How Jax Taylor & Brittany Cartwright 'Battled’ for Their Relationship: 'We're Happier Than Ever'

Brittany Cartwright felt like a princess on her wedding day, marrying longtime love Jax Taylor in an actual palace.

The Vanderpump Rules costars said “I do” in a magical, fairy-tale themed ceremony in front of 240 guests at the Kentucky Castle in the bride’s home state Saturday evening. But before the SUR bartender became her Prince Charming, he broke her heart — and they faced plenty of haters hoping to tear down their relationship.

“We’re stronger and happier than we’ve ever been,” Cartwright, 30, told PEOPLE exclusively just before the big day. “We’ve been through a lot, but we came out on the other side. I feel like we’ve just gotten stronger and stronger as we’ve had to deal with any kind of negative situations that come our way. I feel like we’ve grown from it.”

“We know ourselves better than anybody else,” added Taylor, 39. “We really didn’t listen to much of the trash back in the day. We know we love each. We know we want to be together. We’re just really excited. Just really happy with where we are right now.”

They met by chance at a Las Vegas bar in 2015, when the groom had a reputation as a playboy loath to settle down.

“I was anti-marriage. I was never, never, ever going to get married. It was not in the cards for me,” Taylor admitted. “Nothing against marriage, just it wasn’t for me. Then I met Brittany, and everything changed. … I dated before and I never even thought about it before. Right when I met Brittany, I knew. If I’m going to do it, this is the one.”

The bachelor was besotted — and asked her to move across the country from her family farm to his Los Angeles apartment the very next day.

“I just knew it was meant to be,” he said.

But the couple hit a rough patch when he cheated a few years ago — and the Bravo cameras captured everything, from the whispered rumors to the moment he admitted to being unfaithful, her fiery response (“rot in hell”) etched into reality TV history. Betrayed, Cartwright briefly called off their relationship before coming around to forgiving Taylor. And when his father, Ronald Cauchi, died of cancer in December 2017, she was by his side as he grieved. It was that display of grace and devotion during his darkest time that inspired Taylor to propose. (They left a chair at their wedding empty in his honor, and had his ashes nearby as they exchanged vows.)

“We crossed oceans together,” Cartwright said. “We’ve gone really far.”

“We’ve battled, but we know that we definitely want to be together, obviously, and we’re very happy,” Taylor added.

“At the end of the day,” Cartwright concluded, “all that we think is all that matters, right?”

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