Jason Duaine Hahn
March 29, 2018 02:02 PM

Pitcher Justin Verlander will receive his World Series ring in a matter of days, but since sealing the Astros’ first-ever World Series victory, Verlander gave out a ring of his own — to supermodel Kate Upton.

Verlander, 35, and Upton, 25, married in an ultra-posh wedding in Italy on November 4, just days after defeating the Dodgers in seven games. Upton recently shared some behind-the-scenes photos of the gorgeous venue to her Instagram page, but Verlander says Upton herself made the day all the more beautiful.

“It was a very special moment. It was pretty storybook. The moment the gates opened and I saw her walking down the aisle, I lost it. She looked so beautiful, and I had been looking forward to that day for a long time,” Verlander, 35, tells PEOPLE of the Italian wedding. “All the emotions came to me, and it was everything I had imagined it would be and more.”

Kate Upton and Justin Verlander at their wedding
KT Merry

When the time came for Upton to walk down the aisle, Verlander says he looked around to let the moment sink in.

“Being able to look out and see everyone that we love and her walking down the aisle was a very special moment that I’ll never forget,” he says. “I’m truly blessed to be able to share these experiences with my best friend, and all our close friends and family were there.”

 

The entire latter half of 2017 was a wild ride for Verlander. He was traded from the Detroit Tigers to the Astros in late August after spending his entire 13-season MLB career with the midwest team. Verlander then had to quickly become accustomed to new players and a new town. It’s safe to say he made the adjustment quickly: two months later he was an MLB champion for the first time in his career, and saying vows to Upton in Italy.

With the Astros preparing to defend their title, Verlander says he’s had little time to reflect on the craziness of the last few months.

Kate Upton and Justin Verlander after World Series win
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

“It’s such a crazy dream-come-true moment and two of those happened within a span of a couple days,” Verlander says. “Two life-changing events happened in the same week; it just doesn’t happen like that too often. As my brother-in-law loves to point out at the wedding, it was pretty much the pinnacle of my life, and now from there, it’s downhill! All in good jest, you know.”

He adds: “It was such an amazing week with two things that you can’t beat it. It was the best experience ever, and I don’t take it for granted.”

Kate Upton and Justin Verlander at the World Series
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Verlander, who says he has suffered from allergies since college, recently took up a new partnership with Flonase, and also filmed a series of videos with his father talking about baseball. Between that, spring training and the Astros’ opening day game Thursday, Verlander says he and Upton do everything they can to make time for each other, even if it means taking it easy and saving any big trips for later down the road.

Despite the couple’s many career responsibilities, life as husband and wife has been everything they’ve hoped.

“Married life’s been great. I married my best friend, and we do everything we can to spend as much time together as possible,” Verlander says. “Honestly, I couldn’t be happier. It’s been a lovely first year of marriage.”

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