The invitations have gone out, the marquees are up and the security guards have been briefed to halt all interlopers at the gates. After weeks of rumours, it was confirmed last night that Sir Paul McCartney will marry Heather Mills in Ireland on Tuesday.
As is so often the case on such occasions, details of the event emerged indirectly – and from a typically unlikely source. Unnamed "prominent society figures" in Co Monaghan let slip to reporters that they had been invited to a celebration at Castle Leslie, in the village of Glaslough.
However, even at this stage, it was not clear if the invitations were meant to allow access to the ceremony itself, or merely the reception.
And as journalists checked in to local hotels, some of those preparing the venue continued to insist that, far from playing host to the union of an ex-Beatle and his model fiancée, the Victorian castle was being prepared for an innocuous "product launch".
On a lawn at the heart of the 1,000-acre grounds, three marquees were erected for guests, as kitchens, generators, oil tankers, frozen food lorries and special events consultants continued to arrive. A yacht appeared to have been floated on the castle lake but it, as well as the walkways between the marquees, remained covered – a sign that, come Tuesday, prying eyes will be prevented from catching a glimpse of the wedding.
Gary Roberts, minister at the St Salvator's Protestant church within the estate, revealed that security guards at the castle were being briefed on how to prevent an invasion of the grounds by fans and journalists tomorrow.
The heavily guarded gates will be opened to parishioners for Sunday service. However, he said pointedly: "The service will be restricted to regular parishioners and others from the area who have shown an interest or have attended in the past."
McCartney, 59, met the anti-landmines campaigner Ms Mills, 34, three years ago and they were engaged last July. A former model, Ms Mills lost a leg in 1993 when she was hit by a police motorcycle.
The couple have refused to reveal any details about their wedding plans, simply saying they were "going fine".
Other venues which had been hinted at were New York and Skibo Castle in Scotland, where Madonna married the film director Guy Ritchie.Reuse content