The couple tells PEOPLE they're "definitely not looking for a long engagement"
“We’re definitely planning,” Pesce, 33, tells PEOPLE. “We don’t have a date yet — I think we need to see how this timing pans out for the rest of the year. But we’ve been ready for this, so we’re definitely not looking for a long engagement.”
As for whether we might be seeing the nuptials unfold on season 2 of Jersey Shore Family Vacation? Stay tuned.
“I would have to say in the next couple of months, we’re planning to do the wedding along with season 2 — God willing,” says Sorrentino, 35. “We’re actually in the planning stages now.”
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Sorrentino is currently awaiting his June 20 sentencing after pleading guilty to tax evasion in a New Jersey federal court in January. Though he’s facing up to five years in prison, he’s maintained a positive outlook and is hoping for the best.
“We’re doing this one day at a time, until we get past certain situations,” he says.
And while things are still up in the air, the couple already has a clear vision of their wedding in mind.
“Mike and I have always, always wanted to do a destination wedding with our close family and friends,” Pesce says. “Our dream was always to go to the motherland and get married in Italy and have it be an experience with the people closest to us — our immediate family, his closest friends from the cast. But now that we’re getting down to actually planning it, I think we’re going to try to do the best of both worlds and hopefully we’ll be able to that with family and friends, and then we’ll be able to have a big reception and celebration in New Jersey — you know, Italian-American style, with the whole family and every acquaintance to celebrate.”
“It’s our big day, so we’re sticking to what our dream is,” she adds.
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Sorrentino and Pesce met in 2004 in college and dated for about four years, splitting before the original run of Jersey Shore premiered in 2009. After the MTV series wrapped in 2012, they rekindled the romance and have been together for over four years.
“When I met Mike, I met him as a person and not as a celebrity,” she says. “So I’ve always known him at his core — him being the most giving and loving family-type of guy in his soul. And through any kind of ups and downs, any kind of darkness that he went through, I always knew that person inside was so important and worth fighting for. I always wanted him to see how special he is so that he would be willing to fight for himself.”
Pesce says her faith is what helped her get through the tough times.
“I’ve always been Catholic, but it’s not so much just going to church,” she says. “It’s finding my belief, that God has a reason for everything, and knowing you’re able to overcome anything as long as you have your faith and trust in God. That’s what I did, and Mike really came into that as well and found his own spirituality. So I think it’s a combination of us really putting our whole trust in God and not worrying about the next job, not worrying about how things were going to get taken care of — just believing that it was going to be as it’s meant to be. It turned out exactly as it should.”
“What I dreamed of, the expectations I had set for him, him getting healthy and sober — I didn’t know that our relationship would survive had those miracles not happened, and they did,” she continues. “He put in the hard work and thanks to the faith in God that we have, we’re in the position we’re in today.”
“She’s definitely my better half and the reason why I strive to be the best version of myself and to fight for our future,” he says. “And to show a good example to her, her family and everyone watching — because my life has been under a microscope. I have a lot to prove.”
And Pesce is over the moon that viewers get to see “this version of Michael.”
“He finally has seen his worth and what’s so special about him and how important and impactful his purpose on this earth is,” she says. “He’s been able to give back to others in recovery and share his story and help so many people. This is the Michael I met in 2004, so I’m overflowing with emotion that people are getting to see him as his true self, and better than ever.”
The proposal, which took place on Valentine’s Day while Pesce was visiting Sorrentino in Miami, will unfold on this season of Jersey Shore Family Vacation, including the hunt for Pesce’s “dream ring.” (He “exceeded expectations that were set very high,” Pesce says.)
“I always wanted to propose on Jersey Shore and/or get married [on the show],” Sorrentino says. “Lauren and I, for the past year or so, were planning to move forward in this chapter regardless, and then out of nowhere [the reboot] happened. It was like, perfect timing. This is what I had always envisioned — to do it on the show that introduced me to America, and it was so important to me to introduce this new Michael, this new Situation, to America.”
“It was really romantic,” Pesce gushes. “The house down there was beautiful, but they really went above and beyond. He and his friends had a hand in decorating everything and making it the perfect experience. I’m really excited for everybody to see it, and I’m excited to watch it myself. The whole cast played a nice little role in putting it together — I had no idea that they would take such a big part in it. It was really meaningful and special that the people closest to him were excited and wanted to be a part of it, too.”
“It’s so special that I was able to get that ring for her through the grace of God and MTV,” Sorrentino adds. “I’d like to thank everyone involved, because this particular chapter of my life is so special and it was everything I could have hoped for.”
And though Pesce says she had been ready for him to pop the question for a while, Sorrentino’s timing was perfect.
“We’ve known each other for over 10 years and we’ve always known we were each other’s person, so to speak,” she says. “But it was worth the wait, for sure, because I wouldn’t have wanted it to happen any other way than it did.”
Jersey Shore Family Vacation airs Thursdays (8 p.m. ET) on MTV.