The country star, 37, wed longtime love Taylor Mills, 31, on Saturday at the Bighorn Golf Club in Palm Desert, California in front of more than 200 of their closest friends and family, PEOPLE confirms exclusively.
“Being able to be best friends with a person you’re going to spend the rest of your life with is the most important thing,” says the “Mercy” singer about his bride, whom he met more than 10 years ago in Arizona. “She has a very pure, kind heart.”
The newlyweds chose not to have a first look (“I wanted the first time I saw her to be when she walked down the aisle,” says Young) and exchanged personalized vows during an emotional ceremony that was officiated by Young’s father Brad, a pastor, and Van Hazelitt, Young’s manager and groomsman.
Mills stunned in a custom wedding gown created by Justin Alexander Signature, featuring long sleeves and a low back. “It just really embodies me,” she says about her bridal look, which was perfected with soft waves and natural makeup by 10.11 Makeup Artistry. Young looked dapper in a custom tux by J. Hilburn.
Afterwards, the couple — who shared their first dance to a special rendition of “Forever Young” produced by Young’s longtime producer Dann Huff — celebrated their new union by partying at a rollicking reception with their guests.
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Young’s friends and fellow country singers Luke Combs and Lee Brice hit the stage before a six-piece band took over; while his “idol” Gavin DeGraw also sang love song “More Than Anyone” at the féte (planned by Elite Events).
“We chose people in terms of performers that are really important to us and are close friends,” says Mills. Adds Young: “If everybody in the country music family could’ve been there, we would’ve asked them all to sing!”
Mirrored tables at the reception were marked with cities (including Los Angeles, Nashville, Scottsdale and more) that are meaningful to the couple and decorated by tall floral bridges by Butterfly Floral & Event Design.
Along with steak, chicken and Southern fare, the Youngs also served two wedding cakes by Exquisite Desserts, including a vanilla cake with banana-cream filling and another vanilla creation with strawberry filling.
Next up, the couple are jetting off to a beachy honeymoon before heading back to Nashville, where Young will receive the ASCAP country songwriter-artist of the year honor ahead of the CMA Awards, where he is nominated for new artist of the year. In the midst of a busy touring schedule, the two are looking forward to starting a family sooner than later.
“We’ve been together for a long time and we do want kids soon,” says Young, who is heading out on his headlining “Here Tonight” run later this month before hitting the road with Kelsea Ballerini after his sophomore album, Ticket to L.A., drops on Dec. 7. “This is the beginning of our life together, and I’m excited to say husband and wife!”
For all the details on Brett Young and Taylor Mills’ wedding, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.