Ashanti Reveals How Nelly Proposed and Why Their Relationship Is Different a Second Time Around (Exclusive)

Ashanti shares details from Nelly's proposal, what she wants for their wedding, and who helped them get back together.

When it comes to her engagement to Nelly and them expecting a child together, it seems no one is more shocked than Ashanti herself. 

"Never in a million years did I think we would be here," she tells ET's Deidre Behar in an exclusive interview. "Ten years ago -- maybe yes -- but after our breakup, you know, I didn't even think we'd ever have a conversation again."

As she puts it, "I guess when you go through a breakup, for me personally, I kind of just shut that person out... It's kinda like, OK, that chapter is closed and you just move on, you know, and there's nothing there."

But, after crossing paths in 2021 -- nearly a decade after their split -- at Fat Joe and Ja Rule's Verzuz battle, Nelly got Ashanti's number from DJ City and, well, here she is three years later, engaged and speaking to ET at her maternity shoot with photographer Derek Blanks.

Of those initial phone calls with her former ex, "I had to really, like, be real with myself, like, do I have feelings for him again? Like what's going on? Because they were out, you know what I mean. They were gone," she tells ET. "I was pleasantly surprised that they were there."

In April, the pair gave fans double the reasons to smile when they announced they were engaged and expecting their first child together

So how did Nelly ask one of the biggest questions of his life? "It was just such a beautiful, intimate moment," she recalls. "We were not dressy."

Watching TV in bed while wearing his T-shirt and boxers, Ashanti was "completely" shocked. 

"I cried. I gave him the biggest hug and kiss ever," she describes. "I FaceTimed everyone I know... I was overjoyed and shocked and surprised and happy kind of like all in one."

With their little one on the way, Ashanti confirmed she'll give birth before they tie the knot. As for what those wedding festivities will entail, Ashanti says she has to have a beach, sunshine, and palm trees as she says "I do" to Nelly in a moment decades in the making. 

Ashanti and Nelly pose together at the premiere of her movie, John Tucker Must Die, in 2006. - Gregg DeGuire/WireImage

"The growth has been like superb, you know, like on both ends," she says of their relationship now as compared to a decade ago. "We are both at a place where like before, sometimes we would argue and walk out, slam the door, and not talk for a few days."

"Now," she says, "it's kind of like, 'All right, you good?' You know, give me a kiss goodbye and it's over... It's not like holding on and bickering and we find out what the resolution is. We apologize... It used to take me a little longer to apologize."

Now, more than 20 years after first gracing a stage together, these music stars are very much in sync. 

"I think just we both are so passionate about working and about building family," she says. "We are so, so aligned."