BACKSTREET BOY HOWIE DOROUGH will marry his girlfriend LEIGH BONIELLO later this year after proposing at a family New Year's Eve (31Dec07) party. The couple met and fell in love in 2000 when Boniello was running the Backstreet Boys website. Dorough has managed to keep the engagement to his "soulmate" secret for more seven months - after proposing with a three diamond ring set in platinum that he had designed himself. He tells People.com of his proposal at his future wife's family home in New Jersey, " I asked her mother, father and grandmother for their permission. She wasn't expecting it, and I was quite nervous - more nervous about proposing to her in front of 40 family and friends than about performing in front of 40,000 people onstage. We're very, very excited. And then the 33-year-old popped the question with a practical joke. He and Boniello had a private joke about Dorough "dangling carrots" in front of Boniello whenever they talked of marriage. Boniello says, "He acted like he forgot to give me one present for Christmas - it was in a large box." When she opened the box there were three large carrots inside. Dorough adds, "She was laughing and trying to tell everyone the joke and by the time she turned around I was down on one knee with the real carrot." The wedding will take place before 250 guests - including Dorough's bandmates: "We've invited all the Backstreet Boys, including Kevin (Richardson). Actually, Kevin was one of the first people I told about our engagement. "Hopefully I will be the next one to add to the (Backstreet Boy) family."