Exclusive: Selling Sunset's Heather Rae Young and Tarek El Moussa Reveal Wedding Details
Persistence was the initial theme of Tarek El Moussa and girlfriend Heather Rae Young's relationship. Several years prior to dating, HGTV's El Moussa slid into Young's Instagram messages, only to be overlooked by the real estate agent, who's since starred on Netflix's Selling Sunset.
In 2019, El Moussa took his boat out to a bar called Woody's in Newport, California. "Heather was on the boat next to mine," the Flip or Flop personality tells The Knot. "She knew someone on my boat and ended up aboard. I was in the middle of a conversation when I saw her. I stopped mid-sentence and introduced myself." That's exactly how Heather and Tarek first met.
"She said, "I know who you are.' And I thought, "OK, TV paid off!'" he laughs. "She then goes, 'You asked me out two years ago.'" In the weeks that followed, El Moussa asked Young to accompany him to Paris, which she declined, then he asked to take her out for a local date.
"I woke up the morning of and decided to cancel," says Young, a luxury real estate agent for The Oppenheim Group. "I was scared of being hurt and going on a date with him. I had been dating a--holes and wanted to get married eventually. I wanted to meet someone good and I was scared. I didn't want to waste my time."
In response to the recurring setbacks, El Moussa shifted his approach from pursuit to intent. "We had been texting a bit after I canceled the date and he said to me, 'Listen, I'm different than you think. Give it a shot,'" she recalls. Two weeks later, the couple went on their official first date. "We had the best conversation and we really opened up right away," the bride-to-be adds. "He was really endearing and nervous. I could tell how much he liked me."
A year later, they were engaged. "If I didn't think I would've wanted to marry her, I wouldn't have asked her out," El Moussa adds. "I was out there on my own for nearly five years, thinking to myself: 'One day, I'll meet the one and that's it.' Heather was the one."
Heather Rae Young's Engagement Ring Details
As their relationship turned serious, El Moussa and Young kicked off the ring shopping process, occasionally perusing diamonds at local shops. "I've always thought emerald-cut diamonds are very elegant and timeless. Plus, I've never planned a wedding and I've always wanted to get married. I've saved engagement rings and diamonds for over a decade and it was always emerald cut," says Young.
"I looked all over for that thing," adds El Moussa. The ring of choice ended up being an 8.08-carat emerald-cut, diamond center stone set against an emerald-cut infinity band. ("It's the prettiest thing I've ever seen," Young notes.)
Prior to the proposal, the couple dated for a year and three days, to be exact, and it was time to pop the question in July 2020. "I had originally planned to propose on Catalina Island with rose petals," he recalls. "As time went on, the gesture got bigger. Production wanted to film it… It turned into a huge and beautiful event. We shut down the island and it was awesome because I asked her to marry me on the harbor at sunset. We had everybody watching us. She had no idea what was going on." HGTV, El Moussa's network for his show, later released a video of the beautiful moment.
Heather and Tarek's Wedding Details
As this is El Moussa's second wedding, the couple now plans to involve his two children (whom he shares with his ex Christina Haack) to have key roles in the wedding ceremony. "I'm looking forward to saying our vows to each other, standing up there together, and being with our best friends and family," says Young. "Plus, having the kids be part of our special day: I already feel like I'm part of the family, but I'm looking forward to officially joining."
El Moussa will entirely be focused on the bride. "I want to see her in that wedding dress," the HGTV star smiles. Though he hasn't seen the gown just yet, the bride teases that it's a Galia Lahav creation. "It's very different from what people will expect," she notes. "It's timeless and beautiful… But I got it for Tarek. This dress is for him."
Together, the pair has also navigated a change-the-date (and location and beyond). "We were doing it out of the country and then we decided to keep it more local. The wedding will be sometime later this year. It's going to be somewhere in California," says the future bride. "We had [let go of] our other wedding planner. It was stressful because we were getting close to the wedding date, and then I had four different people recommend my new planner to me."
Their team of pros now includes event firm Pure Lavish Events. "She really gets our wedding vision," notes Young. "We're so busy and it was really important that we told someone our vision and that they took over. I don't need to micromanage and instead, I needed someone to take charge. I'll let the experts do their job."
The wedding will be a formal occasion. "Tarek and I want a sexy wedding. We're having colors of blacks, whites, champagnes and pops of pink. It's black-tie," she notes. The event will be more intimate.
Heather and Tarek's Wedding Registry
As both are entrenched in the home or real estate business, it seems likely both Heather Rae Young and Tarek El Moussa will have elevated preferences with their wedding registry. However, it was something they didn't even consider at first. "It's a debate now that we're older," says Young. "At first, we were saying we wouldn't do a registry, but so many people kept asking us. After I spoke to my other girlfriends who recently got married, they suggested I have one. Otherwise, people will get us things we don't need."
The couple plans to start with an in-store experience and they already have a few items in mind. "We just moved into our new house and I started buying new things for it. Tarek said, 'Let's buy a nice knife set.' And I replied, 'We can add that to our registry.'" Of course, all to-be-weds are encouraged to peruse The Knot Registry Awards, our editor-approved choices for what to add to your wishlists.