"Planning a wedding is tough, but add a pandemic and it's even crazier," Clark Beckham tells PEOPLE of his Thursday nuptials

By Brianne Tracy and Sarah Michaud
September 04, 2020 03:20 PM
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Clark Beckham feels like the "Luckiest Man."

On Thursday, the American Idol season 14 runner-up, 28, married his fiancée, Chanlie Baker, after nearly five years together — and PEOPLE has all the exclusive details.

Beckham and Baker, 24, a dental assistant, tied the knot at Ravenswood Mansion in Brentwood, Tennessee, a suburb of Nashville. Originally planning to wed earlier this year, the couple was forced to postpone due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Chanlie Baker and Clark Beckham
Cody Uhls

"The original date was May 7, and we were told we'd have to have 20 people max, which wasn't enough for the bridal parties alone, much less staff, family and guests," Beckham told PEOPLE ahead of their big day. "We made the decision to postpone the wedding to a date we believed for sure would be free and clear of COVID. As we've all learned, it's still not over so we had to cut down the vast majority of the guests that we already invited."

"Then just a week or so before the wedding, we found out we could have most of our guests back now," he added. "Planning a wedding is tough, but add a pandemic, and it's even crazier."

Clark Beckham
Cody Uhls

The couple said their "I Dos” in front of an intimate group of guests, which included Beckham's fellow Idol season 14 finalist Rayvon Owen. Beckham's groomsmen were "a combination of friends from high school, college and music" and Baker's bridal party was made up of "family and friends from college and travel."

Baker's mother walked her down the aisle, and both she and Beckham wrote their own vows. Chris Bennett, a "mentor" of Beckham's and "great friend" to Baker, married them.

"We're close to Chris and his wonderful family," Beckham said. "He's been there for us at our low points, and it's only fair for him to be with us at this mountainous high point as well."

Chanlie Baker, Chris Bennett and Clark Beckham
Cody Uhls

It was a black-tie affair, with olive branches, white roses and the groomsmen and bridesmaids all in black. The bride wore a hip-hugging, long-sleeved white Pronovias Bridal sequin wedding gown which sparkled in the light.

"My wedding dress is one that I always pictured myself in," Baker says. "I was seriously in love with two dresses. [They were] completely opposite, but in the end the tears told me which to choose."

Beckham, meanwhile, wore a white tux he designed with Generation Tux. He used the same company to design his groomsmen's tuxes as well. "We've been really happy with them and with the tuxes we got," he said.

Chanlie Baker
Cody Uhls

Peacock Jewelers in Nashville — which Beckham used for Baker's engagement ring — also did their wedding bands.

"They saved the day when I was proposing to Chanlie," Beckham said. "I had gotten the wrong ring for the stone we had ordered, and they were able to re-order and deliver the ring just hours before my concert where I had planned to pop the question! Wouldn't have gotten our rings anywhere else."

At the reception, Beckham and Baker picked "Untitled (How Does It Feel)" by D'Angelo for their first dance as a married couple.

Since most of Beckham's groomsmen were his band members, they set up their instruments and jammed out during the reception. Beckham also played Baker his latest single "Luckiest Man," which he wrote about her.

Clark Beckham
Cody Uhls

Beckham and his mother recorded a version of The Sound of Music's "Edelweiss," a song she used to sing to him as a baby, to do their mother-groom dance to. Baker shared a dance with her younger brother.

"Believe it or not, I personally don't like to dance," Beckham said. "Not at all. We'll see what the guests do because our sound system is great, and we have a great dance playlist. I’ll likely be reliving my fear of prom all over again. However, I believe Chanlie and her girlfriends will be getting down."

Beckham's best man, Janson Furrow, and Baker's maid of honor, Ashlee Fowler, gave speeches. After dinner, the couple had a dessert and coffee bar for guests in addition to wedding cake.

Chanlie Baker
Cody Uhls

Documenting all of the day's big moments was Beckham's "good friend," photographer Cody Jacob Uhls. "He's fantastic and has always been there when I've needed him most," Beckham said.

As to the moment he was most excited for about the day, Beckham said it was finally getting to call Baker "Mrs. Beckham."

Nearly five years ago, Beckham and Baker met at Champy's Fried Chicken in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where Baker was working as a server.

"I went there a lot," Beckham said. "One day I saw her, didn't know her, wanted to know her, and walked up to introduce myself. I had never done that in my life. We talked ... I was awkward, but I got her name and she got mine. Next time, we talked a little more and the rest is history."

Chanlie Baker and Clark Beckham
Cody Uhls

Over time, Beckham said, they gradually realized each other was "the one."

"Neither of us had a sudden revelation," he said. "Many people talk about the very moment they knew. For us, it was a gradual certainty that we wanted to take on life together. Through the years of being with Chanlie, I've realized there's no one in the world I'd rather have on my team when the going gets tough. It also goes without saying she's one of the most virtuous, beautiful, brilliant people I've ever met and will ever meet in my life."

Beckham proposed in August 2019 and decided now would be a good time to get married since Baker recently graduated college. "We were ready to move on to the next stage of our life together," he said.

As Beckham — who is set to release his debut album, Light Year, in the fall —prepares to juggle life as a newlywed with his career, he said he will always put Baker first.

"I've told her many times that she’s the most important thing in the world to me and if she ever needed me while I was on the road, I'd be on a plane back home, no questions asked," he said. "I'm committed to having a successful marriage and family more than a successful career. She needs to see that."

Clark Beckham and Chanlie Baker
Cody Uhls

When it comes to what he's most looking forward to about marriage itself, Beckham said it's "living together and having a partner in everyday life."

Before forever, though, comes the honeymoon, which the couple has decided to spend at The Hard Rock Hotel Los Cabos in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

"Hard Rock and their resorts have been a friend for a long time, and they've hooked us up with a honeymoon that will prove to be world-class," Beckham said. "We're both ecstatic and have said to each other many times when wedding planning has gotten crazy, 'Let's just make it to Cabos.'"