January 13, 2012

Engagement Story

Five years ago today was one of the best days of my entire life--the love of my life asked me to marry him. Matt needs to get double props for this engagement story because he had to think up TWO separate proposals. {but not because I said no the first time around! Read on...}

Matt and I had been dating for exactly one year. We both knew within the first month of our being together that we had each found "The One." We never said the words "I want to marry you" or had any official marriage talks, which is the way I had always wanted it. We just knew. We didn't plan out any time lines or go ring shopping together; again, just how I wanted it.

Seven months into dating, we attended the summer wedding of two of our friends from college. On our drive home, we stopped for dinner and as we discussed the wedding we'd just attended, some things about marriage in general came up. I was able to casually mention that I had a personal rule that I would never get engaged to someone I had been dating less than a year, even if I wanted to. I felt I needed that full year to make sure my head was on straight. Also, I threw in there that I had known what ring I wanted since high school {modeled after a vintage early 20th century ring}, but, I didn't expect that particular ring at all because I knew the ring would be a very expensive one.

Fast forward to just after Christmas 2006. Matt and I had spent Christmas with his family and we were going to Indiana over New Years to be with my family and celebrate with them. I had an inkling that Matt might propose during this time because New Year's would mark our exact 1 year anniversary.

But then, just a few days before New Year's, everything changed--Former US President Ford died. {I know, you must be thinking, Why would that change anything?} There were two important factors as to why this affected us: 1. Matt was a member of the Michigan Army National Guard and 2. President Ford was a native to Grand Rapids, Michigan, and his funeral was to be held there.

Of course, the burial of a former US President is a big deal; it definitely should be. But, to my dismay, Matt was called up with his unit to "work" President Ford's Funeral. The funeral took place on January 2, 2007, and Matt's unit started official duty just before New Year's. In retrospect, this was a huge honor for Matt and a once-in-a-lifetime memory for him, which I am so thankful for. But I have to admit that at the time, I was crushed {and just plain annoyed, too}.

I would later find out that Matt had planned a romantic New Year's Eve proposal. It would have been with my family in downtown Indianapolis, where Matt and I had spent time the day we first met and got to know one another. I went down to visit my family without Matt, but I'm afraid my spirits were low during much of the visit.

Two weeks later, Matt had the idea that we should go down to Indy to celebrate our one-year anniversary and enjoy some fine dining. We dropped of our stuff off at my sister's and brother in law's house, got all dressed up, and headed off to Ruth's Chris Steak House for an elegant {albeit expensive} dinner. I wondered if tonight would be "the night," but I really had no clue.

As we got out of the car, Matt grabbed a gift bag. It was big {not ring-sized} so I didn't think much of it. As we were seated at our table, our server asked if we were celebrating a special occasion. Matt replied that we were celebrating our anniversary. Our server wasn't observant enough to note that neither of us were wearing wedding rings, and failed to ask if it was a wedding anniversary we were celebrating, so she proceeded to call me "Mrs. Perry" for the entirety of our dining experience. Little did she know...!

After having one of the most delicious meals we'd ever had, our plates were cleared and our server took our dessert orders. After the server left, Matt pulled out the gift bag. I was surprised to see it contained this:

An elegant little scrapbook! 

Matt ordered me to open it and begin reading.

Matt's message to me on the day we met! This picture is also from the day we met, though the others in the
photo were cut out...

A little history of this scrapbook...
When Matt and I met, he was in his final year at Anderson University and I had already graduated and was living back home in Michigan. {Matt had taken a year off of school to do his specialty training with the military.} I had gone down one weekend to visit my best friend Laura and go with a group of people to see a special Lord of the Rings exhibit in downtown Indianapolis. {yes, we are nerds, but please don't judge!} This is when and how Matt and I met, and we talked quite a lot that day as we strolled through the exhibits together.

That same day, I drove home {as I had to work the following day} and was delighted to see I had received a Facebook message from Matt! This was when Facebook was new and only open to registered university students; it seems like forever ago! For the next two weeks, Matt and I sent Facebook messages daily and used that as our means to really get to know one another. At the end of the two weeks of messages came our first date, then our second, then our big New Year's Eve date, and you know how the rest goes...

This scrapbook was made by Matt himself, filled with our messages to each other those first two weeks, and dotted with pictures of the two of us. The whole thing is just adorable.

Matt's graduation

In these messages, we started to discover our weirdly-parallel lives prior to our meeting one another.
I wrote about that here.

When I reached the second to last page of the scrapbook, I saw this, and my heart practically leapt out of my chest!

My stomach was full of butterflies as I turned to the very last page:

I closed the book and there was the ring before me, and Matt asked me to marry him. I was so shocked {I really hadn't expected the scrapbook to end in such a way!} that I didn't have time to get all emotional or teary. I just blurted out, "YES!"

And then the next thing I gasped was, "I can't believe you got me this ring!!!" {He had my "dream ring" made for me, a story I'll share later...}

We returned to Dan and Erin's house, and they ran out of the front door to greet us and spray us to death with silly string. It was so fun! We then entered the house to find that Erin had prepared a beautiful gift basket for us, complete with bridal magazines, sparkling juice and glasses, and all kinds of other fun little gifts. {My sister is one of the most thoughtful people I know!}

So there's our little engagement story. It was sweet and absolutely perfect--a romantic evening I will never forget. {And I no longer hold a grudge against a deceased President.}


ernp06 said...

LOVE this!
what a GREAT proposal!!

Katie LEWIS said...

Deanne, I was thrilled to read this story I never really knew! That is the sweetest. Did I ever tell you how John proposed? Anyhow- Your sister IS so thoughtful. We Are DYING to meet that little boy of theirs. I love you!


Rebecca Maier said...

Oh my goodness! What a fairy tale! I'm so happy you have each other! P.S. I want to see a photo of the ring on your hand!!! Lots of love!


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