Four years ago today was one of the best days of my life; it was the day that my girlfriend of three years said, “yes” when I asked her to marry me. I had spent so much time planning it out and trying to make sure that the surprise wasn’t ruined, that I was almost so nervous about that day that I was afraid I’d give it away. I was afraid that I would act differently than normal and make her suspicious, or she would end up brushing against the pocket in which the ring was hiding and it would all be ruined…thankfully, it was just my overly worrisome mind at work and everything went exactly as planned. This was something that had been at least a month in the making.
I bought the ring and immediately took it to the bank at which I worked and locked it in the vault, as I was the vault custodian at the time and wanted to make sure that it would be impossible for my soon-to-be-fiancé to find it or for it to be lost or damaged in any way. Then came one of the most important parts of the whole thing; getting her parents’ blessing to ask their daughter to marry me.
The act of asking for the bride’s parents’ blessing is a tradition that is becoming more and more outdated and is being lost in time as history progresses. I, however, feel that this tradition is a show of respect and courtesy to the parents of the girl you love and with whom you want to spend the rest of your life. Don’t get me wrong, if they would have said, “no, you suck” I would have asked them what I would have to do to change their minds about me and if it was more than getting a new hair style or cutting back on how much I talk (which I don’t think is possible for someone of Irish decent who was blessed with the gift of gab) I would have told them, “I’m sorry that you feel that way, but I love her and plan on loving her for the rest of my life and if that’s not good enough reason for you, that’s something you’ll just have to accept or not.” ANYWAY, I waited until my better half was in the shower one day and I called her mom and asked her to put me on speaker so that her dad could hear the conversation as well. She did do and I told them that I loved their daughter with all my heart and soul and that I wanted to ask her to make me the luckiest man in the world by being my wife. Her mom and dad happily said that they loved me and thought I was perfect for their daughter and that I had their blessing to ask for her hand in marriage. Thankfully, I have a great relationship with my in-laws and that’s a rare thing, from what I hear. It was near impossible to contain my excitement and not give it away after that phone conversation…I was sure I was going to explode and just tell her my plans as soon as she got out of the shower, but my will power persevered.
A couple days later, I started talking to one of my best friends, Daniel, about having his dad, who was a photographer, to take pictures of us at the Tanger Bicentennial Gardens in Greensboro, NC since all the flowers were blooming. My thought, was that we would take all these pictures in the gardens and at the end, I’d propose and she’d find out that these were actually our engagement pictures. Daniel and his dad took it a step farther…
Saturday, April 14, came and Daniel’s dad, Charles, had agreed to take our photos for us. Daniel and I had planned an entire conversation about taking spring couples’ photos with our significant others at the Tanger Gardens and had this conversation over the phone where it could be heard prior to this day. Then, as Daniel and his dad had suggested, we met at the Gardens and Daniel and his wife were nowhere to be found. Charles called Daniel and acted out the conversation, acting surprised that something had happened and that they would not be able to make it for another couple of hours. At that point, Charles suggested that we go ahead and take advantage of the beautiful morning and get some great pictures in the morning lighting. Now, I had the ring in my right cargo pocket of my shorts and was constantly being positioned by the photographer to be on the left side of my lady and so I’d have to go, literally, behind her back and quickly move the ring to the left cargo pocket to make sure that she didn’t rub against it. Then, a few poses later, I would be positioned to her right side and would have to go through it again and move the ring to the right cargo pocket again. The game of musical pockets went on for the rest of the day, surprisingly, without being noticed.
We continued taking pictures around the gardens, surrounded by the colors of Spring and the smell of morning dew. The morning flew by for Charles and my everything, but for me, it seemed like an eternity of anticipation and excitement. We took pictures under trees, on stone steps, and among the flowers; making a loop around the gardens to the final photo spot; the bench. I had seen pictures of this bench online and had told Charles in secret that I would give him a signal, saying “Hey, I like that spot, can we get some shots there?” when I found “the spot”. I gave Charles the signal and he instructed us that, though this may be kind of weird, I should kneel in front of her while she sat on the bench and lovingly hold her hand and just smile at each other. We reluctantly proceeded as he instructed, while he backed off and used his lens to zoom in so that we would have privacy.
I took her hand, and I’m pretty sure I would have received an Academy Award if anyone had been watching, because I put an awkward look on my face and said, “sooo, this is weird, huh?” She said, “yeah, but oh well, maybe they’ll turn out better than we think.” At that moment, I couldn’t hold it back anymore and said, “well, I guess since I’m down here, we might as well give him something to really take a picture of.” Now, this may sound like a suave move, but I’m pretty sure it came out like, “I’m not a smart man, but I know what love is” in a Forest Gump voice…ANYWAY, I pulled the ring out of my pocket and her hand instantly slapped over her mouth in surprise. I took her hand and told her that I loved her, that she was my everything, and I asked if she’d make me the luckiest man in the world by being my wife…
She said, “Yes!”
I put the ring on her finger and we walked the rest of the gardens back toward our car, taking pictures along the way and experiencing a completely different feeling than we had at the beginning of the photo shoot. I explained to her that this was all planned, right down to Daniel not showing up and this being our engagement photos and that I had gotten her parent’s blessing and that I had kept the ring locked in a vault at the bank blah, blah, blah…the point was, that I planned a lot of things out because she was, and is, SO worth it.
So here we are, 4 years later, in different, better jobs, we’ve bought our first home two years ago, we’ve been married almost three years (that post is soon to come), and we have two precious dogs. Many things have changed over the past four years, but one thing remains the same; we’re still happy and we still love each other and our bond grows strong every single day. And I may have mentioned this before, but I’m still the luckiest man in the world…