Fans will recognise Saara Alto as a breakout star on The X Factor, who finished runner-up in 2016. The Finnish singer, who competed in The Voice of Finland, has also graced the Eurovision stage more than once. This weekend, Saara is returning to our screens as she joins the 2019 celebrity line-up of Dancing on Ice, hosted by Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield and airing on Sunday night. And one superfan who we can guarantee to be in the audience is her long-term love and fiancée, Meri Sopanen. Let's take a look at the couple's romance…
Who is Saara Alto's girlfriend Meri Sopanen?
Saara was in a long-term relationship with her boyfriend and fellow singer Teemu Roivainen when she met Meri. Meri was a huge fan of Saara from her time on The Voice of Finland in 2012 – when she finished second – and approached her through Facebook. Saara has previously revealed to The Sun: "I was in The Voice of Finland in 2012 and my girlfriend – fiancée now – watched the show, liked me a lot and sent me a fan message through Facebook. She wrote, 'I have never, ever sent a message like this to anybody, but I just had this intuition that I have to send this to you.' I was like, 'That's so cute,' and thought, 'What a nice-looking girl.'" Saara added: "Then, after a year, she actually came to my concert and we met. We started talking and realised we just shared the same view of life and everything."
Meri and Saara got engaged in August 2016
Romance blossomed in 2014 and Meri signed up to be Saara's manager – a role she still holds today – and also encouraged Saara to audition for the X Factor. In August 2016, Meri popped the question on their two-year anniversary. Saara was in her pyjamas, without any makeup on, during the low-key proposal, with Meri explaining that she didn't want the singer to be wearing any makeup as she "loves her soul".
The couple moved to London in 2017 after Saara's success on the X Factor. Despite already being engaged, Saara proposed to her fiancée in March 2017 to celebrate the legalisation of gay marriage in Finland. Taking to Twitter, she wrote: "Same sex marriage is legal in Finland today!!! Would you marry me @MeriSopanen?" The pair are hoping to marry in a hot country, with her X Factor mentor Sharon Osbourne in attendance.
Saara came out in 2013 after she broke up with her ex-boyfriend
Who was Saara Alto's ex-boyfriend Teemu Roivainen?
Saara was in a nine-year relationship with singer Teemu Roivainen until 2013, after which she came out as gay. Teemu played the keyboard in Saara's band. The Dancing on Ice star has said that she and her ex-boyfriend are still friends, that Teemu is like her "brother", and that she, Teemu and Meri hang out like one big "happy family".
Saara Alto on The X Factor
The Finnish star competed in The X Factor in 2016, when she was placed in the over-25s category with Sharon Osbourne as her mentor. She stunned judges by singing Frozen theme tune Let It Go in 15 languages, while her other memorable performance was a medley of Diamonds Are Forever and Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend. She may not have made it to the final of The X Factor had it not been for her lifeline. Saara was booted off the competition by Sharon, but returned after fellow judge Nicole Scherzinger voted her in as a wildcard. She finished the competition in second place behind Matt Terry, with 40 per cent of the votes.
Saara finished second on The X Factor after Matt Terry
Saara Alto on Eurovision
Apart from The Voice of Finland and The X Factor, Saara has also graced the Eurovision stage various times before. She represented her country in 2011 singing Blessed with Love and again in 2016 with No Fear, both times finishing second. In 2018, she was chosen by Finnish national broadcaster Yle to represent Finland again in the competition. Saara performed her own song Monsters, but finished second to last overall.
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