As Chanelle Hayes poses hand-in-hand with her fiancé Dan Bingham on our engagement shoot, we can feel a real sense of love in the air. At the time they first met, the country was in the winter 2020 lockdown, which meant that rather than being wined and dined on romantic dates, Chanelle and Dan stayed at home eating takeaways and playing music quizzes online.
Fast forward 18-months, Chanelle and Dan are preparing to celebrate their wedding! Catching up with OK!, the couple share the details of Dan’s "perfect" proposal, their plans for the big day, and why Chanelle has put her dress shopping on hold. Sign up – for free – to read more!
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"This is the first time I’ve seen her without her pyjamas on," jokes Dan, as they pose for pictures.
Despite their unconventional start, Chanelle, 34, and Dan, 40, quickly fell head-over-heels for each other, and back in April we exclusively revealed that he’d asked her to be his wife.
Without hesitation, Chanelle accepted. "Everyone’s got ‘a person’ and Dan is mine," she says, looking lovingly at him.
Since finding fame on Big Brother in 2007, Chanelle has turned her attention to medicine, and is currently studying nursing.
She has two sons, Blakely, 11, and Frankie, four, with ex-partners, while Dan has a daughter, Amelia, 14, making them a beautiful blended family of five.
But Chanelle firmly rules out adding to her brood, telling us, "I can’t think of anything I’d rather do less."
Let's hear all about their exciting proposal!
Congratulations to you both! Let’s start from the beginning, how did you first meet?
Chanelle: Through a mutual friend, and we just got on really well. I know that’s such a boring story! Should we make something else up? We met at a fetish club – ha!
Dan: It was all quite relaxed, wasn’t it? Because we met just before the winter lockdown.
Chanelle: We didn’t have a choice but to hang out, as we couldn’t go out and do normal dates.
How were those first few dates?
Chanelle: We’d hang out at each other’s houses and order in from restaurants, set up in front of the telly and have movie nights, play music quizzes. There was no room for awkwardness and we both put each other at ease from the get-go.
Dan: The strange circumstances meant we were able to get to know each other on a deeper level a lot quicker than we expected. When you’re spending 24/7 with someone, you love them warts and all from the very beginning. Who else can say they saw their future wife picking up her dog’s poop on the second date?
How does this relationship differ from previous ones?
Chanelle: I’ve never been able to be fully myself, and I just know that he loves me so much.
Dan: We just have a good laugh. There wasn’t one particular moment that I realised she was “the one” – we just fell quickly and never looked back.
How did Dan propose?
Chanelle: I was in my dressing gown, hungover, looking like a dog’s dinner. Would you care to elaborate on that, Dan?
Dan: I had plans to take her away, doing something really nice, but we just couldn’t get the timing right with studies, work and the kids. It was the
day after my 40th birthday and I came downstairs to 40 different presents all lined up. Then I grabbed the ring so there was one extra surprise – just for her.
Chanelle: He said, “They say life begins at 40, and I want to spend the rest of mine with you.” It
was perfect. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Did you have any idea that an engagement was coming?
Chanelle: I’ve always known we’d get married. We’d chatted about it before but I had no idea I’d get proposed to while chilling in my aqua blue velour pyjamas, with a strip lash hanging off my face like a moustache, feeling shaky from the night before. I did not foresee that, but I always knew it would happen one day.
Dan, how was the process of choosing a ring?
Dan: I had no idea what ring size to order so I did what any self-respecting man would do and fished one out of her make-up drawer. But what I’d not taken into account was that Chanelle had a gastric sleeve operation and lost quite a lot of weight, so…
Chanelle: The ring fitted me like a bracelet!
Dan: She could have used it as a belt! The actual ring I chose was an 18 carat and 1 carat diamond oval solitaire ring from Samara James.
Chanelle: I don’t even want to know how much it cost as I’d probably be mad at him for spending so much money!
Had you given any hints beforehand of the type of ring you’d like?
Chanelle: No, we’d never really spoken about the ring so I left him to handle it all himself, but he got it absolutely spot on!
How do you get on with each other’s children?
Dan: I get on really well with Chanelle’s kids. They’ve been so supportive and welcoming of me into their home.
Chanelle: Blakely absolutely loves you, which is nice because he doesn’t really see his dad at all, while Frankie just uses you
as a punching bag. He’s always jumping on him and showing off his dance moves.
Dan: And I don’t get a word in edgeways when Chanelle and Amelia are together.
Chanelle: She’s my little best friend!
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Will your children have roles in the big day?
Chanelle: I’d like to have Blakely and Frankie as page boys, but Blakely will be like, “No, I’m too cool for this!” He did ask me last week whether he could write a speech though, so you never know! They’ll play a part some way.
Would you like to have more children together?
Chanelle: There’s absolutely not a chance in hell that I would ever have another kid.
Dan: Luckily for me, I’m fully on board with that!
