The country stars open up exclusively to PEOPLE about their whirlwind romance and share all the details from their destination wedding, which ended with a splash in the pool
“It’s a little bit different,” the country princess, 24, tells PEOPLE, “but that’s how we started.”
Indeed, Ballerini and her fellow country crooner Evans, 32, met in March 2016 when they cohosted an award show in his native Australia, and sparks flew instantly at the afterparty.
“He was like, ‘Let’s take a shot,'” the “Legends” singer recalls. “I remember taking that shot and putting it down and looking at him like, ‘Oh…he’s superhot.’ Later that night he leaned over and asked if he could kiss me, like a proper gentleman, and I said yes.”
Twenty-one months later, that yes turned into “I do” at their intimate, oceanside wedding. And the happy couple shared all the exclusive photos and details from their big day — dubbed the “Happily Evans After” wedding — with PEOPLE.
All the Details: Margaritas, a Mom of Honor and So Much More!
For her beach wedding, Ballerini wanted a classic, simple, timeless ambiance.
Walking down the aisle at the Esperanza luxury resort, the barefoot bride stunned in a flowing Berta gown, complete with a lace bodice and high slit. Her bridesmaids and Mom of Honor — Carla Denham — wore assorted pastel dresses by Monique Lhuillier from Vow To Be Chic and accessorized with David Yurman rings and earrings. The groom, his groomsmen and his best man (brother Tom Evans) rocked tan suits from Joseph Abboud.
For much more on Morgan Evans and Kelsea Ballerini’s wedding, including more exclusive photos, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands everywhere Friday.
“We’re not ‘wedding people,'” says Ballerini. “It’s more being married that we’re stoked about.”
And so the details the bride and groom did spent their time focusing on were personal ones — like the “tequila theme” and their handwritten vows.
“Kelsea’s vows were, as you would expect, poetic, sweet — like, mindblowingly good. our officiant was like, ‘Hey, Morgan, beat that!'” says Evans. “I said mine, and I was going to finish with a few lines of the first song I wrote for her [‘Dance with Me’]. I got halfway through them, and she started to lose it, then I started to lose it — so I ended up having to cut it a little bit short!”
At the altar, the pair never took their eyes off each other, so “we forgot to tell the guests to sit down,” says Ballerini with a laugh, “so they stood the entire ceremony!”
After professing their love, the couple exchanged personalized David Yurman rings — a .48ct diamond-encrusted, platinum “Love” band for her, black titanium for him — threw back their tequila shots, and got the party started.
Ballerini changed into a Grace Loves Lace number for the reception, where she and Evans swayed to Christina Perri‘s ballad “A Thousand Years” during their first dance. Guests noshed on south-of-the-border fare from a buffet, including tacos, ceviche and churros; margaritas and pineapple-mezcal cocktails were a favorite at the bar; and flavors of the couple’s four-tier cake from Cabo Cakery were white, red velvet and carrot.
When the festivities wound down, the pair invited the remaining guests to take an impromptu dip in the pool, calling it “a perfect end to a perfect night.”
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A Whirlwind Romance
As it turns out, Evans predicted that perfect night— and a future with Ballerini — years ago.
Six months before they cohosted that fateful awards show together, Evans interviewed Ballerini for an Australian country music station.
“I got a copy of her album that day. I had it in my car to listen to and I was a fan,” recalls Evans, who had relocated to Nashville — and when friends from Australia had come to visit, he told them, “Let me show you a song from my future wife.”
After the award show, which Ballerini calls their “first date,” the Grammy nominee says, “I didn’t know he lived in Nashville; I thought he lived in Australia. So in my brain I was like, ‘This guy’s perfect, and I like him so much, but I’m not going to see him again.'” After they realized distance wasn’t going to be an issue for them, they took a chance.
“We both were in a place in our lives where we didn’t think we were open to a relationship. So yeah, we tried to self-sabotage. And by the end of it we were like, ‘We just aired out all of our dirty laundry and we still want to be together. This is awesome. We just did two years in two weeks,'” Ballerini says, reflecting on their whirlwind romance.
RELATED: Country Star Kelsea Ballerini Talks Stressful Wedding Details & Teases Her Gown: ‘Simple & Classic’
Adds Evans: “I feel like it was all the stuff that you learn about someone over a long period of time that we sort of skipped to and then after a couple of weeks we’re like, ‘Huh, I still think you’re awesome.'”
“Nine months seems like a short amount of time,” Evans says of how long they dated before he proposed, but “it was pretty obvious something was happening.”
And now that they’re hitched, the couple say they’re looking forward to “everything.” Both Ballerini — who released her sophomore album Unapologetically in November — and “Kiss Somebody” singer Evans have jam-packed touring schedules in 2018. But they’re making the best of it, together.
“When you can do everything you want and then share it with someone,” says Ballerini, “that makes for a full life.”