They're two of the best known faces in showbiz — yet Patrick Kielty and his new wife Cat Deeley shunned all trappings of the traditional celebrity wedding.
Instead, the happy couple opted for a quiet and intimate ceremony surrounded by their closest friends and family in Rome.
Even the priest who married them, north Belfast’s Fr Gary Donegan, declined to share details of the surprise secret wedding.
Kielty sprung the biggest showbiz surprise of the year when he tied the knot with his presenter girlfriend in the small ceremony in Rome on Saturday.
Speculation had been rife in recent months that the 41-year-old Dundrum comic had popped the question to his close friend of 10 years. But they consistently denied the rumours.
With confusion over whether the couple were even engaged, they managed to keep their wedding vows hush-hush too before tying the knot at a chapel in St Isidore’s College in the Italian capital.
Cat (35) looked beautiful in a white ruffled round-neck gown and flowers in her hair, while Paddy looked sharp in a black suit with open-neck shirt.
Sources close to the showbiz couple — who became pals while working together on television show Fame Academy in 2002 — said a handful of friends and family were invited to the ceremony just days before.
Among them was Holy Cross priest Fr Donegan (above), who married the pair after flying out to Italy at late notice.
A long-term friend of the comedian, he had to pull out of an 80th birthday party on Friday evening to carry out the ceremony for his pal.
Speaking from Rome last night, he jokingly told the Belfast Telegraph he had taken a “vow of silence”.
Co Down-born Paddy — whose dad Jack was murdered by the UDA in 1988 — and his gorgeous blonde bride tied the knot in front of 60 guests during an intimate service, according to Sunday Life.
The church specialises in giving Irish couples dream weddings in the shadow of the Vatican.
A source close to the pair said: “The wedding plans were top secret — friends of Paddy and Cat only found out in the last few days.
“Their immediate families have known for a bit longer, but everyone was under strict instructions not to say a word.”
Just last year, it seemed the Emmy Award-nominated TV presenter Cat — from Sutton Coldfield — was happy to stay single in the US where she presents So You Think You Can Dance? “I haven't found my Prince Charming yet and I've kissed a few frogs too,” she joked.
The pair are said to be enjoying a luxurious honeymoon.
Paddy is set to appear in Newry for a gig at the Carrickdale Hotel on October 19.
A cat and mouse game with a happy ending
By Chris Kilpatrick
Comedian Paddy Kielty and his new wife have been playing cat and mouse with the Press for months as to whether or not they intended to tie the knot.
The couple have been close friends since they presented Fame Academy together back in 2002.
But the friendship only turned to romance last November after the presenter split with her previous boyfriend.
As their fledgling courtship developed, the Dundrum comic hinted at the turn of the year he was ready to settle down and wanted to get married in 2012.
Despite this declaration, the 41-year-old remained coy about Deeley.
Rumours of an engagement first emerged in August when the couple were seen drinking Champagne in a fancy London hotel while the bride-to-be showed off a sparkling diamond ring.
But they refused to confirm any engagement.
Then Kielty threw the rumours into doubt when he flatly denied any proposal when asked about it while presenting This Morning.
“I'm not engaged actually, no I'm not,” he told his guest, X Factor judge Louis Walsh. But the speculation intensified last week when Deeley was spotted wearing a diamond ring on her wedding finger at a glitzy television pre-Emmy Awards bash in Los Angeles.
Yet the ring was gone by the time the couple took to the red carpet for the Emmy Awards, at which Deeley was nominated for her work on So You Think You Can Dance?
The couple were pictured embracing one another for a series of photographs last week.
Deeley (35) showed how smitten she is with her Co Down beau by taking to Twitter to post a romantic photo of the couple hand in hand as they left the event.
She dreamily wrote next to the image, in a hint of what was to come: ‘And they lived... Happily ever after...'