A Detailed Timeline of Tarek El Moussa and Heather Rae Young's Whirlwind Romance
All of the key moments from the Flip or Flop star and the Selling Sunset real estate agent's relationship, as they prepare to tie the knot
The First Spark
Selling Sunset's Heather Rae Young and Flip or Flop's Tarek El Moussa met on the Fourth of July in 2019, after mutual friends brought them together in Newport Beach, California. Both were boating with a group of pals and happened to be docked side by side. According to the pair, it was love at first sight, and Young hopped on El Moussa's boat where he proceeded to ask her out for drinks (and she said yes!).
The pair were photographed kissing and cuddling on a yacht at the Portofino Hotel & Marina in Redondo Beach, California on July 28, 2019 — making their budding romance public.
The couple confirmed their relationship with joint Instagram posts on August 8, 2019.
"It's official!!!! After more than 3 years on my own, I'm so PROUD to say that this beautiful, sweet and talented young lady is my girlfriend!" El Moussa wrote, alongside a gallery of photos of the pair. He split publicly from ex-wife Christina Anstead in December 2016.
"I'll be honest and say I never thought I would meet someone special in my life after the last three years. Then…out of the blue @heatherraeyoung walked into my life," he continued. "The first time I saw her smile she 'did that thing to my tummy' and I knew right away I needed to get to know her."
Young's own Instagram caption read: "My heart is so full and happy. Sometimes someone comes into your life and you just know they are meant to be there."
Meeting the Kids
First Interview as a Couple
"We've been spending a lot of time together…and we just have so much fun," El Moussa said. "After all the hardships that I've experienced, and there are so many ups and downs in life, sometimes having fun is like the best medicine."
"He's been very romantic, it's been very amazing," Young said. "All happiness and smiles."
"Best Birthday Ever"
El Moussa celebrated turning 38 on August 21, 2019, and used the party to introduce Young to his TV crew, calling her "my birthday present."
El Moussa captioned an Instagram post with a heartfelt message, writing, "the happiest birthday I've had in many years. I'm so grateful for everything I have in my life!"
Instead, he blurted out the news to Anstead over the phone when he was already on the way over to her house with Young.
"I was like, 'Oh, I'm coming over to see the kids. By the way, my girlfriend is coming. See you in five!'" El Moussa recalled. "I looked at Heather, and I was like, 'Are you ready?' And she was like, 'Ready for what?' I was like, 'Well, we're going to go see the kids, and my ex-wife is there.'"
"And she goes, 'What do you mean?' And I'm like, 'We're going right now.' She's like, 'Right now, right now?' I was like, 'Right now, right now.' So that's how they met," he said.
Despite the unplanned introduction, El Moussa said the two "got along great."
A Birthday to Remember
Young celebrated turning 32 on September 16 with quite the gift from her man — a white, hard-top Ferrari convertible.
"We both share a love of sports cars and on our first date, I asked her what her dream car would be. She told me that she has always dreamed of a white Ferrari convertible," El Moussa told PEOPLE exclusively at the time.
He added, "I wanted to surprise my best friend with the car of her dreams. I love cars so I get to enjoy it too."
The pair continued to celebrate the special day on Tarek's boat with plenty of friends.
Friendly Exes on Halloween
Halloween 2019 marked the first time El Moussa, Young, Christina and her new husband, Ant Anstead, all spent time together as a group, dressing up to go trick-or-treating with Brayden and Taylor.
"It was a lot of fun — we took the kids out and it was the first time we all got together," El Moussa told PEOPLE exclusively. "I was Marshall from Paw Patrol and then Brayden matched me. So, we were out there cruising together as twins."
The last time the El Moussa and Christina had come together was for Taylor's 9th birthday in September, when El Moussa also brought Young along for the party. Ant wasn't present.
Bonus Mom Bonding
Fans swooned over a sweet photo El Moussa shared on November 10 of Young cuddled up with Brayden, while they watched Taylor play soccer.
