I do, I do, I do...
During the past 10 years working as a model, I've worn hundreds of wedding dresses and smiled at endless fashion shoots. I've worn some gorgeous wedding gunas and some pretty frightful frocks, too, but now it's my turn to chose a bridal gown for my wedding next summer.
They say that weddings are a great place for potential couples to meet and I hope that's true for my own wedding in July, because I am the self-styled queen of the matchmakers. For years, I've been setting people up. I've had many disasters but I've also clocked up at least one wedding and an engagement.
After one particular disaster, when I set up one of my best friends up with a man too fond of the drink, I swore to myself I'd never attempt to play Cupid again. However, the lure of love has always hooked me back in. If I see a couple I think would be great together, I just can't help myself.
My lovely sister, Steph, and her husband, rugby international Mal O'Kelly, are my poster couple for my matchmaking prowess. I engineered a meeting for them in 1995 and they married in July 2005. Whenever I think of hanging up my Cupid's bow, their happiness reels me back in. I'm a big believer in karma and a fan of spreading the circle of love, and karma definitely came into play when I met my own fiancé, Alan Quinlan, from Co Tipperary.
Alan and I were too shy to talk to each other when we first met at the K Club in July 2004. I was working at an event that he was attending and while we saw each other, we didn't say a word to each other. Alan knew that my sister was married to a fellow rugby player so he made the call and then my sister Steph played Cupid for me and engineered an introduction for Alan and I. That was four years ago. We got engaged in July last year and get married in Dundrum House this summer.
Apart from the frocks, to add to my wedding-belle status, I've also worked as a journalist for Confetti bridal magazine. I often worried that by the time my own wedding came about, I would be completely jaded with the whole bridal shebang. However when Alan proposed last summer, I realised the real deal is totally different, and much more special for reasons I didn't think of before I met my fiancé.
Alan is romantic but not in a very obvious way, so when he did pop the question it was not surrounded by champagne and balloons but in the middle of Aherlow woods in his native Co Tipperary. I'm from Dublin but Alan wants a traditional wedding in Co Tipperary, surrounded by all our family and friends.
After all the experience I've had being a fake bride in countless magazines, you'd think I d be the worlds biggest Bridezilla.
In reality, I think I'm pretty easy-going about the whole thing because as much as I'm looking forward the big day, I see it more as a huge fun-filled bash. I'm looking forward to being married more.
There'll be no releasing of doves, horse-drawn carriages or mammoth ice sculptures on my wedding day. Forget the fuss and flowers and frills, the most romantic thing for me is that I'm marrying my best friend, someone I love and respect and have lots of fun with.
I've been to some amazing weddings that will inspire me for my own. Alan's fellow Munster player Dave Wallace and his wife Aileen had a fairy tale wedding in Italy. Andrea Roche's wedding was very elegant and stylish in Co Kildare. Both weddings had a very romantic feel but, maybe more importantly, everyone had a blast. That's what I want for my own day.
There'll be no posing and pouting allowed (that's just the Munster lads, never mind the model contingent). We both just want a big, fun bash with lots of dancing and drinking and fun. I know it may not seem overly romantic but we both just want a fun day with all the people in our circle of love.
Romance is a hard thing to define. I'm not really a flowers and chocolate girl. I know it's a cliché but, for me, it's the little things, such as when I leave Alan's house in Limerick before 5am for a modelling assignment, he gets up with me, has my shower running, makes my breakfast, puts petrol in the car and makes sure I have a pint of coffee in me before I hit the road. Because I commute between Alan's house in Limerick and my apartment in Dublin, I'm on the road constantly. After driving for hours, Alan will book me a surprise massage in my favorite beauty salon. He remembers to get my favorite treats when he goes shopping. He'll cut out the crossword from the newspaper for me before he reads it. Here's the best bit girls -- all without having to be asked. Unspectacular events, but it all lends itself to me feeling looked after and loved on an ongoing basis. To my mind, that's the most romantic gesture of all.
As someone a lot wiser than myself wrote: "Happiness, a regard for beauty, friendship between all peoples and individuals is love itself." So, you never know once the veil comes off at my wedding, my Cupid's bows might just appear ...