Ever since Ace Young proposed to Diana DeGarmo on the season 11 finale of American Idol, the blissful couple has been asked the same two questions everywhere they go: “Have you set the date?” and “Did Diana know about the proposal in advance?” In a recent sit-down with THR, the pair revealed the answers to both questions, starting with the date for their nuptials. They will wed on June 1 in Los Angeles, and “save-the-date” notices are being mailed to family and friends this week. “We designed them ourselves,” says Young. “We like to create everything. They’re very personal. It’s a fun little artsy picture on a magnet that we did together.” Diana adds, “We had to buy really tiny envelopes so they wouldn’t be swimming around in there.”
As for whether popping the question was a surprise or not, the answer is a little longer. About two weeks before the live broadcast of the season finale, season five finalist Young knew he was ready to ask girlfriend DeGarmo, runner-up from season three, to marry him. He called executive producer Nigel Lythgoe to see if it could be done around the finale. Nigel called him back the next day and said yes. “But he said he wasn’t going to tell anybody,” Young explains. “He said, ‘The day of the finale, you’re going to tell Ryan Seacrest that you’re proposing to Diana, and you’ll figure it out. You’re going to tell everyone else on the stage what’s going on and they’re going to tell you when to do it.”
Young’s biggest fear was that, since he’s prone to talking in his sleep, that he would verbalize the proposal one night while slumbering and DeGarmo would hear him. “I thought I would wake up next to the love of my life and she would have a big smile on her face and she would ask me, ‘What did you say?’” It didn’t happen.
The day of the finale, Young and DeGarmo walked the red carpet to do press interviews. He excused himself by telling her he had to use the bathroom. “I went to Ryan’s trailer,” he recounts. Ryan’s show rundown listed an item that was described as “Ace’s moment” with no explanation. “I told him I was going to propose to Diana and he asked me to recite the proposal. I did, and Ryan choked up. I choked up. He asked to see the ring and I showed him the yellow sunflower diamond. Ryan told me, ‘I’m going to pull you up on stage. Take as long as you need. If there’s a time constraint, I’ll speed you up.’”
Young raced back to the red carpet and discovered his long absence had caused DeGarmo to worry about him. “I was searching for Imodium,” she laughs.
Inside the Nokia Theatre, Young kept putting his hands into his pocket to make sure the ring was still there. “I even wore these atrocious MC Hammer pants just to hide the box in my pocket.” About an hour-and-a-half later, Seacrest was calling the couple up out of their seats. “Without moving her mouth, Diana asks me, ‘Why are we going up on stage?’ Without moving my mouth, I said, ‘I have no idea, just go with it.’” Later, DeGarmo confessed she thought they we’re doing a throw to a Barry Manilow number where he would come out and sing a love song.
“Ryan handed me a mic and I had tunnel vision,” says Young. “I saw no one but Diana. My biggest fear was that ring would fall out of the case and roll into the audience. I didn’t hear the yes but I heard it in her gasp. When we walked off the stage she couldn’t finish her sentence. She kept saying, “How…how…how…” because we’re attached at the hip. We’re literally together 24/7 and she didn’t understand how I had pulled this off and kept it a secret.”
Shortly after the finale, DeGarmo studied the calendar to find the perfect date for the wedding. “I thought, what date do I want to look at for the next 70 years?” That wasn’t a random number -- her maternal grandparents both passed away recently after being married for 70 years.
A numerology fan, DeGarmo kept going back to June 1, 2013. When she and Young were in Branson, Mo., this summer to perform at Andy Williams’ Moon River Theater, her brother David came to see their show. “He told me he was being redeployed for his sixth tour of military duty overseas. He only gets two weeks off a year, and I told him I couldn’t have the wedding without him because I want him to give me away.” Shortly after, her brother confirmed he had been given the time off and would return to the U.S. for his sister’s wedding. That set the date in concrete. The couple is searching for an L.A. venue now. The first draft of their guest list has 350 names on it. They haven’t revealed yet if they will sing at their own wedding, but they have already written, produced and recorded eight songs together for a forthcoming duets album, including “Us Against the World.”
The two big questions answered,THR had one more query for the first couple of Idol. When did each of them first know they were in love?
Diana DeGarmo: “The first moment I officially met Ace was in February 2009 at the opening party for the American Idol Experience at Disney World. There were so many Idols there that we just met briefly. Exactly a year later in New York we had our first day of rehearsal at Hair. We were staying at the same hotel and we had to prepare presentations of our characters. We helped each other run lines and worked on everything together. The next day I did mine and ended up in tears and then he got up and did his. At the end of his presentation, in character, he said he needed to kiss three people. He kissed one person, then another then said he needed one more. Nobody moved. I’m playing his girlfriend, so I put my hand up. He comes over and lays this huge kiss on me, after the other two people had gotten little pecks. Then he carries me out of the room. I knew I was in trouble. He literally swept me off my feet!”
Ace Young: “When I met Diana in New York, I instantly knew I had a best friend. We were inseparable. We had breakfast, lunch and dinner together every day. The day our show closed, I left New York. It was the first time in years that I was lonely. I missed her. And that’s when I knew she had me. I checked in with her every day. There hasn’t been a day I haven’t checked in, since. I knew [I loved her] the moment I had to step away. So I’m never going to step away again.”