On Not Loving My Engagement Story


My engagement story is funny. But am I the butt of the joke?

On Not Loving My Engagement Story | A Practical Wedding

In the early days of our engagement, everyone seemed to have the same first question: “How did he ask?” The answer seemed obvious; he said, “Will you marry me?” What more did people want to know? The inflection in his voice? The precise location of his bended knee on our rug? The asking itself seemed both personal and, well, boring to anyone who wasn’t us. But we quickly realized that what people wanted was a story, our “engagement story,” and so, after repeating it approximately a million times, we got pretty good at telling it:

It was the Fourth of July and we both had the day off from work. Mike’s plan was to take me to our favorite pancake house, and then go for a stroll down by the waterfront, where he’d pop the question with the New York skyline as a backdrop. He had been talking for at least a week about going out for pancakes to celebrate our day off together, but I didn’t really think much of it. We have celebratory pancakes pretty frequently, and while the incessant talking about it seemed a little odd, I’m certainly not one to question a pancake offer.

We woke up to a scorching hot day and news that the captain of our favorite hockey team had signed with a new team. All I really wanted to do was sit in front of the AC unit and grump about a millionaire’s lack of loyalty, but Mike was insistent about the pancakes. Of course, I was completely unaware that these were going to be engagement pancakes, and so I took my sweet time getting ready. By the time we stepped out of our apartment, it was noon and 95 degrees. In the shade. We walked the ten blocks or so to the restaurant, and I complained the whole way. Was this even necessary? Couldn’t we have just made pancakes at home? By the time we got there I was dripping with sweat and fully miserable, and to make matters worse, the restaurant was packed and the air conditioning was broken. I gave Mike a big sigh and an eye roll as we slid into our seats, but he kept his spirits up the whole time, chattering on about the street fair and fireworks that were scheduled for later that day.

A few minutes later another couple sat down at the table next to us and immediately started arguing. About marriage. The girlfriend launched into what was clearly a speech that had been memorized from so much repetition. The boyfriend just leaned back in his seat, hands behind his head, and smirked. At our table—about six inches away—Mike and I desperately tried not to burst into fits of awkward laughter. He stared at his menu, considering the engagement ring burning a hole in his pocket. Should he ask now? Would that girl’s head explode? Would it be funny or bad? There was no way to know for sure. Meanwhile, I had dug out my phone to send him a text across the table: “Man, that girl REEAAALLLY wants to get married huh?” Mike read it and looked up at me, forcing a laugh and shoving the ring deeper into his pocket.

As we left the restaurant, I immediately started complaining about the heat again. Mike knew that I would be suspicious if he suggested a sweaty, heat-stroke inducing walk down by the waterfront just for the fun of it, so he tried inventing errands that would take us in that direction. Didn’t I need to go to the store? Maybe we should hit up the bank, take out some cash so we can go to the street fair later? But I wanted no part of it. I was sweaty and my sandals were already creating new blisters on my heat-swollen feet. Who even goes to a street fair in this kind of weather? I wanted to go home, and eventually Mike agreed.

I fanned myself furiously as we entered our apartment, rushing straight to the AC unit in the bedroom window. I turned it on and stood in front of it, huffing and puffing in aggravation, my arms outstretched like I was trying to drip-dry (which, okay, I sort of was). Behind me, I could hear Mike snickering and mumbling something to himself. Certain that he was making fun of me, I whirled around, ready to give him an earful. And there he was. On one knee. In the middle of our bedroom.

It was a good story. People laughed. They thought it was great that he managed to catch me by surprise, no small feat, considering that we share an eight hundred-square-foot apartment. Some suggested that he should have asked at the restaurant, in the middle of that other couple’s fight. That would have made the story even funnier, they said. We’d laugh and nod. Mike would explain that he ultimately decided not to because it would have been mean, and also because he didn’t want our engagement to be a joke.

But the thing is? It was sort of a joke anyway. My terrible mood, the absurd timing of that couple’s argument, the final just-before moment when I wanted to deck the person who was about to ask me to marry him—everyone thought it was hilarious. And I guess it was, but I hated it.

I’m ashamed to admit that for a time, in the early days of our engagement, I was mad at Mike for this. I mean, I was mad at myself, of course; I wished I hadn’t dragged him home, and wondered if we would have had a more romantic engagement story if I’d agreed to go for the walk he’d wanted to take. But also, I was mad at him. When the original plan didn’t work out, why didn’t he wait until a more romantic moment to ask? Didn’t he know that I would want that? And what did it mean about us—about our impending marriage—that he didn’t?

The problem was that my expectations were unrealistic, which was a surprising revelation, considering that I didn’t think I had any expectations to begin with. But with TV shows and romantic comedies and the outrageous proposal videos that circulate the Internet constantly, it’s easy to forget what real life is actually like. Real-life moments are rarely perfectly timed and orchestrated, and real-life emotions are often raw and unexpected. It doesn’t always make for a great story; or sometimes, it does make for a good story—just not the story you wanted.

During the course of our engagement, I’ve learned to accept this, but I’ve also come to understand something even more important than that: the story of that July 4th is not really our engagement story at all. Our engagement story takes place over a much longer span of time, in a collection of moments that would be impossible to tell in any kind of linear way. It’s in the dozens of talks about the future we’ve had in the four years we’ve been together. It’s in the many decisions—both big and small—that have led to the intertwining of our lives over time. It’s in the new traditions we’ve started together (hello, celebratory pancakes!), and the old traditions we’ve invited each other to be a part of. It’s Mike asking me to marry him in one of my uglier moments, knowing without a doubt that the sweaty, frizzy, snarling person in front of him was already his partner for life. Our engagement story is all of these moments, and it’s also every day since, as we choose each other—day after day—regardless of the plan, or the weather, or the mood.

Photo by Elicia Bryan (APW Sponsor)

Courtney Kelsch

Courtney Kelsch is a New Jersey native currently living in Hoboken. A self-proclaimed nerd and perpetual student, she spends most of her time reading literature and the rest of her time trying to write it. She and her fiancé, Mike, are planning a June wedding weekend that will most definitely include celebratory pancakes.

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  • Lou

    For what it’s worth (and not to invalidate how you feel about it), these are my favourite engagement stories to hear BECAUSE they’re so genuine and unmanufactured.

  • Sharon Gorbacz

    Welcome to the club. I was proposed to at 11 PM, when I was half dressed, getting ready for bed. He’d wanted to ask me during the credits of “The Hobbit” earlier in the day, but I’d drank the Bladder Buster and made a beeline for the ladies’ room as soon as the movie ended. He tried to find a time to propose all day, but I was oblivious and kept dragging him on our normal Saturday errands. He finally cornered me as I was taking off my jeans, so there I am standing there with my pants in a puddle around my ankles with him asking “What have I got in my pocket?”

