Valerie Bertinelli & Fiance May Elope

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Jun. 15 2010, Published 12:00 p.m. ET

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Valerie Bertinelli debuted fiancé Tom Vitale for the first time on Monday during her premiere of Hot In Cleveland, which begins tomorrow on TV Land.

He asked us to go easy on him considering it is his first red carpet event, and she playfully razzed him by saying “honey, I’m doing bald jokes over here” and jokingly called him “a pain in my a**.”

It’s a fresh new start for Valerie, 50, who announced her engagement to Tom, 48, earlier this year. Both are previously married, and both will combine families – her son (with Eddie Van Halen), Wolfgang, is 19, and he has four children ages 11-19.

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“It’s really special because we’ve both been around quite a bit,” she tells me. “We’ve both had marriages that failed, but there were still really good parts of those marriages, so we’re taking the good parts and hopefully not bringing the bad with us.”

In fact, the kids get along “very well” he attests.

“They all refer to each other as stepbrothers and sisters already, and we’re not even married yet,” Tom tells me.

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Although they will be combining a large clan, the couple may go private when it comes to the actual ceremony.

“We might end up eloping laughs because we can’t decide on the guest list,” Valerie says. “He’s planning it. I have nothing to do with it.”

One special touch their ceremony will have? Bells.

“When we were in Europe, I couldn’t help but hear all the bells that were going off in different cities, so we’re going to have bells,” he says.

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Whether they ultimately have a regular ceremony or elope in private, there is no doubt that family is very important to them, and she’s visited his parents in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio – which also happens to be my hometown. (We discover we both went to the same high school – many years apart.)

“Her favorite thing to do in Cuyahoga Falls is to spend time with the family,” Tom tells me. “I have a huge, Italian family, and we hang out. She loves the Canton Football Hall of Fame. She almost wept when touring it because she’s a huge football fan.”

(Fittingly, the area is an hour away from Cleveland, the themed location of the sitcom.)

How did he know she was The One?

“We spent time together,” he says. “We’re family. She understands my family, I understand her family. We understood each other very, very well. We relate.”

Hot In Cleveland begins Wednesday at 10pm/9C on TV Land.


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