Kicking off the new year
Bubba Wallace and Amanda Carter are kicking off the new year as husband and wife!
The NASCAR driver, 29, born Darrell Wallace Jr, and his long-time love, exchanged vows in front of 250 guests at the JW Marriott in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Dec. 31.
"Getting married, and starting a new life together, I'm just so excited to have a good one in my corner," Wallace tells PEOPLE. "We have so much fun together."
For their "intimate and romantic" ceremony, planned by Fabulously Created Events, the couple — who got engaged in July 2021 after five years of dating — opted for all-white flowers with greenery accents and candles.
"We wanted the ceremony, (which was held on the hotel's 4th floor) to be formal, and then as soon as you walk down the staircase to the reception, we wanted the whole mood to flip," says Carter. "The flowers are changing from white to vibrant with pinks, purples, reds, with a lot of sparkle and shine in the room. We wanted the reception to feel like a New Year's Eve party."
The bride wore a gown by Madam Burcu Couture and shoes by Lola Cruz for her walk down the aisle, while Wallace chose a custom dark red velvet tuxedo designed by Stitched by Mitch.
After the pair exchanged handwritten vows, they joined their guests for cocktail hour with an open bar and passed hors d'oeuvres including tuna tartar, duck meatballs, pulled pork spring rolls, blue crab croquettes and whipped ricotta.
When it came to the main course, the couple knew they didn't want a formal setup.
"We're not doing a seated dinner with over 200 people," says Carter. "We wanted to make sure that we have time to see everybody. And a seated dinner really can take away from being able to talk to everybody."
Instead, the newlyweds opted for four different tapas-style stations with some of their favorite cuisines including Italian, Asian stir fry, burgers and tacos.
"The food will be really fun," Carter said ahead of their wedding. "We just really wanted it to be a fun atmosphere, not stuffy, even though everyone's going to be dressed up. We wanted a more casual food setting since it's late in the evening. And then at 1 a.m. when the party's over, we have a McDonald's food truck coming to serve chicken nuggets and french fries."
While Wallace doesn't eat desserts, Carter is a big fan of sweets so the couple skipped a traditional wedding cake and went for a variety of treats including a custom pretzel wall, cake pops, sugar and chocolate chip cookies, banana pudding shooters and fruit and almond flavored macarons.
As for the evening's music, Wallace and Carter made sure their playlist for the DJ was perfect for the occasion.
"We were on a road trip recently, and the entire four-and-a-half-hour car ride we just went through and picked songs," says Carter of their list which included classics, '90s hits, hip hop and EDM.
Adds Wallace: "I love dancing. It's got to be the right vibe."
To end the memorable evening, the crowd counted down to midnight on the holographic checkered flag dance floor and celebrated with sparklers and a champagne toast once the clock struck midnight.
Now happily married, the couple plans to jet off on their honeymoon to Bora Bora before Wallace gets back to racing when the new NASCAR season begins in February.
"We just have such a good bond. I love the time we spend together. We could sit around together all day every day and we don't get tired of one another," says Carter, adding, "And he's also handsome and charming."