A COUPLE stunned guests at a Christening by also getting married.
Karen Simmons and Gearoid Dunne thought they'd have a double celebration with their new-born twins -- but nobody thought it included exchanging vows.
But trying to build a house in Tubbercurry, Co Sligo, and managing three children all under the age of two put marriage plans on hold -- until they decided to make the Christening of eight-week-old Leah and Conor extra special.
Karen, an office administrator from Letterkenny, said the only other person in on their secret was the parish priest Father Martin Jennings.
It was even a surprise for their other child, two-year-old Grace.
"We decided that the vast majority of people we would want at our wedding, including our families and close friends, were there anyway," the bride said.
"We didn't want to put them to any additional expense or fuss so we decided we would have our wedding ceremony after the Christening. We are trying to build a new house as well so it all just made sense.
"Even some of my team-mates from my GAA club in Canada where I had been the captain were home over Christmas and the new year and that made it even more special."
Karen said the announcement at the church in Tubbercurry shocked the 60 Christening guests.
"I told them we had another small ceremony to complete and we'd also be getting married and everyone just went quiet. They were in shock and slowly they all began to cheer. It was amazing," she said.
Gearoid's brother Cathal, who was home from Australia to be godfather to little Leah, was best man. Karen's sister Maureen looked stunned when she was told she would be bridesmaid.
Fr Martin Jennings said the whole day was "wonderful".
He said: "It's certainly the first time I have conducted a Christening and a wedding on the same day involving the same couple.
"There was a wonderful appeal about the simplicity of it all. Weddings can be sometimes extravagant and stressful for families and this day was simple. Karen and Gearoid were completely focused on their commitment to one another and the sacrament."
The new Mr and Mrs Dunne had no honeymoon planned.
However, last night one of Donegal's leading four-star hotels heard about former employee Karen's marriage and offered them a honeymoon weekend.
Karen will soon be heading back to the Mount Errigal Hotel in Letterkenny to enjoy a lavish weekend in the honeymoon suite.
"When we heard what Karen did we were thrilled for her," said spokeswoman Carolynne Harrison. "We will make it all very special for them."
Karen added: "We are absolutely thrilled. I loved working there before I moved away and it will be great to go back.
"All I need now is a babysitter for new-born twins and a two-year-old!"