May 22, 2006 12:00 PM

To hear a blissed-out Tori Spelling and Dean McDermott tell it, their wedding day on the private island of Wakaya in Fiji was beyond perfect. “It was unreal,” says McDermott. “Unbelievable,” says Spelling. “The best day of my life,” says McDermott. “By far!” adds Spelling. There was breakfast in bed served with the bride’s favorite Veuve Clicquot Rosé Champagne. There were his-and-hers pre-wedding French pedicures. And finally, there were the two of them, alone on the beach save for the nondenominational officiant who pronounced them Mr. and Mrs. McDermott. “As I was walking down the aisle, I thought, ‘I can’t believe all my dreams came true,'” Spelling told PEOPLE the day after the May 7 ceremony. “I met this man, I fell in love, I thought, ‘This will never work out.’ And it did.”

Head-over-barefoot-heels in love, the couple—who met nine months ago on the set of a TV movie while both were otherwise married—culminated their very public romance in a guest-free ceremony they had been carefully planning since their Christmas Eve engagement. “It was about us,” McDermott says of their decision not to include friends or even family members. “We’d both done the traditional wedding. We met and fell in love without our friends and family, so why not get married that way?”

One part island decadence (a four-poster bed was placed on the beach for their six-course feast), one part unapologetic romance (see vows, below), the wedding was thoroughly befitting a couple who wear their infatuation as openly as McDermott flaunts his three Tori-inspired tattoos. Says planner Jo Gartin of Love Luck and Angels, who worked closely with the pair: “They wanted something incredibly special just for the two of them.”

It was, to be sure, quite a different affair from the $1 million extravaganza that was Spelling’s first wedding, to writer-actor Charlie Shanian, 37, in 2004. No champagne fountain. No tuxedoed pug as ring bearer. Instead, a solo Spelling, 33—in a white eyelet Dolce & Gabbana dress—walked a path strewn with fragrant frangipani petals before exchanging self-written vows with McDermott, 39. “I told him that although our souls have been together for life, this is the moment we become husband and wife,” she says. “I said I’ll always be his little girl. I’ll always embrace him with my wings.”

And her groom? “I promised to worship and adore her every minute of every day,” says McDermott, who wore a Dolce & Gabbana suit. “I promised to protect her with my life. And I told her that my love was as boundless as the sea and the more I gave of thee the more I got.”

After exchanging Neil Lane rings—McDermott’s is inscribed with the word “Tori” four times over—and kisses, the couple marked their first married moments together with a stroll on the beach. “We felt so giddy, like children,” says Spelling. Adds McDermott: “We just giggled and kept saying, ‘You’re my wife! You’re my husband!'”

It’s not an outcome either might have foreseen when they headed to the Ottawa set of Mind Over Murder last August. At the time Spelling was a year into her marriage to Shanian and McDermott was in a 12-year marriage to Canadian TV host Mary Jo Eustace, 45, with whom he has a son, Jack, 7, and a then newly adopted daughter, Lola, now 10 months. But both Spelling and McDermott confess that sparks flew. “I’d always had a crush on her ever since 90210,” says McDermott. Introduced for the first time, “I just thought, ‘Wow, she’s gorgeous,'” he says. “I felt the breath leave my body. I thought, ‘I’m in trouble. Yes, I’m in trouble.'”

On the return flight to L.A. after the three-week shoot, “we took the airplane bags and wrote down all the things we were going to do together in the future,” says Spelling. “We filled two bags back and front. We wrote things like, ‘Bicycling with Lance Armstrong. Both of us!’ And we wrote that we’d have lots of babies. He wrote, ‘I’d die for you,’ and I wrote, ‘I die a little bit every time I’m apart from you.’ And we said we were never going to be apart for more than two days.”

McDermott immediately filed for divorce; a week later Spelling announced her separation. “It was difficult, of course,” McDermott says of the breakups. “We’re human and we don’t want to hurt anyone.” And yet, says Spelling, “I feel sorry for people who meet The One and let it pass them by. You’re doing not just yourself an injustice, but you’re doing the person you’re with an injustice. We knew we were meant to be together.”

Still, even some pals have questioned the swiftness with which they are remarrying. “A couple of my friends have asked me, ‘Why not take some time with it?'” says McDermott. “But why wait? I want to spend the rest of my life with her and I want it to start as soon as possible. I don’t know if anyone will ever understand it. I’ve never had as much of a desire to get married and make a woman my wife as I’ve had with her. We’re soulmates.”

Credit for bringing them together, say the couple, goes to their three “angels”: McDermott’s parents, Doreen and David (both deceased) and Spelling’s childhood nanny Margaret Lockett. The night before their wedding, the pair honored the three with a bonfire ceremony (see box).

Then it was time for the big day, and with only two RSVPs to check off and the help of wedding planner Gartin, everything went as breezily as the tropical locale. Retreating to their $3,200 per night villa at the Wakaya Club following the ceremony, the newlyweds sipped champagne and nibbled sushi in a specially set-up beachside living room. After building sand castles and sharing a first dance in the ocean, it was on to their “reception”: dinner served in a king-size bed under the stars. “After the fourth course, I kind of fell asleep,” Spelling says. “Then the cake came.” And then? “I threw my bouquet,” says the bride. “I went to the water’s edge and I turned around. I thanked our angels for bringing us together.”

For all the friends and family who missed the wedding—Spelling dismisses reports of tension with her TV producer dad, Aaron, 83, and mom Candy, 60—the couple plan to hold an L.A. reception later this year. The actress is eager to change her last name (she plans to hyphenate it professionally) and is looking forward to more bonding with new stepson Jack. (Lola is in the full-time care of McDermott’s ex-wife.) “He’s such a great little man,” Spelling says of Jack. “He and Dean and I call ourselves the Three Amigos!”

But maybe not for much longer. On their nine-day honeymoon in Fiji, “we’re going to make a baby,” says McDermott. “We want to have nine kids!” Adds his new wife: “He likes to play hockey, so we’re going to make a hockey team.”

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