Chesney on Renée: 'I'm the Luckiest Man Alive'

05/11/2005 at 01:00 PM EDT

Chesney on Renée: 'I'm the Luckiest Man Alive'
Carolyn Snell
Even country singer Kenny Chesney is in shock over his May 9 marriage to Oscar-winning actress Renée Zellweger.

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"To be so in love with someone who is so perfect for me – it's just hard to imagine that I'm not going to wake up," said Chesney in a statement Tuesday.

Though their whirlwind romance came as a surprise to many (the couple first met at the Jan. 15 Concert of Hope tsunami telethon) there were some clues that the two never-married stars might be well suited. One of Chesney's biggest hits, "You Had Me From Hello," is a take-off on the famous line "You had me at hello" from Zellweger's breakout 1996 role in Jerry Maguire. And asked to name his "three sexiest people" in 2002, Chesney chose Charlize Theron, Janet Jackson and Renée Zellweger.

The couple exchanged vows in a low-key ceremony before friends and family members Monday on St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where Chesney, 37, owns a home.

"It was a very spare service," a wedding guest tells PEOPLE.

Zellweger, 36, wore an elegant white gown designed by Carolina Herrera – the actress's longtime favorite designer. Herrera told the New York Post that during a recent fitting Zellweger "looked great. She looked very happy."

The small ceremony, which was officiated by a minister, was a more intimate scene than just two weeks ago, when while in Jacksonville, Fla., the Cold Mountain star surprised Chesney by bringing him a margarita onstage for his song "When the Sun Goes Down" (a tradition at his shows) and kissing him on the cheek at his April 29 concert, PEOPLE reports.

On May 2, the actress who grew up in Texas, and Chesney, a Tennessee native, got cozy over a meal at Chinese restaurant P.F. Chang's near Nashville. "They were rather affectionate ... kissing and stuff," says restaurant manager Sherri Hungerbuhler.

The couple then reconvened at Chesney's sold-out concert in Sunrise, Fla., on May 7. Zellweger quietly watched the show from the sound production area in the back of the arena and then adjourned backstage where she danced and bounced to his music.

Next up for the couple: Chesney is playing a concert on Thursday in Arkansas. Meanwhile, Zellweger will soon be out promoting her newest film Cinderella Man in which she costars with Russell Crowe, opening June 3.

For more on the surprise nuptials, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

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