"I wanted a small wedding and Cameron wanted a big wedding. So we compromised — and had a 450-person guest list," Alaina jokes to PEOPLE
Lauren Alaina has something new to sing about!
The country music star, 29, tied the knot with Cam Arnold on Sunday at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center in downtown Nashville in what Arnold describes as a "big, loud" wedding celebration.
Big is an understatement. The couple invited a staggering 450 people to witness their winter nuptials, including celebrity guests Jason and Brittany Aldean, HARDY and wife Caleigh Ryan, Lindsay Ell and Shay Mooney of Dan + Shay.
"Here’s the funny thing: I wanted a small wedding and Cameron wanted a big wedding. So we compromised — and had a 450-person guest list," Alaina jokes to PEOPLE, adding, "I think it’s just a reflection of how fortunate we are — we have a lot of people who love us and we love a lot of people."
Alaina also shared that the couple chose their venue for its grandeur and musical vibes. "The Symphony Center is such an iconic place, and when I walked in and looked at it, I just knew that’s where I wanted to get married," the "Don't Judge a Woman" singer recalls.
The couple worked with Sara Fried of Fête Nashville Luxury Weddings to plan their dream nuptials in just a month's time after they ended up changing planners at the last minute.
Fried shared some of the details of how the couple's wedding vision came together, including creating a magical setting for their ceremony in Schermerhorn's garden courtyard.
"Fountains were overflowing with white flowers as Lauren and Cam exchanged vows under a beautiful floral arch," she tells PEOPLE. "The wintery emerald green and gold color palette continued into the reception filled with lots of velvet, a custom floral canopy over the dance floor and of course, fun Southern details including cow hide rugs."
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Alaina and Arnold wrote personalized vows for each other, and included their two dogs and their nieces and nephews in the ceremony, which was officiated by Arnold's friend, Henry Valentine Geny.
"Our siblings all stood up there with us as we got married. And Cameron’s dad was his best man, which was super sweet," says the country chart-topper. "It was a very emotional, very heartfelt ceremony."
The bride wore an Anne Barge gown, custom designed by the brand's creative director, Shawne Jacobs. The dress featured a V-notched strapless bodice with a modified trumpet skirt of hand-beaded, floral-embossed jacquard accessorized with a pleated detachable overskirt, along with an Alençon lace long-sleeved mock-neck topper.
The "Thicc as Thieves" singer completed her look with a dramatic, chapel-length veil in hand-beaded Alençon lace.
"Designing her custom Anne Barge gown was such a wonderful experience, filled with lots of laughter and special moments," Jacobs tells PEOPLE. "The custom gown itself blends timeless elegance of French Alençon lace with a contemporary floral jacquard fabric that was hand-beaded.”
Alaina carried a bouquet, created by Forget Me Not Designs, filled with white roses, scabiosa, calla lilies, agonis, anemones and dark green seasonal foliage.
Not surprisingly, music was a key element of the ceremony. Arnold made his way to the altar as the couple's best friends, Ben and Lauren Johnson, performed "Neon Moon" by Brooks & Dunn on the cello and violin, respectively. For the bridal party's processional, the Johnsons did an instrumental version of Alaina's song "Just Wanna Know That You Love Me."
Alaina walked down the aisle to an instrumental rendition of a special song that she wrote for Arnold, called “Breaking Up with Single.”
The newlyweds took their first spin on the dance floor as husband and wife to “Feet Off the Ground” by Brent Cobb (and featuring Jade Bird). "We listen to that song a lot together. It’s kind of become our song," Alaina explains.
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As the reception kicked off, guests enjoyed a casual, "around-the-world"-style station dinner featuring Asian, American, Mexican and Greek fare. "We didn't do a seated dinner. I couldn’t even imagine assigning seats for 450 people," Alaina tells PEOPLE.
Their multitiered wedding cake by Nashville Sweets featured black icing with gold accents and four different flavors, including Alaina's favorite, raspberry chocolate. Arnold also had a Budweiser-inspired groom's cake.
To cap off their wedding weekend, Alaina and Arnold will host a send-off brunch. "We’ll eat burgers and drink beer and celebrate being the Mr. and Mrs.," says Alaina.
Next up will be a honeymoon in Hawaii. "Neither one of us has been [there], so we’re very much looking forward to it," the musician shares.
Alaina and Arnold quietly began dating in 2020 after meeting at Luke Bryan's Crash My Playa festival in Mexico. Fittingly, they later went public with their romance on one of music's biggest stages, the Grand Ole Opry, on Nov. 19, 2022 — the night after they got engaged.
Before her performance, Alaina couldn't help but share her happy news with the crowd. "I was welcomed into this family, and it was a dream of mine as long as I can remember," she said, referencing her Opry induction ceremony earlier that year. "I didn't think this year could get any better, [but last night] I got asked into another family!"
Alaina then brought her then-fiancé onstage so she could proudly show him off. "Everybody, this is my fiancé," she declared. "I told him he had to come out here and we had to get a picture — we're doing it because this is the circle and I'm going to hold my hand up and do the thing. Make some noise for my future husband everybody!"
As Alaina reflects on her and Arnold's magical wedding day, she tells PEOPLE she feels lucky to have her new husband by her side, calling him her "safe place to call home forever."
"I’m excited to have someone to celebrate everything with. To have a definite first call, always," she says. "And just a partnership that is so much stronger than any other partnership you have. It’s exciting to know you have someone to celebrate everything with and to share hardships with, to have someone that will walk through life with you, good and bad."
Arnold is equally excited about stepping into this new chapter with Alaina. "To me, getting married means the world," he tells PEOPLE. "I’m excited to watch Lauren’s career flourish, to be her No. 1 fan, and even if everything goes to hell in a hand basket, I still will be."
Adds Alaina, "We’re going to spend a few years being married, then hopefully down the line a few years we’ll have our kids. We’ll keep growing together."
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