"We wanted the moment to be equally special for her," says JJ Lane, of his 8-year-old daughter Gemma's role in his wedding to Kayla Hughes

By Aili Nahas
March 04, 2020 11:00 AM
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When Bachelorette alum JJ Lane wed his longtime love, former NFL cheerleader Kayla Hughes, on Feb. 29 in Colorado, there was a third very important person involved in the nuptials — Gemma, Lane’s 8-year-old daughter.

“We wanted the moment to be equally special for her,” Lane, 37, tells PEOPLE of Gemma, whose mother is Lane’s ex-wife. “We wanted her to feel special.” Adds Hughes, 26: “It was her day too.”

Friends, including Bachelor Nation’s Jade and Tanner Tolbert, Ashley and Jared Haibon and Chris Soules, and 130 family members looked on as Gemma, a junior bridesmaid, walked down the aisle during the ceremony at Ironworks in Denver.

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Kayla Hughes and JJ Lane

“She was very emotional and she was crying,” says Lane. “Then she got into position and she was fighting tears and I was fighting tears. It was a struggle to keep it together!”

Hughes, who wore a Mindi Linscombe custom gown, even recited vows to her future stepdaughter. “I wanted her to know she was so loved by both of us,” says Hughes, who began dating Lane in 2017. “I just want to be a support system and love her as my own. She is officially my first child and I just want to be there for her. So we all said our vows together as a family.”

Following the ceremony, guests gathered at a reception, also planned by Touch of Bliss events, to watch the newlyweds’ first dance to “Heavenly Day” by Patty Griffin. What came next was a surprise — even to the groom!

Kayla Hughes and JJ Lane
| Credit: https://www.alyssareinhold.com/

“We had 32 cheerleaders at the wedding — all my [Kansas City] Chiefs girls,” says Hughes. “Right after the first dance, I had a flash mob to “Time of Our Lives” by Pitbull. That really set the tone!”

After enjoying dinner from Culinary Creative group, including lobster rolls, lobster mac and cheese and tacos, guests headed back to the dance floor until past 11 p.m.

Now, the newly anointed husband and wife will honeymoon in St. Lucia — before beginning their lives together.

“It’s so awesome to have the stability [of marriage],” says Lane. Adds Hughes: “And in the next few years, I hope to grow our little family!”