Captain Sandy Yawn Gives Update on Wedding Plans — and Vows She 'Will Never Wear a Dress' (Exclusive)

PEOPLE caught up with the 'Below Deck Mediterranean' star at BravoCon 2023 to talk all about her upcoming "I dos" to fiancée Leah Shafer

<p>Polk/Bravo via Getty</p> Captian Sandy Yawn

Polk/Bravo via Getty

Captian Sandy Yawn

Captain Sandy Yawn will soon set sail on a new adventure — married life!

While appearing at BravoCon 2023 in Las Vegas, the Below Deck Mediterranean star dished to PEOPLE about her upcoming "I dos" to partner Leah Shafer, admitting she's keeping out of the arrangements.

“The wedding planning is all on Leah’s lap,” Yawn says. “She’s figuring it all out, thank God — the location, the flower arrangements, all of it.”

True to form, Yawn and Shafer will by tying the knot on a boat, specifically, a super yacht that their friend, 10 haircare founder Carolyn Aronson, recently bought.

<p>Polk/Bravo via Getty</p> Captain Sandy Yawn

Polk/Bravo via Getty

Captain Sandy Yawn

That makes narrowing down the guest list that much easier. "We can only have 55 people," Yawn said. "She's narrowing it down."

Shafer's also in charge of what Yawn will wear — though she's only looking at suits right now. "I will never wear a dress," says Yawn. "Not in a million years."

Though Shafer is doing all the work, Yawn says the experience has cemented their bond. "Leah and I couldn't be happier or closer," she says. "It took us to the next level. I love it."

"It's going to be fun," she says. "I hope!"

<p>Captain Sandy Yawn/ Instagram</p> Leah Shafer and Sandy Yawn

Captain Sandy Yawn/ Instagram

Leah Shafer and Sandy Yawn

Yawn, 58, and Shafer, 50, got engaged in September after five years of dating. "It's official! I asked Leah to marry me, and she said YESSSSS," Yawn shared in an Instagram post at the time. "We are engaged! stay tuned for wedding 💍."

Her post included a pair of photos from the proposal. One captured Yawn down on bended knee in front of Shafer — a gospel singer and aesthetician from Denver — as the pair enjoyed a meal on a rocky beachfront by the ocean, and the other showed Shafer perched on her fiancée's lap as the couple embraced.

For the yacht captain, the proposal was a long time coming. "I have been thinking about marrying Leah for years," Yawn told E! News. "I knew from the minute I met her, but the timing had to be right. I wanted to make sure we could truly do life together first."

Yawn said she carefully planned the proposal to give Shafer the "fairy-tale" moment she deserves. "I planned a boat ride to a beautiful cove. I had it decorated with flowers with a path to a small table accompanied by three violinists where we could sit and have a small date," she said of the romantic beach setup.

She was so excited that she jumped right in, popping the question to Shafer as soon as they arrived. "I truly could not wait!" she told the outlet. "I shared my vision list of love I had written and wanted, then got on one knee. Then, she said 'yes!' "

Yawn recalled being overcome with emotion upon seeing Shafer's reaction to the surprise. "The look on her face was priceless, and my heart exploded! It was filled beyond capacity of anything I could ever imagine," she explained. "Somehow, I feel closer than I did before, and I can't explain it. There is an energy that I have never experienced in my life. I love her beyond; as Leah says, Yawn beyond."

Related: 'Below Deck' Star Captain Sandy Yawn Celebrates 34 Years of Sobriety: ‘I Was Broken’

<p>Captain Sandy Yawn/Instagram</p> Captain Sandy Yawn and fiancée Leah Shafer

Captain Sandy Yawn/Instagram

Captain Sandy Yawn and fiancée Leah Shafer

The pair first met on Facebook in 2018 when Shafer, a fan of Yawn's Bravo show, reached out to the reality star.

“She sent me a nice message that said, ‘I came across your show, congratulations, many blessings,' " Yawn told E! News. The two began exchanging messages and eventually decided to meet in person in Los Angeles and immediately hit it off.

Related: 'Below Deck Mediterranean': An Injury Takes Captain Sandy Ashore as the Boat Literally Falls Apart in Season 8

In her new book, Be the Calm or Be the Storm, Yawn reflected on how Shafer came into her life at just the right time.

"I believe God has a way of preparing you for 'the one.' He knew I wasn’t ready for her all those years ago. And she wasn’t ready for me," she wrote. "God waited for us. He gave me opportunities to make different choices and be more conscious, so that when that sweet little Facebook message came across my page, I was open."

Shafer was previously married for 20 years to Ross Shafer, with whom she shares a teenage daughter.

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BravoCon 2023 is taking place through Sunday at Caesars Forum in Las Vegas.

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