The People announcement of its Feb. 7 cover story:
The gown! The guests! The toasts! All the intimate moments and exclusive photos of Valerie Bertinelli’s surprise New Year’s Day wedding to her boyfriend of six years, mutual fund manager Tom Vitale, at their Malibu home are featured in this week’s issue of PEOPLE. “We wanted it to be a surprise!” says the TV star, 50, who married Vitale, 49, at sunset on 1/1/11. “We didn’t want anyone bringing presents!”
As Etta James’ “At Last” played, about 100 guests – including Bertinelli’s ex-husband, rocker Eddie Van Halen and his wife Janie, and the bride’s Hot in Cleveland costars Jane Leeves and Wendie Malick – cheered as the bride did a playful spin around a tent post before making her way to Vitale, who stood misty-eyed beneath an archway of flowers overlooking the Pacific. “I do not know how to describe how I felt when she walked down the aisle,” Vitale tells PEOPLE. “It just felt completely, totally right.”
After exchanging rings and traditional vows during the nondenominational service, the couple shared a warm kiss that left guests in tears. “I felt as though I was watching my actual baby sister getting married today,” says Mackenzie Phillips, who played Bertinelli’s older sister on the hit ’70s series One Day at a Time. “My heart is filled.”
Continues after the jump.
Regarding her big day, Bertinelli tells PEOPLE, “It felt relaxed and right.” And there wasn’t any wedding dress stress: After maintaining a 40-lb. weight loss for more than two years, the 5’4” Jenny Craig spokesperson easily buttoned up a size-6 gown. “It was a great feeling to not worry about how I’m going to fit in a dress!” says the 130-lb. star. “I felt like an angel.”
That’s exactly what Vitale thinks of his new wife. “Val’s not my girlfriend. She is my soulmate,” says the groom, who has Tony, 20, Andie, 18, Angela, 15, and Dominic, 11, from a previous marriage. “The wedding was about blending our families and sharing the love that we all feel for each other.” Adds Bertinelli: “Tom is my best friend…I could have spent the rest of my life with Tom and not be married, but I wanted to call him ‘my husband.’” For her 19-year-old son, Wolfgang Van Halen, it’s a thrill to see his mother this content: “I’m so glad my mom’s found someone to be happy with,” he says.
The newlyweds kept the festivities going well into the night with a lively outdoor reception where guests feasted on beef tenderloin, lobster and chocolate soufflés. One Day at a Time’s Pat “Schneider” Harrington then gave a heartfelt toast that was playfully interrupted by the sitcom’s theme song over the loudspeakers before partygoers danced to the likes of Flo Rida’s “Club Can’t Handle Me.”
As for a honeymoon, the duo has plans for an Italian getaway this spring. For now, they were content to just kick back and watch football the next day. Says Bertinelli, “I can’t imagine life getting any better than this!”