The music legend’s son (best friends with Carter Cash since childhood) married on the steps of his godfather Johnny Cash’s Tennessee cabin
The Orbisons are no strangers to dark days: the singing legend’s first wife, Claudette, was killed in a motorcycle accident in 1966, and two years later, two of their sons died in a fire. Orbison himself was only 52 when he died in 1988.
So when Roy Orbison Jr. found himself sitting in a park visiting Stockholm, Sweden, in 2013, two years after losing his mother Barbara to pancreatic cancer, “I was very alone in life,” he tells PEOPLE. And then he met Asa Hallgren “and I went from the darkness to the light,” he says. “Life has been bright and sunny ever since.”
Orbison Jr., a 46-year-old musician and producer, married Hallgren, 28, a native of Sweden who works in marketing, on June 11 on the steps of the cabin owned by Johnny Cash, near where Orbison grew up. “It’s holy ground for me,” he says of the land in Hendersonville, Tennessee, outside Nashville. “My grandparents lived within shouting distance, and my brothers died in a fire not far away.”
Johnny Cash, he says, was his father’s best friend and Johnny and wife June were his godparents. Fittingly, the sons are best friends too. “We asked John Carter Cash to officiate because I love him so much,” Orbison says. “I’ve known him since birth.”
Carter Cash got ordained especially for the event, an intimate “spiritual” ceremony with only a handful of close family members present, including Orbison’s brothers, Wesley and Alex, Asa’s mother and the couple’s son, 18-month old Roy III, who was “right in the center of things.” (The newlyweds are expecting a second son, who they’ll name Bo in honor of Asa’s father and Roy Jr.’s mother – Barbara Orbison, in February.)
The bride wore a vintage 1940s gown made of silk and lace, a gift from her brother-in-law and his wife Erika, who married earlier this year, and Tory Burch sandals. Her gold Tiffany wedding band featured six yellow diamonds: “Asa is my ray of sunshine so it fit,” he says.
The groom, who along with his brothers will release a new album of his father’s music, A Love So Beautiful: Roy Orbison and the Royal Philharmonic, on Nov. 3, and a new biography, The Authorized Roy Orbison, on Oct. 17, had to propose five times to Asa before they wed.
“She made me work for it!” he says – but “I said yes every time,” she says. It was something of a tradition for the couple: Roy had to ask her five times to move to the United States from Sweden before she agreed.
With five proposals, they decided, they needed five weddings, and they plan to have each on the anniversary of the day they met, June 11.
Wedding two will be held at their Nashville home (they also have homes in Malibu, N.Y.C., London and Sweden) next year and the guest list will include names from the music industry. Sara Fried of Fête Nashville, who is planning the event, promises “a very European, Great Gatsby ambiance and lots of food celebrating Roy’s American roots and Asa’s Swedish heritage.”
For now, however, the couple is still enjoying the memories of their first celebration. “It was just perfect,” Orbison says. “It was short and sweet and like a song. And like all the best Roy Orbison songs, I got the girl at the end.”