Proposal stories are all over the internet. You’ll find them on YouTube, Pinterest, and blogs galore. Early on, I told The Hunk that the proposal was important to me. I wanted a good story and I wanted to be surprised. Every girl I knew dreams of the proposal from the man with whom she’ll spend the rest of her life. I was no exception.
Before proposal videos and blog posts exploded on the internet, my hunk asked me to marry him.
On April 9, 2009, I was at Scott High School, where I was employed at the time, working after school with a student group. We were working on developing a community technology proposal for a state competition. With all of the love in my heart, I considered this a sort of nerd club. I got a call from the front office. I had a visitor.
What I couldn’t figure out is why the guest wasn’t on the way to my room. And who was this guest?
So, I walked up to the front office and the lovely secretary said that my visitor was out by my car.
I left the building and there he was–standing next to my car. I greeted him with a hug and sweet kiss. He was warm and calming. “What are you doing here?” I asked. He whipped out a beautiful bouquet of crisp, red roses. I stood, agape, and accepted them in my hands.
“This is one rose for every month since we met online,” he declared. I was speechless and could feel the union of my grin and some intense blushing. I had totally forgotten that we’d met online exactly 12 months previously. What a guy! What kind of guy remembers an anniversary that I had forgotten!? I was floored!
But I had a meeting and needed to get some things done with my students, as our plan needed more work for our upcoming state presentation. So, Seth joined me.
And I put him to work. The district had just installed a drop projector from my ceiling, but it wasn’t plugged in. I asked him to Jerry-rig the projector so that it’d be plugged in so I could finally use it in my classroom. I was pumped. I still remember seeing him walk across desk chairs and the desktop of my second desk. He’s such a graceful walker, I thought. And, also, we need to update his jeans wardrobe.
Eventually, I rushed through the rest of my meeting and gave the students jobs to do before the next meeting.
And we took off for my place.
We were sitting on the couch, the same couch where he’d once called me beautiful, and he said, “I thought we’d go for a walk so you can start working on your summer tan.” I was suspicious of his motives and, as I got up to change from my teacher clothes into casual clothes, I lost all self-control and slapped his right pocket. He must’ve known I was searching for a ring box.
“That’s just keys,” he said. Later, I learned that he’d just switched the ring box to the other pocket. I walked away to my room to change and use the restroom.
As I walked from my restroom, I looked in the mirror and mouthed to myself, “This may be the last time you see yourself not engaged!” Even if I didn’t get engaged that day, I was thrilled to see my man and to feel so cherished by his remembering our cyberversary, as we began to refer to it.
So we walked the path we’d walked so many times before. Except this time, I wanted to walk around the lake. The weather was beautiful. There were swans and geese on the lake and old men were fishing and little boys were riding tricycles on the path. The sun was shining from a virtually cloudless sky and the temperature was perfect for a walk.
We walked around the lake and concluded by stopping by our favorite place–the first-kiss gazebo. We nuzzled up and looked out across the small lake. The scenery, while quaint, was beautiful. Like our love.
And then he turned to me. He was calm and began complimenting me. He said, “Rebecca, you’re beautiful and loving and…” about a billion other compliments. Gosh, this guy is romantic, I thought. But there was just one problem: He was as calm as a cucumber. At our six month anniversary, I remembered, he was noticeably jittery, and, of course, we can’t forget how nervous he was on our first date. My hand was on his chest and I couldn’t feel a heartbeat. His hand was on my back and it was relaxed. He was for sure not proposing. There’s no way this guy could ask a question as serious and life-changing as “Will you marry me?” and be so chill.
So I did what I usually do. I got silly. Neither of us remember what I said at that point, but I got goofy; unphased, he bounced right out whatever silliness I was saying, back to one more serious compliment.
“I love you and I was wondering:” I felt him pull away and then saw him, in one graceful motion, move to one knee with a ring box open facing me, “Will you marry me?”
At that moment, I realized he’d successfully surprised me. He’d fooled me and successfully proposed in a meaningful and simple way. And before he finished his question, I wanted to pull him off his knee and accept his sweet proposal. But I knew he’d never let me live it down–that I hadn’t let him finish the question he was going to ask once and only once. So, I let him finish.
But as soon as he did, I whisked him up from his knee and said with tears in my eyes and as much enthusiasm as this girl can ever have, “Yes! Yes! Of course! Of course! Yes!” and I fiercely pulled him close. I heard the ring box snap closed behind me as we hugged. According to Seth, the ring almost went into the lake because I jerked him up so quickly! Obviously, we’re glad that didn’t happen.
As we hugged, I couldn’t see through my tears. We kissed and I saw his tears begin to fall with mine.
