The bride wore jeans for her groom in the red cap
In one of the worst-kept showbusiness secrets of recent years, Georgina Ahern, daughter of the Taoiseach, Mr Ahern, married Nicky Byrne, singer with Westlife, in a civil ceremony on 4 August 2003. Details of the ceremony in Wicklow town had been tightly-guarded to keep secure a deal where the couple is being paid nearly €1 million by a magazine for exclusive rights to a later church ceremony and reception in France. But yesterday at 3.42 p.m. when the bride arrived wearing jeans and a casual top, more than 20 photographers and journalists were there to capture the event, after details of the ceremony emerged in newspapers over the weekend. Some 15 minutes later the groom arrived for the short ceremony, and was bustled in through the back entrance of the East Coast Area Health Board's Wicklow district headquarters, where the county's registry office is located. A crowd of 200, including media, Westlife fans and locals, had assembled outside to watch the couple's arrival. Both 24-years-old, they are childhood sweethearts. The Taoiseach was not there to give his eldest daughter away, and the bride's younger sister, Cecilia, who will be matron of honour at the church ceremony, was also absent. Ms Ahern was accompanied by her mother, Miriam, who wore a cream trouser suit and black top. The groom was accompanied by his mother Yvonne, while his father, Nikki, brother and sister and a small number of guests also attended. While the ceremony was ongoing, health board officials blocked the entry of journalists and fans to the building, on grounds of health and safety. Within minutes this was being circumvented by young Westlife fans who insisted they had to go to the bathroom, leaving no option but for officials to chaperone them to and from the toilet. Throughout the afternoon flurries of excitement rippled through the fans and the press pack whenever a dark 4x4, a popular form of transport for celebrities, was spotted. However with the 4x4 also being one of the most popular forms of transport in the Wicklow hills, flurries were frequent and unfounded. There was a heavy private security presence as the couple arrived and left separately through a rear entrance in an attempt to prevent the couple being photographed together or having to face journalists' questions. Either could jeopardise that €1 million deal with Hello! magazine. It has bought exclusive interview and photography rights for the couple's church ceremony on Saturday at the Church of St Peter and St Paul in Gallardon, 60 km south of Paris, and for the reception nearby for 400 people at the exclusive Chateau d'Escilmont.
Pictures from the wedding ceremony in France, 9 August 2003:
From Puppy Love to Perfect Love
Devoted Georgina Ahern and Nicky Byrne’s romance began as puppy love… but turned into a deep lasting passion that is the stuff of fairytales. Cupid’s arrow first struck the pair’s eyes at the age of twelve. But it took three years before the youngsters overcame their agonising teenage shyness and arranged a date. The rest, as they say, is history. Neither 23-year-old Georgina nor 24-year-old Nicky has ever dated anyone else. Smitten westlife hunk Nicky says of his bride: “She is my morning, noon and night. She’s my everything.” And lovestruck Georgina says of her groom: “He is totally and completely my life.” The childhood sweethearts knew right from the start that they were meant to be together forever.
Nicky has said: “I went home at the end of the first day and told mum, ‘I’ve found the girl I’m going to marry’. “My mum just laughed at me. How could I possibly know who I was going to marry at that age-but I did know.” That belief in eachother and their future together has seen them survive the pressure of Georgina being swept into the spotlight as ‘the Taoiseach’s daughter’ when Bertie came to power in 1997. It has also seen them through the trials and tribulations of Nicky’s meteoric rise from unknown wannabe to boyband heartthrob. Nicky describes Georgina as “his rock” and confesses he doesn’t know how he’d survive without her. Yet because Westlife manager Louis Walsh initially slapped a marriage ban on Nicky and bandmates Kian Egan, Mark Feehily, Bryan McFadden and Shane Filan, it was not until last Christmas Day that the pair got engaged. The delay did not worry Georgina for as far as she was concerned; they were already inextricably tied together. For at the age of 15, romantic Nicky had given her a simple white gold ring which she wore on her wedding finger. Speaking on her 21st birthday, Georgina said: “It’s a white Russian wedding ring and only fits the third finger of each hand. Nicky gave it to me when we were first dating. It means a lot to me.”