    • C

      My now-husband proposed while we were out of town for my birthday. I had just stepped out of the shower and saw him sitting in our room with a little gift bag. I kind of figured it out at that point. I was only wearing a towel, so he said, “You might want to have on some actual clothes for this.” So I tossed on a t-shirt and shorts and sat there with my dripping hair.

    • JDrives

      Clever and awesome! My nerdy heart is swooning!

    • Abby

      That’s awesome. Especially after The Hobbit. Your guy rocks.

      • Sharon Gorbacz

        I kind of figured that would be the day, if any. ;)

    • Rebekah

      Can I just say, “What have I got in my pocket?” is quite the come on. I’m giggling at the idea of my guy asking me that.

    • ediblesprysky

      “What have I got in my pocket?” is possibly the BEST proposal line I’ve ever heard, even if your pants were around your ankles!

  • Eh

    I am glad that you have been able to see the bigger picture.

    Our engagement story is similar (and also involves pancakes). The way A tells it, he plays up the “hero’s journey” aspects and I am the villain he has to overcome (I blocked two proposal attempts, and a third was aborted when the pancakes looked more like butts than hearts – people have said that he should have proposed with the butt-shaped pancakes).

    I love how he proposed but I did have to get over a few details before I loved it though. I was a bit embarrassed to tell the story to some people because he proposed in bed. After three failed proposal attempts (one on the Friday and two on the Saturday) the ring had a lot of power over him and on the Sunday morning he was hiding under the blankets and I mentioned that he was being antisocial so he cocooned me under the blankets too. We were just hanging out under the blankets and he crawled out of the blankets and told me to stay under them. I heard him get something out of his dresser and I knew it was a ring. He came back under the ring and he said a cute speech and asked me to marry him. I said yes and in the same breathe I asked why he picked that moment (I was thinking “this is what I get?” – my expectations were unrealistic and I also didn’t think I had expectations) and he said “because it was us being us”. He was right (and I got over the “this is what I get?” feeling) – it was the perfect moment. And then he told me about two of the other three attempts (Friday night when I was in a bad mood and Saturday morning with the pancakes). A few hours later I figured out that when he asked to go for a hike on Saturday and I said that we had errands to do that he was trying to take me to one of my favourite places so he could propose.

    • Meg

      guys I really want pancakes now

    • Courtney Kelsch

      Butt-shaped pancakes! That’s great!

      But in all seriousness, that’s a really lovely story. “because it was us being us” – that’s the real deal right there.

      • Eh

        That’s what sold me on the proposal story. From my perspective, as it was happening, it was a horrible story. (“What are people going to think when I tell them that he proposed in bed?”) In the moment all I knew was that we were in bed and he got out and pulled a ring out of his dresser. He was very right that it was us being us – e.g., how we were having a lazy Sunday morning, how nothing was going right for my husband and his impulsiveness (both in buying the ring and in proposing in that moment). He isn’t one for words – actually he usually says the wrong thing – but that time he got it right.

  • emfish

    Thank you for this:

    “Our engagement story takes place over a much longer span of time, in a collection of moments that would be impossible to tell in any kind of linear way. It’s in the dozens of talks about the future we’ve had in the four years we’ve been together. It’s in the many decisions—both big and small—that have led to the intertwining of our lives over time. It’s in the new traditions we’ve started together (hello, celebratory pancakes!), and the old traditions we’ve invited each other to be a part of.”

    We don’t actually have an engagement story, as we just kind of collectively decided to get married without an “official” proposal. Later he bought me a ring I’d picked out, intending it to be a wedding band, to help other people understand that we were engaged (plus, you know, pretty jewelry). But I’ve always felt a little self-conscious about the fact that we don’t have a proposal story, just because people ask about it a lot during the engagement process. But this description perfectly encapsulates how we came to be engaged, and it’s nice to know that even someone with a proposal story sees it pretty much the same way.

    • Nikki

      Yes, I have no story, we just…decided to get married. There’s no ring either. I didn’t want one, I know he wanted to get one, but money suddenly got tight, poor guy…

      I think it’s a reason I haven’t gone around telling everybody I’m engaged, I cringed when the pre-marital counselor asked how he asked….Not something I want to go through over and over again.

      • emfish

        I think the reason it’s annoying is because being engaged seems to come with so much scrutiny. It’s like living in a really small town — suddenly everyone is very interested in what you’re doing and how you’re doing it, and is full of advice and judgment about it all. But if engagement is a small town, marriage is the big city — once you’re married, you become just another anonymous married couple and you can conduct your relationship in private without the eyes of all your friends and family on you. And then people will stop asking how he proposed and where the ring is, because no one will care. And it will be glorious.

        • Nikki

          :) only 3 people at work know that I plan to marry. Very few people in the family know, I just don’t feel like being on display. I have no idea what will happen once the invitations show up in the mail!

        • Courtney Kelsch

          THIS. SO MUCH THIS:
          “I think the reason it’s annoying is because being engaged seems to come with so much scrutiny. It’s like living in a really small town — suddenly everyone is very interested in what you’re doing and how you’re doing it, and is full of advice and judgment about it all.”

      • Sarah E

        Somehow, I’ve managed to dodge almost any questions about our engagement story (no ring, no proposal here, either). Probably in part because most of our local friends are graduate students studying gender, family, etc in the sociology dept. Also because all our family and closest friends live far away now, so the announcement trickled through everyone after telling our parents.

        Generally, when people look for a ring and don’t see one, they haven’t asked me any questions. Hoping my luck on that holds out for the next year. My advice? Own the lack of “story”– or make one up that you like better: “We discussed it for a long time, and then we decided together. It really worked best for our relationship and we’re so excited!” At any rate, like emfish said, it feels like living in a small town, but really, it’s nobody’s business.

      • stella

        We started seeing our priest and arranging the wedding before my now husband had ‘proposed’. When he asked how he had proposed, I said ‘he hasn’t yet’ and the priest thought it was hilarious.

  • Heather

    Oh my gosh, is Stacks the pancake house? Because if ever there were a place for celebratory pancakes, it would be there, I’d think.

    • Amy March

      Oh gosh I remember that day in Hoboken too. It was so disgustingly hot we needed restorative margaritas at 10:30.

    • Amanda

      As an ex-Hoboken resident I was wondering the same thing!

    • laddibugg

      I’m the weirdo that likes everything else there BUT the pancakes.
      I’m very specific about my ‘cakes though.

    • Courtney Kelsch

      Yes, it’s Stacks! :-)

      • Melanie

        I guessed you were a fellow Hoboken resident halfway through reading!

