“We thought we loved each other when we were engaged, and then marriage is a whole new level," Brooks Laich told PEOPLE of life with wife Julianne Hough

By Maria Pasquini and Mariah Haas
February 18, 2018 02:30 PM
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Julianne Hough and Brooks Laich are really enjoying newlywed life.

“It’s just the greatest thing ever to marry your best friend,” Laich, 34, told PEOPLE at the Love United Charity Ride at SoulCycle in Hollywood on Saturday.

“We thought we loved each other when we were engaged, and then marriage is a whole new level. It’s just fun to see the love continually grow everyday,” the former NHL player continued. “I just feel like a pretty lucky man right now. It’s the best.”

Enthusiastically, Hough, 29, agreed saying, “Ditto! Ditto!”

Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for harper by Harper's BAZAAR

Shedding some light on why the couple started Love United, a humanitarian mission geared toward providing clean drinking water to those in need, the former Dancing With the Stars pro explained that they “wanted to give back in a way that just was universal.”

“When we were in Africa, two years ago, just for vacation we went around and we saw different communities, and different tribes and different cultures in Zambia and South Africa, and one of the biggest things that stood out to us was just how water was so unavailable and they had to walk miles to get it,” she added. “Not only that, but in Zambia we heard from the community that they lost children from going to the river and crocodile attacks.”

Continuing, she said, “That was our first experience where we were just like wait a minute. We are so lucky to be able to turn on the water in our homes, brush our teeth, take showers, drink water, I mean it’s so basic to us that we don’t even sometimes think about that, so to have that in our view firsthand it was unbelievable.”

The pair also opened up about their romantic “early Valentine’s” trip to Paris in February.

“We both have been to Paris a couple of times, and I never understood the fact that it’s the most romantic city in the world, and magical,” Hough said. “I was like, ‘Yeah. It’s alright. It’s Paris. It’s great. It’s beautiful.’ But this time around we were like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ ”

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The 29-year-old went on to explain that she thought the reason why they both have a better appreciation for the city was “because we’re in love.”

And Laich certainly proved how smitten he was when asked what his favorite part of the trip was.

“Just watching her,” he sweetly replied.

After touching down in the City of Love, the ballroom pro and her beau – who got married in July in Lake Coeur d’Alene, Idaho – snapped some loved-up selfies on the picturesque streets of Paris and stopped for a smooch in front of one of the city’s famous landmarks, the Big Wheel at the Place de la Concorde.

Julianne Hough Instagram

But the romantic, wintry escape wasn’t the jetsetting couple’s first adventure abroad together. Following their summer wedding, the pair set off on an extended honeymoon, first visiting the Seychelles, a remote island chain in the Indian Ocean, then traveling to Kenya, where they went on safari.