"I just had to share this because it melts my heart :)," he wrote alongside the photo of Brayden sitting on Young's lap while in a lawn chair next to the soccer field.
A Date at the (School) Theater
On December 10, El Moussa and Young reunited with the Ansteads to watch Taylor in a Holiday concert at her school. The four adults all sat together to watch the performance.
Dressed in White
El Moussa got fans excited that wedding bells might be in his future when he shared a photo of him and Young dressed to the nines while stepping out for a picturesque date night in Los Angeles — Young stunning in a white gown.
"As you all know I'm pretty low key lol but I do enjoy getting fancy with this incredible girl by my side," he captioned a photo. "The moment I saw her in this white dress my heart raced and my palms got sweaty…I just love her. All I can say is life is good and I'm happier and healthier than ever!!"
All aboard the Polar Express! El Moussa and Young went all out for their first Christmas together — and made sure it was super special for the kids with presents, cookie baking and a holiday train ride.
El Moussa and Christina split time with the kids over the Christmas holiday, with Christina taking them for Christmas Eve before sending them over to spend time with Young and El Moussa on Christmas Day.
New Year's in Vegas
The couple rang in 2020 while partying the night away at the MGM Grand Las Vegas hotel and casino, and shared a photo of their New Year's Eve kiss.
"I am so ready to start the most defining decade of my life with @heatherraeyoung by my side!!" El Moussa wrote on Instagram. "We ended up in Las Vegas last night with a great group of friends and here is our Midnight pics!!❤️❤️"
At the end of January, El Moussa took to Instagram to share that he and Young had officially moved in together. Tarek has since shared that they began living together "less than a week" after their first date.
"It's really fun because we live in two different places!" he wrote. "Our main spot is in Orange County but one or two nights a week we stay at our place in West Hollywood!"
A Hawaiian Valentine's
El Moussa made a big romantic gesture for Valentine's Day: an island adventure in Waikiki, Hawaii, where the couple took off in a helicopter for a day full of sweet surprises.
At one point, they touched down at Kualoa Ranch, a mountainous, 4000-acre private nature reserve on the coast of Oahu where movies like Jurassic Park and 50 First Dates were filmed. Though a popular tourist destination, El Moussa shut the place down for their Valentine's date.
They arrived to a catered, multi-course meal and a romantic patio set up in the middle of the reserve for the two of them.
"I told her I was romantic! She didn't believe me until today," El Moussa joked in an Instagram Story, with Young interrupting to declare it the "best day ever" with a smile.
A New House for a New Family
In April 2020, El Moussa said goodbye to the first home that he bought after his divorce and went in on a home with his new love.
In just one week, the couple sold his Costa Mesa home off-market, found a new place to live in Newport Beach, packed up their things and moved — all in the middle of a pandemic.
They are currently renting the beach house, and plan to live there for approximately a year until they find their "dream home," they told PEOPLE at the time.
"This is our in-between house until we build or find the perfect house," El Moussa said. "But I mean, this is a super killer house. It's nicer than the house we were living in — it's right by the water and kind of looks like a hotel."
In July 2020, the pair took El Moussa's two kids on a trip to Lake Havasu City in Arizona — and the temperature was "almost 120 degrees."
"It's so hot we've been living in the water running around all over the lake on a boat!" wrote El Moussa. "Today was a 'kid day' so we tubed and swam all day! We did anything and everything they wanted."
One Year Down
The pair celebrated their one-year anniversary with Instagram posts dedicated to each other.
"From the first day I met you, to our first date and our second date when we decided to commit 100% before we barely even knew each other. But we knew what we had was special. We had that butterflies in your tummy, can't eat, can't stop smiling soul mate love," Young wrote on Instagram.
"I always knew it was out there, I knew I deserved to find it, I had given up hope that you were out there, and then there you were. It was unexpected for both of us and it was a moment that changed our lives forever," she continued in her heartfelt tribute.
