Miss Universe 2017 Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters had a “clear image” of what she wanted to wear when she married former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow, but that didn’t stop her from having fun trying on every gown imaginable before deciding on her two custom dresses from David's Bridal.
“Being in the fashion industry and being a girl who has dreamed about this day since I was three, I had this planned out a long time ago,” Nel-Peters, 24, tells PEOPLE exclusively. “[I wanted] a little bit of the Royal family inspiration. I mostly [was] looking around Pinterest. I also kept in mind what Tim would like in a wedding dress.”
After trying on approximately 50 designs of different fits and silhouettes, Nel-Peters “ended up sticking with the idea I had all along” for her ceremony gown — a “clean, sleek and elegant” off-the-shoulder fit-and-flare style that complemented the overall “traditional and timeless” vibe of the wedding.
Since she wanted the dress to be more simplistic, she amped up the look with a dramatic cathedral-length tulle veil with a sequined lace border along the edge (also from David’s Bridal) and accessories. “I’m focusing on hair accessories and beautiful pearl and diamond earrings. I had so much fun working with Marion Rehwinkel Jewelry designing some of my favorite pieces,” Nel-Peters says.
Her bridesmaids matched her in long white gowns featuring various necklines also from David’s Bridal.
The star wore her hair pulled back into a low-hanging bun with a hair clip pinned on the underside and kept her makeup natural and luminous. “I feel most beautiful when my is hair tied back and out of my face in a sleek bun. For my makeup I just want to enhance my natural features and to have a healthy, glowy summery look,” she says.
Before Nel-Peters walked down the aisle to unveil her look to Tebow, 32, he expected her to pick out a “one-of-a-kind” style. “I know how important a dress is to a girl and I know it’s super important to Demi. I want her to have her dream dress but regardless of how that dress looks, she will look perfect to me. I already have my dream girl!” he tells PEOPLE.
As for the bride, she hoped that her grand gown reveal would move her groom to tears. “Tim and I always laugh and joke about this. I’ve told him that if he doesn’t cry, I will turn around and walk down the aisle a second time!” Nel-Peters says.
When it came time for the reception, Tebow expected to see his wife in the same design. But Nel-Peters decided to surprise him with another custom gown created for her by the David's Bridal team. “The second dress is more modern, sensual and fun,” she says of the Chantilly lace and crystal-embellished column with a plunging V-neckline, worn with a walking-length two-tier veil. “It’s something I could enjoy myself in. I hope it is everything Tim imagined it to be as well!”
PEOPLE confirmed Tebow and Nel-Peters married in an intimate, 30-minute sunset ceremony at La Paris Estate in Cape Town, South Africa in front of approximately 260 guests. The traditional ceremony included elements from both American and South African cultures and traditions. The color palate was white, gold, green and black.
“I’ve been looking forward to three things,” Tebow said of the wedding. “The first moment I see her in her wedding dress, the first kiss, and the first dance together as man and wife. It’s such a special night.”
He continued, “I’ve been waiting my entire life for someone special, who I can spend the rest of my life with. I was waiting for the right person to come along. And now I’m marrying Demi. I can’t wait to see what our future holds. All of my dreams have come true. It was 100 percent worth the wait.”
Tebow proposed to Nel-Peters in January 2019 with a 7.25-carat solitaire ring at his family’s farm outside of Jacksonville, Florida. At the time, he told PEOPLE that they were considering a destination wedding, but hadn’t yet determined where it would be. Then two months later, he revealed that decisions still had to be made: “We haven’t even figured out what continent we’re getting married on. Sometimes, having a lot of choices isn’t necessarily a good thing.”