On Saturday, the duo tied the knot in front of family and friends at the Jim Henson Studios in Los Angeles and could not be more grateful for their new life together.
“I’ve only ever felt that level of joy once before in my life, and it was so profound and perfect it felt greedy to ever wish for it again,” Oswalt, 48, exclusively tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “But I did, so now all I can do is show Meredith a level of gratitude and love that’s greater than the joy she’s brought me, and my daughter Alice. Because this is a new level of joy, and a new life, and I’ll always strive to deserve it.”
The couple’s wedding came a little over a year after Oswalt’s wife Michelle McNamara died unexpectedly in her sleep in April 2016, leaving the comedian to care for their 8-year-old daughter.
But Oswalt, Salenger and their closest friends and family strongly believe it was McNamara who orchestrated their meeting from above.
“When I first starting talking with Patton on Facebook, it was just sort of witty banter,” says Salenger, 47. “There was nothing to it, but as I started getting to know him better, I looked up Michelle on Facebook and I saw that we had like 15 mutual friends. One of them was my best friend since 7th grade. I called her and was like, ‘Tell me about Michelle.’ She was best friends with Michelle after college. She was like, ‘I loved her. She’s amazing. She’s so funny and smart.'”
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She adds, “Finding out about Michelle made me love Patton even more. I was like, ‘He likes smart girls and he likes good girls.’ That was something that made me think more highly of Patton because he loved a girl that was like us – me and my friends. My friend said, ‘I think Michelle orchestrated this from heaven. She asked herself, who would be the best woman to raise Alice? And she picked you. And then, who would Patton love? You.'”
From their first meeting in May 2017, Oswalt says it felt like “reality shifted into something brighter and more in focus.”
“Meredith felt like I had met someone that I had been, that a lot of the darkness that I had gone through and the ways I had to strengthen myself and try to recognize joy again, she felt like this beacon singing on this upper level that I had to reach for. It really does feel like an evolution,” he says. “I don’t want to put this in X-Men or superhero terms. The world when I’m close to her is sharper and brighter. It’s a better world to live in because she’s in it.”
After announcing their engagement in July, the couple were quick to say their “I do’s” and say the wedding came together organically with the help of their closest friends.
“This just feels like we threw a party in the middle of all of this joy that was already happening and will keep going on,” says Oswalt. “The party was not as joyous as the joy we live in every day – I’m not putting down the wedding, but we’re kind of already floating on this other level that we’ve been floating on since we met.”
Salenger, who walked down the aisle to “Just Because,” an original song by Nikka Costa (her artist and best friend for 24 years), felt an immense amount of bliss when she approached the altar.
“There’s this picture of Alice hugging Patton right before we’re getting married. Patton was already at the altar, and Alice walked down as the flower girl, and before she sat down, she ran up and gave him a hug,” says an emotional Salenger.
Oswalt adds, “It was like, ‘Hey we’re okay now, Sweetie. You’re fine and we’re safe.’ She looks so happy and relieved.”
The wedding itself, planned by Jo Gartin, was officiated by the couple’s good friend Martha Plimpton.
Ensconced with pink peonies from Hollyflora, the venue had plenty of personal touches, including custom wedding bands from close friend Abe Jacobs and a beautifully designed cake from a special group of kids.
“I have a sister who has two little girls who are 7 and 10, my best friend Nikka Costa has a little girl who’s 11, and my other best friend Ever Carradine has a little girl who’s 6, and it was really important for me to incorporate all the kids who mattered to me in my life, because I haven’t had my own children,” Salenger says. “I’ve been Auntie Mere to all of these children since the days they were born. Patton and I came up with the idea of just having a plain white wedding cake and having all the little girls decorate our cake. We got all different shades of pink candies and flowers, and we had the girls decorate it. Alice was super proud that she formed the candies into an M + P.”
Now, the family of three is looking forward to the next chapter.
“Patton and I have been saying this since the very beginning — we really are literally looking forward to the normalcy and stability of life,” Salenger says. “All I want in life is to wake up and make Alice breakfast and take her to school. We’re just looking forward to the daily routine of life. Family dinner, bath time, book time, bed time. That’s all I ever really fantasized about.”