Why Carly Pearce Chose Two (Short!) Wedding Dresses: 'It Felt Like Something Dolly Would Have Worn'

Carly Pearce and fellow country singer Michael Ray tied the knot at an intimate gathering on a Nashville-area farm on Sunday

When Carly Pearce went shopping for her wedding dress, she thought she would choose a classic strapless ballgown. Instead, she settled on a short, fitted style with a full-length lace overlay and a high neckline — and she couldn’t be happier!

“It had the ‘wow factor’ for me,” the musician, who wed fellow country singer Michael Ray on Sunday, tells PEOPLE exclusively of the Samantha Sleeper design. “I wanted a dress that felt very unique to me… I’ve never really seen anything like it.”

Before her Nashville-area nuptials, the Kentucky-native, 29, told PEOPLE that friends and family were initially “shocked” by her unique wedding dress (which she purchased at Ila Bridal in Nashville), but soon agreed that the playful style complements her personality.

Carly Pearce. Rachel Deeb

“I love lace and I love elements of country and I love elements of classy, and I love elements of boho. I feel like it has everything,” the bride adds.

The “Closer to You” singer pinned a mid-length veil into her long blonde hair, pulled back into a half-up half-down style with loose waves throughout. She added vintage-inspired hair pieces and silver kitten heels — despite admitting, “If you know anything about me, you know I have a serious boot collection and that’s what I love.”

Carly Pearce’s Samantha Sleeper ceremony dress, along with her bridesmaids’ gowns. Rachel Deeb

For her reception, Pearce changed into a strapless short dress with an asymmetrical hemline by designer Hayley Paige (who also designed robes for the bridal party). The frock was covered in white floral designs and cinched at the waist with a rose gold rhinestone belt.

Carly Pearce
Carly Pearce’s Hayley Paige getting-ready robe. Rachel Deeb

“[Paige] had this that I loved so much in her short-dress collection,” she tells PEOPLE of her second dress. “It felt kind of like something that maybe Dolly [Parton] would have worn when she got married.”

Watch the full episode of People Weddings: Carly Pearce and Michael Ray streaming now on PeopleTV.com, or download the PeopleTV app on your favorite device.

And, like any great wedding reception style, Pearce could wear it all night long. “It just feels a little more party-ish for when we go to the Nashville Palace after hours,” she says.

Carly x HP[2]
The Hayley Paige sketch. Hailey paige

Pearce and Ray, 31, launched their lifetime collaboration before about 100 family members and friends on a Nashville-area farm, PEOPLE confirmed exclusively.

“Knowing without a shadow of a doubt that I didn’t settle for something less than truly the person that I think was made for me is something that I am thankful for,” says Pearce, whose No. 1 hit “Every Little Thing” famously chronicled past heartbreak.

“No matter what, I have her in my corner,” Ray adds. “No matter what, she has me in her corner. I tell her, you’re never going to face anything alone. Never will there be anything in life that you don’t look over and I’m standing beside you.”

Rachel Deeb

The wedding took place at Drakewood Farm, about 15 miles north of downtown Nashville. Located on 40 rolling acres, the venue features a 19th-century mansion, three barns and a pavilion.

This past December, Ray surprised Pearce with a proposal — and a five-carat diamond ring — during a Christmas-time vacation to Tulum, Mexico.

Carly Pearce’s Hayley Paige reception dress. Rachel Deeb

The couple is starting their married life without a honeymoon. Touring schedules and other commitments — including the CMA Awards show, where Pearce is a nominee for new artist of the year — are keeping them from a celebratory vacation for a couple of months.

But come December, they’ll be heading out to Sandals Resort in Jamaica.

“We started talking about the honeymoon and he said, ‘What’s your dream vacation?’” Pearce said. “And I said, ‘I want to stay in one of those over-water bungalows.’ So, we’re getting an over-water bungalow in Jamaica.”

For more on Michael Ray and Carly Pearce’s wedding day, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands everywhere Friday.

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