She now wears a diamond ring, which Nicky presented to her on bended knee when he asked her officially to be his bride. And yesterday (August 9th 2003), the pair’s glittering wedding in Paris-the Capital of Love-sealed their devotion. It was a far cry from the early years when the pair sat opposite eachother in science classes and gazed at eachother with unrequited love. In an interview given to a magazine in 2001, Nicky says: “The first thing I noticed about her were those eyes. It was like, oh my god, I could get lost in those eyes “From the moment I saw Georgina I put her on a pedestal. I could have a conversation with anyone but I couldn’t talk to Georgina. I was afraid that whatever I said would come out sounding stupid and she’d think I was a fool. “We’d literally stare at eachother through science lessons. In business studies, I’d pass her desk and we’d smile at eachother.” During the same interview Georgina said: “All the girls fancied him like mad, me included. “When I first saw him in his smart new uniform, he was posing against the corridor wall. I was hopeless at helping him break the ice. We just looked at eachother from our desks.” Ten months after the duo finally got together, they were torn apart. Nicky, a promising goalkeeper, was whisked away to train for Leeds United. But he missed his love so much, he cried himself to sleep every night. He has said: “The time I spent in Leeds United was terrible. I was trying to get home all the time.” Georgina encouraged him to stick it out, however-then picked up the pieces when he was axed from the youth team for being “too short”. She has been there for him ever since, celebrating the highs and consoling him during the lows. So it comes as no surprise to hear Nicky say: “If it wasn’t for Georgina I wouldn’t be the person I am today.” And if it wasn’t for Nicky, Georgina wouldn’t be the woman she is today. They are truly a couple who were made for eachother – as their closest pals confirmed following yesterdays romantic ceremony. Westlife hunk Bryan said: “The service was lovely, it was beautiful, and Georgina looked gorgeous.” Ex-Atomic Kitten wife Kerry beamed: “It was so beautiful, I had a tear in my eye.” Westlife boss Louis Walsh added: “I’ve had a great day. It’s been great fun.” Ronan Keating who arrived with wife Yvonne and sang at the church said: “It has been an honour. It was a special day and it was nice to be a part of it.” It was the perfect day for a wedding with the sun beaming down from morning ‘til dusk. As temperatures soared to 44C - the hottest day in France for over 40 years - curious Gallardon villagers gathered to watch a glittering cavalcade of celebrities arrive at the church. Caroline Downey, wife of MCD supremo Denis Desmond was among the first to arrive just after 2pm French time - 1pm here. She was alone as her hubby was masterminded the mammoth Robbie Williams concert back in Dublin’s Phoenix Park. Then at 2.20pm there was a flurry of excitement when three of the Westlife hunks arrived with their partners. Bryan and Kerry, Kian and Hollyoaks girlfriend Jodi Albert, and Shane and fiance Gillian Walsh happily let the crowd take snaps. Mark also posed for pictures when he arrived alone later. Other guests included Girls Aloud cutie Kimberly Walsh, soccer legend Brian Robson, music industry heavyweights Nikki Chapman and Bill Hughes, pop Svengali Simon Cowell and Irish international and Leeds United ace Ian Harte. But the wedding party, including Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, stayed out of sight after being bought up for E1 million by glossy mag Hello! Security was tight as top French security officers from the esteemed ‘Le Service de Protection des Hotes’ followed closely behind the Taoiseach’s car. But despite not even getting a second’s glimpse of Nicky and Georgina, westlife fan Sonia Denkhider said her trip from Genoa, Italy, had been worth it. The 19-year-old gushed: “Nicky has always been my favourite and even though I didn’t get to see him today, I still wanted to be at his wedding. “It’s been a happy day for him and they are a beautiful, special couple.”