  • Sara

    I wasn’t thrilled with our engagement story either, but in the end it turned out really ok. We took a trip together to Niagara Falls for our 7th anniversary, which had been a stop on the bus trip where we first met. Then, the morning of the day that we were going to propose to each other, we got the call that my grandfather had passed away. So I spent the day crying while he re-packed us for the 16 hour drive to the funeral.
    A month or so later, we were sitting at home. We’d had a nice night, and we were watching Dr Who, and he had climbed onto the couch to sit in front of me to protect me from the weeping angels, because he knows they scare me to death. It was a happy, lovey moment, and I just said “let’s do it.” But first…. we had to clean up the living room a bit to have a good space to kneel…
    Not quite the story we tried to have, but in the end it was just us, in real life, doing what we do, and being in love in a day-to-day way. Which is why I’m marrying the guy in the first place!

  • http://readingandthensome.blogspot.com/ Martha Smith

    My husband proposed while I was mid-clothes change on a Monday night after work one week before Christmas.

    The End.

    Epilogue: We’ve been married almost one year and are having a baby girl in August. Cheers!

    • ART

      hehe…my fiance was not wearing any pants when he proposed. we were at home, it was warm in the house, and the question just spilled out of him. i think even he was surprised (although he had told everyone he was planning to ask at some point and just hadn’t figured out “how”). it was great :)

  • KT

    i waited a year being told a romantic, planned proposal was coming. realised it was not, went nuts. something clicked for him and he was suddenly ready. he was going to propose on our anniversary. except come that day he hadn’t ordered the ring (thought he could just pick it up -huh?!) or planned anything. so we thought through a few possibilities, picked and went through with one. it sounds nice enough for people who want that. but a few closer people know the real course of that day. and i still kind of consider our first talk (after tat big fight, 2 months before engagement day) about the practicalities of a wedding the point we became engaged. i am still a little bummed that he didn’t put any thought into it and i know i will be just a touch jealous of a few of my friends who are likely to get ‘amazing’ proposals but hey ho. i love him for being exactly who he is, not bowing to outside influences and not feeling the need to splash the cash.

  • AG

    I’ve said this before on this site, but this seems like a good place to say it again: I think we all have two engagement stories. There’s the story we tell people- the good, usually funny and romantic story- and the real, often complicated story. You can’t compare your actual engagement to other engagement stories, because we only hear the stories our friends choose tell us. Our engagement story is pretty funny, but I also choose to tell it that way. For one thing, I love that our story is funny and sweet, but I also don’t want to talk about all the complications leading up to our engagement because that’s personal and not nearly as fun. Of course your engagement is more complicated and wonderful than your engagement story, but I think everyone knows that, and it’s ok to laugh at and enjoy the engagement story you choose to tell.

    • swarmofbees

      So true. As the curator of my engagement story, I very carefully chose what to include and what to exclude to tell a truthful story, even if it is not necessarily the whole truth.

      • AG

        Exactly! And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, but it can be isolating when you feel like you’re the only one doing it.

        • swarmofbees

          Isolating is just the way to describe it.

    • http://karenmadrone.wordpress.com/ Karen

      Absolutely. M and I became “committed” in early 2012 when we bought each other rings. We didn’t know where we’d be living who was going to end up moving, etc but we knew we were committed to being together. By the fall of 2012 things started falling into place. She had a new job, we bought a townhouse together and things were going well – but her house still wasn’t selling (and still hasn’t sold). Our goal was to wait until the house sold before we announced our engagement and picked a day. But then – and this is totally unromantic – we noticed that some of our older friends were getting ill. And we *really* wanted them to be at our wedding. They totally love M and have since she first appeared in my life. So we decided to pick a date, even if it was still a year out (and now it’s THIS SATURDAY!) and make it happen. At that point we announced our engagement, still wearing the same rings. We always knew we were going to get married the question was when. I’m sad to say that one of our friends died last fall which makes me quite sad. We will be lighting a candle in honor of those who have passed on. It is really not romantic to say “we picked a date and announced our engagement because we noticed that people around us were getting older and might not make it to our wedding” and yet that’s how it was.

      • Sharon Gorbacz

        I wanted to get engaged and married much earlier than we did for a similar reason – we lost quite a few family members, including my father and stepfather, before we were able to tie the knot.

        • http://karenmadrone.wordpress.com/ Karen

          So sorry to hear that. I think it’s important both for the couple getting married and for the friends and family present. It’s frustrating when the timeline doesn’t work out how we’d like it to.

      • AG

        Congratulations on your wedding this week! We’ll be just a couple weeks after you!

        • http://karenmadrone.wordpress.com/ Karen

          Thank you! Wedding season is upon many of us. APW keeps me sane!

    • ElisabethJoanne

      It’s not just engagement stories. I think we do this for whole relationships – to some extent for our whole lives. I have one story about why I chose to attend law school across the country for casual and professional relationships, and one for close friends and family. I say one thing about law school itself to colleagues, and a very different story to friends. (Though the longer I’m out of law school, the more the story at work becomes closer to the true story with friends.) And the way I present my marriage is very different to everyone but APW, my doctors, and my face-to-face support groups.

    • Kestrel

      Yup. Our real engagement story is being in the basement of my parents house after thanksgiving just having a ‘state of the relationship’ conversation, me saying “I’d say yes if you asked” and then us freaking out about it for the next few hours and deciding we were actually engaged, but we weren’t going to tell anyone until it was ‘proper’ (aka, had a ring). It took us 4 months to find a ring I liked, and then another month to overcome the social anxiety to actually get that ring. By which point, my sister had just gotten engaged.

      So therefore, we set out an ‘official’ proposal time/date which was our 5th anniversary – September 21st. We recreated our 2nd date and then he asked me officially by the portage (the river kind of thing in our college town). And by that time we had already decided that our wedding would be on our 6th anniversary.

      He considers the one by the portage to be the ‘real’ one, I consider the one in my parents’ basement to be the ‘real’ one, but it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that we got engaged, and are getting married!

  • Jenni

    I felt the same sort-of anger at my fiance, for not “giving” me a good story. Everyone wanted to know how he proposed. You could see the need in their eyes for it to be super romantic. I felt embarrassed to tell them it was in the living room of our house after a typical day, not outside, not near the water or in nature, not part of any planned excursion. [Not like so many of my friends ...]

    Then one day I remembered my parents story, and I realized it was the same–my dad proposed in a living room as they ate dinner (in a house with no furniture)! It’s not what you’d call a Big Gesture story, but I’ve always loved it. Everything about their story seemed so romantic to me, because they were my parents and I could see their love. It made me relax and accept my engagement story for what it is: the end to a very long road, and the beginning of an even better one.

    Thanks for sharing yours–I think it helps to read other people’s experiences and how they take ownership of their stories.

    • Class of 1980

      The other thing about your parents is that their generation wasn’t expected to have a “proposal story”. At 55, it’s one of those things I can’t even wrap my head around.

      It’s not that people didn’t plan romantic proposals back then. It was just private and few people asked about it. Your parents probably feel pretty good about their proposal!

