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Leann Rimes & Eddie Cibrian: New Beginnings

updated 05/09/2011 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/09/2011 01:00AM

Stuffy formality was the last thing LeAnn Rimes and Eddie Cibrian wanted on their wedding day. So, bucking tradition, the couple got ready together for their big day, sipping champagne and jamming to Sir Mix-a-Lot's "Baby Got Back." "We were not nervous at all!" says Rimes. But to maintain a hint of mystery, the country singer slipped away to a separate room to put on her custom Reem Acra gown and left Cibrian with an iPod that held a special tribute to her future husband. "I had a moment by myself where I played a song she wrote for me specifically for the wedding, 'How Much a Heart Can Hold,'" recalls Cibrian. "It was so beautiful. I just started crying."

The tears didn't end there. After Rimes, 28, and Cibrian, 37, exchanged vows during an intimate backyard ceremony in Malibu on April 22, the newlyweds shared an emotional first dance in front of their 35 guests to Patty Griffin's "When It Don't Come Easy." "We've overcome just about everything we possibly could to be together," says Rimes, acknowledging the controversy sparked when she and Cibrian divorced their respective spouses in 2010 to be together. "Nothing's quite come easy in this relationship, except for us knowing that we belong together."

The newly minted Mr. and Mrs. Cibrian celebrated their union with an outdoor reception with nods to the groom's Cuban background (black beans and fried plantains were served) and the bride's Southern roots ("The fried macaroni and cheese balls were my favorite!" she says). But the real stars of the night were the actor's sons Mason, 7, and Jake, 4-who gave their dad away during the ceremony. "I wanted them to share this moment so they could always remember when we started our life together as a family," says Cibrian. Later, "before dinner, they came out with light sabres to Star Wars music, and we were introduced as the Cibrian family," says Rimes, who calls herself their "bonus mom." As for plans to add to their clan? "Maybe eventually," says Rimes. "We talk about it."

For now, they're content living in the moment. "We'll always remember this day, how happy we were and how much support our family and friends gave us through a crazy, crazy time in our lives," says Rimes. "Here's to new beginnings."

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