Real Housewives of Dallas star LeeAnne Locken spills about her upcoming wedding exclusively to PEOPLE, including why she chose her wedding date

After a season of speculating, LeeAnne Locken finally set her wedding date on The Real Housewives of Dallas‘ season 3 finale Wednesday night.

The actress and philanthropist, 51, revealed that she’ll marry fiancé Rich Emberlin on April 27, 2019.

Her big news came amid a sea of speculation from her costars as to whether Locken and Emberlin would make it down the aisle. Despite getting engaged during RHOD‘s second season after nine years together, rumors had been spreading that he was unfaithful and that the two were living a separate life — allegations that Locken and Emberlin vehemently denied.

So now that her date is set, where is Locken in her wedding-planning process?

“Insanely crazy,” she tells PEOPLE exclusively. “We just got our save the date, and they look fabulous. The dress are being made — both the ceremony dress and the reception dress. All the details are being chosen. I’m so excited. I can’t wait!’

LeeAnne Locken and Rich Emberlin
| Credit: Cindy Ord/Gerry Images

Locken is working closely with her wedding planner, Steve Kemble — whom she jokingly calls “the sequin master of my life.” The two are hoping to craft an “over-the-top, crazy fun party.”

“The wedding, I’m going to keep simple in the cathedral. Because I want to be respectful. But then the reception, I want to be a big celebration,” she says. “I want to do flower walls with neon signs in them for social media pictures. We’ve started going through a bunch of stuff. Napkins, silverware, personalized wine bottles — just different stuff. I want it to be such a fabulously fun party.”

RELATED VIDEO: See LeeAnne Locken’s Magical Infinity Dress

One decision that hasn’t been made yet? Who will walk Locken down the aisle. She was raised by her grandfather and grandmother, who died recently (he at the age of 93 and she at the age of 92).

“Part of the day that’s going to be the hardest is not having my grandparents there,” Locken says, tearing up. “I always dreamed of it being my grandfather. I always thought that that would be my way of saying thank you to him for taking me in and loving me and giving me a home. … I haven’t talked about them not being there yet, but I always thought it would be him and now that he’s not there, I don’t know what to do.”

“You know, my grandparents knew Rich was the one before I did. He came with me to my grandmother’s birthday. Usually they poked whomever I was with, but this time my grandfather asked a few questions and they just listened to him. And within maybe 30 minutes of being at the dinner table, my grandfather said, ‘Okay Rich. I’d like to invite you to join our family.’ And I was like, ‘Oh my god. I’ve lived with people for over 10 years and he never invited them to join the family …’. I think he just kind of knew. I always say, my grandmother passed away because she knew I found someone to take care of me. I found someone to love me the way she did.”

LeeAnne Locken and Rich EmberlinCredit: Courtesy LeeAnne Locken
Rich Emberlin and LeeAnne Locken
| Credit: Courtesy LeeAnne Locken

Locken and Emberlin will make the decision together. “I’ve thought about walking myself down the aisle because I’ve been my own defender for so long. ButI have some people in my life who are super special. So Rich and I are talking about that. We haven’t made up our mind about that yet.”

And no matter what she decides, Locken is ready to start that next chapter. It’s part of the reason she chose April.

“It signifies rebirth. It’s when spring comes and all of the flowers are blooming. It’s when all the dogwoods are in bloom. To me it’s a signal of God saying, ‘Life goes on. Here’s the beauty of life,’ ” Locken says. “So April’s a month that’s always been precious to me.”

The Real Housewives of Dallas reunion airs Wednesday (10 p.m. ET) on Bravo.