11/20/2006 at 01:00 AM EST
They first met in 1994, when 12-year-old Dominique Moceanu had just won the Junior National Gymnastics Championships and 17-year-old gymnast Michael Canales was nervously awaiting his own meet. "She walked up and said, 'Just keep hanging in there,'" recalls Canales. "And she smiled."
Twelve years later, on Nov. 4, Moceanu, 25, and Canales, 29, were married in Houston.
"I couldn't ask for a better soul-mate," says Moceanu, who's now studying business administration while staying active in gymnastics. She reconnected with Canales—a podiatric surgical resident—in 2001; they became engaged last year. "Mike knows me better than I know myself."
Among the 175 wedding guests were three of Moceanu's gold-medal teammates from the 1996 Olympics: Amanda Borden, Dominique Dawes and Kerri Strug. Gymnastics legends Nadia Comaneci, 44, and Bart Conner, 48, served as honorary godparents.
So was the big day everything the champ had hoped for? "Everything and more," says Moceanu, who wore an off-the-rack strapless white-satin wedding dress. "It turned out just perfect."