Irish Daily Mirror - Love Of My Westlife
Paul Martin Inside Showbiz Wedding Of The Year
POP star Shane Filan celebrated wed-life bliss yesterday at a star-studded ceremony that had the Taoiseach's stamp of approval.
The millionaire Westlife singer proudly showed off his bride Gillian to a mass of press and hundreds of fans at a ceremony at Ballintubber Abbey.
I sat just five yards from the beaming couple as they exchanged vows amid a stunning scene of candlelight and festive bouquets.
They both struggled to hold back the tears during the ceremony in Co Mayo.
Watching on, amid more than 400 guests, was the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and his estrangedwife Miriam.
But all eyes were on Shane and his bride, both 24, as the singer became the third member of the record-breaking group to tie the knot.
As hundreds gathered outside Shane arrived at 2pm in a black Bentley borrowed for the occasion from his manager Louis Waish.
Dressed all in white the star walked towards the altar with his mum and dad.
But he was made to wait for his big moment as an orchestra treated the gathering to some festive tunes.
Finally at 2.20pm a huge roar erupted from outside signalling Gillian's arrival in a spectacular white horse-drawn carriage.
Shane turned to his groomsmen, which included band mates Kian Egan and Mark Feehily, and joked:"She definitely turned up then".
At 2.25pm the orchestra struck up the wedding march and Gillian, led by her chief bridesmaid Joanna Walsh, emerged wearing a stunning strapless embroidered white dress and veil.
Shane turned to his bride and whispered:"You look amazing."
The emotion of their big occasion hit Gillian straight away as she choked back tears during the service, which was led by Fr Dominic Gilhooley and Fr Frank Fahey.
Hundreds of candles lit up the backdrop of the altar and the stars such as Ronan Keating and Kian Egan's girlfriend Jodi Albert watched on.
Throughout the ceremony Shane and Gillian exchanged loving glances as they sat in their specially made chairs at the altar. The most touching point was when a rendition of the romantic song Amazed by Lonestar was performed by a guitarist. After the couple exchanged rings Shane whispered to his bride and led the applause from the congregation.
Moments later Westlife stars Nicky Byrne and Bryan McFadden took part in the Prayers of the Faithful.
Throughout the service the tranquillity of the church was only interrupted by occasional screams from fans outside who were eager to catch a glimpse of the couple.
Shane and Gillian briefly left the church by a side door to pose for press photographers who had been waiting outside for hours. They then returned to the altar before leaving together.
Shane told the Irish Mirror that the ceremony was a dream come true.
He added: "Just looking at Gillian at the altar was the best moment of my life.
"I was welling up so many times during the service because it was such an emotional time.
"I feel like the luckiest guy in the world and everything went according to plan.
"It was great to go out there and wave to the fans and also see all our friends and family enjoying our big day.
"Gillian felt like a princess and looked like one too."
Jodi Albert stole the show among the congregation as she arrived in a red dress split to the thigh.
But she had to wait until the end of the ceremony to be reunited with her Westlife boyfriend Kian, who sat at the opposite side of the church with the wedding party.
Bryan McFadden watched the service from one of the back pews with his wife Kerry alongside Nicky Byrne, his wife Georgina and the Taoiseach.
Following the touching service guests was taken to Ashford Castle for the spectacular wedding banquet.
Surrounded by security the castle was illuminated from top to bottom with coloured lights.
Some hotel guests and locals managed to get close to the action as they assembled in the car park and greeted the arrival of the stars with huge cheers.
Inside guests were treated to champagne and cocktails as they awaited the entrance of the bride and groom.
They were then seated for a five course meal and the wedding speeches led by Shane's bestman Finbar Filan.
Now - Bryan's Bombshell Left Us Gutted
Credit: mBuzz.net user "SHANEILOVEYOUSOMUCH"
Thursday 4 march 2004 is a date that will forever be etched on Westlife singer Kian Egan mind. It's the day that rocked the core of the record-breaking boy band-the day that Bryan Mcfadden sensationally quit.
