“Southern Charm” Alum Danni Baird Engaged to 'Best Friend' Nick Volz — and the Ring Is 'Perfect' (Exclusive)

The couple, who have been together for two years, are parents to 6-month-old son Yates

<p>Courtesy of Danni Baird</p> Danni Baird and Nick Volz

Courtesy of Danni Baird

Danni Baird and Nick Volz

Danni Baird got a summer surprise last month when boyfriend Nick Volz popped the question during a walk with their 6-month old son Yates, not far from their home in Charleston, South Carolina.

"We had just driven five hours back from Lake Keowee, where we were visiting my parents, and he was like, 'Do you want to go for a stroll at the Battery,' " the Southern Charm alum recalls to PEOPLE of her proposal on June 30. "And I thought he just wanted to stretch his legs, but next thing I knew I turned around and he was down on one knee, telling me, 'This is long overdue.' "

The couple have been together for two years after meeting at a mutual friend's 40th birthday party. They had planned on heading to the courthouse for a quick "I do" before their son's arrival, but he was born two-and-a-half weeks early.

"We were like, 'We'll just wait and have an actual wedding,' " Baird remembers.

"He wasn't due until middle of January but I was last-minute Christmas shopping and on the way to T.J. Maxx, my water broke in the car," she says. "I was like, 'Did I just pee my pants?' Then it happened again, and I was like, 'Uh, I think I might just run by the doctor real quick' "

<p>Courtesy of Danni Baird</p> From left: Danni Barid, Nick Volz and baby Yates

Courtesy of Danni Baird

From left: Danni Barid, Nick Volz and baby Yates

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Baird, 40, and Volz, 39, welcomed Yates (full name Jackson Yates) six hours later. She went public with his arrival in April, sharing photos of the smiling baby boy to her Instagram page.

"He’s absolutely perfect — the best Christmas present you could ever imagine," she tells PEOPLE. "He's the cutest, most handsome little boy and just fills our lives with so much love and joy every day."

The name Yates was chosen by Volz, Baird says.

"It's not a family name," she explains. "As soon as he said it, I was like, 'I love this because A, I didn't have to think about it; B, I don't know anybody by that name; and C, it came from him.' So it was an immediate yes. And then when I was in labor, Nick was like, 'What if we name him Jackson Yates but call him Yates' and I was like, 'We'll name him whatever you want, just let me birth this baby!' "

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<p>Courtesy of Danni Baird</p> Danni Baird and Nick Volz's son Yates

Courtesy of Danni Baird

Danni Baird and Nick Volz's son Yates

Volz, who works in finance for Huk apparel, is a hands-on dad. "He is so fantastic with him," Baird said. "He speaks French to him and is so attentive. I'm very lucky to have an equal partner in this."

That's one of the many reasons Baird loves Volz. "He's my best friend," she says. "He's such an authentic person; so lovable and kind. And he's super hot, so that helps!"

"We had so much in common when we met — like, we both had the same Australian Shepherds, we're both the same age, we both lived in the same cities — but we were also different enough that we balanced each other out really, really well," she adds. "I just knew that he was my person."

The two plan on getting married before Yates' first birthday. "We have a couple of months to plan it, but we'll keep things small," Baird says, noting she and Volz have close bonds with each other's families.

They'll also be house-hunting at the same time. "We've got a lot going on," jokes Baird. "I don't know how we're going to do it all, but we always find a way."

<p>Courtesy of Danni Baird</p> Danni Baird's engagement ring

Courtesy of Danni Baird

Danni Baird's engagement ring

Bravo fans met Baird on Southern Charm's first season, which premiered in March 2014. She made regular appearances on the show as a friend before departing the series in February 2021, after season 7 wrapped.

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The Charleston native still works as a painter, and sells her artwork through her design business, DB Designs. And though she creates stunning pieces of artwork on the regular, it's the bling on her finger that's catching her eyes these days.

"Nick designed it and it's absolutely beautiful, I love it," she says of the ring, which ditches the traditional center stone for a series of smaller ones embedded in a 24-karat white gold band. "It's perfect for me because I use my hands a lot with my artwork, even with the baby, so I love that it's not one rock."

"I don't know how he did it, but it's really artsy. It's very pretty," she continues, teasing, "And it's interesting enough that I won't mind looking at it for the rest of my life."

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