After falling in love nearly 10 years ago, the superstars finally wed on Dec. 23
While the stars have been committed to each other for years, neither have been too concerned about actually tying the knot — so why now?
“They don’t have doubts about their relationship,” a Cyrus source tells PEOPLE exclusively. “They both wanted to get married. They have both matured a lot, and it seemed like the perfect time for them to get married.”
In November, the couple — who met in 2009 on the set of Nicholas Sparks’ romantic drama The Last Song — faced the unthinkable when their beloved Malibu home burned down in the California wildfires. The traumatic experience, however, only brought them closer together.
“The timing for their wedding makes perfect sense. They, like many others, endured a painful loss which deepened their bond,” says a friend of the singer. In the midst of their heartbreak, the pop star and actor donated $500,000 to The Malibu Foundation through Cyrus’ Happy Hippie Foundation.
For all the details on Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth’s surprise wedding, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.
“They were both devastated after the fire,” says the source close to Cyrus, who originally planned to wed Hemsworth in their Malibu compound. Adds a music industry source: “The way Liam took charge and helped her deal with that tragedy just adds another layer of love and security.”
Though they went through their fair share of drama over the last 10 years, sources say the couple’s relationship is more solid than it’s ever been — and they are now fully themselves with one another.
“He lets her be Miley, and she has been blown away by his intelligence and ability to deal with her ups and downs,” says the industry source. “She has learned a lot about life, happiness and heartbreak from him. The truth is that something deep was there from the beginning.”
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And at the end of the day, Cyrus always knew Hemsworth was meant to be her partner in life.
“Miley and Liam’s relationship has evolved so beautifully over the past few years. She adores his sense of loyalty, adventure and independence,” says her friend. “Now her best friend is also her husband. Miley is so happy.”