The country star and Bachelor alum exchange vows in "secret garden" ceremony just four months after Chris Lane's surprise proposal
Bachelor alum Lauren Bushnell and country star Chris Lane didn’t waste any time putting a happily-ever-after chapter on their storybook romance: Less than a year ago, they went public as a couple, began cohabitating in March, got engaged in June, and now just four months later, they’re husband and wife!
The two wed on Friday evening before 160 family members and friends in an indoor “secret garden” ceremony in their hometown of Nashville, Tennessee, PEOPLE confirms exclusively.
“I’ve just looked forward to the day for quite some time and I’m glad that it’s finally here,” Lane, 34, said. “I feel like I’m the luckiest guy in the world to be marrying her.”
“I feel like the luckiest girl,” said his bride, 29. “We both recognize what we have is special, and we feel very lucky.”
As fast as their courtship was, the couple actually got off to a slow start. Acquaintances since 2015, when they met at a radio event in Austin, Texas, Lane explains he “randomly asked” Bushnell in August 2018 to join a group of friends he was gathering for a Bahamas vacation. In the tropical setting, the two recognized their mutual attraction, but Lane threw up a roadblock. “He talked about how he wanted to be single forever, how he didn’t know if he wanted kids,” Bushnell recalls. “Chris decided to use our entire trip to completely scare me away.”
Bushnell also admits she put up her own walls. “I think I was just very guarded and protecting myself,” she says.
Says Lane: “I think we probably both were just fighting ourselves over the whole thing.”
But after Lane returned to Nashville and Bushnell went home to Los Angeles, he couldn’t get her off his mind. Daily phone calls led to more get-togethers, and the two found themselves falling in love. Last November, they walked the red carpets together for the first time during CMA Awards week in Nashville.
“That was kind of the ‘all right, let’s do this thing and see what happens,’” Lane recalls.
By the first of the year, they both were all in. She pulled up stakes and moved to Nashville, and the couple soon began ring shopping. “I just wanted to get her exactly what she wants,” Lane says of the 3.5-carat emerald-cut diamond that Bushnell selected. “I feel like that’s a practical way to do it. Why not?”
He presented the custom ring to her on June 16 in a surprise proposal at her parents’ Oregon home in the Portland area. The moment came with its own soundtrack. Lane had worked for weeks on a song that exactly described his “Big, Big Plans“: “We’re back in her hometown, and I’m down on one knee / I guess she finally figured out I’m gonna ask her to marry me.” The music played on a boombox as Lane lived out the words he’d written.
Bushnell was caught totally off guard. “Truly until I heard the words, ‘I’m going to ask her to marry me,’ that’s really when it all hit me,” she says.
Lane had his heart set on a fall wedding, so the couple knew they had no time to waste. Enter Nashville wedding planner Josiah Carr of Ninth & Everett — “we clicked right off the bat,” says Bushnell — who helped the couple with every event detail.
For the venue, they selected 14TENN, an industrial-chic event space with bright white walls, exposed beams, and dark hardwood floors. The large, open room gave Bushnell and her Nashville florist, Stella Rose Floral, the perfect canvas to create an indoor garden. “I really wanted to incorporate a lot of green,” she said. “Nashville is really green, and then I’m from Oregon so that’s kind of how I wanted it to feel. I wanted it to have a secret garden kind of feel — really romantic.”
For her dress, Bushnell says she was in a “kind of indecision paralysis” between store-bought and custom-designed. Carr broke the standstill when he suggested a consult with Nashville designer Olia Zavozina. To Bushnell’s delight, Zavozina sketched out her dream dress, a simple but elegant white silk gown with a lengthy train to bring what Bushnell calls “the wow moment.” Other refinements made it more special: A lace veil, even longer than the train, was handmade by Zavozina’s mother. And, for sentimental reasons, buttons from the wedding dress that Bushnell’s mother wore also were added to the sleeveless gown.
Zavozina ended up designing attire for the entire wedding party, putting Lane in a sharp, black tux (he wore his first bow tie) and dressing his best man, identical twin Cory, in a black suit. Bushnell’s maid of honor, younger sister Mollie, helped design her strapless champagne gown.
Lane wanted to wait for a first look when his bride walked down the aisle, but practicality won out. Formal photos were taken before the wedding so the couple could mingle with their gathered guests immediately after the ceremony. Among the names on the guest list were country singer-actor Jana Kramer and her husband, former NFL player Mike Caussin, Abby Smyers, wife of Dan + Shay‘s Dan Smyers, Lane’s labelmate ERNEST and four of Bushnell’s fellow alums from The Bachelor Season 20, Amanda Stanton, Jen Saviano, and twins Haley Ferguson and Emily Ferguson.
Both bride and groom wrote their own vows; Lane selected the officiant, Dr. Clayton King, a South Carolina pastor and author whose books have had a strong impact on Lane.
During the cocktail hour that followed, the site of the ceremony was curtained off by TN Event Designs so it could be transformed into a space for a formal dinner to be served. The Beyond Details-catered menu featured roast chicken, beef filets, Parmesan risotto, asparagus and strawberry shortcake for dessert. There also was a traditional white wedding cake, with salted caramel buttercream filling, a creation of Dessert Designs By Leland.
“We didn’t want anyone leaving hungry,” Bushnell says, explaining the two desserts.
For their first dance, Bushnell bustled her long train, and the couple swayed to Lane’s proposal song, “Big, Big Plans,” which he re-recorded in a more intimate acoustic style.
“Chris wrote it, and it was inspired by our relationship, and it has such a special meaning to us,” Bushnell says, “so I don’t think we could really dance to anything else.”
The evening was capped by the surprise arrival of a Shake Shack food truck, which appeared to serve burgers and fries. “You’ve been dancing and you work up an appetite,” Bushnell says. “So my ‘must’ was we had to have late-night snacks.”
The bride and groom are planning a honeymoon, perhaps to Hawaii, once he completes his touring schedule this year. And there’s one more thing on their immediate to-do list: They’ll be quickly moving out of their downtown apartment, along with their recently adopted mutt, Cooper, and into a brand-new home in the city.
“We have a lot to look forward to,” Lane says. “I’m praying for a long career in music. It’s something I’m very passionate about. To get to have somebody like Lauren as a best friend, just in life, is going to make it a million times better. There’s just so many firsts that we’ll experience — hopefully kids. Just the whole nine yards. I want all of that with her.”
The new Mrs. Lane says she, too, can’t wait to share “all the different chapters in life” with her husband. “I’m sure I’ll only continue falling in love with him throughout those chapters,” she says. “I’ll have him by my side, through thick and thin, the good and bad, the challenges and all of the excitement. Just being able to call him my husband through all of that is very exciting.”
For more from Chris Lane and Lauren Bushnell’s big day, tune into their wedding special — streaming Wednesday on PeopleTV.com — and pick up next week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Nov. 1.