updated 06/15/2008 AT 4:45 PM ET
•originally published 06/14/2008 AT 11:00 PM ET
Country star Sara Evans married former University of Alabama quarterback Jay Barker Saturday evening in an outdoor ceremony at a Franklin, Tenn., farm near Evans’s home, PEOPLE reports exclusively.
Evans’s son Avery, 8, walked his mother down the aisle, preceded by her two daughters, Olivia, 5, and Audrey, 3. The couple’s seven children (Barker has four from his previous marriage) sat on quilts during the ceremony and were the only attendants. They collectively gave their parents away.
The short ceremony featured Nashville songwriter Marcus Hummon, a close friend of Evans’s, singing “God Bless the Broken Road,” the Rascal Flatts hit he cowrote – a song that the couple says has deep meaning for their relationship. Christian minister Joe Beam, who was responsible for introducing the couple last fall, performed the ceremony.
Evans, 37, wore an ivory silk taffeta Vera Wang gown with a halter neck and Barker, 35, wore a Dolce and Gabbana suit. The black-and-white affair (guests were requested to wear black) was accented with hints of yellow roses, and the sophisticated décor was given a down-home twist with a menu catered by Constant Craving featuring Southern fried chicken, country-style pole beans, biscuits and macaroni and cheese.
“It was really very elegant, but Sara wanted it to feel like you were at her house,” says friend and wedding planner Traci Phillips of The Perfect Party.
The bride and groom had their first dance to Chris Brown’s “With You” and the 145 guests – including Sheryl Crow – boogied beneath a canopy of strung lights to a collection of R&B and pop hits spun by a deejay.
Evans met Barker, the host of a morning sports radio show in Birmingham, Ala., through Beam when each had turned to the minister for support after their respective divorces last year.
“He was our own personal matchmaker,” laughs Evans, who says that Beam made both of them promise – before they even met one another – that they would let him officiate at their wedding. “I think God told Joe to get us together.”
They were engaged in March. “It was hard for me to believe he was real and that he loves me the way he loves me,” Evans tells PEOPLE. “I thank God many times a day for bringing me Jay.”
See exclusive photos from the country star’s wedding in next week’s issue of PEOPLE!