29 DECEMBER 2003
Thousands of Westlife fans flocked to County Mayo, Ireland on Sunday as one of the boyband's remaining bachelors Shane Filan tied the knot there with his childhood sweetheart Gillian Walsh.
The happy couple, both 24 years old, said their vows at the 13th-century Ballintubber Abbey with more than 400 guests – including Shane's four bandmates, singer Ronan Keating and Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern – looking on. Both Shane and Gilian wore head-to-toe winter white, the groom sporting an elegant morning suit and the bride wearing a stunning Vera Wang gown.
Gillian made a glamorous entrance in a horse-drawn carriage while her future hubby, who had walked to the altar with his mum and dad, waited patiently for his bride. And when the millionaire vocalist had her at his side, he whispered: "You look amazing."
"Just looking at Gillian at the altar was the best moment of my life," he told The Mirror. "I was welling up so many times during the service… I feel like the luckiest guy in the world."
After the romantic ceremony, during which Shane's elder brother Finbar acted as best man, the wedding party moved on to one of the country's most exclusive hotels, Ashford Castle, set on a scenic waterfront. The lake was specially lit up with multicoloured lights for the celebrations, which kicked off with a spectacular fireworks display followed by a champagne reception and five-course banquet. "It was a grand affair," said one guest.
Shane, who is now off on a Hawaiian honeymoon with his new wife, is the third Westlife hunk to get hitched. Bryan McFadden wed Kerry Katona two years ago, and Nicky Byrne married Georgina Ahern, the Irish PM's daughter, earlier in 2003.