"I used to be one of those guys who never really thought about marriage, and then I met Tommy," the newsman exclusively tells PEOPLE

By Nick Maslow
March 18, 2016 10:15 AM
Pierre Torset/Paris-Photographer.net

When ABC News correspondent Gio Benitez popped the big question to his boyfriend Tommy DiDario in September, the proposal was so picture-perfect that he trended on Facebook.

“I used to be one of those guys who never really thought about marriage, and then I met Tommy,” Benitez, 30, exclusively tells PEOPLE. “So there we were in Paris, eight months into the relationship, with the Eiffel Tower as the backdrop, and I asked Tommy the ultimate commitment question. With Tommy thinking the photographer was a student working on a project about love, I dropped on one knee to propose.”

Then came the pièce de résistance: ” ‘Time is what’s left behind in the wake of love,’ is what I told Tommy, remembering a line we had heard during a Broadway performance early in our relationship – symbolic of how quickly our romance flourished,” Benitez shares.

The romantic move was just the warm-up. In mid-April, Benitez and DiDario, a 30-year-old actor and social media branding consultant, will tie the knot in Benitez’s hometown of Miami. It is there that Cuban-American Benitez fell in love with hard news as a student and proved himself as an Emma Bowen Foundation work-study scholar at CBS affiliate WFOR. Benitez climbed the ladder to become a producer and then an on-air reporter – “I actually didn’t truly know if I could do the job,” he says – but ABC came calling in 2012, and before he knew it, Benitez was delivering the news next to Robin Roberts and George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America and being introduced by Diane Sawyer on ABC World News Tonight.

Just when it seemed Benitez already had it all, he connected with DiDario online in January 2015. “We’re both avid users of social media, so we had a perfectly modern first meeting: on Instagram,” the newsman says. “We decided to meet for a drink and that’s when we both realized this was more than a ‘like’ online. The chemistry was instant.”

He continues: “By date two, the more we talked, the more we stared into each other’s eyes – completely aware that this was becoming far more than a crush. For the first time in our lives, we were experiencing true love, and that’s where the adventure started. From that moment on, we were inseparable – jumping on planes for random weekend getaways, experiencing everything N.Y.C. has to offer, visiting every zoo or aquarium we came across, and admiring the life around us … and the life we’ve now shared.”

It was clear he found his soulmate.

“Months after our first meeting, I began looking for engagement rings and planning a surprise proposal with photographer Pierre Torset in Paris,” he says.

For this next milestone, DiDario is coming up with the surprises alongside Benitez. While their recent pre-wedding trip to Miami included beach time with family, most of their winter getaway in South Florida was dedicated to making final decisions on their fairytale nuptials.

“Looking over at my fiancé and experiencing every one of these moments together as a team has definitely choked me up more than a few times!” DiDario tells PEOPLE. “As each day passes, we get closer and closer to beginning the next chapter of our lives with our closest friends and family supporting and watching around us, and that is what this wedding is about: celebrating a true love story.”

Gio Benitez (left) and Tommy DiDario
Courtesy Gio Benitez

The couple has selected a unique venue (“It’s a magical oasis of rare trees and rare animals,” says Benitez); picked cuisine inspired by their Cuban and Italian heritage; decided on a rustic theme; created custom ties; and opted for tuxes representing their personal style. “I will never forget getting fitted,” DiDario says of their private fitting at J.Crew. “Seeing Gio for the first time in his tux took my breath away.”

But they haven’t gone it alone. In addition to getting assistance from Miami event planner Alina Moleta, “Each of our families have also been involved every step of the way, which makes it all so special,” says Benitez.

And as the big day draws closer, the guys are focusing on the beauty of the process.

“I think at first we were nervous because everyone told us how hard and stressful planning a wedding is, but instead, our planning has been calm and full of love,” Benitez explains. “Not an ounce of stress. Planning the wedding together has shown us how great of a match we are.”

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