      Our generation tends to ask … “So, how did you two meet?”

      • Natalie

        Yeah, my dad cannot remember how he asked my mother. When I asked he kind of just looked at me and said, “well…. I wanted to marry her, so I got a ring and I asked her” he thought about it for a second and then added, “your mother may tell that story very differently, though”

      • Alyssa M

        Yeah, it’s one of my mother’s pet peeves. “You’re engaged when you decide to get married! I have no idea why these girls all think they /need/ a fancy /story/. Your cousin even invited a photographer along! How silly!”

      • Jules

        My generation has also prom proposals, homecoming proposals, bridesmaid proposals….the list goes on. It’s no wonder we all feel such pressure to write this fairy-tale.

        The majority of stories I’ve heard are very down to earth, just like this one. I actually thought this story was quite normal and quite heartfelt and downright adorable. A proposal is so romantic in itself, whether it goes “ideally” or not…I can’t think of a single one that I’ve heard and didn’t go “aww!” to immediately.

  • Audrey

    This was my engagement story. Sort of. My guy had made a ‘surprise date’ for me weeks in advance, which is very out of character. So I guessed it was coming since we had recently had getting married discussions. We drove to the surprise date, and I could see the outline of the ring box in his pocket. I burst out laughing and tried to put my hand on his thigh for the rest of the drive.

    Then we got to the date. It was at some random woman’s house for a cooking class. The class was beer themed, and fun, but surely I thought he wasn’t going to ask there. Afterwards, in her lawn I pulled him close for a kiss to say thanks, and he says, “Fine, I’m doing this!” I say, “Don’t you want to go walk near the river, it’s close?” “Nope” And he gets down on one knee and asks me to marry him, in this woman’s lawn.

    I said yes, and laughed the rest of the night at the absurdity of it all. Not perfect or romantic, but it worked out for us for sure!

  • Meg

    Yeah that’s the thing you can come to terms with the fact that an engagement isn’t going to be like on TV or the movies (and nor should it!! It’s a personal moment!) but people kind of expect it to be and expect you to rattle off the story of it.

  • jashshea

    This is so hilarious. But I understand not loving it straight away. My husband’s proposal was pretty freaking epic (long hike, waterfall, foreign country), but initially I was irked that so many people knew it was going to happen before I did (like, every family member, coworker, and hot-dog vendor he spoke to for at least a month in advance). I got over that after a week or so when I realized that he was just so excited and couldn’t stop talking about. His enthusiasm is a big part of what I love about him, so, DUH, how awesome is it that he was crazy enthused about proposing.

    • Courtney Kelsch

      Oh yeah, my fiancé did the same thing. EVERYONE already knew. I would have liked to be the one to tell at least a few people, but ultimately, I felt the same way you did – that it was great that he was so excited about proposing.

      • Meghan

        Ditto on the husband telling the world before the proposal. I had to make six phone calls afterward before I reached someone who didn’t already know. There was also the fact that a friend of ours/coworker of his had told any coworker who would listen at a party that week. And that my husband had to wait through hours (as he tells it, at least) of local election gossip by my uncles to tell them. Or our friend who was helping him with some details totally forgetting about it day-of and him trying to remind her in code while I was around. In the end, those little parts of the story are actually my favorite; they’re what make the story uniquely ours and not just another “awwwww” story.

        (Side note: fist bump from another NJ-native-living-in-Hudson-County, Courtney!)

  • Megan

    My hub had quite a bit of pressure when he was planning to propose because of my sister’s engagement story: My BIL was studying abroad in Austria at the time and my sister went over during Christmas/New Years to visit along with his parents. On New Year’s Eve, they went to the opera house in Vienna and he proposed to her at the top of the grand staircase with his dad taking pictures.
    SOOOOO……a few years later when he was planning to propose, he had that story hanging over his head. Poor guy. And he’s not a big showy romantic, either. He’s much more about doing small things like randomly buying my a movie he knows I like. When our 5 year anniversary came up, we were planning on going out to eat to celebrate. He had just come over to my apartment and I was quickly trying to finish getting dressed and ready to go. Suddenly he was in the doorway to my bedroom with this plastic giant fake diamond ring (literally the kind you get out of a machine for a nickel) asking me to marry him. I really truly thought he was joking and laughed. Then I realized he was serious and (of course) said yes! Then we picked out a rang together later that night.

    • Aurora Parlin

      I, too, had an awesome engagement story hanging over my head! The story for my parents goes that my dad showed up to my mom’s office with a grocery list. She looked it over, said “Sure, I’ll pick up thsi stuff,” and stuffed it in her pocket. He stood there, shuffling his feet, and then finally left. When she got to the grocery store she looked at the list and thought, “Wait, he wants me to get margarine and licorice? What an odd request.” And then she realized he had written down “marriage license.” I had this big to-do planned originally: I was going to whisk her off to the Rock ‘n’ Shock horror movie con and propose to her with the help of one of her favorite actors, Doug Bradley, with a puzzle box shaped like the Lament box from the movie “Hellraiser” (and I was going to have a friend take pics). And then I ended up proposing to her the week before the con in her parents’ living room while we were alone together (although still with a puzzle box). For aaaaaages (even still a little bit now!) I felt terrible that our proposal “story” wasn’t really, well, a story. I had wanted something big and memorable and “oh wow, how cute!” worthy. I’ve even tried to “buffer” the story so that it sounds cuter when I tell it. But my fiancee ensures me all the time that she loves the proposal and is relieved that I didn’t actually do it in public because of her social anxiety.

  • LisaG

    I managed to thwart my own proposal for an entire week. My husband had made a custom Sporkle quiz to ask me because we played a lot of Sporkle back then. He had the tab for the quiz open and the ring in his pocket at least twice, but I kept being grumpy or tired so he waited. At least one day I was grumpy because I didn’t think he had bought my ring yet. At the end of the week we were hanging out at his apartment and playing Sporkle. I knew something was up when he asked me to sit in his desk chair to type the answers (he usually likes to be the one to type). After I finished the quiz he got down on one knee by the desk chair and asked me himself. And then he told me about how he had been waiting all week to do it!

  • http://lwdress.com Allie

    A good proposal story does not a happy marriage make. I didn’t even make it down the aisle.

    I think your story is adorable and not at all a joke.

  • etherealclarity

    The official story is that we flew in and checked into a hotel for a conference we were attending together. We had ordered room service and I was trying to hook my computer up to the internet when he asked for my help with something. I turn to him and he has a ring and says something along the lines of “Hey, will you like, marry me and stuff?”

    The real story is that a month earlier, I got fed up and frustrated with waiting for his ducks to stop being wily (he was unemployed) and said something along the lines of “Can we just be engaged and worry about the details later?” And he said “…okay.” And then apparently started ring shopping for the “official” proposal.

    Neither story fills me with a lot of romantic joy, or makes me excited to tell the story. But our relationship makes me excited. Our marriage makes me excited. I may not have gotten a romantic speech, but later in the night after he proposed, after we had called our parents and texted our friends and changed our facebook statuses, later when we got into the luxuriously roomy King-size hotel bed and turned out the lights, we snuggled and he whispered all sorts of romantic things about how much I meant to him and all of his thoughts and fears and desires for us.

    Funny enough – it’s been just over two years since he proposed, and this weekend we’re heading back to the scene of the crime. I think we might even be staying in the same hotel. And it feels awfully romantic to me now.

  • thislittleredcat

    To be fair, I have what is to me anyway, the absolute perfect engagement story. I think I’ve told it here before. Anyway, it is a bit long and a little sappy and four years after we got engaged and nearly three years of marriage later, the story feels a little obnoxious and I don’t like telling it anymore (but seriously, people still ask sometimes). Also, my favorite part to tell now (but which I probably omitted four years ago) is that I was a bit drunk and impaired so I texted my mom to tell her, like the worst daughter in the world. So maybe the way you feel about your engagement story will change overtime. The story may change over time.

  • Lindsay Rae

    What a beautiful revelation at the end of your piece. There’s always something that happens which sends “plans” awry, and you’re right – it makes it more real life!

    I think your story is funny, yes (seriously what are the odds of sitting next to that couple at breakfast…) but certainly not a joke. Congratulations and lots of luck! :)

  • Gina

    This reminds me that it’s okay my poor husband hates our engagement story. He wanted to do The Grand Gesture, and I kid you not, watched youtube videos of choreographed proposals for months ahead of time. But in the end, he was working out of town for weeks straight and ended up proposing Christmas morning in front of my family when we were all in pajamas. Honestly, that’s exactly what I wanted. But to this day, he still tries to tell me about his other plans that were more elaborate and original.

  • Kina

    I’m coming from the other side of this in that I was horrified by the idea of having an engagement story – for me personally, it felt like if I expected or asked that of my partner, I was demanding that he prove his love (which he shouldn’t have to do, at least no more that me) and asking that he spend a lot of money on me and show that he “earned” my marrying him (with an engagement ring) (again, just how I felt about it for myself, not a judgment). So, we had no story – we had a conversation and decided we were ready, and count our engagement as starting when we called our parents later that day to tell them. And I love that! When my friends ask, I tell them the truth. And you know, people should be celebrating that you made the decision to spend your lives together, because that’s what you want and make you happy. I think we all need to give ourselves permission to love our stories, whether they are stories or non-stories or moments or whatever, and everyone else permission to be happy about the big “we’re-getting-married” part of the engagement rather than obsess about how it all happened.

  • Joy

    My husband popped the question the day he picked up the ring because he just wanted it on my finger already- we’d decided to get married months before. We were in Paris, it was hot, we went to the fountain where we’d had our first kiss but there were arguing Romanian women hogging “our” bench and completely ruining the mood. We walked to Tuileries but it was crowded and so hot. I was sick of Paris and just wanted to not be in the crush of heat and tourists so we got on the train and I suggested going to one of my favorite little villages. Unfortunately the train station was farther from the actual village than I had thought so cue more hot exhausting walking. It didn’t help that I knew what was happening and I wanted to help him make it perfect, but we were so so tired and hot. Anyway, eventually made it to the village, sat in the shade, had a diablo, then set off for an idyllic spot. Unfortunately everyone else had the same idea. Anyway he proposed. Down on one knee on the side of the cobblestone bridge, and despite the fact that we’d already agreed to get married, that I knew exactly what he was planning to do, that he “messed up” the words it was still lovely and perfectly us and he still managed to take me by surprise.

  • scw

    I love reading all of these stories! I knew when the proposal was coming, roughly, because we picked our ring out together and I knew when it would be ready to pick up. we had both tuesday and friday off together that week and when he didn’t propose on tuesday I assumed it would happen friday around dinner. it did happen that friday, but not dinnertime. in the morning, we went into center city (philly) so he could go grocery shopping and I could get my allergy shots. when I left my allergy shots, he was waiting on the sidewalk with a bottle of champagne. he said that, since I expected it, it was the only time he thought he could catch me off guard. he proposed right on chestnut street in front of the office – my doctor LOVES this story! – and then we walked to rittenhouse square and drank champagne in the rain. leading up to it, I thought he’d have a whole big day planned and wondered what it would be. in reality, he proposed early so I could plan our whole day myself in the moment and it was perfect for us. we spent the day stopping in on local friends and favorite bars (we may have gone out to TWO dinners!). the proposal took a long time to arrive and wasn’t really what I was expecting, but even though I was pretty impatient through the pre-engaged state, I wouldn’t go back and change anything.

  • BD

    I hated telling my engagement story – not because I personally didn’t love it, but because I could tell everyone had expectations and this story just wasn’t going to live up to them. It was a small, quiet engagement, not even a surprise really, which was perfect for us but not perfect for the WIC. No restaurants or flowers or public declarations or any kind of romantic aspect, although he did get down on one knee.

  • http://simply--a.blogspot.com/ Alison Toback

    “Our engagement story takes place over a much longer span of time, in a
    collection of moments that would be impossible to tell in any kind of
    linear way. It’s in the dozens of talks about the future we’ve had in
    the four years we’ve been together. It’s in the many decisions—both big
    and small—that have led to the intertwining of our lives over time.”

    THIS. I still occasionally mourn my engagement story. We technically had two, because the first time, Ken didn’t know he was going to propose (we had been talking about it for awhile, though) and we happened to be in our pajamas, at home, at 10 pm, and he didn’t have a ring. We ended up picking out a ring together and he proposed “for real” in Key West at the B&B where we stayed on our first real vacation together… but there was no one to photograph it and it was 900 degrees and I kind of wasn’t surprised at all.

    But that quote up there? Is perfection. And in the end, our engagement story was perfect for us, too.

  • Lynn

    I always say, “Together we decided to get married, and then he proposed…”. To me it importantly emphasizes all those beforehand moments, the conversations we had, and my part in the whole thing.

    • Alyssa M

      I do that too! Even my wedding website says “We decided it was time, and then…”

  • JDrives

    What I love about this, and other stories where partners seem to catch their ladies in not-the-best moods or times, is that they propose anyway! They aren’t waiting until their partner is being their best self, and do it then. That’s one of the loveliest parts of when you’re going to marry someone, that they love you ALL the time, not just when you’re fantastically made up and on your best behavior. You pointed this out beautifully, Courtney – “It’s Mike asking me to marry him in one of my uglier moments, knowing without a doubt that the sweaty, frizzy, snarling person in front of him was already his partner for life.” Bravo and congratulations!!

  • SarahG

    My parents lied about their engagement for years; I found out a couple of years ago that my mom had been pregnant, they told their families, mom’s family kinda demanded a proposal, then mom had a miscarriage, and my dad proposed when she got home from the hospital. As religious folks, they are still ashamed of this, but I think it’s an awesome story. They’ve been together for over 40 years, and are generally pretty happy, despite having had a quasi-shotgun wedding a mere 6 months after they started dating. All that is to say, there’s what’s real and important, and then there’s what we tell people… they aren’t always the same thing (although I think the world would be a better place if they more often were the same thing).

  • E

    I had spent the evening with his sister (with whom I have nothing in common) and I was exhausted when I got home. We were in bed, he was talking and I was trying to sleep. He kept saying nice things and proposed at ~11:30pm on a Thursday with me barely awake. No ring, but I had told him before I didn’t need a ring at the proposal. Unexpectedly, nobody really asked us about how we got engaged which is ok. I also got very few questions about why I didn’t have a ring for ~7 months.

  • cerin

    So I didn’t even feel bad about our story until recently at a party where everyone was telling their engagement stories around in a circle. Mine felt very anti-climactic when I told it. And one chick had the nerve to say “And you’re marrying him after THAT?!” I could’ve bitch slapped her. But I’m trying to reclaim it a little now, because it is very “us”. Neither of us is much for the fanfare and gooshy staged things. So, here it is: He had planned on proposing on New Years Eve, but according to him rings feel like a hot potato and once they are in your possession, you just want to get rid of them. So the night before NYE, a Monday I believe it was, we were hanging out at home. Pajamas, couch, cat, Liz Lemon, and a box of Monday wine. He leaves the room and I hear some rummaging around in the other room. When he comes back in he is holding a small thing in his hands and sort of tosses it at me and says, “oh, hey- this is for you.” I knew immediately and the first thing I said/screamed was “that’s a tiny box!!!” as if that made sense. Anyways, inside was a pretty little vintage art deco ring and at some point he actually said the words “will you marry me?” And it was perfect. Even more perfect because it was a surprise and then we actually got to enjoy our NYE and celebrate and drink all the champagne… instead of me being nervous and wondering if he was going to propose, like I had been doing for the previous 5 years worth of holidays. :)

    • KC

      I love “that’s a tiny box!!!”. :-)

      I occasionally wonder what it might be like to be part of that portion of human beings who apparently say the appropriately romantic things at the officially correct times even when very emotional and/or surprised. And then I go back to enjoying the way things actually are for us, because getting one’s lines precisely correct according to the general formula for romance is, I believe, overrated. :-)

  • Bets

    I like how my engagement came about, but I’ve always had a hard time telling the “how we met” story. We met at work, at a job we both hated and I was in a very unhappy place in my life when I had to take that job. I still have a very hard time thinking about that period in my life, and when I’m deeply depressed I think our relationship is doomed because I was so miserable and so not myself when we met.

    On the other hand, he’s managed to turn it into this cute story about how he had ducked out for a coffee break on his first day at work, thinking he’d be able to get some peace and quiet, and then I appeared, and he found that he couldn’t stop talking to me…

  • Kayjayoh

    “It’s Mike asking me to marry him in one of my uglier moments, knowing without a doubt that the sweaty, frizzy, snarling person in front of him was already his partner for life.”

    I’m not going to cry at work, just so you know. But… if I were… this would be why.

  • Stacie

    If you had described what ended up being my proposal to me two years ago, I would have said “meh”. I wanted a very quiet proposal. I wanted him to simply roll over in bed one night, with a ring in his hand, a-la “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”.

    What I got instead was my birthday lunch with all my friends, my mom and his mom and sister flown in for the occasion, and the whole thing live-streamed to friends and family who couldn’t make it. And while it was wonderful, and I was completely surprised, and have never been so happy in my life (I actually said “I think I’m going to throw up!”, at one point, I was so overwhelmed!), when I came down, I found that I actually had to mourn the loss of the quiet, intimate proposal I had originally wanted. But— this is what worked for FH. He is someone who always wants everyone he loves included, and that’s one of the reasons I love him (and one of the reasons we have a big bridal party, oy). And it’s kind of wonderful that whenever we want to relive it- it’s up there on the cloud. :) It’s not just MY engagement story, it’s OURS. Thusly will the marriage be. :)

    • Jess

      Um… I love that you wrote this. I am a Not-A-Big-Deal personality when it comes to events/celebrating good things. I’m not one to be fussed over, I like quiet and intimate for things that really matter, and my dream proposal is one in which we are at home and alone.

      I probably would be extremely embarrassed and unhappy about the kind of a proposal you had. Reading your description made me feel rather ill. But your outlook on it (“…It’s OURS.”) made me feel a little more at peace with some of the ways that R celebrates/tries to celebrate. So thanks.

      • Stacie

        You’re welcome! The irony is that I am anything but a shy person- both FH and I trained as performers, and love a good spotlight. :)

        BTW, my partner is an “R” as well. :)

    • Sarah E

      OUR engagement story. So right.

  • ElisabethJoanne

    Thank goodness I was in a very male-dominated social circle when we got engaged?? No one but TheKn*t asked our “engagement story.” I put it up on our wedding website, which I suppose satisfied my mother’s and her staff’s curiosity. (She has women-dominated work and social circles.) I know my husband provided some narrative to a couple of his buddies.

  • Whitney Huynh

    While I don’t hate my engagement story, I did struggle with feeling a bit disappointed that certain traditional steps were not taken. I grew up in a very small town and traditions were important in my family. Growing up I dreamed of falling in love with a man who would one day ask my dad for my hand. My now husband, never asked him. He just proposed and I still to this day wish he’d asked him first. It might seem like a silly, and petty thing, but to me it was important. Thanks for sharing! We all feel you!

  • Kendra D

    Our engagement story is that we were cuddled in bed, discussing out future after a long day of work for him and he realized that he wanted to marry me so he asked. No ring, no flowers, no “big” moment. Yet I still get a heady rush every time I think about it and we’re closing in on four years since he asked. We modified it slightly for family (who didn’t approve of our living together) that we were on a park bench, but still, it remains the same. The moment was full of the quiet, everyday kind of love that I know will carry us through the rest of our lives together.

    • Eh

      We got engaged in bed too and we tell certain people (e.g., grandparents and very conservative relatives) that we were having a lazy Sunday morning hanging out on the couch.

      • Kendra D

        Haha, I’m glad I’m not the only one who has to modify the story for conservative relatives. Our proposal stories have “ratings” and different “cuts” just like movies!

  • Christina Cusolito

    “Real-life moments are rarely perfectly timed and orchestrated, and real-life emotions are often raw and unexpected. It doesn’t always make for a great story; or sometimes, it does make for a good story—just not
    the story you wanted.”Great sentence! I so very relate.

    GET THIS: Not an hour after my future husband proposed, our frickin’ (beloved) dog GOT HIT BY A CAR. We were literally on the phone with Jason’s dad telling him the good news, when we received a frantic knock at the door by a panicked woman who had just hit our dog. In an instant, our overwhelming joy was replaced by gut-wrenching fear. As we rushed to the vet, I secretly wondered if this was a bad omen for our marriage. I mean, of all the days for our dog to get hit by a car! Luckily, Pink only had a few broken ribs and a pneumothorax, but he had to stay at the ER overnight. In the parking lot, we decided to go to a wine bar for some belated celebration, but really I just wanted to go home and cry. I was so sad and so confused about what the misfortune meant. For several weeks, I was reluctant to mention the dog-getting-hit-by-a-car thing when telling our engagement story because I didn’t want to give anyone else a chance to say anything along the lines of it being bad luck. I also felt vaguely ashamed about the incident, like maybe I didn’t deserve a “good” engagement story. Fortunately, the negative feelings have faded over the months, and now I (almost) think the story is funny. When relaying it to others, I make the joke that our dog is just so high-maintenance that he got himself hit by a car right after our engagement because he was so desperate for the focus to be back on him!

    P.S. Great use of em dashes! I’m a sucker for a well-placed em dash!

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

      I am a fan of em dashes too. :)

    • JDrives

      Aw!! What a scary happening to piggyback on such a joyful moment. I’m a pup owner myself and this would devastate me. I admire your ability to reframe it into a joke after the fact and reclaim that joy :)

  • H

    We got bombarded by a tour group led by a megaphone-weilding guide a mere seconds after the question was popped. It was sort of mortifying at the time, especially since it turns out that the “romantic” sight we chose was actually the exact location of an execution -_- But, life goes on. In retelling, it’s all about how you spin it!

  • Tania

    Through the whole engagement / wedding thing it felt like that while the wedding was a big public celebration, the engagement was and always will be just for the two of us. He could have done anything – it wouldn’t change the way my heart exploded when I saw his hand outstretched and holding out the ring he’d chosen for me. That moment for me was when we were married :-)

  • Naomi

    I was grumpy the day we got engaged too. It was my 30th birthday and I really wasn’t that well so I was fractious and tired. When I told people that we’d got my lovely man had asked me to marry him they 1. Wanted to see the ring, and I had no ring, he bought me a necklace and we picked the ring together a few weeks later. And 2. They told me it was no surprise and that they’d thought he was going to ask! It surprised me though, and it was still a very special day.

  • Aj

    Until our wedding nobody but our officiants knew our real proposal story. I had intended to wait until our anniversary to propose but, as mentioned above, once you have the ring it burns a hole in your pocket. We were out at dinner, in Virginia where we lived at the time, and I took out the ring to propose and as the words were coming out of my mouth, the people at the table next to us started laughing and rolling their eyes at us. I put the ring back in my pocket and planned a different day filled with our favorite activities and then proposed at home. That’s the story we tell everyone. And then we tell how she proposed to me. It really sucks that the first attempt ended that way…

    • Alyssa M

      those people next to you SUCKED!

  • Kelsey

    When I was proposed to, I was wearing a foam visor on my head. It has a sea turtle coming up out of waves. When I saw my then-boyfriend walking towards me when he wasn’t supposed to be in the same state as me, I considered taking it off, but then I didn’t really know what to do with it, so I left it on. Now I’m kind of glad none of the people who knew I was about to be proposed to told me to take it off. It makes the story more fun.

  • Jackie

    this is perfect and lovely and he sounds like just the kind of partner we all deserve.

  • Anon because obviously

    I hate my engagement story and very few people know the truth. I don’t even want to write it out now. Basically, we skipped fancy dinner reservations where the proposal was supposed to happen, went out drinking and dancing instead, and I was too drunk. Sick all night, and he gave me the ring in bed the next morning while I was hung over. None of which I want to share with acquaintances or coworkers. Luckily, that is the engagement story and not the wedding or marriage story.

  • Melissa

    I have to say, it’s so reassuring to read the stories of those of you who have found the beauty in a not-so-exciting proposal. It’s hard to admit now, but I struggled for months with our engagement story — he asked on a weeknight, in our living room, in our pajamas. He didn’t use my full name. He didn’t prepare any sort of romantic speech. The juxtaposition of the moment — contrasted against the very picture of romance that had unfolded earlier in the evening (a post-birthday-dinner stroll through the park at sunset, where an old Italian gentleman was playing an accordion beneath a willow) — was a tough pill to swallow, even though of course it didn’t matter. I’ve since learned to honor the simple moments (reading my parents’ honeymoon journal helped: “A man named Al is staying at the campsite next to ours. He gave us a bite of his apple as a wedding gift.” <– The eighties, man!). It's not always easy (I'm hardwired to obsess over details), but constantly reminding myself that the best things in life are truly simple helps.

  • Clur

    We have a ‘rubbish’ engagement story too, but I’m not sure I’m bothered now (3 days to the wedding, eek!) It was intended to be nice and romantic, we went to Istanbul for my 30th birthday, and he was clearly planning to do something nice while we were there. Unfortunately, he was so nervous and stressed about it, he blurted out ‘shall we get married then’ in the middle of dinner. Even more unfortunately, he’d thrown me off the scent so much beforehand I thought he was just joking. And did not say yes. I realised a few hours later that he’d been serious, whoops.
    In the end he did the ‘proper’ proposal up a mountain on one of the nearby islands, which was going to be our official story, but we ended up sharing the funny/awkward one anyway. Because a big romantic proposal isn’t really us, but slightly awkward and silly is!

  • VenusAD

    My engagement story is amaazing. I mean, like freaking perfect. My fiance basically chose my favorite things and treated me to an amazing vacation and it was basically a dream come true (for the curious: Disney World in Cinderella’s Castle and in the meantime we lodged at Disney’s Animal Kingdom).

    BUT when a coworker asked me for details other then where and when and how aweosme was it, I got really flustered and felt so inadequate. He asked me what my fiance actually SAID and I…I blanked. I honestly don’t remember anything he said except “Will you Marry me”. I don’t even remember if he said my full name! Argh.

    So…my point is, even with a proposal of your dreams, real life means you’ll probably still have a story with flaws to later tell. ^_^

  • laurabird

    I actually love our engagement store (which only happened
    about two and a half weeks ago!) but I don’t think I’ve told a single person
    the full version of it. At least one part gets left out (or slightly modified)
    depending on who I’m telling. But now I want to tell the whole thing, so thanks
    for giving me a place!

    I like plans, and timelines, and I’m not a fan of surprises.
    So I got him to give me a range at least, and he told me it would be sometime
    between my birthday (mid March) and summer. My birthday rolled around, my mom
    came to visit for the weekend, and I just knew that he had asked her to bring
    my grandmother’s ring that I’ve known for years I wanted.

    A few days later, we went out with some of his friends, and
    while waiting for them at the bar, he brought up the whole getting married
    thing, we talk about when and where and wondered if we could rent out this one
    restaurant in San Francisco where we used to live because they have the most
    amazing pickles ever. At some point, I mention that since the engagement ring
    and wedding band of my grandma’s have been soldered together, I probably
    wouldn’t want to get them separated, just because it’s an old ring and I
    thought it might hurt it. We end up drinking copiously that evening, and by the
    time we get home, we’re both fairly drunk. As I was kicking off my heels, he
    appeared in front of me, got down on one knee, and said something about how he
    loves me and wants me to be his wife. I wish I remembered the exact words, but
    again, drunk.

    I had about thirty emotions go through me over the next ten
    seconds, including terror that he was only doing this now because he was drunk
    and would regret it tomorrow. I said something dumb like “okay, you have
    to do this again when you’re sober, but yeah, of course” and he put the
    ring on me. At some point I gave the ring back to him because I was thinking
    this doesn’t count. But he gave it back to me, we proceeded to
    “celebrate” (if you know what I mean, wink wink) and then the
    drunkness caught up to him and he spent the next half hour throwing up.

    The next day, I had to work before he was awake, and I had
    no idea where his head was. I was a mess all day at work, and since he would be
    on his way to work when I was on my lunch break, I asked him to stop by, hoping
    we could figure out whether or not we were engaged. He was so hung over still
    that he was in no position to discuss anything, but he promised we’d talk at
    home. So the anxiety continued the rest of the night, until he got home, came
    over to where I was sitting and sat in front of me. He took my hand, looked at
    the ring and said “It looks really good there.” I said, “So…
    does that mean we’re engaged?” He smiled and said “I guess so”
    and gave me a big kiss. In my mind, that’s when it became official.

    He left town super early the next morning for a few days,
    and apparently the plan had been to take the ring to the jeweler to be
    un-soldered when he got back. But when I told him I didn’t think I wanted that,
    he just decided he couldn’t wait anymore. So I spent the first four days of our
    engagement by myself, which was kind of surreal. I did end up getting them
    separated by the way, but only after finding a jeweler I trusted when he said
    he could do it with no damage at all to either ring. We’re going to be engaged
    a year and a half, so I wanted just the engagement ring. It’s perfect by the
    way.

    So when I tell this story, I tend to condense it into one
    night, and leave out the drunkeness for certain people. I don’t like explaining
    the anxiety-filled day to most people (I am, by nature, anxious and that is
    tough to explain). But honestly, I love our story. It’s very us, down to the
    multiple dates that you could say it happened on. I never wanted a big
    production, all I needed (and wanted) was for him to tell me he loves me and
    wants to marry me. And, let’s be honest, the ring. It’s so pretty, and it just
    looks like mine, like it belongs there.

    • laurabird

      Annnnd that was a novel!

      tl;dr Our proposal story is perfect, and so very us. It involves anxiety and drunkenness and everyone gets a slightly different version. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

  • Luz

    I just recently got engaged (Saturday April 5th!) and I’ve known for so long that we would ask me. We picked the ring together and everything. Still we both felt a lot of pressure to keep it a secret and for me to be surprised. It felt strange because we never keep anything from each other. He’s had the ring for a few months now and it was stressing me out because I’m the most impatient person in the world.

    So this past Saturday I had a dentist appt and of course they have to numb and drill. THE WORST! The Novocaine makes me heart race and I have a weird phobia of just swallowing my tongue (I know, I know) so let’s just say Saturday morning I was soooo grumpy and just upset. He suggests we do something for the day and keeps coming up with some horrible ideas and finally we decide on the NY Botanical Gardens (He was playing me all along!).

    There we try to have a picnic but its freezing so we just head over the the giant orchid show. We’re about to leave and he says he wants to get me an orchid since I failed at keeping the previous one alive so maybe these would be stronger. We go looking for a baby one and apparently have to go through the orchid exhibit again. We end up in front of this giant fountain filled with orchids and he asks a stranger to take a picture of us. We both hate pictures so I just wanted to get it over with especially since it was so hot in the green house.

    So this man is taking a million pictures and I look over and my boy is on one knee! I was so surprised and confused. My first thought was like OMG he got me damnit!

    In retelling the story a lot of people seem like they don’t believe I was actually surprised because when you tell the overall story yeah I guess there were signs but it was a normal Saturday for us and I love every detail of it!

  • Murphy

    Engagement stories that are sappy and romantic aren’t real and get very boring because they are all so sickly sweet. I actually proposed to my husband while he was incandescently angry about our broken down car on a rural highway in southern Illinois while we were waiting for my Grandmother to come pick us up. It kind of sums up the truly bizarre nature of our lives.

  • Anya

    I was mad at my now-husband because he said he’d plan dinner and it was 6PM and we were still at home and I was hungry. Also, there was no hockey to distract me from my crappy grad school. So I hear you: What’s funny is that there are romantic elements: my husband still wanted to marry me despite the grumpiness and the “whatever, I’ll go look at scores rather than talk to you.” We then almost missed our engagement dinner reservation which he made in our favorite restaurant because of Friday night bay area traffic. I think the fact that it wasn’t perfect meant a lot more to me than if everything went according to plan.

  • katiemckinnie

    “It’s Mike asking me to marry him in one of my uglier moments, knowing without a doubt that the sweaty, frizzy, snarling person in front of him was already his partner for life.”

    THIS. Our engagement story is similar to yours, in that I was (unknowingly) trying to sabotage my fiance’s plans, and I was in a pretty shitty mood in the hours leading up to it. It makes for a good story, but I’ve always felt bad about my behavior. But this piece just really put it into perspective for me – I mean, how much does he love me if he wanted to propose when I was acting like such a jerk? It’s also taught me to go with the flow and let go of control more – something I’m not very good at doing. ;)

  • Meghan

    Totally identify. My fiancé and I were on vacation in Alaska. Based on recent conversation, I was pretty sure he was going to propose on our trip. A full week into the trip, after many “perfect” moments, including explorations of Denali National Park, he proposed to me. At the train station. While I was wiping crumbs from lunch off my shirt and responding to texts. (I finally had a signal!) But, hey, he got what *he* was hoping for — I was totally surprised at that moment. It was short and to the point. For the first couple weeks, I was annoyed that I didn’t have a great story to tell. But the truth is, underlying that awkward moment and those brief words, were all the long conversations we’d had about what we meant to each other and what marriage signified to us.

  • Sarah

    Omg your last paragraph made me tear up… You’re so right the little moments leading up to the engagement. Or decision to get married is more important than the manufactured moments we cant control. My bf and I decided were getting engaged and we will go ring shopping and our anniversary dinner :) no surprises we can shop for our rung together so my honey doesn’t need to stress out about the grand gesture .