Eric Gunderson: "Best Day of My Life"

updated 07/21/2010 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/21/2010 AT 01:00 AM EDT

As Eric Gunderson waited to see his bride, college student Emily Hagar, walk down the aisle toward him, April 3, he was overcome by a feeling he hadn't experienced in a long time. "I got this weird nervousness that I haven't had since the first time we performed in front of a crowd," says the Love and Theft singer, 26. The cure? Seeing Hagar's reassuring smile. "I always thought she was beautiful, but it was the most beautiful I have ever seen her. I started to almost cry, and then I pinched myself so I wouldn't cry in front of my friends." After the ceremony, at the historic Hazel Path Mansion in Hendersonville, Tenn., the couple danced amid candlelit lanterns in their Moroccan-themed tent, where the 170 wedding guests enjoyed "a traditional southern dinner: chicken, green beans, mashed potatoes, bread and salad," says Hagar, 24. The best part of the night? Says Gunderson: "Kissing Emily for the first time, thinking, 'Wow she's actually my wife, the person I'm going to spend the rest of my life with.' "

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