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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

CNN’s Brianna Keilar Is Engaged to Fernando Lujan: The Proposal Story

Brianna Keilar Fernando LujanCNN’s senior political correspondent Brianna Keilar is engaged to her boyfriend, Fernando Lujan! She shares the adorable proposal story with The Knot in an exclusive new interview. (Photo courtesy of Brianna Keilar)

Love and politics. CNN’s senior political correspondent Brianna Keilar is engaged to her boyfriend, Fernando Lujan, she confirms to The Knot in an exclusive new interview. According to Keilar, her fiance originally intended to propose last month, but he pushed his plans back due to an unexpected family tragedy. Instead, he proposed on Independence Day.

“Fernando and I had talked about getting married,” Keilar tells The Knot. “He asked about my preferences for an engagement ring, so I knew it was coming — but not when.”

Lujan, 39, originally wanted both their families to be nearby when he proposed — so that they could celebrate together. Sadly, Keilar’s mother, Miriam, passed away suddenly in May. “It was a shock to my family, and we’re still making our way through our grief,” she tells us. “It was tough for Fernando too. They texted all the time. Probably more than she and I did. They were always joking around.”

“The day she died, I asked him what they’d been talking about,” Keilar continues. “He told me that — although it would ruin the surprise — he wanted to tell me that they had been conspiring for his proposal in June. We were supposed to go back to my hometown in California to celebrate my mom’s retirement with [my family] and Fernando was going to propose at Laguna Beach.”

Keilar’s mom, meanwhile, was planning a surprise dinner party nearby. “His family and his best friend were going to fly out from Texas. My best friends (two of whom I had tried to set him up with) were flying in from DC. It didn’t happen, but it’s been very special to know that’s what my mom was cooking up with Fernando in her final days.”

The actual proposal was much more intimate, and it took place on the Fourth of July. “It was just the two of us,” she says. “On our terrace during the fireworks. And yes, he did get down on one knee! We celebrated afterward at Fiola Mare in Georgetown. He had asked them to keep the kitchen open late and the chefs graciously agreed.”

Four years ago, Keilar met her future husband, a Director on the National Security Council at the White House, during a post-work happy hour. “It was the summer of 2012,” she recalls. “I was covering the White House at the time and he was working at a defense think tank in Washington between deployments to Afghanistan. Thus started my trying – and his rebuffing my attempts – to set him up with my girlfriends. I tried to get him to go on a date with one of my best friends and it went nowhere, so I didn’t press it.”

But D.C. was too small for the future dynamic duo. “Over the last few years, we would bump into each other every few months or so — once at a White House Christmas party, once at a Taylor Swift concert. He was taking his nieces, I had no such excuse — but we were dating other people, so it was just friendly,” she shares. “It wasn’t until last November that we went on a date. He got in touch with me and seeing he was single, I tried to set him up again with another friend! When he found out I was also single, he asked me out.”

It was over after the first date. “He picked one of my favorite restaurants in DC, Little Serow, where the multi-course Thai tasting menu is amazing, but we hardly looked at our food,” she reveals. “We talked for hours. It was a mind-blowing first date. I was actually a little overwhelmed by it from the start. It occurred to me that this might be the beginning of a life changing event. My first glass of Sauvignon Blanc went down unusually quickly.”

Ahead his proposal, Lujan worked meticulously with a jeweler abroad to craft the perfect ring. “It’s absolutely beautiful!” Keilar tells The Knot of her engagement bling. “It’s a cushion cut sapphire solitaire accented with pavé diamonds. When my CNN producer, Pallavi Reddy, found out I was preferential to sapphires, she put Fernando in touch with a family friend in India who is a really talented jeweler. Her name is Bharathi Raviprakash. She’s based in Chennai and her boutique is called Studio Tara. She and Fernando designed the ring — with a gorgeous Ceylon sapphire from Sri Lanka — entirely via What’s App.”

CNN’s senior political correspondent Brianna Keilar is engaged to her boyfriend, Fernando Lujan! She shares the adorable proposal story with The Knot in an exclusive new interview. (Photo courtesy of Brianna Keilar)

CNN’s senior political correspondent Brianna Keilar is engaged to her boyfriend, Fernando Lujan! She shares the adorable proposal story with The Knot in an exclusive new interview. (Photo courtesy of Brianna Keilar)

For now, the lovebirds are simply enjoying their recent engagement. “We’re trying to figure out a date that works for sometime after the election, but long enough before or after inauguration so that we both are able to attend,” she shares. “I hear that’s key! We’re considering a few locations – all out West.”

With such hectic work schedules — especially with the upcoming election — Keilar tells The Knot how they maintain their strong bond. “Once, when I had a layover at DCA (cruel, just cruel!), he came to the airport and met me for a drink,” she jokes. “In February, he flew to New Hampshire before the primary to see me while I was in the middle of an almost month long stretch on the road. I got a little time off so we went to Walden Pond.”

In all seriousness, they’re both present when they’re together. “When I’m home, he makes spending time with me a priority and we try to have as much fun as possible. We rented a Harley Davidson in May and rode in Rolling Thunder. I travel so much that I’ve really been enjoying time at home more. I’ll cook or Fernando will make his signature enchiladas and pick a movie, we’ll walk the dog, read to each other or just hang out and talk. We try to go running in the mornings together,” she shares. “When I’m away, we talk regularly on the phone or by FaceTime. [It seems obvious, but] he asks me how I’m doing and he really listens.”

Of course, there’s also the couple that works out together. “We’ve also done P90X,” she notes. “So we can complain about how hard the workout was! It allows us to share something on a daily basis even if we’re apart.”

Keilar concludes by telling The Knot what she loves most about her future husband. “I’m really in awe of him,” she says. “For someone who has spent years in a war zone, he is one of the least cynical people I know. [Lujan is a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army Special Forces.] He has such a good heart and compassion for his family and friends, as well as mine. He’s so much fun — he’s always up for an adventure. He’s curious and will talk about anything and everything with me. Being with him recharges my batteries. He also loves my dog. Bonus!”

About the Author

Esther Lee
Esther Lee
Esther is the Senior News Editor at The Knot. A self-proclaimed pop culture enthusiast, she appreciates a good celebrity interview just as much as she adores Nancy Meyers movies. You can find her kicking off her mornings with barre and a green juice, traveling and exploring new cultures, and rapidly scrolling her feed for the latest and greatest news. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @theestherlee.