The love story of Evan Lysacek and Dang Bodiratnangkura is less story than saga — spanning some nine years, a few continents and a somewhat harried holiday search, last year, for the perfect ring for the question Lysacek had long known he wanted to ask: Will you marry me?
On Thursday, he and Bodiratnangkura wed in Bangkok, surrounded by friends and family, in the centerpiece of a romantic and “unconventional” days-long celebration of East and West.
They exchanged rings designed by Patcharavipa, Bodiratnangkura’s sister’s jewelry company. Hers is a band of book-matched taper baguette diamonds, and his is a clean platinum band.
Both rings were inscribed with 12.12 — the exact date and time they married.
“It was love at first sight,” Lysacek, 34, the 2010 Olympic gold medalist in men’s figure skating, tells PEOPLE.
“When relationships are hard, they’re impossible. But when they’re right, it’s so easy,” he says. “So for us it was so easy — and that’s kind of how I knew it was right.”
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Days before his marriage, he said he didn’t “feel nervous or anxious at all.” Why would he?
“I’m 100 percent sure that Dang is the right woman for me,” he says. “And hopefully I can be the right man for her always. But I know that I love her and that I want to spend every day with her.”
Bodiratnangkura, a real estate developer in one of the most prominent families in Thailand, tells PEOPLE: “Evan knows me better than anyone and always protects me in every sense of the word. I feel so loved, cared for and protected by him. I’m marrying my best friend.”
In attendance at the festivities last week, which included a Friday rehearsal luncheon and Saturday reception, was a cross-section of their mixing worlds. About 70 people were in attendance at Thursday’s wedding, with 120 at the rehearsal luncheon and 300 for Saturday’s large party.
For him came Tessa Virtue, a fellow Olympic medalist in figure skating, and Frank Carroll, his longtime coach. (Ralph Lauren, a mentor, was unable to travel because of a prior holiday engagement but the custom tuxes he designed for Lysacek were a thrill in his stead.)
And for Bodiratnangkura came a lot of people. She is a great-granddaughter of Nai Lert, one of the most important businessmen in Thailand’s history, who made his fortune in part on importing ice and buses to the country and whose family still runs the real estate and hospitality business that bears his name.
Joining among the guests were various Thai deputy prime ministers, foreign ambassadors, dignitaries and Thai royals.
On Saturday, they came together for the Western-style dinner and wedding reception at Bodiratnangkura’s family’s Nai Lert Park — a kind of mini Central Park, which Lysacek says remains a lush, “incredible sanctuary” amid bustling Bangkok, followed by an ice palace-themed after-party.
Also featured at Saturday’s reception dinner: a gallery covered in white flowers and, in the dining room, “a giant white flower tree in the center,” Lysacek says, “and an LED video projected on the ceiling which progresses from the stages of sunset to the night sky.” The night’s entertainment included “an orchestra of hand-picked musicians” and “five young Thai opera singers,” plus a DJ, John Bellone, for the dancing.
The night’s decorations were overseen Sakchai Guy, according to the couple.
The marriage ceremony itself was in the traditional Thai style, presided over by Buddhist monks.
Where large Thai weddings can be attended by thousands, the Dancing with the Stars alum, who finished in second place on season 10, says, they kept their guest list smaller, with the events incorporating Thai and American touches. (They decided to exchange rings, a Western gesture Bodiratnangkura says was “so romantic.”)
Guests attended the rehearsal luncheon at the Siam Society in Bangkok and a Thai luncheon after the ring exchange and Buddhist ceremony.
“We didn’t just want to welcome our guests to Thailand but give them a unique experience here in Bangkok,” Bodiratnangkura says. “We wanted our guests to be immersed in Thai culture, music and cuisine. Our lives will always be a fusion of Thai and Western culture, which has been a major consideration in the planning of our wedding celebration.”
And all of that is not to mention Lysacek’s two custom Ralph Lauren tuxedos and his custom Ralph Lauren suit or Bodiratnangkura’s two dresses by Vera Wang, including a custom gown in ivory macrame lace to greet guests, or her a Oscar de la Renta dress or, for the actual wedding, the traditional Thai dress she wore by the dress-maker to Sirikit, Thailand’s queen mother (accessorized by the gold-and-diamond belt worn by Bodiratnangkura’s own mom while getting married 43 years ago.)
And none of that is to even start listing off the jewelry involved, such as the 150-plus carats in diamonds Bodiratnangkura wore from her family’s collection.
But she and Lysacek really only have eyes for each other.
“The moment that I look forward to most is kissing my husband and knowing that we’re truly united as one forever,” Bodiratnangkura says.
The next few weeks are hardly slowing down for the newlyweds, who will next travel to Chiang Mai in northern Thailand followed by a trip to India and then back to Thailand. In the new year, they look forward to “nesting,” Bodiratnangkura says.
She and Lysacek were first introduced through mutual friends after his Olympic victory in 2010. It took years for them to finally embark on a relationship after being separated by their lives and careers, even as Lysacek says he felt the tug of that immediate connection with Bodiratnangkura.
“And then just about a year and a half ago, we had a long talk and she said, ‘Come to L.A. and visit sometime,’ and I said, ‘I’m going to come right now,’ ” he remembers. “I went there the next weekend to see her and then we just said, ‘Do you think this would work if we try it?’ And we said yes and we didn’t look back.”
He proposed to her in Miami on April 1: her birthday.
She makes him stronger, he says, and opens up his heart — the answer to a question he’d asked himself amid years of more professional than personal triumphs. Maybe, he wondered, was he just hard to love? And then there she was.
“I can’t wait to see her dress. I can’t wait to see her smile,” Lysacek told PEOPLE before the wedding. “I want to make sure that I remember everything about that day.”
Bodiratnangkura is excited, too.
“I can’t wait,” she says, “to go through every step of life and love together.”