After a year full of dramatic ups and downs, former Bachelor winner Melissa Rycroft finally got the "happily ever after" she deserved — an ultra-romantic beach wedding to her longtime boyfriend, Dallas-based insurance agent Tye Strickland, in breathtaking Isla Mujeres, Mexico. Surrounded by 200 of their closest friends and family members, Melissa and Tye exchanged vows on December 12. And, as Melissa exclusively reveals to In Touch, neither one of them could keep their tears in check. "I was fine until 'Here Comes the Bride' started," Melissa tells In Touch. "I think everything hit me at once. My dad started to walk down the aisle, and I just stopped him. I grabbed his arm, and I was like, 'Hold on,' and I started crying. And I saw Tye, and bless his heart, he had these big tears in his eyes, too. It was very emotional."
Just as moved as his new bride was from the very start of the ceremony, Tye admits that seeing Melissa for the first time in her strapless Alfred Angelo gown was an overwhelming experience. "When I saw her, I just lost my breath — like I was in a football game and had the wind knocked out of me," Tye tells In Touch. "I've never felt that way in my whole life, and I just couldn't help it. She was the most gorgeous bride I've ever seen in my life, and it was amazing. It was absolutely perfect." They both included their families in the ceremony. "Both of our dads got up there and spoke and prayed for us," she shares, adding that Tye's father officiated over the vows. With the ocean behind them, Melissa exchanged traditional vows with her groom — both of them barefoot — as the sun set over the rolling waves.
"I didn't look around to see anybody — Tye and I were so wrapped up in the moment," Melissa says. "If you asked me to repeat anything that either of our dads said, I couldn't right now. Thankfully, there were pictures taken, so I know it happened, but I do remember that when the music started for us to go back down the aisle, we looked at each other and said, 'We did it.'" The whole time, Tye couldn't take his eyes off of his beautiful bride. "There were a couple of times during the ceremony where I just kept mouthing to her, 'I love you, I love you, I love you.' And Melissa felt the same. "My heart was pounding and we were both looking at each other and squeezing each other's hands," she says. "We were both so happy."