And so a year and a half of public feuding, replete with vicious smears, threats of damaging leaks, and accusations of media whoredom, ends the only way it possibly could: With a wedding.

…announced on the cover of “Us” magazine.

…before anyone’s told the mother of the bride.

And, they tell Us Weekly, former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin has been kept in the dark about their plans … until now.

“We got engaged two weeks ago,” Bristol, 19, tells Us Weekly. “It felt right, even though we don’t have the approval of our parents.”…

“I really thought we were over,” Levi tells Us Weekly. “So when I went [to meet her about child custody], I had no hope. I think we both just started talking — and then we took Tripp for a walk.”

Says Bristol, “When he left that night, we didn’t hug or kiss, but I was thinking how different it was. He texted me: ‘I miss you. I love you. I want to be with you again’ … I was in shock.”

So grimly was this news received by HA readers in this morning’s Headlines thread that one commenter simply refused to believe it was true despite the on-the-record statements from the principals and the, um, posed cover photo. (In fact, Bristol also spoke to People magazine about the engagement. Quote: “I forgive him for what he did. He was young, mad, misguided. We’re moving on.”) A question for the future Mrs. Hollywood: Given the obvious interest mom’s enemies have in using Levi to paint her as some sort of Springer-esque chillbilly freak show, might there perhaps have been a more politic way to break this news than with … a splashy feature in a checkout-counter tabloid? No wonder she finds it “scary” to imagine what Sarah’s reaction will be.

Speaking of which:

“As parents, we obviously want what is best for our children, but Bristol is ultimately in charge of determining what is best for her and her beautiful son,” Sarah and Todd Palin said in an exclusive statement to “Good Morning America.” “Bristol believes in redemption and forgiveness to a degree most of us struggle to put in practice in our daily lives.”

“We pray that, as a couple, Bristol and Levi’s relationship matures into one that will allow Tripp to grow up graced with two loving parents in his life,” they said.

Tactful, but it’s hard to miss the inference in the first line that what’s best for Bristol and what she’s intent on doing are two very different things. And the bit about her capacity for forgiveness suggests that in this case maybe not everyone in the family shares that capacity to quite the same extent.

Exit question: Good news or bad news? Last I checked, most conservatives are keen on the idea of unmarried parents (especially teen parents) making things legal, and needless to say, from a religious perspective, redemption’s always on the menu. And yet, on a gut level…

Tags: Sarah Palin