Darren Criss and his wife Mia just celebrated their first anniversary: "If I could, I'd get married every year," he says

Darren Criss had described the happiest day in his life, his wedding, just a few days before what is likely to be one of the saddest. On April 26, Darren’s father died. He was 78.

The Glee alum, 33, announced the death in an Instagram post on Monday, writing in a statement, “Bill Criss has left the building. After many years of coping with a rare heart condition — which, true to his form, very few would have even been aware of — he finally checked out peacefully yesterday morning, surrounded by his loved ones.” Of his father, he wrote: “I’ve spent most of my life trying to be like him, wanting to see and do all the incredible things he did — and I’m so grateful he was around to see me actually pull a few off.”

One of the things Darren pulled off was a very joyous wedding. When he spoke to PEOPLE, he had just celebrated his one-year anniversary. He first met Mia Swier through mutual friends in 2006 and they began dating four years later, right around the time as he joined the cast of Glee. Last year, they got married in New Orleans.

“It’s been a year since the wedding,” Darren says. “That was one of the most incredible events of my entire life. The most magical experience. Say what you will about the construct of marriage and tradition: weddings are amazing.”

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darren criss wedding
Darren Criss and wife Mia at their wedding
| Credit: Katie Edwards

Darren and Mia (who took his last name) got married around the same time several of their friends also tied the knot. “People would tell us, ‘Oh, your wedding is going to be the most incredible night.’ And I was like, really? Because I’ve had some really good nights — and days, okay? It can’t be the most, maybe top five. But our wedding, well, it took the cake.”

Credit: Chad Hurst/Getty

The pair were married in a multi-day celebration in New Orleans. Darren surprised her with a concert. And she, also a musician, joined the stage. Glee castmate Lea Michele performed as well.

“It was a magical and crazy thing. If I could, I’d get married every year for the rest of my life,” he says.

The actor is settling into the idea of marriage — and business ownership. Darren and Mia own a piano bar in Hollywood, Tramp Stamp Granny’s.

“This feels right. Married. The idea of marriage was not something I gravitated to earlier in life. It’s almost painfully cliché but boys grow up slower. Girl just mature faster. This is science. I am definitely no exception. I will say this: I dragged my feet.” He laughs. “But, we were together for a long time before. By that point in our lives, it was a validation and sharing of our life and existence. In many ways, it’s not been a change at all.”

Darren Criss
Darren Criss
| Credit: Rodin Eckenroth/Getty

He credits his wife for much of his success.

“We have been the ultimate plus-ones out here for each other for 10 years. My dreams and ambition have always been the driving force in my life. It was the gas in my tank. It almost consumed me,” he says.

“Some people were slighted by that,” says Darren. “But Mia never was. I am so grateful for her — every day.”