Relaxed Paul and Emily start married life with a barbecue for their guests
IT was a wedding to remember. And it wasn't over yet.
After partying all night long, some of the cream of Irish rugby got together again yesterday for a relaxing barbecue with newlyweds Paul O'Connell and Emily O'Leary under the shady trees of Chateau de Lartigolle in the French village of Pessan.
It had been a fantastic night, said Donncha O'Callaghan and his wife Jenny, who took the opportunity the next morning to take in a spot of sightseeing in beautiful Auch, where the wedding had taken place.
"We weren't drinking," said Jenny, who is pregnant with the couple's second child.
"The atmosphere was great – you're around people you're completely comfortable with," said Donncha of the wedding, with Jenny adding that they had danced to the music of a local band who played current hits.
"Everyone had a great night," she said.
"The food was really good, and typical of a rugby wedding there was plenty of it," joked Donncha.
Meanwhile, the newlyweds were remaining tight-lipped on where the honeymoon will be.
"I'll pass on that question," Paul said after the wedding.
"I'm happy, very happy," he said, as he kissed his bride.
The guest list had been a roll-call of Munster and international greats, which more than pleased the small crowd of Irish holidaymakers who had taken a break from the pool to come and enjoy the spectacle.
Well over 100 people had gathered in the shade outside the Sainte Marie Cathedral d'Auch to watch the celebrations unfold.
Ronan O'Gara and his wife Jessica were first to arrive, along with the O'Callaghans.
Alan Quinlan walked in with businessman JP McManus, who was with his wife Noreen.
Other guests included former team-mates Jerry Flannery and Doug Howlett.
Almost an hour late for the 3pm wedding, Emily arrived with her father, Pat, in a vintage Renault car, sweeping up in the square outside the picturesque cathedral which dates from the 18th century.
The bride drew admiring glances from local French women among the crowd, who murmured "tres belle".
Her wedding dress was a deceptively simple flowing gown of chantilly lace with a v-neck, a draped back and a small train of fluttering lace.
She wore a headdress of white flowers and feathers and her hair had been styled into a simple chic updo.
Her bridesmaids, wearing long dresses of mint floral print, were her two sisters, Stephanie and Danielle, and her best friend since childhood, Lorraine Murray.
The flower girls in pink were Paul's nieces, Julie and Rachel O'Connell, and Jessica Collins.
Emily's mother, Keave, and Paul's mother, Shelagh, were elegant in peach chiffon and cerise floral print respectively.
Paul, his tall frame encased in a suit of blue worn with tan shoes, had arrived earlier with his brother Marcus, the best man; and his groomsmen – his brother, Justin, and Emily's brother Paul.
The couple's three-year-old son, Paddy, in a little suit of shorts and a waistcoat and wearing a pair of green canvas shoes, clutched two favourite toy rabbits as he walked up the aisle.
Celebrating the Mass was Paul's uncle, Fr Dan O'Connell, a priest in Savannah, Georgia, for 42 years.
The bride's arrival was greeted with a round of applause by a crowd of around 100 people, including many Irish holidaymakers.
"We're delighted," said Nicola Elliott, from Terenure, Dublin, on holiday with her husband, Brian, and their three children, including Brian Jnr (12) who was excited to see his hero, bridegroom Paul.
After the wedding, the guests were bussed to the stunning Chateau Lartigolle for a stylish reception.
Guests enjoyed a banquet en plein air of local seasonal produce including canapes of foie gras with fig chutney, pan-fried duck breast, starters such as prawn and fennel bisque or warm wild mushroom tartlets, followed by an aromatic spit roast.
Afterwards came the romantic traditional French wedding cake of croquembouche, with the bride and groom feeding one another with the top two choux buns before the partying got under way in earnest.