Christopher Kennedy Lawford Marries in Hawaii
05/27/2014 AT 01:15 PM EDT
Lawford, 59, met his bride, a yoga teacher, 34, in Maui, where they both live part time. It's his second marriage. (He has three children from his first marriage to Jeannie Olsson.)
The theme for Sunday's wedding was Hawaiian, from the food to the flowers.
The décor featured tropical and native plants from Maui, as well as orchids, peonies, roses and a bleached driftwood arch, which the couple stood under as they exchanged vows.
The groom, whose father, Peter, was a member of Frank Sinatra's Rat Pack, wrote a best-selling memoir Symptoms of Withdrawal in 2005 about his near-fatal addiction to alcohol, painkillers and heroin and his path to sobriety.
Today, Lawford, who has been sober 27 years, is grateful for how far he's come. "God must love me a lot," he says, "because I was able to find this amazing woman on a rock in the Pacific!"
His new bride is equally effusive.
"Marrying Christopher Lawford is knowing that I have my best friend for life," says Mercedes Lawford. "And that is the best feeling in the world!"
Family and friends of the couple dined on a Hawaiian-inspired menu prepared by Chef Dan Fiske featuring Ahi tuna sashimi salad, Maui beef carpaccio and locally caught fresh fish steamed with lemongrass and ginger, followed by an array of desserts including mango and strawberry shortcake, macadamia nut shortbread and a raw wedding cake with chocolate, lilikoi (the local name for passionfruit) and coconut.
Lawford was only 8 when his uncle, JFK, was assassinated in Dallas. After his second uncle, Robert F. Kennedy, was assassinated in 1968, he began to self-medicate with alcohol and drugs.
Since Symptoms of Withdrawal, he's written three books about addiction and healing, including his latest What Addicts Know: 10 Lessons from Recovery to Benefit Everyone.