Months before Gabe Saporta popped the question, Erin Fetherston knew a proposal was in the works. The Cobra Starship frontman asked his girlfriend of three years to marry him during a vacation in Barbados on New Year's Eve with an emerald-cut diamond is set in a pave basket on a pave band.
"I'm no dumb-dumb. I know you don't buy jewelry for a girl without consulting her — especially for a girl like Erin," Saporta tells Us Weekly of the clothier. "She clearly has a unique aesthetic as a designer, and is very particular about design in all aspects of her life. Plus, she made sure to tell me a horror story about a friend of hers who got stuck with an awful engagement ring because her husband tried to surprise her. I got the message loud and clear!"
According to Saporta, the blonde bride-to-be "was keen" on working with jeweler-to-the-stars Lorraine Schwartz. "She really admires Lorraine's sensibility," the singer says of Schwartz, whose celebrity clients include Beyonce and Kim Kardashian. "She gave us creative direction, and I worked with Lorraine to make it happen."
Two months before presenting Fetherson with the ring, Saporta sought the approval of her family. "I have a lot of respect for the old-fashioned tradition of asking permission from the father, and it was important for me to have her parents' blessing," he explains. "So over Thanksgiving, I talked to them about my intentions."
Though Fetherston was involved in the ring's design, Saporta still hoped the proposal would catch her off guard. "We celebrated Christmas with her parents, and after we all exchanged gifts, I reached into my jacket pocket and pulled out one last present: It was clearly a ring box, and Erin's reaction upon seeing it was 10 percent excitement and 90 percent 'Wow, I can't believe it's really going down like this,'" he recalls. "It wasn't exactly the most romantic setting. She opened up the box and soon discovered that it did not contain an engagement ring, but rather a gorgeous over-sized amethyst cocktail ring. She cracked up in relief."
After traveling to Barbados for a romantic New Year's getaway, Saporta seized the opportunity to surprise Fetherston. He woke up at dawn to collect coral and flowers from the beach next to their cottage. "I used them to spell out my proposal on our patio and then I woke Erin up in a frenzy to come see a 'monkey' that had appeared in our backyard," he tells Us. "My sleepy-eyed bride-to-be quickly realized the only monkey that morning was me. And of course, she said 'yes.'"
The future spouses have wasted no time planning their big day, set for the spring of 2013. "We're planning an intimate destination wedding," Fetherston says. "We definitely intend to go somewhere warm where we can host our closest friends and family for a weekend-long party."
Like Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds (who got married in September 2012), the pair are working with Martha Stewart's Weddings magazine staff to orchestrate their dream ceremony. "And we recruited Lewis Miller to assist with event design and flowers," Fetherston adds.
For 33-year-old Saporta, their big day can't come soon enough. "What I really love about Erin is that being with her inspires me to be better," the singer gushes. "Erin and I are able to propel one another forward without ever being critical or judgmental. I feel like she sees my shortcomings, she sees my potential, and she's got my back no matter what. She's my teammate and my best friend. There is no one I'd rather spend my time with."
Sign up now for the Us Weekly newsletter to get breaking celebrity news, hot pics and more delivered straight to your inbox!