Niecy Nash and Jessica Betts sealed their love in an intimate California ceremony on Aug. 29

By Christina Dugan
September 09, 2020 08:30 AM
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Niecy Nash is on cloud nine!

In this week's issue of PEOPLE, the Claws actress and newlywed, 50, shares intimate details of her love story — and recent surprise wedding! — with wife Jessica Betts.

"[My marriage] has absolutely nothing to do with gender and it has everything to do with her soul," Nash, who divorced her second husband Jay Tucker in March, says of Betts. "She is the most beautiful soul I have ever met in my life."

"I was not suppressing my sexuality my whole life," she adds of the her decision to marry Betts, which came as a shock to fans. "I love who I love. At one point in my life, I married twice and I love those people. And today I love this person. I've done everything I wanted to do on my own terms and my own way. So my choice now in a partner has nothing to do with who I've always been. It's a matter of who I am in this moment."

  • For more about Niecy Nash's love story and wedding, pick up this week's issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

"I don’t feel like my marriage is my coming out of anywhere, but rather a going into myself and being honest about who I love," she shares. "And I’m not limiting myself on what that love is supposed to look like.”

Jessica Betts and Niecy Nash
| Credit: Robert Ector for REP Publishing

When Nash and Betts, a 41-year-old singer-songwriter, first connected on social media in 2015, Nash says she was “happily married" to her ex-husband Tucker.

“[Jessica] and I were friends, but I never saw her as someone I would date,” says Nash.

After Nash and Tucker announced their split in October 2019 — a mutual decision made by the couple — the actress says something shifted.

“I loved her before I was in love with her because she is such a special human being,” says Nash. “But we began to see each other in a way we never had before. Sometimes you get so broken by love, you run from it. But I’ve learned that you should always hold space for magic because it can happen at any time.”

Jessica Betts and Niecy Nash
| Credit: Robert Ector for REP Publishing

On Aug. 31, the couple announced on their respective Instagram accounts that they had said "I do."

"Mrs. Carol Denise Betts 💍 @jessicabettsmusic #LoveWins🌈 📸 @robertector," Nash captioned a photo of herself and Betts walking hand-in-hand down the aisle. (Carol Denise is Nash's given name.)

"I got a whole Wife 👽💍 @niecynash1 #Bettsofbothworlds #LoveWins," Betts wrote.

The pair tied the knot in front of 24 of their closest friends and family at their home in Ventura County, California, on Aug. 29.

The "rustic chic" affair, planned by William P. Miller, included a delicious culinary experience created by Chef Will Jones, custom face masks with the phrasing "#LoveWins," personal hand sanitizers, and plenty of dancing.

Still fully in wedded bliss, Nash says she's looking forward to what's to come.

"I’ve got my feet up, I’m looking at the ocean and I’ve got the greatest love of my life in my peripheral," says Nash, who took a mini-moon to Santa Barbara shortly after the wedding. "I couldn’t be happier.”