"I am incredibly happy," says Chesney (with his bride in the Virgin Islands on their wedding day). Adds wedding-dress designer Carolina Herrera: "They are very much in love."
05/12/2005 AT 12:00 PM EDT
Never mind the ring bearer; at the May 9 island nuptials of stealth couple Renée Zellweger and Kenny Chesney, it was the tissue bearer who took centerstage. "Somebody was passing out Kleenex to everyone before Renée arrived," says a guest. "They knew we were all going to cry. We were all laughing through our tears. It was that kind of wedding."
It was also the kind of wedding that few people saw coming. After all, it was only recently that the Oscar-winning actress, 36, and the country-music heartthrob, 37, even hinted at romance, with Zellweger popping onstage to deliver a margarita and a kiss at an April 29 Chesney concert in Jacksonville, Fla. Flash-forward nine days to the pair exchanging simple vows in a sunset ceremony on St. John in the Virgin Islands before just 35 close family and friends – not a single paparazzo or celebrity attendee in sight.
"It was a very spare service," says the guest, a close friend of the couple's. "It wasn't about big parties. It wasn't about grand gestures or massive $40,000 displays of flowers. It was about two very happy people finding each other."