have a big public wedding. Ellen went through a hugely public relationship with Heche and didn't want a repeat.

"She's determined to keep her love life more private this time," says the source.

Although they are blissfully united now, it was a rocky start for the lesbian lovers when they began dating in 2000.

There was the baggage left over from Ellen's disastrous breakup with Heche, but actress Alexandra, now 33, was also worried about the relationship because she is a teetotaler and Ellen enjoys an occasional glass of wine.

And, as Ellen told the gay magazine The Advocate, she was worried about dating an actress again.

"I never did understand love scenes," she said. "It was threatening."

They broke up twice in the first year. But they reunited after Ellen curbed her partying. For her part, Alexandra, who starred on the series L.A. Firefighters, was willing to act less and concentrate on a career as a photographer and assistant to Ellen.

"They are happy together now," says an insider. "And neither wants to be with anyone else. Ellen feels she's getting a fresh start at a new career and a romance that she hopes will last forever."

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