“Dancing With the Stars” pro-turned-judge Derek Hough has revealed more details about his proposal & engagement to Hayley Erbert, including the clever way he tricked her into getting out of their house so that an event planning company could set up the big moment.
Here is how Derek pulled it off:
Derek Tricked Hayley Into Thinking She Was Surprising Him
On June 2, Derek and Hayley announced their engagement after seven years together. The setting for the big proposal was the home they share together, but Derek decked it out with an enormous floral display of white roses and other white flowers, a floor covered in white rose petals and dozens of candles. At the time, he wrote on an Instagram post of them together during the big moment, “It’s only the beginning… the beginning of forever.”
Now he has revealed more details of how he pulled off the elaborate set-up at their home without Hayley knowing.
In a video posted to Instagram of the two of them going on a helicopter ride, Derek admitted that Hayley is incredibly hard to surprise, so he had to get creative.
“One of the most challenging things about proposing was trying to surprise @hayley.erbert. She is impossible to surprise. I knew I had to get her out of the house all day in order to transform our house into something truly special,” wrote the dancer.
Derek revealed that he enlisted the help of his friend York Galland, a helicopter pilot and aerial photographer. Derek had York invite the two of them on a helicopter ride over Yosemite under the guise that it was for Derek’s birthday, which was on May 17, because he knew she would never say no if it was for his birthday.
“[Hayley is] so thoughtful I knew she would do it if she thought it was for my birthday. See what I did there;))) Not to mention we would fly over one of our most specials places ‘Yosemite,” said Derek.
In fact, Derek revealed in an interview with People that he actually tricked Hayley into thinking she was surprising him — now that is clever.
“My friend who’s a helicopter pilot called Hayley and said, ‘Hey, I’d love to take you and Derek on a helicopter ride for his birthday,’ so basically she ‘planned’ it all and we went on this awesome helicopter trip all day,” revealed Derek.
He added on Instagram that one of the hardest parts was getting her phone away from her so as not to spoil the surprise.
“I also had to steal her phone because I knew she would look at the security cameras to check on the animals. That was a hard one,” wrote Derek.
On her own Instagram, Hayley shared a photo from their helicopter excursion and wrote, “This is the last picture that was taken of us as boyfriend and girlfriend.”
But the proposal went off without a hitch — and Derek said it was such an emotional moment that he barely remembers anything he said.
“I don’t think I remember anything I said,” Derek told US Weekly. “I think we just hugged and cried for 20 minutes without words. It was honestly even more beautiful than I could have imagined with all the flowers and the candles.”
Derek Said He Really Hemmed & Hawed About How to Propose
In the People interview, Derek also admitted that he had a hard time deciding just the right way to propose and actually ended up changing his mind at the last minute.
“It’s funny, I went back and forth so much on so many different locations,” said Derek. “Hayley and I have some special places and I would bounce around, and I had things planned. Last minute, I just kind of changed.”
He went on to say that he realized the best place to propose was at the home their share.
“I was like, you know what? We already do all these amazing things — we travel around the world and have adventures, so we’re always so happy to come home and be home, and that’s really where our relationship really strengthened and was made concrete,” he said, adding, “I was like, ‘I’m gonna transform our house.'”
So he did just that — and he used so many candles that he told People that Hayley hilariously saw the candles burning when they pulled up to their house and freaked out that he left them burning and was worried the house could have burned down.
The candles and flowers were set up by event planner Troy Williams, who told US Weekly that they used over 250 candles and 1600 roses for the big moment, likening it to a “Mission: Impossible” heist trying to keep it a secret.
Now that Derek and Hayley are engaged, they can check that off the list of things their New Year’s game predicted. Now they just need to “have two babies” and “start a dog-boarding business.”
“Dancing With the Stars” returns for its 31st season in the fall of 2022 on Disney Plus.