PEOPLE caught up with the happy couple the day before their I-Do’s, sharing their road to the altar and all the details that made their wedding day special.
For more on NE-YO and Crystal Renay’s wedding, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands everywhere Friday.
Sparks Flew the First Time They Met – Even Though She Almost Stood Him Up!
NE-YO and Renay, a model, first met when he was putting together his 2015 album Non-Fiction.
“Our meeting was initially strictly business, and I had planned on shooting a short film with the album,” says the Grammy winner, 36. “We met at a restaurant, but she showed up two hours late. She explained later why that was: She was just trying to get some info on me: who I was, if it was really going to be a business meeting or if I was some creep.”
While miffed at first over her unpunctual appearance, it didn’t deter their quick bond.
“When she sat down, we got to talking, and we just hit it off, more than I think either one of us expected. It was strictly business initially, but after a couple hours of just hanging out, talking, things got a little more personal: We started getting to know each other.”
The pair started dating about two weeks later, and: “It’s pretty much been bliss ever since then, I can’t lie,” says NE-YO.
And he “kinda knew right away” that Renay was the one, which the singer says took him by surprise because he was enjoying life as a bachelor.
“I was fighting it because when we met, I had been single for about a year and a half, and I was enjoying being single. I’m not normally the kind of guy to jump into a relationship quickly,” says NE-YO, adding Renay “threw a wrench in all my singleness.”
Not that he really minded: “From that first encounter, I knew there was something different about her, something special.”
The Proposal Was Spontaneous – and Involved a Little Profanity
When it came time to pop the question, NE-YO was unprepared, and his proposal was completely impromptu.
“Well, the proposal was kind of funny,” says Renay, recalling the moment in January 2015, after celebrating the night of his album release.
“We were in the hotel room, and and we were talking: ‘I love you, I can’t live without you,’ that kind of thing. And I was just like, ‘Well, why don’t you f—ing marry me, then?’ and he was like, ‘I don’t have a ring,’ and I was like, ‘Do I look like the type of girl that needs a ring to get proposed to?'” Renay adds.
So, “He got down on his knees, and I was like, ‘Don’t f— this up!’ And then he proposed, and we’ve been on our way to marriage ever since then. it was great; it was amazing.”
Their Dream Wedding Included an 18-Person Wedding Party and 6-Foot Cake!
The happy couple – who are expecting their first son together this month – pulled out all the stops for their glamorous ceremony, which overlooked the Pacific Ocean. NE-YO and Renay chose a venue an hour outside of Los Angeles because “we wanted the feel of a destination without the travel.”
The location’s calming atmosphere was complemented with a sparkly all-white and pewter color scheme, evident in their choice of accoutrement, from the cake (a Swarovski crystal-adorned, 6-foot-tall Royal Cakes confection) to fairytale-like flowers.
L.A. florist Empty Vase Events provided breathtaking arrangements for the fête, including white peonies, orchids, roses, hydrangeas, white orchids, ranunculus, white phalaenopsis and touches of Gardenia blooms throughout the bouquets, ceremony structure and tables.
“We can’t wait to start our life together,” says NE-YO. “We’re looking forward to just being each others’ best friend.”