Rustic, rowdy and sweetly tearful, Shelton and Lambert's rollicking big day captured their spirited sense of fun and family.
Anyone who knows Blake Shelton knows he is very serious about hunting-and not too much else. So when it came time for the singer to exchange “I do’s” with his love of nearly six years, Miranda Lambert, on May 14, the groom couldn’t resist indulging in a bit of his signature humor. “The pastor talked about placing Miranda above everything-he said, ‘Blake, you need to place her above hunting,'” recalls Lambert’s mom, Bev. “Blake just gave him a look and hung his head down. It was such a classic Blake moment, and people had a chance to laugh.” But as the waning sunlight streamed through the barn-door slats at the Don Strange Ranch in Boerne, Texas, Shelton didn’t shy away from baring his soulful side too. “Blake was staring so hard at Miranda when he was saying his vows,” says Bev. “He said it like he meant it. He wasn’t stumbling around or being funny. And Miranda really cried.”
Blending tearful nostalgia, rustic glamour and raucous partying, country’s most fun-loving couple pulled off their version of the ultimate shotgun wedding (no, not that kind!)-complete with antler chandeliers and venison they bagged themselves. “It was a beautiful ceremony, and I’ve never seen so much ribbon, venison and bourbon in the same room,” says Joe Nichols, one of 560 guests who included friends, family and a roster of country music superstars (see box, page 53). From the mason jars the newlyweds clinked at the conclusion of their vows to the wedding cake frosted with a “brushed leather” finish, the entire day “really fit them,” says fellow guest and close friend Neal McCoy. “There was a little chic and a little redneck, and that’s what they are.” Which is exactly the vibe Blake, 34, and Miranda, 27, were gunning for. After departing the ceremony to “Happy Trails,” the new Mr. and Mrs. Shelton “were just giddy,” recalls a friend. “She was like, ‘We did it! We did it! Tell me, was it perfect?’ And he said, ‘Honey, it was perfect!'”
And perfectly befitting the outdoors-loving couple who got engaged last May in the woods near Miranda’s Tishomingo, Okla., home. “When we’re at home, we’re sitting around the campfire and playing with our dogs and going around on the four-wheeler,” Miranda told PEOPLE COUNTRY just after Blake’s proposal. “That’s what keeps us together.”
Sticking to what they love, the couple chose the hill country surrounding San Antonio for their big day. The down-home festivities-which were coordinated by Miranda’s publicist and wedding planner Kathy Best-kicked off on May 13, with family and friends heading to the Comal River by school bus. “We spent the whole day tubing on the river, drinking beer, whooping and hollering,” Bev says, followed by an evening of barbecue and music. (Brandi Carlile was among those picking guitar.) Says Bev: “It was amazing.”
The next day, the bride and groom-who opted to share a suite at Ye Kendall Inn in Boerne for the entire weekend-got ready separately, then met before the ceremony to take photos. Blake donned a Ermenegildo Zegna vest and jacket over his Wranglers, while Miranda wore the same ivory Gunne Sax dress her mom wore to her own wedding in 1979. “When I saw her fully dressed in my wedding dress, I completely lost my mind, and her dad did too,” says Bev. “It was breathtaking.”
On the ranch an enormous barn had been festooned by Caprice Palmer of Nashville’s Enchanted Florist with bluebonnets (the Texas state flower), honeysuckle and mesquite branches. As best friend Ashley Monroe sang the bride’s song “Making Plans,” Miranda-carrying a brooch “bouquet” (see box) and wearing a $1.2 million, 30-carat diamond necklace by jewelry designer Johnathon Arndt-walked down the aisle on the arm of her father, Rick. “She completely took her time and made eye contact with people in the rows,” says her mom. “She enjoyed her moment.” Also making their way down the aisle: the bride’s three beloved dogs Cher, Delta and Delilah, who wore rhinestone-encrusted collars for the occasion. “They were total rock stars!” says Bev.
At the conclusion of the “God-centered” ceremony, the groom-who earlier had performed a song he wrote for Miranda, “While We’re Still Young, Let’s Grow Old Together”-“picked her up and just held her; they made a spectacle of themselves during the kiss!” says Bev. Adds McCoy: “You could really just see how in love they were. Everybody in the audience just thought ‘Yes!'”
Then it was time for the bride to kick up her custom, crystal-studded boots with the rest of the celebratory crowd. Texas-based decorators Junk Gypsy Co. transformed a pavilion into “a magical heaven” complete with giant hot-pink wooden porch swings adorned with Miranda’s gun-slinging logo and dozens of vintage chandeliers. As lights twinkled overhead, McCoy and his band played a two-hour set, including the couple’s first dance to McCoy’s “No Doubt About It.”
What happened next unfolded like the greatest country karaoke concert ever: Reba McEntire, Kelly Clarkson, Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley, Dierks Bentley, the Bellamy Brothers and others all took turns at the mic. When the bride and groom weren’t on the dance floor or taking the mic themselves, “they greeted every person there,” says Bev. “They never sat down once!” While guests feasted on herb-crusted quail, homemade corn pudding and venison quesadillas, Reba toasted the ecstatic couple. “The place erupted-everyone was just screaming,” says Bev. Other high points: Miranda and Brandi Carlile’s acoustic duet of “Crazy” and McCoy’s rendition of Blake’s fellow Voice judge Cee-Lo Green’s recent foul-mouthed hit. “I told Blake we were going to do the clean version and he said, ‘No, no, no! You have to do the original version!'” recalls McCoy. “So we did!”
The partying continued until 1 a.m.-“you’re going to have to excuse my Texas slang, but people danced their asses off!” says Bev-capped by McCoy’s rowdy rendition of “The Shake.” Adds Bev: “Nobody was leaving early. It was an electric and loving and warm place that you just didn’t want to leave. What I took away from it is how much love my daughter and Blake enjoy from people who they have sewn into their lives. And I’ve never seen them more in love than they were that night.”
Now that they pulled off the “best wedding EVER EVER EVER,” as pal Monroe tweeted the next day, the newlyweds are eager to begin married life together. “When I see my mom and dad with their grandkids and that relationship down the road,” Blake told PEOPLE COUNTRY, “that’s what I’m looking forward to more than anything: that family and those generations and being on that end of things.” As Miranda put it just after their proposal, “Weddings are great, and engagements are great, and diamonds are especially great! But I’m looking forward to proving myself to being a good wife.”