Soap Stars Courtney Hope and Chad Duell Share Intimate Details of 'Romantic' Oceanfront Engagement

"This was better than I ever imagined," Courtney Hope tells PEOPLE of her surprise proposal

Courtney Hope and chad duell
Photo: Courtney Hope/instagram

The Young and the Restless star Courtney Hope and General Hospital actor Chad Duell are living out a real-life love story.

This week, the couple announced that they had gotten engaged after five years of dating. Speaking exclusively with PEOPLE following news of their engagement, the actors open up about the surprise Valentine's Day proposal and what they're looking forward to in the future as husband and wife.

"In the morning, Chad gave me a dozen roses and a big teddy bear, and told me he was taking me on a picnic for lunch and giving me a present there," Hope, 31, tells PEOPLE. "When we got to Malibu I saw we were going to Point Dume, which I love. We walked on the beach and he had us scale some rocks for our picnic. I ate like, two bites of my food and I could tell he was ready to give me my present, so I stopped eating. He read me the most beautiful poem, because I love poetry, and I started choking up."

"He then told me to close my eyes and turn the other way 'cause he had to 'set something up,'" Hope recalls. "Then he comically fumbled behind me to distract me from what he was really doing — and when I turned around, he was on his knee!"

Courtney Hope and chad duell
Chad Duell and Courtney Hope. Courtney Hope/instagram

Looking back on the milestone moment, "I was very excited," says Duell, 33. "I had a strong feeling she'd say yes, but I was naturally a little nervous. I also just really hoped she liked the ring."

For Hope, the proposal was unexpected, but "better than I ever imagined!"

"He's so romantic, so when he planned a picnic I wasn't too thrown off," she adds.

Courtney Hope and chad duell
Chad Duell and Courtney Hope. Courtney Hope/instagram

On Monday, the lovebirds revealed the news on their respective Instagram accounts.

"Yesterday was a good day ☺️💍 .... Forever with this man is a dream come true 😍🙏🏼❤️ @duelly #umHellYes," Hope wrote alongside a series of photos from their engagement day.

"I'm one lucky dude.. #shesaidyes #engaged ❤️ 💍," Duell, who has played Michael Corinthos on General Hospital since 2010, wrote alongside his post.

With a wedding on the horizon, the duo, who started dating in 2016, tells PEOPLE they are beyond "excited" for the next chapter.

"I am so excited for so much about our future," says Hope, who plays Sally Spectra on Y&R. "Just getting to create memories forever, our future children and family, the places we'll travel and all the laughs we'll have makes me so thrilled to think about. I enjoy every day with him, so each present moment is beyond fulfilling."

"It's fun to say fiancée and plan a wedding," says Duell. "It's a whole new step and a lot of excitement for our future. I get to call her my wife! I'm excited for a lot: our future kids, new adventures, a new home and having my best friend to grow old with."

Hope is also loving her new piece of jewelry. "I can't stop staring at my beautiful ring and we're having fun with all the fiancé lines," she says.

"It's a blast to be getting to spend forever with my best friend," adds Hope.

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