Sun beams on guests at Sexton-Priestley wedding
Irish rugby team turn out in force for marriage of childhood sweethearts in Adare
Jonathan Sexton with his brother and best man Mark (left), and his groomsmen, brother Jerry (centre right) and cousin Roy at the Holy Trinity Abbey Church in Adare, Co Limerick. Photograph: Liam Burke/Press 22
Laura Priestley accompanied by her dad Maurice arriving at Holy Trinity Abbey Church for her wedding to Jonathan Sexton. Photograph: Liam Burke/Press 22
The sun beamed down on guests as they made their way into the Holy Trinity Abbey church in the picturesque town of Adare in Co Limerick today.
Arriving almost half an hour early for the scheduled 2pm ceremony in a silver Volkswagen Toureg with a “Mr and Mrs Sexton” numberplate, the Irish rugby star and famed place kicker showed no sign of nerves.
Decked out in dove grey three-piece suits by Michael Barry, Sexton posed for photos outside the church with his three groomsmen; brother and best man Mark, his other brother Jerry and his cousin Roy.
Fresh from the Lions tour, team mate Brian O’Driscoll arrived without wife Amy Huberman or baby Sadie.
Other guests from the rugby fraternity to arrive included Rob Kearney, Ronan O’Gara, Eoin O’Malley, Devin Toner, Andrew Trimble, Kevin McLaughlin, Isa Nacewa, Sean Cronin, Cian Healy, Fergus McFadden, Shane Jennings, Girvan Dempsey, Ian Madigan, Dave Kearney, Mike Ross, Keith Earls, Billy Keane and Les Kiss.
There was a wide array of sartorial swag on display with guests dressed in a kaleidoscope of colour with some female guests faring well in vertiginous heels and wide-brimmed hats. Hundreds of locals and a few perplexed looking American tourists thronged around the church to wish the wedding party well.
Laura Priestley (27), a school teacher at Loreto Foxrock, clutched her father and beamed as she entered the church, eschewing the traditional late entrance favoured by brides - she arrived shortly after 2pm.
Ms Priestley wore a cream triple silk bias cut gown with chain detail at the back from Myrtle boutique - the same place fellow rugby wives Amy Huberman and Aoife Cogan got their wedding dresses.
The bride wore her hair in a simple up-do with a single white flower at the back and a diamante head band. The bridesmaids included Laura’s twin sister Cathy Priestley, Johnny’s sister Gillian Sexton and friend Emma Richardson, who wore sea green silk dresses from fashion label Bastyan, in keeping with the overall green and white theme.
Publicist for the couple Joanne Byrne said the couple had opted for an Irish theme, with green and white flowers including calla lilies, green hydrangeas, delphiniums and ivory roses.
Music was provided by Vladimir and Classical Twist, a three part music group with violin, viola and double bass.
The couple who have been together for almost 14 years were wed by a friend of the family, Fr Paul Lavelle, of Kilbarrack, Foxfield in Dublin and former Leinster rugby branch referee, who wed the couple, is a family friend to the Sextons.
Fr Lavelle (73) said he was “honoured” to perform the ceremony and described the couple, as “a couple of faith”. Fr Lavelle said he would speak on the theme of love during the ceremony. He told The Irish Times the couple “were called from their families to a greater love and now set up a new community of love”.
A lavish reception for 200 people will take place in The Minstrel’s Gallery at the five-star Adare Manor where after the ceremony, guests will have a champagne reception on the lawn. Inspired by the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles, it is the second largest function room in the country, with three five-foot chandeliers and 17th century choir stalls framing a custom-made bar.
The guests will be treated to a lavish four course meal - a starter of parma ham and rocket salad, warm goats cheese salad or smoked salmon, mojito sorbet, and for the main course, medallions of monkfish or fillet of beef, The dessert will be vanilla cheesecake or apple tart.
Sexton is due to begin training with his new club Racing Metro in Paris in next week and his brother and groomsman Jerry will fly out on Sunday to start with the French team, Auch.
Team mate Rob Kearney said he was “delighted” to be a part of the couple’s celebrations and that the bride looked “gorgeous as always”.
Fellow team mate Ronan O’Gara said he was looking forward to Sexton joining him in France, and to celebrating tonight. “It’s an absolutely beautiful church and occasion. All his loved ones are here so it’s a fantastic day and it’s great to be a part of it. I can’t wait for himself and Laura to come to Paris.”