So, without beating around the bush, I popped “THE” question to Jen about 1 month ago (4/2/2011)! And, fortunately, she gave me the answer I was hoping for and well, to be honest, expecting: “Yes!” Actually, it was something more like “YES…yes, yes, yes, yes!!!!!” Talk about a comforting answer from her, especially since I expected her to be crying quite a bit and wouldn’t be able to even verbally respond!
With something this big, I don’t feel I can just touch on the highlights, I feel I need to try and tell the whole story.
So without further ado, here’s the proposal story (the build up to the proposal, and what got us talking about marriage)….
Something changed for me around Christmas 2010. We spent a considerable amount of time together and with each other’s families. Jen was shocked to hear recently that I knew she was “the one” after about 1 month of dating, but that’s okay, it made our time dating more fun! Anyways, when Christmas ended, I knew I’d be looking to make her mine soon…very soon. As Jen would probably tell you, similar thoughts began entering her mind just a couple weeks later. There was no pushiness or intimidation between us, just perfect…Godly timing. So, starting sometime in mid-January, Jen and I began talking and praying (individually & together) about marriage. Neither of us expected this so soon, but the process was right, the path didn’t wander, we felt we were being (and still are) led down this road.
Now, for those of you that know Jen and I pretty well, we aren’t a spontaneous type of a couple, especially with something that has this great a magnitude (as we both agree that marriage is for life, there’s no “out-clause”). Therefore, we were grilling each other with questions: text messages, in person, late night chats, phone calls, emails, you name it! However, that wasn’t our only means to a decision. Each of us talked to married folks, unmarried, divorced, and remarried. The single thread that we really focused on was mature Christians. Everybody has a past with regrets, but everybody has great decisions and accomplishments. Therefore, we wanted to see what their Christian perspective was in regards to marriage, each of us individually, and as a couple. We learned a lot about marriage, new questions to raise to one another, and new questions to ask ourselves individually.
I am not going to get into the specific questions we asked of ourselves and each other, those are fairly personal, but I will say and advise anybody out there to open up and be vulnerable if discussing marriage. That process brought us closer together. So, we finally realized that there wasn’t much else we could ask each other that would keep us from marrying each other. Jen and I also aren’t ones to see a big sign in the sky from God telling us “YES” or “NO”. We knew our passions, love, and purpose for God were aligned and we didn’t have any reservations about marriage; so we decided that we were going to do this! Now, all it seemed was that we needed to find her a ring!
With regards to an engagement ring, it’s safe to say I knew basically nothing. Jen knew just a bit more than I did, so she suggested we go shopping together. At first, I admit, this sounded a bit odd to me, but she let me know many of her friends did this so that the guy could get an idea of what he was buying and the girl could determine what she actually wanted. Ok, fair enough I thought. So we made a few stops, talked to a few friends, and Jen finally decided on what she would like. In typical Jen-style, she pretty much knew what she wanted, with only a slight amount of room for me to get creative. Worked for me, less for me to screw up!
Now, the hard part for me in buying the ring, was that I wanted to find the best deal. It worked out that I knew what she wanted and exactly what I was going to get for her. It also played into my hands that I’m a planner looking for a good deal. This gave me an “infinite” amount of time to “research” (as I would continually tell Jen) for a ring, to keep her guessing when I’d pop the question. So, after shopping around a bit, my friend Tom took me to Trinity Jewelers. Great service, great setting, great diamond, great price! And, without Jen having a clue, I had talked to not only her dad but mom also, and had a ring, within one week of still trying to figure out what she exactly wanted!
I picked the ring up on a Thursday evening and planned to pop the question that Saturday. However, there was no way I’d just hand over the ring to Jen and ask her to marry me. We’re completely in love and I had to make it fun for the both of us. And I knew Jen would like something fun also; something with a good story she could share for years to come! So, the proposal planning started well before I had the ring.
Monday, April 4th was my birthday. I wanted to propose on Saturday, April 2nd. How would I plan a big proposal without tipping Jen off any time before Saturday? Turns out I had to enlist the help of her parents and mine. Once I asked for permission, I ran ideas past them. I decided I’d propose at Whitehall Camp (outside of Nashville, probably Jen’s favorite place in the world). But I still needed to not tip Jen off. So, working with my parents, we planned a fake birthday dinner for me on the evening of Saturday, April 2nd. So about 1.5 weeks before Saturday, I told Jen about the “dinner” plans at my house so that she’d keep the date open. I also told her I was going shopping for a new driver to add to my golf clubs and that I wanted her to go with me, around 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Perfect plan, I had Jen reserved for an all-day extravaganza! Or so I thought!
One thing I’m learning about women…they’re always right, whether or not they are or not! So Jen, in all her wisdom, decided to tell me the Friday before the proposal, she was going to visit her sister, go to lunch with her, and had a hair appointment on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. Jen then said we could go shopping around 2 p.m. or later. She ended up forgetting I even set a time! There’s no way I didn’t set a time, I needed her to be free to execute “The Plan”! Well, she told me about this nonsense and wasn’t one bit happy about my stubbornness to not let her plans derail mine! I gave her a guilt trip about it being my birthday, the sales would be all picked over, blah blah blah. She bought it, thank goodness, but I thought she’d be miserable and that would ruin the proposal!
