Miley Cyrus, Liam Hemsworth, Vanity Fair Oscar Party 2018

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Sitting down with Glamour for their March 2009 issue—her first cover with a women's mag—a 16-year-old Miley Cyrussounded, at times, like a seasoned celebrity already well-versed in the perils of the industry. 

"I've learned how to respect myself and how to say no," she allowed when asked about prior mistakes. "I've learned who I can really trust. I have 200 or 300 friends, but I probably trust four." As for her reported fortune, the Hannah Montana franchise projected to be worth a cool billion, she opined, "In this industry there are so many things that can take over your life: money, alcohol, drugs—even fashion. People hand you things, and you start to believe life is easy. And it's not like that—you're not supposed to be the person you play in the movies."

And yet, reading it a decade later, with the benefit of hindsight, you realize that in some ways, the Disney Channel star had no idea of everything that lie ahead. Asked if she ever worried about tarnishing her squeaky clean reputation, she replied, "I think it's selfish to go out partying all the time, especially if you have little ones [in your family]. I have a 9-year-old sister, and I don't want her to go to school and have people make fun of her for it." 

But when it came to the topic of her future, where she saw herself 10 years from then, she was decidedly spot-on. "Hopefully I'll be settled: making movies, living in a house, maybe even married," she predicted. "I think my mom did everything pretty close to perfect, and I want to be the cool mom that the kids run home to." 

So far she's right on track. On December 23—precisely 24 years and 360 days after a 26-year-old Tish Cyrus wed then-emerging country star Billy Ray Cyrus in the living room of his Franklin, Tenn. home—the free-spirited pop star, 26, tied the knot with Australian actor love Liam Hemsworth, 29, in the five-bedroom, farmhouse-style spread she purchased just down the road from her tight-knit musically inclined clan. "Miley and Liam couldn't be happier with how their wedding went," an insider told E! News. "A lavish ceremony wasn't important, all that mattered was that their families could be there." 

Miley Cyrus, Liam Hemsworth

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Of course Tish and Billy Ray had already welcomed Miley a little more than a month ahead of their at-home vows, the newborn joining Tish's kids from a previous relationship, Brandi Cyrus and Trace Cyrus. But the "Nothing Breaks Like a Heart" singer is working on that part as well. Or she will be. Eventually. When she and the Hunger Games alum determine that the time is right. "They have definitely discussed kids, and it is definitely in the future, but there aren't any definite plans yet," a source tells E! News. "Liam and Miley both want kids, but that is not the current focus." 

At least, not for them. Because when the long-engaged duo wed in a surprise (to fans, anyway) wedding, the inevitable follow-up was rampant speculation that the singer must be expecting. Particularly when it was noted that Cyrus had made the grave error of holding her bouquet at the standard waist-level in photos and then followed that up by wearing a less-than-fitted top. 

Miley Cyrus

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When the chatter culminated in an actual news story—OK! Australia reporting that not only was Cyrus "over the moon" to be expecting but that she was far enough along to know she and Hemsworth were having a long-hoped for girl—the star felt the need to, um, crack her silence

"I'm not 'Egg-xpecting' but it's 'Egg-celent' to hear everyone is so 'Happy For Us' .... we're happy for us too!" she Tweeted Jan. 16, poking fun at the latest viral craze that saw a photo of an egg topple Kylie Jenner's Instagram record. "'Egg-cited" for this next chapter in our lives.... Now, can everyone leave me alone and go back to staring at an egg."

Not that she's going to give the public the download on her, likely quite personal and private, family timeline. It was little more than a year ago that recently the "Can't Be Tamed" singer was saying she had no intentions to marry, was perfectly content with fiancée status. Sure, she was once again wearing the 3.5-carat, vintage-style cushion-cut engagement ring the Isn't It Romantic actor had first slid on her finger back in 2012, but that didn't necessarily mean she was going to do something as conventional as have an actual wedding. 

"I'm just riding this out," Cyrus she told The Sun on Sunday in September 2017. "I don't envision marriage. I'm 24. I hope I get to live a little bit more. I have too much living to do."

A handful of years after reconciling, she and Hemsworth were very much of the if it ain't broke, no need to fix it mentality. "They are both very content with how their relationship is at this stage," an insider explained to E! News. For the moment it was enough to simply marvel at how far they'd come, their once divergent paths merging once more. "Three years ago, if you'd asked me if I'd be here, this happy with this man," she told the British paper. "I'd have been stunned."

Because if you looked back, it was pretty remarkable. From the time they first met on the 2009 set of their Nicholas Sparks romance The Last Song, Cyrus made it clear this romance was destined to be even more serious than her previous relationships with Nick Jonas and Justin Gaston

Miley Cyrus, Liam Hemsworth

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"He was just the most genuinely precious, sweet person," she gushed to Seventeen at the time. "And the second audition comes around and the chemistry was instant. From the time he walked in that door and we saw each other again, we lit up and we were excited to get [to] work and learn together."

