“It was a fairytale wedding,” Maloney tells PEOPLE ahead of Monday night’s episode. “It was without a doubt the happiest day of my life,” adds Schwartz. “This coming from a guy who’s pretty cynical about the institution of marriage.”
Though the bride splurged on a $15,000 Zuhair Murad dress for their Aug. 18 wedding, the couple kept it decidedly simpler when it came to their cake—and they even transported it themselves from L.A. to the Twenty Mile House, their rustic wedding venue about eight hours north.
“We jury-rigged this little contraption with dry ice in our car,” Schwartz explains. “We were supposed to have cupcakes, but we had to abandon them because we had no room. They wouldn’t fit so they just stayed in our freezer. It was tragic.”
“A lot of people thought it was weird that we brought our own cake, but we were going to be driving anyway because we brought our dogs with us and we had a lot of stuff to bring,” Maloney says. “There was one part that they had to cover with flowers because the edges got a little wrecked, but that was his fault,” she jokes.
The cake, baked by L.A.’s Lark Cake Shop, consisted of two buttercream-frosted tiers: one layer of carrot cake and one layer of coconut cake—Tom and Katie’s favorites, respectively. “It was symbolic of our unity,” Schwartz says.
The pair’s strong bond is particularly poignant after a season that has centered around their increasingly rocky relationship, with frequent fights on public display. “I feel like it looked a lot worse than it was,” Maloney explains. “It got really bad but there’s so much more to the story. You definitely saw the worst moments.”
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In part one of the two-part season finale, airing at 9 p.m. ET on Bravo, viewers can expect nothing but joy from the couple. “I think the shocker is that you go from all season thinking that this couple should absolutely not be together to thinking that they should, and that was kind of crazy,” Andy Cohen told PEOPLE earlier in March. “You’re rooting for them, whereas I think during the season, you’ve been rooting against them.”
And despite having been married since August, that shine from their wedding day hasn’t worn off. “It feels cool just to say ‘my wife,’” says Schwartz. “It still feels exotic and new.”