Why it took Maria Menounos and Keven Undergaro nearly 2 decades to get engaged

Maria Menounos knew that Keven Undergaro was the one when she met the Hollywood writer and producer as a 19-year-old college student, telling Yahoo Lifestyle that “it was love at first sight.” Still, the pair would go through nearly two decades of hardship together before even getting engaged.

“When I first met Maria, I had never met anyone like her,” Undergaro says about the short time he spent making a film in Boston, where he worked alongside Menounos. “When we said goodbye it was very emotional, even though we had only known each other for a few days. We both wanted to cry, and we didn’t know why.”

Except Menounos had already known that it was likely because they were meant to be. At the time she admits that she was ready to make Undergaro fall in love with her because she was so sure that he was the one for her. Her strict father, however, wouldn’t agree, which only seemed to bring the unlikely couple closer together.

“[Keven and I] both had family dramas. We definitely clung to each other and became closer,” Menounos explains, saying that her father had disowned her for being with a man who wasn’t Greek. “I think we realized very quickly we had each other’s backs.”

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A post shared by MARIA MENOUNOS (@mariamenounos) on Nov 23, 2018 at 3:01pm PST

It was during that time that Menounos and Undergaro lived in an unfinished basement, sharing the space with three other people and living on minimal funds. But Undergaro was determined to have others see the star that he knew Menounos was and believed that making their dreams come true in Hollywood would be their only way out.

“I knew you were a star; I knew you were something special,” Undergaro assures his wife. “And I said, ‘We’ll get out of this. We’ll go make in Hollywood and then all will be well.'”

The risk was worth it for Menounos, who says she “wasn’t going to let anybody tell her who to love and who not to love.” And after facing lots of adversity, including her mother’s stage 4 brain cancer diagnosis and later her own brain tumor, having Undergaro by her side was worth it.

“We knew we were married in our hearts,” Undergaro says of not proposing until 19 years into their relationship. “We didn’t need any of that stuff to solidify it.” Menounos adds, “We were Kurt and Goldie-ing it.”

Finally in 2016, when the couple made an appearance on the Howard Stern Show during a press tour for Menounos’s book The Every Girl’s Guide to Cooking, Undergaro got down on one knee.

“We had so many special memories watching Howard Stern when we were in that basement,” he says. “It was such a milestone for us to come together on that show.”

Menounos didn’t think it was a milestone though. Instead, she thought it was a joke, until Stern chimed in to tell her that it was time to cry.

Just over a year and a half later, the couple would hit their next milestone moment in front of the world yet again, in Fox’s live New Years Eve broadcast.

“We ended up getting married on Fox NYE,” Menounos says. “Steve Harvey was officiating our wedding. Everybody was invited, and everybody got to be a part of it.”

Now as Menounos gears up to co-host the special New Year’s event once again on Monday night, she and Undergaro are reflecting on the past unforgettable year.

“I think that if we had done this 17 years ago,” Undergaro says, “I don’t think it would be as special.”

Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:

Cheryl Burke and Matthew Lawrence took a 10-year break before realizing they were meant to be
The nearly fatal first date of ‘Dancing With the Stars’ pros Val Chmerkovskiy and Jenna Johnson: ‘She almost ran me over’
Alfonso Ribeiro’s wife had no idea about his ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ past when they first met

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