04/11/2011 at 12:15 PM EDT
knew she'd found a good man in her new husband Jim Toth
when she got the thumbs-up from a very particular group of women – her fellow Southerners.
"Over the holidays I was at a department store in L.A. with my friends, and these three women from Oklahoma came up to me, and they said" – laying on a thick Southern drawl – "'Reese. We are so happy for yeeew. We liiike this guy for yew,' " the Louisiana-born actress, 35, tells Vogue
's May issue.
"And I said, 'You do?!' 'Yes, ma'am. We think he is a niiice man. We think he is going to treat you well and be good to yeeew.' I was like, 'Really?' So sweet! And I told them my mother likes him very much, too."
And what is the Pennsylvania-born CAA agent like? "He's wonderful," Witherspoon says. "He's just a really great guy, and I feel really lucky."
Elsewhere in the pre-wedding interview, on newsstands April 19, the Oscar winner touches on the topic of parenting – in particular, what it's like to have a pre-teen daughter in Ava, who's now 11.
"She's on the precipice of having her love affairs and her life," Witherspoon says. "She is curious and artistic and very smart. She really surprises me."
Parenting in general – she also has a son Deacon, 7, with ex-husband Ryan Phillippe
– isn't what she thought it would be, she adds. "I thought you make little people in your image. But they are just nothing like me or their father. They are their own individuals."
She adds: "I know it's corny, but being a parent to me is such a great privilege; that I get to chaperone these beautiful little souls through life. They astound me with their knowledge and their humor."
Asked how she's changed herself since her 20s, Witherspoon says she's grown up a lot, and learned to expect the unexpected.
"I was a little more shut down in my 20s," she says. "I was really scared of a lot of things and a lot of people. I have gone through so many changes since then. Obviously, being divorced and having a couple of relationships. I'm much more open than I was."
She adds: "I think with life experience you go: I have no idea what's next. The unexpected doesn't surprise me anymore. It really shocked me then."