"I began to ugly-cry the ugliest cry anyone has ever cried," the actor tells PEOPLE of the romantic proposal, which was captured on video

By Benjamin VanHoose
November 30, 2020 11:00 AM
Advertisement

Jonathan Bennett is engaged!

The actor, 39, who famously played Aaron Samuels in the 2004 comedy classic Mean Girls, said "Yes!" after boyfriend Jaymes Vaughan got down on one knee — and wrote him a song for the sweet proposal! Bennett shared footage of the emotional moment exclusively with PEOPLE, saying the proposal was a complete surprise.

Bennett stars in the groundbreaking new holiday movie The Christmas House on the Hallmark Channel, the first of the network's holiday films to star a gay lead. While he was away making the movie, Vaughan got to work crafting a sweet way to pop the question.

"I love how I can be unapologetically myself and I love that he loves me unconditionally for it," says Bennett of Vaughan, a TV host and main anchor of Celebrity Page.

Jonathan Bennett and Jaymes Vaughan
Credit: Eric Ita

The soon-to-be husbands opened up to PEOPLE about their relationship, as well as their ideas for their eventual wedding.

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

Jonathan Bennett and Jaymes Vaughan
Credit: Andrew Herner

PEOPLE: What did the proposal entail? How did Jonathan react?

Jonathan: He wrote me a song! We would always hear songs and think, "Oh that would be our song if just this part or that part were different," so as a result we didn’t have a song that was "ours."

Jaymes: So while he was in Canada filming The Christmas House for Hallmark, I took a melody that up until now had only be accompanied by chopsticks on my voice notes, and got together with my friend Tanzer, who happens to be a really talented producer and my favorite person to write songs with, and said “Let's make this magical for Jonathan.” From there we got a guitar, plucked it out, and just kept building and building and building until we ended up with this huge song that I knew was the one. It’s amazing what magic can happen with a friend and a guitar when you’re trying to create something to tell someone you want to spend forever with them. Thank God he was filming in Canada for six weeks, otherwise I don’t know how I would have pulled this off.

Jonathan: I was told we were going to be taking family Christmas card photos and that’s why Jaymes’s photographer friend Eric (Ita) was here along with my photographer nephew Andrew (Herner). But then no one would look me in the eye and I was like what is going on? I later found it out it was because they didn’t want to spoil what was about to happen.

My sister shouted for me to come outside “real quick” and my F.O.M.O. kicked in so I ran outside. Then I looked over and saw Jaymes holding a sign that said "We never did find our song, so I wrote it for you." That’s when I knew was getting proposed to because it was the same type of sign he made when he told me he loved me for the first time. And then I began to ugly-cry the ugliest cry anyone has ever cried.

Jaymes: Which I had already warned everybody he was going to do!

Jonathan: And then I heard a song playing from a place I didn’t even realize we had a speaker and Jaymes told me to just listen. It was Jaymes’s voice singing the most beautiful song I had ever heard, a song about our relationship. I’ve always loved his voice, and to hear his voice singing to me was really special. It's hard to describe what it feels like to have a song written about you that is so specific and that reassures all your insecurities. It was the best song I’ve ever heard.

Jonathan Bennett and Jaymes Vaughan
Credit: Andrew Herner

Jaymes: Every single part of the song was personal to Jonathan. Every lyric, even the structure of the melody was designed with how I knew he’d sing it back to me. He has this really cute way of singing things back to me. I just wanted him to feel like the most special person in those three minutes of first hearing the song.

Jonathan: And I did. And then I had to walk over to him and I was just thinking when did our yard get so big? It felt like I was walking in slow motion.

Jaymes: I just remember seeing him start to cry and every single nerve I had disappeared and I went in to protector mode and just held him. I actually thought I was going to be the one who was a mess, but something about seeing him like that made a switch flip in me.

Jonathan: It’s hard for me to really remember the rest because I think my body just decided to black out and ugly-cry. All I was doing was ugly-crying. But I just remember feeling like I was home. I knew from the minute I saw him with the sign I was getting proposed to. Why else would you be in our yard with a sign with my family here a song playing and your friend and my nephew filming it?

Jaymes: I’ve been dreaming about proposing to Jonathan for a long time, I wanted to make sure somebody was capturing it all so I could see his face in that moment over and over again.

Jonathan: When I saw Jaymes take a knee I was so excited I just started hysterically screaming because I didn’t know how to express myself properly. There was a moment when you feel like "Oh, this is forever, I understand it." I screamed “Yes” immediately. Actually it was, “Yes! Of course!”

Jonathan Bennett and Jaymes Vaughan
Credit: Andrew Herner

PEOPLE: How has life changed since becoming engaged?

Jonathan: It literally just happened. But I can say between the song and the ring it’s very reassuring because there’s no doubt what my future is going to be. When I look down at the ring, the words of the song become reality.

Jaymes: I’m honestly just giddy about every single thing.

PEOPLE: What do you love most about each other?

Jonathan: I love how he makes me feel. I feel safe and I feel loved when I’m with him.

Jaymes: I love how he keeps me on my toes. There is literally never a dull moment when Jonathan Bennett is your other half.

Jonathan: I love how I can be unapologetically myself and I love that he loves me unconditionally for it.

Jaymes: I think the most special thing about our relationship is that we are actually each other’s best friend first and foremost. And he’s also pretty fun to look at!

Jonathan: What we have is really special. It’s the thing people make movies about or, I guess in this case, write songs about. I think we’ve both known since the day we met on set at Jaymes’s show that we were going to be each other’s person. It feels like family being with him. I feel like there’s nothing in the world we can’t accomplish when we are together.

Jaymes: We’ve always said about our relationship “Two Kings, One Kingdom.” And I think that’s one of the things that makes us the strongest. Knowing your partner is also your teammate.

Jonathan Bennett and Jaymes Vaughan
Credit: Andrew Herner

PEOPLE: What kind of wedding do you both envision?

Jaymes: Oh boy, here we go!

Jonathan: This is my favorite question.

Jaymes: I want classic, timeless…

Jonathan: I'm envisioning something between when Elphaba flies in the musical Wicked and the finale number of The Greatest Showman.

Jaymes: So essentially a child’s birthday party?

Jonathan: Or we could simplify it and I could just come out on a hydraulic stage from under the ground like Elle Woods does in Legally Blonde: The Musical.

Jaymes: See — he always keeps me on my toes. Also, that’s not happening. But also, honestly anything that puts a smile on his face.

Jonathan: I can’t wait to get married!