updated 07/08/2014 AT 7:00 PM ET
•originally published 07/09/2014 AT 7:45 AM ET
“It’s all about family for us,” Simpson tells PEOPLE in this week’s cover story, in which the newlyweds talk about their favorite wedding memories for the first time – and share 27 exclusive photos.
So for the big day, the bride asked her mom, Tina, and her sister, Ashlee, to be her maids of honor. Johnson’s father, Stephen, stepped in as best man, while Ashlee’s fiancé, Evan Ross, was one of 11 groomsmen. (Simpson had 12 bridesmaids!)
Plus, the pair exchanged traditional vows during a nondenominational ceremony officiated by Simpson’s dad, Joe.
But it was their kids – 2-year-old flower girl Maxwell and 1-year-old ring bearer Ace – who stole the show.
“Before I walked out, I kept hearing all the applause, so my kids got standing ovations!” says the proud mom, 33.
By the time Simpson made her entrance, however, a hush fell over the 275 guests gathered at the San Ysidro Ranch in Montecito, California, and there were audible gasps as people caught a glimpse of the bride in her stunning Carolina Herrera wedding gown.
“I saw my gorgeous wife coming towards me and she was crying,” says Johnson, 34, who wore a custom charcoal gray John Varvatos tuxedo. “I think my heart was exploding a little bit.”
Simpson felt the same way throughout her wedding day: “It’s so surreal. This has been something we’ve wanted ever since we met.”
Click on the video below to see how Simpson styled her entire bridal party!
And for all the details about the wedding – including Simpson’s exclusive wedding album – pick up the new issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday