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Madeline: The Proposal


Today’s post is our first from APW Intern Madeline. The second I read it, I fell in love with her. Not just because she proposed to her boyfriend, but because she made me laugh so hard I did a spit take on my screen (true). So here she is, in her own words, to tell you how you don’t need anything fancy (or even an engagement chicken) to decide to get married. You just need your very own couch.

Madeline: The Proposal | A Practical Wedding

I wanted a proposal story the way I wanted an origins story of the “Our eyes met across a crowded room” variety. Actually we met online dating (our eyes met in an “Are you from OkCupid?” kind of way) and I asked him to marry me, nearly two years later, on our couch. There was no one-knee-age; merely, as our friend Jeff characterized it, a “casual lean.” It’s not the story I was expecting, but it’s our story nonetheless, and it turns out to be a pretty good one.

Proposing is not as easy as it looks on YouTube, even though the answer was never in doubt. We’d picked out the ring together. Like many an APW reader, I’d already spent hours on the Bario Neal website and we took the Megabus down to Philadelphia to try on my favorites. (“She got the ring made by Barry O’Neil,” my U.K. friends tell each other.) We came back to New York, and at some point several weeks later, the package arrived in the mail. Now we had the ring but I wasn’t wearing it yet, so we weren’t engaged—what now?

An awkward pause ensued. I’d check in every now and then and we’d agree that we were still planning to get married. But something was wanting. I had a nagging feeling that he was supposed to ask. Formality would be involved, and maybe, I don’t know, violins or something. The longer I waited, the bigger The Proposal seemed to loom, and the harder it seemed to move ahead without it.

Then I remembered an email from Bust Magazine about Engagement Chicken. You know, the recipe that’s so good he whips out the rock and makes you his kitchen staff for life? I’d rolled my eyes along with the good readers of Bust when I’d read it, but I’d fallen into the same trap as the poor girlfriend in the apron, looking for some external event to transform me, and our relationship, into exalted, proposal-worthy territory. We didn’t need it, I realized, and I didn’t even want it. Everything I wanted was already right in front of me.

Reader, I asked him. I debated dragging him somewhere romantic, like the Botanic Gardens, or the spot in Prospect Park where, trembling a little with nerves, he put his arm around me on our second date. But we’re busy people, the moment never seemed right. So there we were on the couch one Sunday. Shall I just go for it? I thought to myself.

Outside our window on Franklin Avenue, some dude walking past was freestyling along with his ipod, “Yeah, mmhmm, yeah yeah,” he yelled. I felt sick with anxiety, but the answer was clear. I turned to Brandon.

“Will you marry me?” I asked.

“Yeah, mmhmm, yeah yeah,” the guy in the street said.

“Hang on,” Brandon said.

He fetched the ring. We asked each other. We called the families. We drank champagne. That was it—we had successfully Proposed. We finally shared how we’d been separately worrying that it had to be perfect, and involve rose petals, and other things that are not part of our daily experience. As it turned out, our living room couch was all we needed.

It makes me sad when people hear our news and turn to Brandon to ask how he popped the question, and then it makes me proud. Sad because of the assumptions we all still make, even though we think we know better, then proud that Brandon and I bucked those assumptions. We popped each other’s questions, we say. That’s our proposal story, and I couldn’t be happier.

Photo from Madeline’s personal collection

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  • http://penn.typepad.com Leah

    We met on OKC as well! So glad it worked out for you guys too.

    We also don’t have a big proposal story. Like you, I debated making some grand gesture, and I agonized and waited around for him to make a grand gesture. We frequently talked about getting married and what we wanted for a future and our lives (and sometimes for a wedding). There was no doubt about the marriage. I was actually beginning to plan an awesome geocaching adventure to do the proposal. But, one day in February, we were volunteering at a winter event at our local nature center. I was chatting with a friend who mentioned how great my guy is. And I said “you know, he really is.” On our snowy walk back to the car across the prairie, I turned to him and said “Will you marry me?”

    Strangely enough, he didn’t get it at first. He was all “sure.” So I had to push: “no, really, let’s set a date!” And that’s how we were proposed. No ring, no grand gestures; just us, the snow, and the prairie. Nature didn’t even pull an owl or a swooping hawk out for us.

    I am happy with this most of the time. But darned if I wasn’t annoyed yesterday when a friend posted a gorgeous picture of her husband, down on one knee, holding a ring box, on the dock at her parents’ lake cabin. Dang. That guy had style. But I’d still rather be with my husband than anyone else.

    • Madeline

      Yay OKC! Snowy settings sound pretty stylish to me!

    • Liz

      Not to be overly snarky BUT I would be *pissed* if I were that guy, had planned out this storybook proposal, and the love of my life said, “Hang on! I need to grab my phone!”

      No one’s life is perfect. Also, damn facebook.

      • http://penn.typepad.com Leah

        I *think* they had a relative ready to take the photo, as it’s far enough away to be a shot of both of them and their whole bodies. It is obviously at the exact second he kneeled down, because she has the total shocked face. I imagine they were headed out to the boat and he just went for it.

        And, yes, damn facebook. Always makes me feel like I’m missing out on fun times. Random sampling and all. On any given night, likely 99% of my friends list is probably sitting on the couch, just like I am. But that’s not fun to write about.

  • http://www.queerskiesahead.com TheQueerBird

    The living room, casually, is the best place and way to do it, in my humble and not-at-all-biased opinion. I love that I was wrestling the dog & unpacking groceries when she popped the question – there are places and ways that could have been “more romantic” in other people’s opinions, but this was absolutely perfect for us. Thanks for sharing your story! Excited to read more.

    • http://laughterinthelou.com Emma

      I was playing with the dogs too :) And I was about to go out the door to an appointment. So we literally weren’t even together 10 minutes after it happened, which is hilarious to me still, but that’s what ours was. Loved this post!

  • kayakgirl73

    I think it’s a great proposal story. It made me smile. If others don’t get that it was right for the two of you, too bad.

  • Emily

    My fiance and I didn’t have the big proposal moment either. I returned from a trip and he presented me with a family diamond in a small box. He said, “This isn’t a ring, this isn’t even jewelery, but I hope it will be soon. I love you and know that I want to marry you. What do you think?” Which promptly sparked several days of deep, emotional conversations to ensure we were on the same page, working towards the same goals. We officially became “engaged” when the ring was on my finger. Our engagement was a wonderful process of growth and connection for us and I wouldn’t change that for the world.

    • Claire

      Beautiful.

  • Anon

    We didn’t really have a proposal either, and I’m fine with that. It was more a mutual decision/recognition that it was what we both wanted.

    But I am a little confused about how you could have picked out and bought the engagement ring, but not consider yourselves engaged? Surely if you have got as far as buying the ring, you have decided you want to get married to each other – which I would have thought meant engaged? How come you didn’t put the ring on as soon as it arrived in the mail?

    • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.com/ Jenny- Adventures Along the Way

      I can’t speak for Madeline, but in my case, the formal proposal/asking moment was so linked in my head to the concept of being “engaged” that I didn’t feel engaged during our whole wedding planning process. We decided to get married (and were living in two countries at the time) so circumstances were such that we didn’t have a formal proposal until a couple days before the wedding. Looking back, I wish I had felt “engaged” from the moment we decided to get married. But even after choosing a date, picking invitations and a dress, etc., my ritual-appreciating self just didn’t feel fully engaged. I tended to say that “we were planning to get married” instead of “we’re engaged.” Now…I would go back and tell my wedding-planning self that (for me anyways) it is the commitment and intention of marrying that means you’re engaged, not the proposal moment (and not a ring either). But….it took me until after I was married to realize that is what I believe. Tradition and ritual can have such a strong impact on how we process things- and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing- but I think in my case, I cheated myself out of feeling engaged because my experience didn’t fit my framework of how one becomes engaged.

      • http://www.3upadventures.com Beth

        YES! I know that feeling! We had a lovely “let’s get married” conversation but it wasn’t the “proposal” I was hoping for. Occastionally I catch myself thinking that it wasn’t enough but HOLY SHIT. I’M GETTING MARRIED IN SIX MONTHS. I *am* engaged even if I don’t always think of it that way.

      • http://unexpected-moments.blogspot.com/ Sheryl

        I think it comes down to personal expectations on what engagement is, and possibly a need for a certain type of commitment.

        I know my fiance had the ring for two months before he proposed. To me it was waiting for a moment when he was ready to make an “official” statement of his intention to marry me, through a proposal. My future SIL and her fiance had a similar wait, and similar reasons.

        Which sounds really silly when I read it, but it was a powerful emotion. Particularly because I’d had to do some waiting for him to be as ready as I was, I needed the official proposal.

    • http://www.minnesota-chic.com PA

      Even though we referred to each other as “my fiance(e)” and told people we were engaged, we both wanted to have an actual proposal – we started planning the wedding while he was deployed, so we weren’t able to get the two of us in the same place for the proposal-type-event until his two week leave.

      I don’t want to say it changed things, but it was definitely a very emotionally-intense moment, even though we’d been planning and considered ourselves engaged for months!

    • Madeline

      Seriously, I was a little confused too! It was amazingly nerve-wracking to actually ask, even though we’d made the hard decision. I guess that’s the thing though–it’s one thing to agree to get married, but another to enact the rituals that have so much weight attached.

    • http://www.sarahhoppes.com Sarah

      We had the “let’s get married” conversation, which is what we should have considered our proposal story, but at first we didn’t consider ourselves engaged at all, despite having decided to get married, picked out rings, set a date, and started all our planning.

      In the period between picking out the rings and actually buying them and later wearing them, we were incredibly awkward about explaining our relationship status to anyone else, because we felt the need to explain the lack of bling/ the fact that one person didn’t “pop” any question. We were way, way, way too caught up in tradition, ritual, and how the experience “should” feel. It wasn’t until an extra awkward moment at the APW event in Brooklyn that we realized how silly that was and started telling *everyone* we were engaged. A few eyebrows were raised when I held up my hand to show off my the plastic ring sizer we got before ordering our engagement/wedding rings, but no one said a word of criticism. They were all just happy that we’d found each other!

      When our rings came in the mail, we each got down on one knee and “proposed” to each other. All 3 events (the conversation, the “duh” moment, and the getting down on one knee) meant something, but we didn’t get the HOLY SHIT feeling until we both decided to just call a spade a spade, “shoulds” be damned.

      I love this post, and all the comments from people who had similar feelings of engagement limbo!

      • http://Turtleloveco.com Adrianne

        I love wearing the plastic ring sizer as an engagement ring. Awesome.

        • http://www.sarahhoppes.com Sarah

          Adrianne-small world! It was a TLC ring sizer!

  • http://bettencourtchase.blogspot.com Helen

    I love this! Great first post. :) My wife and I actually have TWO proposal stories, hah. We bought the rings together on Christmas Eve, and then decided we wanted to wait until we had forgotten what they looked like a little bit (which meant no looking at photos of them either!) so it would feel a little bit like a surprise. Then, we decided we both wanted to propose AND be proposed to, so we totally did it, four months later. It was awesome, and completely us- which sounds like exactly how yours was for you. :)

  • Allie

    We were never engaged. On a nice walk one day we clarified what we had already been discussing and put a more definite time frame on it. A few weeks later we started telling people that we were getting married.

    Other people really struggled with it. They would get so upset when I would tell them I wasn’t engaged- we were just getting married. Oddly, no one seemed to make a big deal out of the fact that there was no engagement ring…

    It may not be right for everyone, but it was right for us. And I’m so glad I was never engaged!!!

  • Tracy

    I love this. I, too, got engaged on my livingroom couch. We were just hanging out talking about, of all things, health insurance, and I told him (not for the first time) that I thought it was time for us to get married. So he ran upstairs and retrieved a ring that he had gotten for me that I had no idea he had. I freaked out. He said he had been waiting for the right time, that he thought there had to be some kind of event associated with proposing, but that in that moment he realized it was then and there, while we were together in our own house. It was perfect!

  • Sarah N.

    This was a big, thorny issue for me from the very beginning. My husband and I are high school sweethearts, and we’d been planning our lives together for almost a decade. He had a family friend help acquire a ring, and so I knew he had it. I struggle with anxiety, and it reared its ugly head; I felt like every time I turned around, I was waiting for dozens of roses or a big fancy dinner or some huge surprise. The stress was killing me. So one night, I had a crazy meltdown and freaked out to my then-boyfriend. After I composed myself and got back to watching the Red Sox game, he proposed. I was in my pajamas, on the couch, on a Tuesday. I’m pretty sure I replied with “You’re f*cking kidding me.” But there he was. He said that I had reminded him of the woman he wanted to marry, so he proposed.

    We were engaged, but there wasn’t a Big Proposal. This weighed heavily on me for a while, to the point where I wrote a blog post and reflected on it quite a bit. I had an exchange with Meg via email where she said “The only point of the proposal is to decide you want to spend your lives together, and you did that.” As things went on, I got over it. We have the REST of our LIVES for shows of affection and romance and love. And we had all year leading up to our wedding, and the day itself. And now I embrace our proposal story: my anxiety, my own authentic, crazy self, and my wonderful husband, who still asked.

    • http://www.essential-images.com Essential Kate

      Just think, Baby Mine, you can tell this story OVER and over again to your amazed children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren and they’ll all say, “You, freaking out and anxious? oh no, not YOU……duh!”

      Wonderful? Wes is a Saint. ;-) <3

  • http://englishyerrors.blogspot.com Madeline

    This is wonderful! My proposal story is similarly casual, and it’s nice to hear that not everyone has a Big Proposal. Although I will say that I got lucky that my husband didn’t propose on the jumbotron at a baseball game, which was totally an option in his head. If we hadn’t gotten engaged in NOLA/at home, it would have been the jumbotron. (My feelings about that are “ick,” but mostly because I don’t like baseball. If it had been at a football game, that would be at least kind of exciting.) As it actually happened, I didn’t even cry, and I’m a crier! We were maybe a tad awkward in the actual moment, but thrilled to tell our friends and family.

    P.S. I LOVE that there are so many Madelines/Maddies around these parts. OK, so it’s only 3 of us that I know of, but that’s a lot for us! It’s such an unusual name for anyone over 5 years old that I get a little squeal-y when I come across women my age who share my name. Yay!

    • Madeline

      I also feared the jumbotron. Not that it was likely, but the fear was there. Also, I think if we keep at it we’ll get ‘Madeline’ into the tag cloud.

  • http://www.accidentallyyours.com Novice Wife

    Another one here that had a totally laid back, in-the-home proposal. I struggled for a while with not having a big, fun, fantastic story to tell everyone when they asked (which they seemed to do ALL the time), but part of me also sort of pats us on the back for having laid the groundwork beforehand and come to the decision mutually.

  • katieprue

    Lovely story! Like a lot have said already, it reminds me a little more of my own than the usual boy-knee-ring-SURPRISE formula.

    I must disagree with one thing: everyone needs engagement chicken. The first time I made it I was already engaged and being silly, but DAMN that makes a fine bird.

  • Janet

    Seriously, I needed to hear this. The beau surprised me on our anniversary by taking me engagement ring shopping. He knows what I would like in a ring now and has told me that from here on out its his decision on where, when, and how he’ll propose.

    Wonderful, nothing to worry about right? Wrong. Totally stressed about it. It could be on my 30th birthday in a month, it could be during vacation this summer, etc. etc. etc.! I’m guilty of the “it has to be special, heartfelt, and planned out” line of thinking up until recently and now I’m begining to regret my stance on “THE PROPOSAL”. I’m torn between wanting him to do it with just the two of us snuggled up at home in bed/sofa or planning something small and sweet with either our families or friends around to witness and celebrate with us.

    He’s mentioned that he already knows how he wants to propose and he seems really excited about it. I’m just worried I’ll hurt his feelings if I tell him I don’t want a huge fancy smancy proposal now. Help ladies!?

    • http://www.thatbridesgotmoxie.wordpress.com Renee

      I’m in the same boat, Janet. I told him I didn’t need a ring, but last weekend we went ring shopping. (Turns out, diamonds are fun to shop for!) But, now he says it will all be a surprise. Will it be on our anniversary next month? Our trip back home (where we are looking at venues) in May? My birthday in June? Not till fall? WHEN?
      I’ve decided to just try to put it out of my mind. It’s important to him that it all feels a certain way, so I’m not going to fight him on it. It’s his engagement too. And he’s excited to plan whatever it is he’s planning. I’m trying to enjoy the journey, not just the destination.

      • Janet

        Oh my gosh yes shopping for diamonds is fun and heart stopping when you find out later the price tag of said diamonds when you go online to find a picture of the ring you picked out to show your mother! (The sales girl would discreetly hide the prices from me, but would show it to him as we were looking at them.)

        I’ve basically decided to just go with the flow and wait it out, and try my hardest to not stress out about it. I know he loves me and that he wants to marry me, so that’s all that matters for the time being. Doesn’t the saying go “All good things happen in their own time.”?

    • Class of 1980

      Janet, there is no dress rehearsal for a proposal. ;)

      Your fiance is already excited about his plan. Don’t take that away from him. Just enjoy the surprise and allow it to be a real surprise.

    • Jennie

      I felt this way for a long time before our proposal. I came home one evening to a ring website up on my computer. I wasn’t supposed to see it but since I had, we went and looked at a goldsmith that sells at our local farmer’s market. We talked about the kind of things I liked and didn’t like and then I had to cool my heals.

      The next couple of months certainly contained a lot of nervousness about when/where/how things would go down. Yesterday’s post about MIB (My Inner Bride) strikes a chord for me about how I felt during this time. We are pretty laid back people, I didn’t need a ring or a fancy proposal. Those things would be completely out of character for my partner anyway. But a proposal is supposed to be when time stops and everything is perfect, right?

      Our anniversary passed, including a trip to the place we had decided we would get married with no proposal and no ring. The following weekend, when we had just gotten home from the market, he finally told me he was waiting for the ring to be ready and it wasn’t yet. He was tired of waiting though and so in the kitchen as we were unpacking groceries, he proposed. It wasn’t glamorous, it wasn’t what I envisioned in my head and it doesn’t make for an exciting story, but we got to tell my family that night and we’re getting married in September! The scheming and dreaming about our wedding and future together has been the highlight of this time for me. The exact moment of our engagement, while not what MIB hoped for, was exactly right for us.

  • http://landlockedlove.blogspot.com Kelly

    Count me among the On The Couch proposals!

    In the middle of the summer, I kicked David out of the house so I could attempt to make a huge vat of jam for the first time ever. My experience was traumatic (think Meg in Little Women/Good Wives: “The jelly won’t jell and I don’t know what to do!”) and by the time David got home in the afternoon, I was exhausted and covered in sticky, strawberry syrup. David was in an inexplicably terrible mood and didn’t want to talk about it, so he took off his pants (the man cannot keep his pants on in his own house) and joined me on the couch. I absent-mindedly asked him what he had done all day, while most of my attention was on Facebook. His voice sort of broke and he said, “Actually I was out all day looking at engagement rings.”

    My heart rocketed into my throat and I flung my laptop onto the coffee table. I remember thinking, “I have fucking jam on my face right now.” David murmered nice things and asked a question, and I answered, and I crawled into his lap and we cried.

    It wasn’t until at least ten minutes later, pantless and jam-covered and weepy, that he told me that he didn’t buy an engagement ring. “I don’t care, I don’t care, I don’t care,” I said. He pointed to our coat rack by the front door, and there, previously unnoticed, was a gorgeous tailored grey suit.

    “I kept going into all these jewelry stores,” he said. “And it was REALLY OVERWHELMING. I didn’t know what to do, so I decided to take a little break. I walked through a department store to clear my head, and the sales women must have been able to smell my vulnerability and somehow I walked out of there with….a suit.”

    So we have an engagement suit! Which David is going to wear at our wedding! (We did go ring shopping later, together, which was it’s own hellish experience, but the “engagement suit” is our Official Proposal!)

    • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.com/ Jenny- Adventures Along the Way

      This made me smile. Congrats!

    • Madeline

      AWESOME: “I have fucking jam on my face right now.”

    • LifeSheWrote

      “Engagement Suit” I love it! Also that the sales woman could “smell the vulnerability on him” because that’s hilarious and I bet was so true!

    • Liz

      This would 100% happen to me. Probably my favorite proposal story ever.

    • http://Turtleloveco.com Adrianne

      Yay! I love this!

  • Class of 1980

    My ex and I decided to get married while sitting on opposite ends of the sofa watching TV. It was happenstance. Even so, I don’t recall anyone routinely asking about proposal stories back then.

    The Big Circus Proposal with a cast of thousands just wasn’t having a moment like it is now.

    It’s only years later that the proposal circumstances come out in conversation with my friends. And usually, the stories are of the hilarious variety. ;)

  • http://peachyringsaredead.blogspot.com Ceej

    I also proposed first! Then he proposed a couple weeks later. Then we serendipitously came upon a ring that became his engagement ring. So 3 proposals! Or maybe 2.5. So much proposing.

  • H

    Whoa. The boy and I decided to get engaged last night… on the couch… while his video game was on pause. I know I’m not the first woman to say that APW is extremely good at timing their posts. But seriously, HOW DO YOU DO IT?! Do you have secret mind-reading devices on our computers?

    • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.com/ Jenny- Adventures Along the Way

      Ooh, congrats!

    • Madeline

      AWESOME: while his video game was on pause.

    • Catherine B

      Congratulations!

    • http://landlockedlove.blogspot.com Kelly

      Congratulations!

    • Liz

      Congratulations!

    • Autumn A.

      Congrats! During the pause on the video game… too cute.

  • emily

    We were hurdling down the freeway, discussing the tradition women changing their last names. He started fumbling around in his coat pocket and pulled out a ring that I only gave him a hint of once! It’s perfect, the experience is very “us” as people have said, and I’ll remember it forever.

  • http://threlkelded.net Emily

    “Formality would be involved, and maybe, I don’t know, violins or something.”

    …RIGHT?

    We didn’t even have a proposal, we just decided to get married. And we were never really engaged, because we eloped. There wasn’t even a ring. We had a very long talk in a cocktail bar about the history of our relationship. There were tears, liquors, fancy accoutrements. And when we left, we both knew that we were gonna marry each other. Soon. I think that was less than a month before we actually did it.

    So cheers to not being proposed to!

  • http://www.armyamy.wordpress.com Army Amy*

    Your engagement sounds like it was just right!

    I gotta say, proposals can be so complicated. My husband proposed in a very grand way (a surprise trip across the country to see Phantom of the Opera in NYC!), and I loved it. It was just right for us. BUT I get so embarassed when I tell people about it. I feel like it comes off as though I’m bragging, even though I’m just saying what happened. On the flip side, my husband wants me to tell the world and scream it from the roof tops and brag like crazy. See, complicated!*

    • http://safarimama.blog.com Manya

      Yeah, my husband proposed in epic grand gesture too (one knee, overlooking the Pyramids for Chrissake–though we live in Kenya, so it wasn’t so crazy far). I had never had any of the traditional “stuff” in my first marriage, so I was really overwhelmed by how much he wanted it to be just the way I dreamed it. Heck, the first time around I bought my own diamond for my own self (still have it, though–you don’t have to give back a ring you buy yourself!). Bear with me here, this story does have a point that is about thinking you know what you want and it ending up being perfect as it is….

      When he pulled out my ring, which he HAD NOT consulted me AT ALL about, he was terrified. And truth be told, it is not a ring I ever would have chosen for myself given days to browse a jewelry store. BUT… I think I love it more because it is something that I wouldn’t have chosen for myself–I already had that ring after all. This one was from HIM, and every time I look at it I can see him all over it. (In fact, when he proposed he said: “This ring is just like me: it’s a little too tall, it’s a bit off color, it’s flawed, and it’s about to be totally wrapped around your finger for ever, if you’ll have it, and me.”)

      Well… just last weekend, I was on a trip by myself, and I went into a jewelry store just for fun to try on some of the engagement rings I would have chosen for myself. I put on one after another and every single one was just… wrong. Because not a single one was the ring he chose for me. In the end I love my ring and my man more than any I could have designed for myself.

      • http://unexpected-moments.blogspot.com/ Sheryl

        ‘“This ring is just like me: it’s a little too tall, it’s a bit off color, it’s flawed, and
        it’s about to be totally wrapped around your finger for ever, if you’ll have it, and me.”’

        That is just butterfly inducing beautiful.

      • Kellyh

        Thanks for this Manya. Just last weekend we had the most awkward conversation ever about rings because, let’s face it, I’m a girl who knows what I want. But.. but.. he wants to choose it. By himself. For a second there, I got a little crazy thinking that he just might pick something that I would never choose for myself ever. But that’s the point isn’t it? I’m about as sentimental as it gets over pretty much any gift he’s ever given me, so I imagine anything he comes up with will be just right.

    • Sarah

      My Boy is usually one for grand gestures, so I was surprised by how private his proposal was (but it was just right for us). When people ask about our engagement story, I tend to tell them about how I found out by bank statement that he bought a diamond (no, I wasn’t snooping. HSBC mailed it to me). And how the first time he tried to propose, he spent the whole day throwing up with food poisoning. And how I almost blew his second attempt because I wasn’t wearing my watch (I get anxious about time). How he actually proposed the next day while we watched the waves crash at a tiny seaside chapel in Panama isn’t really the point. The process — in retrospect, our pre-engagement — is.

  • http://medeamaterial.com Jules

    loved this proposal story! My husband and I got engaged online while living in two different countries, a few months after I had moved away from him and the place where we met and had been together for 4 years. There was no ring, there wasn’t much time, and it was quite matter of fact: after things out of our control came up we just stopped planning his visit to my country and started planning my trip back to his home to get married. It is terribly unromantic, but we joke that instead of an engagement ring to show our devotion to each other and intention to get married, we had engagement paperwork: there was lots of running around against the clock and paying fees to get documents, legalizations, notary certificates and overnight mailing so that we could actually get a marriage license!

  • LifeSheWrote

    Thank you for sharing your tale, but thank you just as much for sharing the Bario Neal website! Swoon! Happy hours to be squandered here, for sure! :-)

  • Lturtle

    We also have an “unconventional” proposal story. I told him I wanted to get married, to him. And he dithered. I brought it up again months later, and he said he wanted to put a special surprise proposal together and I just had to wait. So I did, for more months. And then I was done waiting. So I asked him, on the couch at home. And in the office, and in the car, and even in bed, until he said yes. People ask about how he proposed, and when I say that he didn’t I get “then how did it happen?” I say I’m pushy and I badgered him about it until he agreed. It makes him laugh every time. :)
    *I think he felt he should plan some big shebang, rather than really wanting to. He wouldn’t believe I didn’t want that until I asked him myself.

  • MDBethann

    Yay for online dating! FH and I met using Chemistry.com. Our eyes met over coffee/hot chocolate at a DC Starbucks.

    Last February (2011) we went ring browsing so we could find something we both liked. I told FH that I just wanted to be married to him; I didn’t care how he proposed – the ring tied on a ribbon attached to one of our cats, or simply sitting at home on the couch one night. We had a trip to Greece with my family coming up, but he said he wasn’t going to propose there because he didn’t want to fly with the ring. I *knew* he’d been shopping later without me, so I was content to wait and be surprised. Four days into our trip to Greece, while visiting one of the famous monasteries in Meteora (13th century monasteries built on top of rock pillars), he started acting funny, saying he wanted to stay out on the patio until after everyone went inside. After the patio had cleared, he took me over to the rail, reached into his pocket, and pulled out the ring box. I don’t remember crying, just saying yes and hugging him before going inside to tell my parents and sister (who had known for 4 days and miraculously kept the secret). Now, lest this sound too glamorous, please note that I was wearing a ski jacket and a monastery-provided, floral-print wrap skirt (over my pants).

    I told him that we have to go back there for our 25th anniversary when it will be sunny, since the area was cold and cloudy the day we were there.

  • http://onwardfulltilt.blogspot.com Caitlin

    Congrats on your first post Madeline! I loved this, what a great story teller: “‘Will you marry me?’ I asked. ‘Yeah, mmhmm, yeah yeah,’ the guy in the street said.”

    I love that the couch proposals are so at home at APW. Ours happened there too, watching a Mets game in pj’s when Mike took the ring out of his pocket. Take that engagement chicken!

  • Kira D.

    Madeline,

    Congratulations on having the courage to buck tradition and thank you for writing a post about it!

    I also proposed to my Husband, twice! Once fumbled, Leap Year 2008, where I pulled out a ring and put it on his finger about to ask and he said “what are you doing to me?” I told him what was going on but laughed it off and didn’t pursue a serious answer. Then I successfully asked him again 364 days later, next Feb 28th. There were no violins, rings, grand gestures or loud applause from on-lookers –it was just me and him, laying in bed, blissfully starring into each others eyes after a long day of gardening and housework. I smiled at him and asked him to be my secret fiance (we planned on eloping) –he said “Of Course.” We went to bed, eloped 7months later and got Weddinged’ in front of our families the following Summer.

    I was going to wait for him to ask. Then I woke up one morning with absolute clarity that I was done being single and wanted to grow old with my boyfriend as his Wife. (We’d only talked about the hazy “what-if” possibility before –it was always something distant in the future.) I spent some time researching engagements and only unsurfaced advice on how to manipulate him into asking me –it just wasn’t my style (and neither was waiting around once I knew what I wanted) so I asked him. Realizing that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him just seemed too big of a revelation NOT to share with the person that I shared everything else with.

    Like you, it wasn’t the story that we expected but we couldn’t be happier. He smiles with pride when I tell our engagement story, causing shock and surprise on the faces of our listeners, and I feel empowered and brave –having been the one to invite my partner to share his life with me.

  • http://halfpintwords.wordpress.com HalfPint1011

    Fantastic. And Barry O’Neill!!! I nearly had coffee coming out my nose!

    Congratulations. You’ll do just fine here, doll. I can’t wait for more.

  • Niki

    My story is similar to LTURTLE above. We had dated for 5 years before moving in together, lived together for 3 years before [having to] buy a house. Our beautiful rental went into forclosure (thanks landlord). We loved our lives, we loved our home, loved our little dog… And knew it was right to settle down. So now we have it all right? The long term relationship, adopted a second dog, bought an old Victorian home, good jobs, stability… So I started with the nagging. “We should get married!” in the car, on the couch, cooking dinner, eating out, walking the dogs, picking up dog poop… Anywhere and everywhere I asked, hinted, nagged, whatever you want to call it. He always responded with an “uh-ah-uh” or “I guess”, with a shoulder shrug. And finally at 30 years old I had enough waiting! I had been expecting my shy, quiet, reserved hunny to get down on bended knee and make some huge spectacle of himself, because that’s what you always hear, but that is so completely not him. So I texted him while sitting in my cubicle at work and said “we should get married on Sept 1, 2012″ he responded with “Why” I texted again “it’s half way between both our birthdays, soon enough to be legitimate, but far enough away that we can change our minds”, he texted back “Okay”

    Of course I had to double check…

    “So your saying yes?”
    “Yes”
    “So we’re engaged?”
    “I suppose so”
    “You made me propose to you via text message”
    “yep”
    That weekend he took me ring shopping and we set the real date for the 10-year anniversary of the night we met.
    People openly laugh when we tell them that I proposed via text message, but it’s our story and I love it!

    • Madeline

      love the text message idea!

  • http://www.essential-images.com Essential Kate

    Yay, another “she pops the question lady”!! This is my story, too. After FH had been saying, “we” this and that, I cut the crap and asked him to marry me! I’m such a romantic! Forty years later, it still keeps keepin’ on. ;-)

  • Judy

    What a beautiful post! I too was proposed to on our couch. And when I called my mom to tell her she said, “Just like that, in the middle of the afternoon?” yup. Just like that in the middle of the afternoon. :-)

    • http://www.bridesanstulle.com Sharon

      Ha! Sounds like my mom when we called with the news: “It’s Tuesday. Who proposes on a Tuesday?”

  • Susanna

    I’ve a friend whose husband proposed while they were just leaving the house to go get Mexican food. He pulled out a ring, she said yes, and they didn’t skip a beat- they went right on down to the taqueria.
    My own proposal story was a bit more of an affair, involving Crissy Fields Beach, an antique locket, and his grandmother’s ring.
    A diversity of individuals demands a diversity of wedding/proposal stories, not a one-size-fits-all-white-wedding-fairy-tale peddled by the WIC.

  • http://www.thesongsontheway.com Pamela

    Yay Megabus! lol

    I’m sort of in this in between stage. We know we’re getting married. I’m planning the wedding. (We may be getting married as early as July, as late as November… maybe both. Long story.) I need to get on this… but we don’t have a ring yet and we haven’t had a proposal and we probably won’t until July because we’re long distance and he really wants to propose in person. (I’m in love with this ring on etsy… sigh.) But because we’re lacking ring and proposal, we’re not facebook official and only… selectively engaged. (Sometimes we call each other boyfriend/girlfriend, sometimes fiance(e)s). But we’re definitely getting married before 2012 is out! And I’m trying to talk to people about wedding planning… like my mom. And she won’t listen because I’m not officially engaged. But I also know if we just up and announced we were engaged all I’d hear is grief about the proposal and how I don’t have a ring yet (we can’t yet afford the ring). But some things, like getting a dress, can’t wait much longer. So I’ve decided to make an appointment to try on dresses in two weeks, tell my mom about it and give her time to come around… if not me and my maid and matron of honors will be heading out to do it ourselves.

    • Lturtle

      My hubs and I have been married (we eloped) for about 2 1/2 months and we still don’t have rings. (can’t afford them yet) And we didn’t have a proposal as such. You’re engaged if you and your partner agree that you are. Your mom may surprise you by respecting that if you explain. Just make it clear that your commitment to your partner does not equal jewelry.

    • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.com/ Jenny- Adventures Along the Way

      As another bi-national couple (and we were also living in separate countries in the pre-wedding months): yep, sometimes things have to be done out of the “traditional” order. It turned out fine for me and no bridal store places ever gave me a hard time about a lack of ring or anything. (I had been worried about that.) And I found that once we had a date, people took us seriously. (And….if you decide to do a “proposal,” it can always happen just before the wedding after you are in the same country. Ours was on the Wednesday before the Saturday we married. Though my husband had joked that he might propose after the wedding, you know, cause he’s unconventional like that!) Anyhow, good luck with it all!

  • Kelly

    Popped each other’s question! Love it :)
    My husband ordered my ring online, and when it arrived he couldn’t wait to propose so he proposed right then. While I was sitting at the table eating rice bubbles…so with a mouth full of rice bubbles I said yes! Everyone else is disappointed that this is how it went down, but I love it – its so us!

  • Autumn A.

    Love and more love this! Yeah for online dating and proposing in your living room! I didn’t have the ovaries to propose myself (muchos props to you for doing it), but when he did it was in the living room. I walk right through the spot where it happened every day and that makes me happy.

  • JP

    First, we met on OkCupid too!! Yay!

    Second, as I’m in the pre-engaged camp, I’m just now getting first-hand lessons in how much of getting married is going to involve bucking expectations and figuring out what’s right for us. My boyfriend recently brought me in on ring shopping, and we’re both so glad he did. But when he shared this with a friend, the friend was aghast — “Well, don’t you want to surprise her? Put your own touch on the ring??” Of course, what my boyfriend heard was, “Where’s your manhood?!” We talked it through and we’re confident that ring buying together is what’s right for our relationship. . . but, with a proposal on the horizon, I have a feeling this is the first of many similar conversations!

  • Seraphine

    We also have an unconventional proposal story, mostly because it was completely unplanned. About three weeks after we started dating seriously (we had been spending a lot of time together for about 2-3 months), my husband started talking about how his brother was moving really fast with his girlfriend (which his family was concerned about), but then he made a comment about if his brother felt the same way about his GF as he did about me, he could understand why his brother was moving so fast. And then we talked about how when something is right you just know. And skipping ahead a bit:

    Him: (Some comment that made me think about whether or not I would say yes if he asked me to marry him.)
    Me: Quiet thinking
    Him: “You’re quiet. What are you thinking about”
    Me: “I’m thinking about what I would say if you asked me to marry you.”
    Him: “What would you say.”
    Me: “I think I would say yes”
    Him: “That makes a person think.”
    Me: “About what?”
    Him: “About whether I should ask you to marry me.”

    This led to us deciding to get engaged, along with me asking “does this mean we are actually engaged?” (there was no engagement ring involved at any point in the story)

    It’s actually a fun story to tell.

  • Jen

    what a great post! my fiancé proposed in bed, the morning of his birthday. we woke up and he said “I have something for you” – on HIS birthday!! he had made a little book out of pictures of us and inside jokes and little meaningful things…it was so sweet and thoughtful and just perfect for us. It always makes me smile when I think about it! why not get engaged in bed?! :)

  • Moz

    It’s an awesome story and congratulations. You should be proud.

  • http://www.howigotengaged.com HowIGotEngaged.com

    I really enjoyed your story! I wish we had more like this on our site in fact! I think sometimes people feel too much pressure to have the “perfect” proposal or to do something elaborate. But, the important thing is that the proposal is right for the two of you. Congratulations on your engagement!