"We didn't realize it until recently, but we bookended our relationship up to that point with that song, in that same place", said Wahlberg.
Jenny McCarthy and Donnie Wahlberg made their first red carpet-appearance together at a charity event in the summer of 2013. At this time, they had no idea that night would set both the mood and the music for their intimate wedding the following year.
The couple had been privately dating for about a month at the time and they attended a celebrity Dancing with the Stars event at the historic Hotel Baker in St. Charles, Illinois near McCarthy's hometown. As part of the event, the organizers asked the pair to choose a song for their first spotlight dance together.
She said it was a "pretty immediate decision" as they both picked a song with a deep sentimental meaning to them. "It was the most romantic thing because as we were dancing, people in the balcony started singing along to Edelweiss just like they did in The Sound of Music," the Masked Singer judge, 50, told PEOPLE. She also said, "It felt dreamlike like we were in a movie."
The love song, originally performed by Julie Andrews and the late Christopher Plummer in the classic 1965 film, was a musical melody that naturally wove through the first year of their relationship. "Early on when Jenny and I started dating, I don't know how it came up but I told her I had never seen The Sound of Music. She couldn't believe it and was, like, 'So you don't know the song Edelweiss? She played it for me that night," said the New Kids on the Block singer, 53.
He also told PEOPLE, "We were really falling in love. We just had the most romantic evening, talking and getting to know each other, and we were listening to that song." He added, "It was an important moment to us, and it had such a special place in our relationship. We never had the conversation but it just became our song."
In a "full circle moment," according to McCarthy, the couple would also choose Edelweiss for their first dance at their own wedding reception, a year later in the Hotel Baker, the very spot where they had their first dance as a couple. "We didn't realize it until recently, but we bookended our relationship up to that point with that song, in that same place", said Wahlberg, who now lives with McCarthy in St. Charles, about an hour outside Chicago.
McCarthy said, "The first time we danced to that song in the ballroom at the Hotel Baker, it felt like home and it became home officially at our wedding." She continued, "It was ethereal. I saw no one and heard no one because I was locked in his eyes." She added, "It was like a confirmation that we were exactly where we were supposed to be. It was confirmation that 'This is the love of my life. This is the one.'"
Wahlberg felt this magnetic connection too. "It was like we were in this movie when everyone in the background is blurred out and only the people in the center of the frame are in focus. That's what it was like," he said. "I see Jenny clear as day, but everyone around me was just a blur. I didn't see anyone else but her," he added.
Now, the pair feels like they've "been surrounded by love," according to McCarthy, ever since they took their relationship public.
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Theo Wargo