By June 2012, after a few false starts, the duo were celebrating their engagement. But a year in, Cyrus had realized that maybe all those detractors had a point when they insisted she couldn't possibly be ready to agree to forever. 

"When they got engaged the first time, they were just kids. There was no way they were ready for that kind of commitment," a source told People. "When the Disney-era of her life was over, Miley was a bit lost and wanted to break out of that image. Liam's career was also blowing up with Hunger Games, and they were being pulled a million different ways. He didn't know how to handle the attention and drama."

Miley Cyrus, Robin Thicke, VMA

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So they went their separate ways, with Hemsworth courting actress Eiza González, 28, and Cyrus reveling in her Bangerz stage, showing off her twerking skills, embracing latex costumes and romancing the likes of Patrick Schwarzenegger, 25, and Victoria's Secret model Stella Maxwell, 28. "This is the best time of my life. I'm not going to look back on it and be like, 'I wish I hadn't been dwelling over a breakup,' you know?" she reasoned to Cosmopolitan in 2013. "Because that's not what God wants my life to be about right now."

She was having fun, being Miley, if you will. But throughout it all, she never stopped thinking of Hemsworth as, perhaps, the one who got away. 

"Most couples that start dating young split up and never speak again. Miley and Liam were always different," the source told People. "She would often talk about Liam even though she was dating other people. When they eventually got back together in 2015, it seemed meant to be."

Or, at least, certainly destined enough for them to drop some pretty significant hints about their recoupled status.  

Miley Cyrus, Liam Hemsworth, Variety Power of Women

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"You fall in love with who you fall in love with; you can never choose. I guess some people just come with a little more baggage," Hemsworth told Men's Fitness just a few months before he was spotted back on Cyrus' arms. "I mean, look—we were together five years, so I don't think those feelings will ever change. And that's good because that proves to me that it was real. It wasn't just a fling."

What it was, it had become clear, was a lifelong commitment that just needed a bit of breathing room to really stick. 

"Of course it was hard, man. But at the time we were going in different directions and it's just what needed to happen," Hemsworth explained to GQ of their breakup in 2016. "We were both super young and it was a good decision at the time—we both needed that."

By that point, Cyrus had watched her parents go through not one, but two splits that were so extreme each side filed for divorce, only to find themselves back together each time. So she knew a bit about separation making the heart grow fonder. 

"One thing I've learned about marriage from my parents: Nothing and no one stays the same," she told Cosmopolitan in 2017. "Grow, evolve, change with each other and celebrate your love's journey!"

And sometimes that means taking a bit of a pause. "I needed to change so much. And changing with someone else not changing like that is too hard," she said of the time apart in a Billboard interview that same year. "Suddenly you're like, 'I don't recognize you anymore.' We had to re-fall for each other."

They did so in Malibu, the oceanside city where they recaptured their love even receiving its own tribute on Cyrus' 2017 disc Younger Now. So when their four-bedroom clifftop mansion was burned to the ground in the California wildfires, it would have been easy to see it as a metaphor for their rebuilt romance. 

Instead, they decided to go the rising from the ashes route. The painful loss "deepened their bond," a friend told People, explaining the impetus for finally making their union legally official after nearly a decade together. Added another insider, "The way Liam took charge and helped her deal with that tragedy just adds another layer of love and security." 

For one, Cyrus couldn't stop marveling over the image of her real-life super hero racing around the compound to save their seven dogs, two pigs and two miniature horses while she was some 10,000 miles away in South Africa. "Liam, I've never loved him more for this," she shared on SiriusXM's Howard Stern Show Dec. 12. "He was so incredible, he got all the animals out in his truck. He put two pigs in crates, which I tell you is so hard. He got a lot of action for saving the animals." 

Not to mention, the opportunity to call Cyrus his wife, something their collective families had been hoping would happen for a long time. Determined to do things their own way, the duo set about finding a florist to decorate their shared Tennessee home, securing a company to create a balloon arch and informing their nearest and dearest of their plan. 

Liam Hemsworth, Miley Cyrus

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"Whenever they've talked about getting married, they've always wanted to keep it very small and it just be the family and just be at the house. That's always been what they wanted," her sister Brandi shared on her Your Favorite Thing podcast Jan. 9. "Honestly, Miley's only friend that was there was her best friend, Jessie, and Liam had a handful of his friends there that were there from Australia." 

While their decision to eventually start a family could be just as spontaneous, it's something they've given much thought to. Hemsworth has confessed to Australian NW magazine, "I'm sure one day I will go down that road and it will feel right, yes," while his sister-in-law Elsa Pataky told ET that the singer is a natural with her and Chris Hemsworth's kids India, 6, and 4-year-old twins Tristan and Sasha

"Both Miley and Liam want to have children," an insider told E! News, "but aren't trying to rush the process. They are truly in a great place right now."

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