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Criminal Minds' Kirsten Vangsness to Wed Girlfriend this Spring

02/27/2009 at 11:55 AM EST

Criminal Minds' Kirsten Vangsness to Wed Girlfriend this Spring
Melanie Goldstein and Kirsten Vangness
Here come the brides!

Criminal Minds' Kirsten Vangsness will be walking down the aisle this spring after getting engaged to longtime girlfriend Melanie Goldstein, the actress tells PEOPLE.com exclusively.

"I never thought I would want to do it," says Vangsness, who plays computer expert Penelope Garcia on the CBS drama. "Then when you meet the person, you're like, 'I want to marry you. I don't care if there's a law against it!'"

The actress is planning on a southern wedding with Goldstein, an assistant editor on 24.

"We're going to get married in Texas because her parents have this great place there," says Vangsness, who has been dating Goldstein for two and a half years, "and since it's not official anywhere until things change – which I have total confidence that they will – we're going to do it there just to completely thumb our nose at the government."

Being engaged "is so much fun," says the 32-year-old. "Fiancée is a very fun word to say, because I never thought I would have a fiancée or be a fiancée. Sometimes when I would introduce myself and say, 'This is my girlfriend Melanie,' it wasn't always clear what I meant. Now I get to say, 'This is my fiancée Melanie.'"

Though Goldstein popped the question in November, the couple kept the news under wraps until Vangness told her Criminal Minds castmates last month at a table read. "Everybody squealed and got very excited," says Vangness, whose costars are already eager to pitch in.

"Paget [Brewster] sent me her form that proves she can officiate a wedding, and Shamar [Moore] asks me a lot of wedding questions that I don't even have answers to yet, like 'What are you going to wear?' and 'What's it going to be like?'"

So, what is it going to be like? "Well, we don't know who we're inviting yet, but I'm making my dance playlist right now," says Vangness. "We're a little backwards!"

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