A small-town Oklahoma girl turned country superstar, Carrie Underwood
has already led a storybook life. But on July 10, moments before the singer walked down the aisle to exchange vows with her Canadian hockey-pro groom Mike Fisher, his princess (as he calls her) realized happily-ever-after was coming true.
"When we put her tiara on, she looked at me and said, 'I'm getting married!' " recalls Melissa Schleicher, Underwood's makeup artist, who was also one of her eight bridesmaids. "She's found the love of her life-Mike is her Prince Charming."
Fisher, 30, had to be something special to compete with the other steady in the singer's life, her 4-year-old rat terrier, Ace-who refused to give her up without a fight. As the couple sealed their vows with their first kiss, guests seated beneath the white tent on the grounds of Georgia's Ritz-Carlton Reynolds Plantation resort erupted into applause, while Ace (dressed in a crystal-encrusted pink tuxedo) simply erupted. "He was barking like mad," says Underwood, 27. He was jealous, says Fisher: "I took his woman!"
The day before he officially stole her away, Fisher and Underwood (whom he met through mutual friends in 2008), welcomed their 250 guests to the 35-acre resort with sweet tea, Georgia spiced pecans, strawberry shortcake and a surprise display of fireworks. "They wanted a laid-back environment where everybody could be together and have a good time," wedding planner Jayne Bubis said of the location.
The luxury resort, which they rented in its entirety for the weekend, was redecorated with reminders of the nuptials: The hotel name on the entry carpet and room keys were replaced by a custom rug and keys bearing the couple's signature "CM" motif, which was repeated on the dance floor and on the backs of the head-table chairs in the reception ballroom. The hotel lobby was hung with childhood photos (including pictures of Underwood with her first singing award and Fisher with his first hockey trophy) and favorite snapshots of family and friends. "They are just family people-they're going to make great parents," says Schleicher, pointing to the kin-heavy/celeb-lite guest list. (Fellow American Idol
champ David Cook, who caught the garter, was the only big-name attendee). "It wasn't about having celebrities; Carrie and Mike don't care about that stuff," she says. "They wanted the closest people who meant the most to them."
For Carrie that meant spending quality time with her two sisters (also bridesmaids), Shanna Means, 39, and Stephanie Shelton, 36, and their mom, Carole. The women treated themselves to mani-pedis at the hotel spa the day before the wedding, and on the day of, they sipped champagne and nibbled ambrosia salad and scones as they primped with the bridal party. "They were just being silly," says Schleicher. "Carrie loves when her whole family's together."
Underwood shared a tender moment with her father, Stephen, as well while they waited to walk the aisle together. "We were in this little room and he was talking about his and my mother's wedding. He said when they were getting married, he thought he was going to throw up!" Underwood says with a laugh. "But I had never heard him talk about their wedding before, so it was something very special to me that I'll never forget."
Equally unforgettable? The couple's first dance, to contemporary Christian singer Brandon Heath's "Love Never Fails." The song is a favorite of the couple's, and Underwood arranged for it to be sung by Heath himself as a surprise for her groom. "Mike had no idea, and he looked at Carrie like, 'Wow! You did this for me!' " says Schleicher. "They were giggling and laughing and so happy."
By 2 a.m., however, they were also exhausted. Leaving the still-hopping dance party behind (it went on past 4 a.m.), they were greeted at their lakeside cottage with a basket of wedding cupcakes and hors d'oeuvres, a bed strewn with pink rose petals in the pattern of their "CM" motif and "gobs of pink and white candles everywhere," says Bubis.
With their fairy-tale wedding behind them, the newlyweds (who will divide their time between homes in Nashville and Canada) are looking forward to a rare, undisturbed summer of marital bliss, which began with a honeymoon in Tahiti. Come September, the two resume their nomadic lives, when Fisher's Ottawa Senators' preseason kicks off and Underwood's Play On tour continues.
But love, says the couple, will span the miles between them. "I look forward to seeing what God's got for us," says Fisher. "It's exciting to have her by my side the whole way."
Putting on the Glitz
"She wanted something grand and magical," says Monique Lhuillier, who custom-designed Underwood's gown, adorning the skirt with more than 3,000 handmade silk organza flowers dusted with crystals.
A gift from Fisher, the 40-carat diamond and white gold piece was created for Underwood by Johnathon Arndt. "Mike calls her 'Princess,' so it fit!" says makeup artist Melissa Schleicher.
"The dress was so full, we wanted simple, classic makeup. I wanted her to glow," says Schleicher. "She said, 'Make sure you use waterproof because I'm sure I'll shed tears.' "
Featuring two round cakes-at top and bottom-and six tiers of cupcakes in Carrie's fave flavor (vanilla with vanilla buttercream frosting), the confection was created by Underwood's friend Ivey Childers, wife of her bass player and owner of IveyCake in Franklin, Tenn.
THE ROOM: "Everything was feminine," says wedding planner Jayne Bubis of the antique toile tablecoths, silver floral chargers, lovebird place-card holders and soft pink lighting (which changed to hot pink for dancing) in the ballroom.
The menu catered to vegetarians like Underwood (butternut squash ravioli) and meat-eaters like Fisher (herb roasted filet mignon).