From PEOPLE Magazine Click to enlarge
There was no big white dress, no bridal party and not a single celebrity among the 35 emotional revelers who watched LeAnn Rimes marry actor Eddie Cibrian in a friend's Malibu backyard on April 22. Instead, the couple wanted to do things their own way with an Old Hollywood meets bohemian-themed celebration: The bride wore a slinky, sparkling evening gown; the groom was given away by his young sons; and the pair tearfully exchanged deeply personal vows before being pronounced husband and wife by two friends ordained just for the occasion.

"Getting married the second time around, at 28," says Rimes, "it was so different." Slipping on her pearl- and paillette-encrusted Reem Acra gown, the singer says she felt "like a woman who was making a very important decision and truly understood what marriage meant."

Still painfully aware of the controversy they've kicked up on their road to happiness-after meeting on a movie set in 2008, Rimes and Cibrian ended their respective first marriages to be together-these days the newlyweds are focused on the journey ahead. Says Rimes: "Here's to new beginnings."

Starting off on the right foot as a blended family was at the top of Rimes's and Cibrian's minds as they planned for their big day. They went to therapy to figure out how to talk to Cibrian's sons from his first marriage, Mason, 7, and Jake, 4, about life with two families. "The kids come first in everything we do," says Cibrian, 37, whose sons call their new "bonus mom" by her nickname, Le. "We wanted to make sure the wedding was their party too. They were beyond excited to celebrate us all coming together as a family."

Making their guests feel special was next on the list. "They really wanted the night to be about their friends and family and not just about them," says red25events producer Heidi Mayne. That meant extra touches like light sabres, pizza and a Star Wars-themed table for the boys and handwritten notes from the newlyweds in every gift bag.

It was a night they'll never forget. "We'll always remember this day and how happy we were," says Rimes. "It cemented the undeniable love we have for each other."