Karamo Brown and his new fiancée Ian Jordan have been together for eight years, but the Queer Eye culture expert swears he's known they'd get married since day one, he exclusively tells Martha Stewart Weddings. They first met outside a club in West Hollywood, where Brown says he was so taken by Jordan that he went up behind him and picked him up. "He literally started hitting my head and said, ''Put me down!'" Brown laughs. "The joke we tell now is that I swept him off his feet.''
Their connection was so palpable that Brown asked Jordan to join him (and his entire family!) at his birthday party the very next day. "I went home and told my whole family I met the man I was going to spend the rest of my life with, and that they'd meet him tomorrow,'' he adds. The problem was that Jordan never showed up. Ultimately, it was a social media misunderstanding that led Jordan to stay home ("I never updated my relationship status to single,'' a fact that the couple now think is funny), but the two quickly recovered and embarked on a relationship that's centered around communication.
Although Brown was sure from the very beginning that this was it for him, he didn't think they were in a place to start considering marriage until about four years ago. At the time, he said he wouldn't be the one to propose. "In our relationship, I had been the one who took every big step, or at least initiated every big step,'' he explains. "I said we should date, I said he should meet my family, I said he should meet my kids. So I wasn't going to propose. I said he had to it.''
While Brown was busy filming Queer Eye, Jordan would visit over the weekends, and on one such trip the two had a full relationship check-in over the course of a three-hour-long dinner. "That's from my training as a social worker,'' Brown explains. "You have to check in. I said, ''I just want to make sure we're on the same page.''' They discussed everything—from marriage and family to long-term goals—and what each wanted was in perfect alignment. And then Jordan said the words Brown had been waiting for: "He told me he was planning on proposing.''
That was important to Brown. In addition to being the partner who encouraged their relationship along, Brown says he had always dreamed of having someone ask him to marry him. So how did he end up down on one knee instead of Jordan? It was pretty simple, actually. "I know my man,'' he laughs. "If something takes me a day, it will take him six weeks. So about six months after our conversation, I started doing a little snooping to make sure he didn't have any plans in place.'' Once he didn't see any indicators in Jordan's phone, Brown called up his boyfriend's mom and best friend, who both confirmed that while he'd been talking about it, there were no action plans yet. That's when Brown decided he'd take matters into his own hands.
Before he began planning anything, Brown wanted to ask Jordan's mother for permission. "I'm traditional like that. I think it's important,'' he explains. He got a resounding yes, then went on to tell Jordan's siblings and his own family about the exciting news. "I wanted everyone involved. Family is important to us, and I know our love can inspire others.''
As for the actual proposal, Brown says he spent time thinking about Jordan would want, not what his own dream engagement would look like. "I had to separate my dream from his," he explains of coming up with the plan. Since Jordan loves a surprise party ("He talked about his last birthday party for weeks after!"), Brown began planning a surprise birthday party-turned-engagement celebration. And, as confident as he was that Jordan would love this proposal, Brown admits he felt like a lot of men do when they're about to pop the question: scared out of his mind. "It was one of the busiest times of my life but I had to quiet all of those negative thoughts and get out of my own way."
With friends and family gathered around, Brown got down on one knee and asked Jordan to marry him, then presented his new fiancée with two rings. "That was important to me because once we get married, these will probably be the same rings we'll use,'' he explains. So he got each of them matching David Yurman rings: Both men now have a black platinum band with black diamonds as well as a plain platinum option. "Choosing them was a process. I wanted them to be tasteful and nice but also something we could be proud to show off.''
Ultimately, both men were so happy with the way they got engaged. "He told me he loved every bit of it, and then apologized and said, 'I wish I could have done this for you,'" Brown says, "but I reminded him that I wouldn't have wanted anything big. This was for him.''
The second season of Queer Eye will be available on Netflix on June 15th.