Get an exclusive look at photos and videos from the 2017 Miss Universe's David's Bridal final fitting before her wedding to Tim Tebow

By Kaitlyn Frey and Katie Intner
January 24, 2020 04:04 PM
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Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters has officially said “I do” — but before her romantic wedding to former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow, she took PEOPLE along during her special, final dress fitting at David's Bridal.

Nel-Peters, 24, turned to the experts at David’s Bridal to create her two dream wedding gowns: an ethereal off-the-shoulder fit-and-flare style for the ceremony and a sexy embroidered plunging design for the reception. “I’m here in New York City at David’s Bridal about to have my final dress fitting,” she tells PEOPLE in the video above. “I am so excited.”

Since the 2017 Miss Universe’s entire family is based in South Africa (where she and Tebow, 32, got married), she wasn’t able to bring them along to her dress fittings. But she says the experience was still just as memorable thanks to the help of David's Bridal. “The team was absolutely wonderful and working with them was such an honor. Everyone was so lovely and supportive,” she tells PEOPLE exclusively. “They made the entire process lots of fun so it created such an exciting buildup for our big day.”

Credit: Courtesy Demi Leigh

Of the inspiration for her gowns, Nel-Peters says: “Being in the fashion industry and being a girl who has dreamed about this day since I was three, I had this planned out a long time ago. [I wanted] a little bit of the Royal family inspiration. I mostly [was] looking around Pinterest. I also kept in mind what Tim would like in a wedding dress.”

Credit: Courtesy Demi Leigh

Both of Nel-Peters’ gowns were custom-made for her by David’s Bridal, so after she tried on approximately 50 different dresses to get an idea of what she wanted, they sketched out some designs. Once she approved them, she visited the brand’s N.Y.C. location (dressed in a bridal-appropriate all-white jumpsuit, of course!) to try on the completed confections at her last fitting.

“It’s going to be a surprise for everyone because all my family is in South Africa!” Nel-Peters says.

Credit: Courtesy Demi Leigh

“I think the hardest part of the process was going through it without my mom, step-mom and my best friends, but the wedding is going to be in South Africa so I guess I do have the best of both worlds!” she adds.

Nel-Peters was all smiles as she tried on the gowns, and made sure to tie her hair back into a low-hanging bun, pin in an embellished clip and put on the floor-length veil so she could truly envision how she would look on the big wedding day.

Credit: Courtesy Demi Leigh

“I feel like I know myself and my style pretty well and my dresses are everything I had in mind and more,” Nel-Peters says.

Credit: Courtesy Demi Leigh

She describes the first gown as “clean, sleek and elegant” to complement the overall “traditional and timeless” vibe of the wedding.

“The second dress is more modern, sensual and fun,” she says of the Chantilly lace and crystal-embellished column gown with a plunging V-neckline, worn with a walking-length two-tier veil. “It’s something I could enjoy myself in. I hope it is everything Tim imagined it to be as well!”

Credit: Courtesy Demi Leigh
Credit: Courtesy Demi Leigh

When she put the dress on during her fittings, Nel-Peters says she felt “ten different emotions all at once!” She adds, “But most of all contentment and excitement knowing what it symbolizes.

Credit: Courtesy Demi Leigh

Because Nel-Peters wanted her first gown to be a simpler design, she made sure to amp up the look with a dramatic cathedral-length tulle veil with a sequined lace border along the edge (also from David’s Bridal) and accessories. “I’m focusing on hair accessories and beautiful pearl and diamond earrings. I had so much fun working with Marion Rehwinkel Jewelry designing some of my favorite pieces,” Nel-Peters says.

Credit: Courtesy Demi Leigh

She also made sure her bridesmaids and mom would feel just as beautiful on the wedding day, so she helped them select their own gowns from David’s Bridal.

Tebow and Nel-Peters married in an intimate sunset ceremony at La Paris Estate in Cape Town, South Africa on Jan. 20. During the 30-minute ceremony, they exchanged emotional vows that they had written for each other. The bride walked down the aisle shortly before sunset in front of approximately 260 guests who were seated on a secluded lawn surrounded by tall hedges at the resort. The ceremony included elements from both American and South African cultures and traditions.

Credit: Hanri Human

Tebow tells PEOPLE, “I’ve been waiting my entire life for someone special, who I can spend the rest of my life with. I was waiting for the right person to come along. And now I’m marrying Demi. I can’t wait to see what our future holds. All of my dreams have come true. She was 100 percent worth the wait.”

For more about Tim Tebow and Demi-Leigh Nel-Peter’s wedding, including never-before-seen photos of the ceremony and reception, pick up this week’s PEOPLE, on news stands Friday.