When Marilu Henner wed her college crush
Michael Brown last week, she married her "soul mate," she tells PEOPLE.
"I have been in love with Michael since the first week we got together," Henner says of Brown, whom she dated for three years before they said "I do" at their Los Angeles home. "This (wedding) was really a celebration of bringing our families together and our kids. I didn't feel nerves. I never had a doubt or a second thought."
Henner says her two sons – Nicky, 12, and Joey, 11 – walked her down the aisle in a ceremony officiated by Brown's brother.
"In our vows we told little stories to each other and made seven promises," she says. "When it was over I said, 'I want to do it again.' I felt in the moment and loved every single second of it. We all danced until 2:00 in the morning."
Henner and Brown, both 54, met in the early 1970s at the University of Chicago, but didn't begin dating until a mutual college friend gave Brown her phone number in 2003. Soon after their first date, Brown was diagnosed with cancer, and he proposed that November from his hospital bed following surgery to remove a spot on his lung.
"He opened his eyes and he looked at me and he grabbed my hand and he said,
'Will you marry me?' " Henner says. "I said 'Yes' and he said, 'You saved my life.' "
After the wedding, the couple traveled to Casa del Zorro in Borrego Springs,
Calif., with nearly 25 of Henner's relatives to celebrate Christmas. They
are still planning their honeymoon.