"All alone on that beautiful beach, it was as if time stood still and we were the only two people on earth," Inaba tells PEOPLE
Carrie Ann Inaba and actor Robb Derringer are engaged, the couple tells PEOPLE exclusively.
Derringer, 49, proposed to the Dancing With the Stars judge on Saturday, Dec. 10, at the site of their first date — a secluded beach cove along the California coast — and the smitten pair shared one of the most romantic moments of their lives.
“Saturdays are special to us, because our first date was on a Saturday and we have celebrated with a toast, a visit to a beach, special date, a motorcycle adventure, or a road trip on every Saturday since,” Inaba, 48, tells PEOPLE. “So on Saturday, we returned to the place of our first date and got engaged at the same place we shared our spontaneous and magical first date.”
With the Pacific as a romantic backdrop, the former General Hospital actor proposed with a ring by designer Jean Dousset (get all the details here!), and the couple celebrated their future.
“We shared our desire to commit to one another for life by beginning that journey in a very intimate and private way, just the two of us, alone on the beach with a bonfire, a bottle of Aubert Chardonnay and the majestic Pacific ocean that has always been an integral force in both our lives,” she says.
For his part, Derringer took to paper to described his feelings for Inaba.
“I’m a better writer than a speaker so I chose to share my thoughts with Carrie in a letter expressing how much she meant to me, how much she had changed me, how much she had taught me in our time together thus far and what my hopes and dreams and intentions were for our future together,” says Derringer, who will begin a new role on Days of Our Lives in the Spring and co-stars in the upcoming feature film, Home Again.
“I then got down on one knee under what I will always remember as the most serene and tranquil night sky I’ve ever seen and asked my beautiful girl if she would do me the honor of being my wife, to which she thankfully replied yes,” he adds.
It’s a moment Inaba will never forget.
“The ocean mist created an ambiance that was magical, and I will always remember the way that sky looked as Robb got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife,” she says, who lives in L.A. with Derringer and their menagerie of rescue pets, including three dogs, a cat, a raven and a fish named Steve.
“All alone on that beautiful beach, it was as if time stood still and we were the only two people on earth. I will never forget it. It was perfect,” she continues. “Getting engaged where we had that perfect first date, was really such poetic destiny.”
It didn’t take long for Derringer to know Inaba was special.
“I knew after our first romantic date, that if she felt for me what I felt for her, then it was something that was going to be significant and life changing and lasting,” he says. “There was just a powerful and palpable sense of destiny that I could not deny.”
“Like something bigger was guiding us both towards one another,” Derringer continues. “Carrie is simply the most beautiful heart I’ve ever known, and the best thing that has ever happened to me. I truly feel like I’m the luckiest guy in the world.”
Likewise, Inaba fell hard — and fast — for Derringer.
“As a young girl, I had always dreamed about going on a date like the first date I shared with Robb,” she says. “Somehow, he instinctively knew what that was and went to great lengths to surprise me with the most romantic night ever. I could see then how pure of heart he was and how generous and caring his soul was.”
“Everything about the evening felt so ‘right’. There was an ease and an authentic familiarity,” Inaba continues. “We talked about everything under the stars… even marriage. There was a strong sense of destiny that night, and I think I knew then, deep in my heart, that he and I were going to be together forever.”
With age, says Inaba, has come unique perspective that makes their union all the more special.
“I think that because we were both 48 when we met and had both experienced so much life before meeting, our love unfolded in a different way than it does when you are 28, and for that we are grateful,” says Inaba, who will be back at the DWTS judge’s table next season (she is also dedicated to rescuing animals through her Animal Project Foundation).
“We’ve had to let go of things that worked for us as individuals to find better ways that worked for us as a couple,” she continues. “We naturally balance each other. Our love seems to grow exponentially with every new experience we share and I look forward to waking each day knowing my love is in this world with me, and I am excited to face every thing that comes our way in life together, united in this beautiful love. Because he’s my person and I am his.”
While Inaba and Derringer haven’t set a wedding date as yet, they say one things for sure: it’ll be on a Saturday.