As with most newly engaged couples, we had to start making phone calls. First, I wanted to call my parents. This is when I learned that Seth had driven down to Kentucky from Columbus to ask my parents for permission to marry me. And he told my dad, who can’t keep secrets to save his life, not to call me, mention it, or even think about it and that Seth would have me call him first. He’d told my dad the whole plan for proposing–down to what time it should happen.
So, I called my dad. He was lying on the couch with the phone on his chest. Waiting. And then I spoke to my mom and we continued to call our important people–my sisters, Seth’s parents, and best friends.
We turned off our phones and had dinner, then proceeded to go to Maundy Thursday service at my church, where we were able to tell my pastor, my mentor and close friend, and some of my favorite people at church. We participated in the foot-washing service, which was sweet. Seth remembers that I tickled his feet as I washed them.
Of course, that evening, he had planned to return to Columbus, but it was late by the time he was ready to leave. So, he stayed at my place and I stayed with a friend. The next morning, I came back to get ready for work and greeted him as he left for Columbus.
After that first date, Seth and I dated for about 10 months before we became engaged and then we spent 14 months engaged before we finally tied the knot. We had some traditional milestones, as every love story does. Our first kiss, the first time we dropped the L-word, a sweet proposal. In addition, we had a few non-traditional experiences because were long distance for our entire pre-marriage relationship. If you didn’t read about how we met or the other stories from our love story, you totes should.
Love Story: First Kisses
Later in the summer, after Seth had survived the great pinky toe explosion of 2008 and was fully recovered from his brush with MRSA, Seth visited in late July or early August. I, personally, was feeling a lot of self-induced stress. I had really never been one to save kisses and almost always kissed a guy on a second date if I liked him even the slightest. So, when I knew Seth was visiting again, I was ready to kiss him. We’d had a lot of phone conversations and Facebook chats. Even though he was uber nervous on our first date, I was genuinely interested in him in a romantic way.
So, before my new teaching year started, he visited. It became normal for him to stay for weekends when he visited; I would stay at a friend’s house and he’d stay at my place. I’m so grateful for my dear friends, Melinda and Missy, who let me crash at their places when Seth was visiting.
I don’t remember much of what we did that weekend; we probably had dinner with some of my friends, walked around a park, had milkshakes at Newport on the Levee. Things like that. That part really isn’t important.
On the final evening of his visit, we took a walk. My place in Kentucky had access to a walking path that leads to a body of water. Seth and I disagree on what to call this body of water. I called it a small lake; he called it a pond. Either way, there was a small gazebo by it. We took what was about a half-mile walk to the gazebo.
I don’t know about you, but I love summer evenings. After the sun goes down and the air cools. Lightning bugs come out. A small light goes a long way.
So there we were: at the gazebo. I was facing the water, Seth behind me with his arms around my waist. I could feel his warmth. And all I could do was think about how I wanted to kiss him. He’d driven for two hours each way on two occasions. He’d demonstrated that he was interested in me and had sacrificed free time to visit me. In a way, I wanted to reward him–thank him for his demonstration of interest–and to return the favor.
So, I turned around and just planted a big one on him.
And I was disappointed. I turned my face away from him a bit and hugged him.
I take it he was also disappointed because he gently took my chin in his left hand, turned my face back to his, and kissed me again.
Let’s just say that neither of us were disappointed. At all. To say the least.
I feel like a lot of couples remember their first kiss together. Why do we think these moments are so momentous? I mean, between the beginning of a relationship and through “til death do us part” we probably exchange trillions of kisses–at leats that’s my intention. But the first one. There’s something about the first one that we often remember more than any other kiss in our lives.
I will never forget that kiss and am so glad I will never have to kiss anyone else ever again.
Love Story: That L-Word
What does it mean to love someone? I mean, when a girl says, “I love you,” what does she mean? Does this sentence always indicate romantic love? I used the l-word a lot when I was a teenager. But I don’t think I meant romantic, loyal love.
So, when I grew up, I realized that I wanted to be choosy about to whom I profess my love. I didn’t want to say it just because it seemed right or because I liked the guy. I mean, I try to love everyone. Not romantically. But I didn’t want to be quick to drop the l-word.
My plan: To say “I love you,” to only one person for the rest of my life. I had been on the search for this person.
So, during a fall visit to Columbus, Seth and I took a walk through the Park of Roses. In my recent time of reflections, I had found that my insecurity was running a little crazy. I couldn’t see past my insecurity to see that this guy was obviously over the moon for me.
We sat down on a bench in the shade.
And I asked him, “Do you like me?”