Well, the next day, she apologized for scheduling things on my birthday; I even let her apologize, and it was hilarious! I did feel bad though because I’d normally never care, but I needed her to give me that extra time during the day! Now, I’m not very artistic but I can be creative in my own special way! Luckily for me, Jen appreciates it! So, I ended up picking Jen up around 12:30 p.m. I had lunch planned into our schedule, but we didn’t leave until 1 p.m. because well, she still felt time didn’t matter today. It technically didn’t, but it just would make our day a bit more manageable.
So, it is 1 p.m., let me give you the general proposal background and plan. I wanted to make it personal for her and fun, as I’ve already mentioned. Going back to when I asked Jen to be my “official” girlfriend, I wrote it out in individual letter magnets on her refrigerator. I also told her I loved her for the first time in letters on her refrigerator. Not that those are romantic, but they just turned out to be timely and fun/funny at the times we were having those conversations. I didn’t want to ask her to marry me with those letters, but I wanted to “write it out”. Therefore, letters strung up at Whitehall, at her family’s camp, would be the way. So for the day, I decided we’d stop at different places where we’d been on a memorable date or multiple dates. I needed to take Jen 1.5 hrs. up to Whitehall without her wondering why I’m driving straight there too! I knew I’d tip her off at some point during the day but at least she wouldn’t know when, where, or how I’d be proposing. As it turns out, she had herself so convinced that I didn’t have a ring nor had I talked to her folks yet, she thought I was just being funny when I told her we were playing a game that Saturday afternoon! Heck, 15 minutes before I even proposed, she was telling me that I needed to “research” faster and buy a ring, she didn’t want to wait another month until I got back from my 2 week work trip and vacation that was coming up the following week!
I came up with 6 stops that we’d make during the day and at each location, I’d give Jen a letter that would ultimately help fill in the blanks of a sign I had strung up at Whitehall at 7 a.m.! The sign I strung up read “_ILL Y_U M___Y _E”. When Jen and I got into the car to go “golf club shopping”, I asked if she’d like to play a game. She happily agreed! We opened the glove compartment and there were rules for a game, she signed the rules like a good girlfriend and basically gave up all rights, privileges, questions, and her cell phone to me for the next 5 hours! For signing, she got a riddle. For each stop she’d get a riddle and would have to guess where we were going. Our first top was “Rita’s”. Once there, we shared an Italian Ice…and yes, before lunch, she was so confused! She also received her first letter, “R” for Rita’s. At each stop I also took her picture holding the letter, I knew she’d enjoying seeing pictures of the day after we got engaged! Also, at each stop, I made her take the letters with her, that way, once at the final stop, which she didn’t know where it would be, she wouldn’t be surprised that I’d be telling her she’d need the letters to help spell something!
Following Rita’s, we stopped at Mellon Arena and Jen got an “M”. Mellon was one of our first dates to watch a Pens playoff game. We then stopped at Rachel’s Roadhouse in Mercer and she got another “R”. We had ate lunch there the previous summer on our way back from Whitehall and it was a popular stop for Jen and her friends while in college at Grove City. After Rachel’s, we went to the beautiful scenic Overlook in Kennerdale and she got an “O”. We had visited the overlook while at Whitehall the previous summer. The next stop was the Allegheny River where Jen got an “A”. We had gone to dinner at a restaurant along the river, rollerbladed, and spent some time along the river. So at this point, she’s getting pretty excited, and is having a lot of fun. We stopped along the river in Emlenton, PA, only a few miles from Whitehall. Jen amazingly didn’t want to run the show and never mentioned stopping there even though she loves Whitehall. So, her last riddle for the day actually told her to play a CD. She started getting extremely excited and couldn’t find the CD, I just told her to open and look into the folder she had! So we popped in the CD and “Starry Night” by Chris August came on. This song has some meaning to us as it reminds us of star gazing at Whitehall w/ her folks and her dad’s infamous “WOOOOOOSSHHHHHHH!!” comment (a story for another time!). Jen started screaming “Whitehall! We’re going to Whitehall!” I’m so glad she was excited, little did she know, she’d be getting proposed to in a few minutes!
We arrived at Whitehall after the song finished playing and I pulled into the front of the family’s camp. Now, I got up at 7 a.m. that morning, drove to Whitehall and strung up the sign. I purposely made sure she couldn’t read the sign from anywhere but on the porch. However, the back of the letters would be noticeable. We parked and I noticed she saw the letters but she didn’t react too much to them, which was fine by me, I’ll take her by surprise! We got out of the car and she knew to bring all her letters with her and as I followed her onto the porch, I reached into my back pocket to get the ring ready. Jen got onto the porch and read the sign; she made out the phrase, turned around, both hands covering her face and crying, to see me bending down on one knee, asking if she’d marry me. To my surprise she was able to respond, she even came down to my level! So the rest is pretty much history. She cried, she jumped repeatedly up and down, she made me tell her “everything” about the plan, we called family & friends, took pictures, etc.
Jen will tell you she thought I could be proposing throughout the game but she was so convinced I hadn’t talked to her folks or actually bought a ring, she convinced herself it wasn’t going to happen. Even if she knew I was going to propose, this would have been fine by me. I knew I’d keep her guessing with the where, when, and how. We had come to the decision to get married together, so asking her to marry me wouldn’t be a shock, just the proposal would be.
We’re super excited about the engagement and have so many dreams that we want to pursue together. We know bumps in the road will come. Heck, trying to plan the wedding within a 5 month window has already caused us frustration, but that’s okay, we have and will work through it. We believe and know that with God’s leading and continual reliance on Him, differences that we experience will be resolved with a mutual Christian respect and love for one another.
We can’t wait!
Be sure to check out our Proposal Pictures!