LeeAnne Locken Is Engaged! RHOD Star Spills on Wedding Plans and Her Ring: 'It's Ginormous!'
He’s famously faked her out before, getting down on one knee only to tie his shoe instead. But on Monday’s Real Housewives of Dallas, LeeAnne Locken‘s longtime boyfriend Rich Emberlin finally popped the question for real — and PEOPLE’s got all the exclusive details on their engagement, the ring, and their upcoming nuptials.
While it just aired on TV, the couple — who have been dating for eight years — actually got engaged at the Texas State Fair in Dallas last October, where Locken discovered Emberlin’s ring behind a red balloon in a balloon pop game.
“It was the happiest carnival prize ever,” Locken, 50, gushed to PEOPLE. “I had no clue. Honestly, Rich surprises me every single time that he does something over-the-top, romantic and kind. I’m always like, ‘Wow your heart has such a huge capacity for love.’ The whole thing really just blew me away. I’m incredibly lucky.”
Emberlin, 53, chose a fitting location to ask Locken to be his bride. The reality star had lived and worked on the carnival circuit from the time she was 3 until she was 16.
“I had always said I really want to get engaged at the fair because I feel like there’s part of me that’s still at the carnival — that nobody wants, that’s literally just waiting at the midway for someone to come and say, ‘You’re worthy. I love you. You’re wanted. You can leave now,’ ” Locken said. “So when he did it here, it was the completion. It’s like that moment where God steps in and you don’t even realize it and he says, ‘I know that you’ve struggled with this. Here’s your moment forward.’ ”
Though Locken had always wanted to get engaged at the fair, she had envisioned the romantic moment would happen when the couple were on the top of the ferris wheel.
The balloon pop game, which Emberlin chose to throw her off her game, proved to be just as sentimental. “That was one of the longest jobs I ever had, working the back boards of a balloon game,” Locken explained. “Those boards, on a traveling circus, they turn. So someone’s on the back blowing them up and hanging them and then you turn the board around and it’s a fresh thing of balloons. That was my job for eons.”
“When we popped the balloon and I saw the box, it made no sense to me. I was like, ‘This is not how this carnival game works. What is this, why is it different?’ ” she joked. “He surprised the hell out of me.”
The ring — a marquise cut diamond with two diamonds on either side to symbolize each of their hearts, which Emberlin picked out himself with a little nudging from Locken — also had her surprised.
“It’s ginormous,” Locken said of the sparkler, which she estimated to be close to 10 carats (she’s never asked). “I was like, ‘Rich this is way too big. Like what are you thinking?’ And he was like, ‘You know what. This is the last one. This is the one that matters. You deserve this.’ ”
She was also shocked by the color of the ring, and promised him a nice reward when Emberlin revealed why he chose clear diamonds.
“I’ve always told him that I love marquise. Like, he’s known that forever. But I had always said I liked yellow or pink hearts. And he said, ‘LeeAnne I didn’t want anyone to say this wasn’t true love. I wanted our hearts to be pure and white.’ And I’m just like, ‘Uh, you don’t have to say anything right now.’ You’re getting laid, alright!”
Despite it being a happy moment for Locken, she didn’t tell her RHOD castmates about it yet — a decision she said was motivated by the drama going on at the time. “I didn’t want to be made to feel light of,” Locken, said. “The reason I’ve never been married is because I respect the institution so much. I knew there was going to be plenty of disrespect going on among the group and I didn’t want to disrespect what’s important to me.”
She’s told them since, of course. And now a year later, she can finally gush about it to the world.
That also makes wedding planning that much easier.
“We are looking at probably a summer wedding next year,” Locken said. “I really don’t want a huge wedding. I want something small and intimate. The people who are at the wedding 100 percent believe in this relationship and will have a lot of involvement. I don’t even want a solo honeymoon! I want a bunch of couples, and we all go away to Ibiza for a weekend or something. It’s really a celebration. My friends have gone through this struggle with me, and I feel like this is a celebration they deserve to enjoy too.”
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No matter what, Locken said she and Emberlin — who has been married three times before — continue to plan for a marriage, not a wedding.
“We would rather focus on having a really great relationship,” Locken said. “I’m not 12. I don’t need the big fluffy white dress and him riding in on a horse and all that. To me the institution is so much more important than the showmanship. I totally believe in the sanctity of it.”
“We live together. We have our routines — he takes out the trash, I fill it. The actual wedding isn’t going to change much except to solidify to everyone else that this isn’t going anywhere,” she added.
The Real Housewives of Dallas airs Mondays (10 p.m. ET) on Bravo.