In a post of his own, El Moussa wrote: "She is incredible in every way possible and most importantly she loves and adores Tay and Bray. @heatherraeyoung I just love you to the moon and back. You are my everything and you complete me. I'd be lost without you."
On July 25, El Moussa asked Young to for her hand in marriage — and she said yes!
He popped the question on a boat trip for their anniversary, getting down on one knee on the sand at the Descanso Beach Club with the sunset over the Pacific as his backdrop.
El Moussa had a neon sign custom-made to read "The Future Mrs. El Moussa" in hot pink lettering that shone down on the happy couple as they ate a post-proposal dinner in a beach cabana.
El Moussa told PEOPLE the reason he was inspired to propose to Young: "We were sitting on the boat one day and I looked over and she had Taylor in one arm and Brayden in the other arm and they're all three cuddling. That was the moment I knew I had to make her my wife and bring her into the family."
Their First Home Purchase
In September, PEOPLE confirmed that El Moussa and Young had made their first big real estate move together: buying a home of their own in Newport Beach!
"Tarek originally bought it as a flip but then they decided to make it their new home," a rep for the couple told PEOPLE of the property. "It's their first project together! They have a lot they want to do with it and the house needs some work so they are going to continue to live in their current home until the new home is ready."
Young explained in an Instagram Story that they are working with a designer to figure out what they want to do with the "blank slate" space.
El Moussa also shared that the home's expansive rooftop — complete with a fire pit and stunning views of the ocean — is "why we fell in love with this house."
In November 2020, Young and El Moussa revealed that their new home had flooded, leaving them with major damage. This put them behind schedule and way over budget.
"Wellllllll we haven't had the best of luck with our new home," Young began one post, which showed the couple holding hands in their worse-for-wear kitchen. "We bought it and decided to remodel and now it looks like a war zone."
In early February 2021, they revealed that they'd moved into the Balboa Bay Resort in Newport Beach, Calif., and would be staying there "a couple of months until our house is finished," as they were forced to move from their beach rental they had been living in for approximately nine months.
The Changing of the Names
While opening up about their relationship on an episode of the Dear Media podcast Not Skinny But Not Fat in December, Young shared that she would take El Moussa's last name once they tie the knot.
"I'm going to be Heather Rae El Moussa. I'm going to drop my last name," she told host Amanda Hirsch.
El Moussa then shared that his fiancée might be dropping her middle name as well. "We might go Heather El Moussa, because Heather Rae El Moussa, that's what, four words?" he said.
"It might just be Heather El Moussa. We don't know yet," Young agreed, before adding, "I'm excited to be Mrs. El Moussa."
A Blinged-Out Engagement Shoot
In early February, El Moussa and Young went all out celebrating their upcoming nuptials with an engagement shoot at the Mission Inn Hotel in Riverside, Calif. — complete with three different black-tie looks.
Alongside a close-up Instagram Story video which showed off every angle of the piece, Young explained that she's been thinking about her "dream" ring for years.
"I never planned my 'dream wedding' but I saved rings I loved for the past 10 years," she wrote. "Gold with Emerald cut was always my dream ring."
Surprise Valentine's Day Ink
Young caused a bit of a stir on Instagram on February 8, 2021, when she debuted a tattoo honoring her husband-to-be on her backside, reading, "Yes sir, Mr. El Moussa" in cursive script. She revealed in the caption that she had gotten it as a surprise Valentine's Day gift for her husband-to-be.
Young deleted the post the next morning after it received mixed reviews from her followers in the comments. Some then moved the conversation about the design to the comments of El Moussa's unrelated Instagram post on Tuesday evening.
One wrote, "Do you love the tattoo," adding two puking emojis.
Defending his future wife's decision, the Flipping 101 star replied, "yes so much." Young also replied to the commenter, writing, "yes we love it. Proud to be the future Mrs. El Moussa."