When Bryan had said that he wanted to talk, Kian 23 and the rest of the band - Shane Filan, 24, Mark Feehily 23 and Nicky Byrne,25- had waited patiently for him to arrive at a luxury penthouse appartment in Dublin.
Bryan 23,had been notably withdrawn earlier that day as they'd kicked off rehearsals for their 70-date world tour. But no one was prepared for what he had to say 'Basically he just blurted out: "I want to leave the band" says Kian.
'It was really weird because the next 45 minutes seemed surreal. We were completetely stunned. He'd just dropped a huge bombshell on us. We were all gutted. There were a couple of silent minutes before we all asked him: "Why?" We knew he'd been unhappy, but we didn't realise that things had come to this. ' We asked if we could do anything to change his mind and he said "No" Then the tears started. It's sad to see someone you've gone through so much with just leave, It's the end of an era.'
The band spent more than three hours talking through his decision. It was the first of many late nights that the five friends would spend together discussing their future. Bryan then officialy announced the news at a hastlily organised press conference four days later. At Dublins Four Seasons Hotel last tuesday the band appeared together as a quintet for the last time to face the world's media. Father-of two Bryan told the packed press conference that the other members of the band were his four best friends and stressed that his departure had nothing to do with them, He added :'I just feel it's the right time to concerntrate on my family and being at home as much as I can'
All the boys were visibly upset as Kian fought back the tears to read a personal farwell. But he dismisses rumours that former Atomic Kitten Kerry had anything to do with Bryan's shock decision- she was said to have forced him to choose bewteen his pop career and his family 'That's absolute rubbish' sats outspoken Kian ' Kerry wants nothing more than for bryan to be happy. He just wasn't happy in the band any more'
Kian shakes his head wearily at reports that behind-the-scenes arguments had torn the group apart. It's claimed that Bryan's alleged romp with lap dancer Amy Barker on his stag night in 2001 had wrecked the band's clea-living reputatuion with his antics. There were also speculation that things became so tense bewteen them that Bryan punched Kian after he raunted him about with strippers. ' No member of Westlife has ever raised a hand to another member of the band' says Kian angrily ' That's complete nonsence. We have too much respect for each other to be getting into situtations like that. We argue over petty things,but nobody has ever had a physical fight. If that had happened on his stag night three years ago, there's no way that we'd have been able to work together for so long after. The only thing we felt was that we had to be there for Bryan 100 per cent. It was an unfair situtation, All we wanted to do was stand beside him'
As they prepare for their world tour which kicks off in Belfast on 29 march, Kian says he's relieved that Bryan chose to quit the band now. ' It would've been worse if he walked off in the middle of the tour. As far as the show and the rountines go , it would have been an absoulte diaster. His heart wasn't in it, so there was no point him putting on a brave face for the next few months while we're on the road. Now we just have to get ourselves together as a four-piece and share out his lead vocals bewteen us'
Recuriting another member was never an option for the boys, who've achieved 11 uk number 1 singles and have been together since they were teenagers ' That could never happen. After touring for the last six years you can't bring someone in. The four of us are even closer now that Bryan's left. It would be impossible to bring anyone else into that circle. it wouldn't be right'
However it looks likely that Bryan will still pursue a career in the music industry- he's been secretly managing new rock band Franklin. Bryan spotted the South africian group during his honeymoon in Sun city in 2002 and they're already been tipped for the big time. Hinting that he's on the threshold of launching his own solo career too. Bryan said " Franklin do rock music, which is different to Westlife nd my own solo stuff will be different again"
As for Westlife Bryan's larger-than-life presence will certanily be missed as he was notoriously the joker of the group. Kian says " He as just wired to the moon 24/7. He's a bubbly,mad character and there was never a quiet moment when he was around. Looking back I guess one of his memorable moments was when he tried to take on SO Solid Crew at the brits a few years ago. How mad was that?"
But fans can rest assured that the future of Westlife isn't hanging in the balance and the group promise their best tour ever. ' No matter what anyone says, we're not going to be another Take That, Boyzone or Spice girls, where everything falls apart when one member leaves. We're here to stay. We're just finding our feet as a four-piece now and this tour is going to be excititing for us'.