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Inside Beverly Johnson’s Wedding: A Borrowed Diamond, 7-Inch Heels and a Lionel Richie Concert! (Exclusive)

The supermodel tied the knot with financier Brian Maillian in October 2023 in a Vegas ceremony on her 71st birthday

<p>Courtesy Beverly Johnson & Brian Maillian</p> Beverly Johnson and husband Brian Maillian

Courtesy Beverly Johnson & Brian Maillian

Beverly Johnson and husband Brian Maillian

Beverly Johnson's wedding day was full of surprises!

Earlier this month, the 71-year-old supermodel revealed during an interview on Sirius XM’s Sway in the Morning that she tied the knot with financier Brian Maillian back in October. Now, she's sharing all of the glamorous details of their spontaneous nuptials with PEOPLE in this week's issue.

Johnson says the idea to marry Maillian — to whom she'd been engaged since 2018 — came to her in a flash when she woke up on the day before her 71st birthday and thought about how she wanted to celebrate the occasion.

<p>Courtesy Beverly Johnson & Brian Maillian</p> Beverly Johnson and Brian Maillian on their wedding day

Courtesy Beverly Johnson & Brian Maillian

Beverly Johnson and Brian Maillian on their wedding day

"I sit up in bed and Brian wakes up and I said 'I want to get married,'" she recalls telling her now-husband, who needed no convincing at all.

“He said 'Okay.' I wasn’t expecting ‘Okay,’ ” she explains. “And then I’m thinking, ‘Holy s---!’"

The couple wasted no time, walking down the aisle at the Chapel of Flowers in Las Vegas the next day. "I knew this was real," Johnson recalls. "There was no pomp and circumstance."

Related: Modeling Trailblazer Beverly Johnson Returns to NYFW Runway for Dennis Basso 40th Anniversary Show

<p>Courtesy Beverly Johnson & Brian Maillian</p> Beverly Johnson and Brian Maillian light candles at their wedding

Courtesy Beverly Johnson & Brian Maillian

Beverly Johnson and Brian Maillian light candles at their wedding

Ever the fashion icon, Johnson wore "the perfect" white Dolce & Gabbana suit from her closet for the occasion, along with a pair of towering, 7-inch Aldo heels — which she says she ditched "as soon as I got out of there!"

She wore her hair down, styled in loose curls, and did her own makeup, aiming for a natural look. "I didn't want it to be heavy glam. I did Beverly," she explains.

As Johnson and Maillian exchanged vows — with only two close friends, Lynette and Bob Holmes, as witnesses — they were overcome with emotion. “I started grabbing Brian’s hand, really tight," she remembers. "We’re both realizing the magnitude of what we’re about to do."

When the minister asked who had the ring, Johnson says with a laugh, "Lynette ripped this big huge diamond off her finger and said "I have her ring!' That was my something borrowed."

<p>Courtesy Beverly Johnson & Brian Maillian</p> A closer look at Beverly Johnson's wedding ring

Courtesy Beverly Johnson & Brian Maillian

A closer look at Beverly Johnson's wedding ring

After the minister declared them husband and wife, the couple's thoughts immediately turned to celebrating. They enjoyed a festive dinner and then wondered, "What are we going to do now?"

Johnson came up with the perfect plan for the evening. "I texted Lionel Richie. He was performing at the Wynn hotel, where we were staying, and he gave us front-row seats," she tells PEOPLE.

Related: Beverly Johnson's Style and Beauty Essentials

For more on Beverly Johnson, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

When the model — who has been married twice before — reflects on finding love again with Maillian, she declares, “There’s so much to celebrate."

<p>Courtesy Beverly Johnson & Brian Maillian</p> Beverly Johnson and husband Brian Maillian pose with Lionel Richie in Las Vegas

Courtesy Beverly Johnson & Brian Maillian

Beverly Johnson and husband Brian Maillian pose with Lionel Richie in Las Vegas

“I feel so confident and strong, and I now have someone to walk this journey with, hand in hand," she continues.

The pioneering supermodel, who in 1974 became the first Black woman to appear on the cover of American Vogue is now performing in her one-woman Off-Broadway show In Vogue to mark the 50th anniversary of her historic cover.

"It's a rollercoaster," she says of the show. "You're laughing, you're crying. It's nice to share the circle of my life."

And that includes her latest happy chapter. "I almost get teary-eyed thinking about it," says the mom of daughter Anansa, and grandmother of six. "I don't think i realized it until that moment, how much we really loved each other. It felt for me, that I was giving a gift to myself--and I was giving myself to him."

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Read the original article on People.