How is the wedding planning and preparation going?
Chanelle: I’ve always had a Pinterest mood board of what I would like my wedding to be – including venue ideas, dress inspo, decoration – but when you finally sit down to talk about it, it’s all so extravagant. I’m quite a low-key casual person, but I’ll figure it out eventually.
We haven’t even decided on a time of year yet! We thought about doing it in autumn next year, but we’ll just have to see how we go, and whether we have to postpone it with all of our busy plans. I definitely want to get married in the UK, not abroad, but we haven’t decided on where just yet. Luckily, a girl I went to school with is now a wedding planner, so maybe I’ll hit her up!
Have you been dress shopping?
Chanelle: Not yet because I’m getting my boobs done in January, and until then I don’t even want to look at a wedding gown. I’m also considering a tummy tuck to get rid of some of the loose skin I’ve developed since losing so much weight. I feel like nothing would fit properly until those two things are done and that would get me down.
I don’t know whether I would have wanted to get married if I was still bigger. But I am excited because I feel confident as I am now. I know I definitely don’t want a big meringue-style dress and will probably go for something quite simple, but I’m not deciding anything for certain just yet.
Have you decided on your maid of honour and best man yet?
Chanelle: I have chosen my maid of honour, and although I haven’t asked her officially yet, she’ll know exactly who it is as soon as she reads this!
Dan: I haven’t decided yet.
Chanelle: He hasn’t got any friends… jokes!
Dan: Cheers for that! No, I haven’t decided. I’ve got a couple of people in mind that could fit the job, but I haven’t formally asked them.
How is the guest list looking so far? Will there be any other famous faces?
Chanelle: We haven’t thought about that yet either, but I have no celebrity friends at all! My friends all live around me up north, and I don’t really mix in celebrity circles.
Dan: We’ll start narrowing down numbers in the next few months.
Big Brother launched your career, Chanelle. Would you like to see it rebooted?
Chanelle: I think it’s too soon to come back.
Dan: From what I’ve seen, it won’t be the same as the days when Chanelle appeared on it. Everyone wants to be famous and make a name for themselves now, and the way to do that is to take part in reality shows like Big Brother.
Chanelle: I agree. It would end up like Love Island. It wouldn’t have that chaotic, down-to-earth, outrageous feel. It would be too scripted and the contestants wouldn’t be as genuine.
How do you look back on your own time on the show?
Chanelle: I block it out mentally. It’s not on purpose – I just don’t seem to remember a thing from being on it. I was so young, almost half the age that I am now. The only person from the show that I’ve spoken to in the last couple of years has been [her ex-boyfriend] Ziggy – we’ve caught up a couple of times in the last few years.
You compared Big Brother to Love Island, which have both received backlash for their lack of aftercare. What was your experience after leaving a reality show?
Chanelle: There was so much pre-screening before we were allowed to go on Big Brother. We had to go through so many tests to check that we were mentally sound enough to be in the house, and that carried on once we’d left. Producers would check up on us during photoshoots and after interviews, so I felt really looked after.
I think nowadays, social media training would be a good idea. It wasn’t really relevant when I was on TV, but with it being so important now, participants need to be shown how to protect themselves and how to conduct themselves online. These contestants need someone to help them with their finances after leaving the show, too.
I was lucky enough to bag a lot of money from my time on the show, and managed to save a lot, despite not really knowing what I was doing, while others came away and blew it instantly. I’d be getting texts saying, “I’m so skint, can you help me out?”
How do you feel about being in the spotlight, Dan?
Dan: The whole ‘fame’ thing isn’t really my bag and the trolling I’ve seen Chanelle subjected to has put me off even further.
Chanelle: I won’t let him read anything about us because of the comments. There’s always something not very nice that someone can’t keep to themselves.
Dan: I’m glad Chanelle feels she can open up about the trolling, because I’d hate the thought of her seeing it all and then bottling it up – but the fact is, it shouldn’t be happening in the first place.
Could we see you reappearing on TV anytime soon, Chanelle?
Chanelle: I was invited to take part in Coach Trip a few months ago, which I’d absolutely love to get involved with, but I get awful travel sickness. My dream TV show to take part in would be Strictly, but I don’t imagine I’ll get invited onto that, sadly. The one series that I will never get involved with is I’m A Celebrity… I have a severe irrational fear of snakes – so much so that I once dropped my phone and smashed the screen when a snake video came on.
What’s next for the pair of you – other than planning your wedding, of course?
Chanelle: I’m still doing my nursing degree. It’s taking a lot of time and effort, but I’m really enjoying it. After that, it’ll be ‘Project: Renovate House’ and finding our forever home. Then the kids can move out. Joking! I do like my children!
Dan: We definitely need to finally sit down and get this wedding planned, it’s just finding a time where we’re not busy with everything else going on. It’ll all fall into place eventually.
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