Valentin Chmerkovskiy proposed to longtime girlfriend — and fellow Dancing with the Stars dancer — Jenna Johnson in Venice, Italy — and the sinking European city holds a special significance for the couple.
“When I was 17, I visited Venice for the first time and thought it was the most romantic place in the world. I promised myself then that the next time I would come back to Venice was to propose to the woman I’d want to spend the rest of my life with,” Chmerkovskiy tells PEOPLE in an exclusive statement. “Fifteen years later I kept my word. It was perfect.”
In a second photo, she bent down to kiss him and, of course, say “Yes!”
He also shared a photo, writing in the caption, “I can’t wait to make you my wife ♥👑.”
“My life has changed because of [her,]” Chmerkovskiy told PEOPLE of his new fiancée. “And I find myself to be the best version of myself that I’ve ever been. She’s awesome.”
In May, Chmerkovskiy responded to a tweet about Johnson when a fan account shared a gif of her wearing a red bedazzled costume.
“Jenna Johnson though,” the account tweeted, to which Chmerkovskiy responded, “I should def put a ring on it,” adding three emojis: eyes, heart eyes and a crown.
His tweet came the same day Johnson joked to Entertainment Tonight about a proposal.
“Time’s a-ticking!” She said. “We’ll see [if engagement is in the cards anytime soon]. We both have very big things happening right now, so we’ll let that ride over… maybe we’ll go to Fiji!”
In March, he admitted to Entertainment Tonight that “it’s hard” to watch Johnson hit the ballroom floor with other men. “The type of person I am, I mean, I’m fairly jealous. I mean, look, I have all these emotions, you know.”
“I’m not perfect,” he continued. “But I have to check myself and be fair and say, like … how can I hold this against her if I’m in the same situation? And I would never want to compromise my artistry, you know, because I wouldn’t want to make my significant other feel uncomfortable.”
“This is part of the new chapter in my life,” he added. “It takes some sacrifice to have a healthy relationship. And, you know, you gotta be willing to make those sacrifices and I’m definitely willing to make certain sacrifices to make it work.”
The couple dated off-and-on beginning in 2015 but began publicly sharing their love story in 2017 — most publicly sharing a passionate kiss on the season 25 finale of DWTS. He previously dated Amber Rose.
“I’ll be honest, I’m just tired of fighting this because I realize that people and Hollywood are obsessed with romance and love stories,” Chmerkovskiy has told PEOPLE of his decision to open up more to the media about their relationship. “I feel like it’s private. it should remain private but at the same time I understand I can’t be a hypocrite. I’m on Instagram kind of sharing our vacations and my love for her constantly.”
After becoming an uncle to his brother Maksim and Peta Murgatroyd‘s son Shai, Chmerkovskiy has admitted he has a little bit of baby fever. But that doesn’t mean kids are right around the corner for the newly engaged couple.
“I think she would love to be a mother,” Chmerkovskiy has said of Johnson. “But she also has so many incredible things going on in her life and I would feel very selfish to interrupt them for nine months. But definitely soon, hopefully.”