From PEOPLE Magazine Click to enlarge
The soundtrack at Matthew McConaughey and Camila Alves's three-day wedding celebration was filled with happy clamor: old friends catching up, dogs barking, children giggling, spirited games of beanbag toss and horseshoes. "Everyone was calling it 'glamping'-like glam camping," a guest says of the 47 luxury air-conditioned tents erected on the couple's Austin estate, where some 120 guests-including Reese Witherspoon, Kenny Chesney and Woody Harrelson-spent three days and two nights enjoying boisterous summer fun. "It was like a cool commune." But as the sun set on Saturday, June 9, and the Catholic ceremony got under way, a striking hush fell over the proceedings-first when a radiant Camila started down the aisle and again when Rev. David Haney asked the pair to whisper what they saw in each other at that special moment. "No one could hear what Matthew said to her, but you could feel it," says the guest. "Everyone could see Camila's reaction: First she was smiling and laughing, then you could see her crying. One of the most emotional moments was something nobody could hear. It was beautiful."

Now the new Mr. and Mrs. McConaughey are proudly proclaiming their commitment. "We decided to embrace the ritual of marriage as an opportunity and adventure we'll take together," Matthew, 42, tells PEOPLE of marrying his love of six years, Brazilian-born model and designer Camila, 29. The big day was especially meaningful for the couple's children, son Levi, who turns 4 next month, and daughter Vida, 2½. "Levi has asked many times over the years, 'Mama, why am I a McConaughey but you aren't?'" says Camila, who is taking her husband's last name. "They are both very excited. Somehow they both seem to understand what we are doing on a spiritual level."

Matthew himself was deeply struck by the meaning of the ceremony as he awaited his bride's entrance. "The silence before she came out, 42 years of history ran through my veins ... and then I thought of her," says the Texas-born star, who proposed on Christmas Day last year. "Twenty-nine years, a young lady's dream to marry whomever that may be, the most important moment in the fairy tale, and tonight, right now, I am that man for her, for the first time and forever." Adds his mom, Kay: "Right before Camila came in, I saw Matthew looking up, and I imagined he was thanking God for the joy and love in his life. I could feel the love he was about to share with Camila, and I won't forget it."

For friends and family, the wedding perfectly captured both the couple's penchant for the romantic and their down-to-earth vibe. Before the ceremony, guests padded around in colorful African-style robes and enjoyed a 24-hour hospitality tent stocked with food, tequila and beer. And in a teasing nod to the lack of VIP demands-even the pregnant Witherspoon hung out in the tents-friends passed around a T-shirt that read, "Reese stole my room." Says Matthew: "The thing we wanted to give our guests is the memory of a wonderful weekend."

After a preceremony meal of beans and rice, Camila donned a handmade beaded lace gown by Brazilian dress designer Ducarmo Castelo Branco (see box). Then after dusk Matthew, in a three-piece Dolce & Gabbana tux, walked down the aisle to "Ai Du" by African musician Ali Farka Toure. The meaning of the love song, says Matthew: "To trust your fellow man, you must first trust yourself." Next came Vida and Levi, who served as flower girl and ring bearer. "They were barefoot, and when they walked in, everyone gasped," says a guest. After Camila's entrance to "Dia Branco" by Brazilian singer Geraldo Azevedo-"[It means] if you want to come with me from the dirt to the diamond, I promise you all of me," she says-the couple exchanged traditional vows in a ceremony presided over by Father Christian Leisy, a Catholic Benedictine monk whom the groom has known since 1995, with Rev. Haney, the senior pastor at Austin's Riverbend Church, doing the readings. Singer John Mellencamp-who attended with girlfriend Meg Ryan-sang psalms set to original music, and readings included Bible passages such as Matthew 6:22. "We chose verses from the Bible that moved us and speak to who we are as a couple," says the groom. The nuptials were sealed with a "long kiss," says a guest, followed by lots of "hooting and hollering and clapping."

Before heading to the outdoor reception among trees twinkling with white lights, Matthew, who stars in the upcoming Magic Mike, shed his jacket and Camila changed into a jacket and skirt. After their first dance to Randy Travis's "Forever and Ever, Amen," the pair grooved along with Levi and Vida. "The kids were supercute," says a partygoer. "And they were dancing until 3 in the morning!" (Also tearing up the dance floor: a lively Harrelson.)

But the festivities didn't end there. The next day the relaxed newlyweds hosted a barbecue featuring a Texan crawfish boil catered by Food Network star Guy Fieri, a McConaughey pal. From start to finish, the entire affair, say those who know the couple best, was uniquely Matthew and Camila. "It was perfect," says a guest. "It felt like they built a village full of love, fun, family and friends."

  • Contributors:
  • with Patrick Gomez/Austin.