In the history of the world and in the context of our relationship so far, this was by far the dumbest question. Ever. This is the guy who had emailed me at least once a day–multi-paragraph, thoughtful emails–the guy who had sent me flowers when he had to cancel a visit due to an unforeseen medical reason, the guy who called me beautiful, the guy who called me and complimented me and treated me to wonderful dinners. And I couldn’t tell if he liked me.
How clueless was I?
While I don’t remember his exact words, his reply was generous and surprising. He said something like, “I do care deeply about you… and I even love you.”
So, there. He dropped the l-word. Did I say it right back?
Well of course not!
Remember? My I-love-you plan was a limited one.
So, after my long trip home, I wrote in my journal. I wrote about my fears concerning dropping the l-word. I was worried things would snowball as I recall.
Over the next couple of weeks I thought about my feelings for Seth. And I decided that I loved him. I decided that I wanted to tell him–but the phone seemed like a lame place to say it–and Facebook even more lame. But we weren’t supposed to see each other for weeks and weeks.
Six weeks later, Seth came to visit for Thanksgiving weekend. And I had it planned.
We had plans to go play frisbee golf when he arrived, but oh boy was it raining. It rained and then rained some more. And that rain was filled with rain. Rain. Everywhere.
So, the only option that Wednesday evening was to sit at my place and, well, make out. What else does a dating couple do when it’s raining? And that’s when I said it. I said, “I love you.” I did it. I said it on a rainy Wednesday-before-Thanksgiving when I just couldn’t keep it in anymore.
Love Story: Our Now
After being married almost six years, it feels strange to tell my love story like this. It almost feels like I’m being immature. I think that’s because our love for one another continues to grow beyond those special words. Beyond a kiss. We believe in saying “I love you” every day and we believe in kissing and hugging every day. We believe in all of that, but the curve balls we’ve been thrown over the course of our knowing one another have made our love for one another deeper than we ever thought possible.
These love stories are stories of genuine love between the two of us. The love was no less genuine then than it is now. But now we have built something with one another–a foundation. A life. And kisses and professions of love are shared every single day. But we share so much more now, as we learn what it’s like to love and be loved, to cherish and be cherished, to support one another and to be supported.
I love my man.
Congrats, you beautiful lady! You said yes to the man behind that beautiful bling and you’re settling in to plan the wedding of your lifetime! What an exciting time! As you secure a date on your calendar one thing’s for sure: You have to decide on the wedding budget.
Deciding on the wedding budget is a complex matter; you have to take into account the income of the person or persons paying for it and you might suddenly realize how your wedding date impacts the price and availability of the venues, photographers, churches, and other vendors’ services.
Somehow, when I got engaged, my new fiance knew how much he didn’t want to spend. I was surprised that he knew anything about the money end of wedding planning. He knew he didn’t want to spend what everyone else was spending–he wanted to spend less.
But what does that mean? How much is less than everyone else?
The Average Wedding Budget
According to theknot.com, the average wedding in America during 2015 was almost $33,000. Obviously, this means that some regions in our vast country spent way less, like Alaska (just over $17,000) or South Dakota (around $18,000), but other places averaged far above the national average, like Chicago ($61,000) or New York City (over $82,000).
In Columbus, Ohio, where I am based, the average wedding budget fell below the national average at a little over $27,000. And if you’re not a Columbus-dweller, check out the infographic put together by The Knot to see what the wedding budget average in your area.
The big question I ask myself is this: How does wedding photography fall in this whole wedding budget thing? According to the same source, the nation-wide average spent for wedding photographers was over $2600 in 2015. Want to know how your wedding budget breakdown stacks up the national average? Looking for guidance in planning your budget? Check out the categories listed below:
Why is it beneficial to know this information? Raise your hand if you don’t like overspending on anything. *raises hand* I want quality, so I’ll pay for quality, but I don’t want to pay more for something that is average. Are you with me on this? So, if you’re planning your wedding and the officiant quotes you a $500 bill for services that aren’t any more special, sentimental, or superior to anyone else’s offerings, keep shopping. This can work the other way, though: If a photographer quotes you $500 for a wedding, they are likely unable to offer something that a photographer in range of the average can offer you. It’s important to be informed, am I right?
As for my man and me: Well, let’s just say my mom is a rockstar who made it possible for us to have a beautiful and lovely wedding!
I enjoy a variety of love stories–movies, television, literature. In college, I actually wrote about this in my Spanish class. I said, en Espanol, that I love the various interpretations and lessons that romantic stories provide. It’s still true today, as I watch Anna and the King while compiling this blog post.
The longer I love, the more I realize the complexity of love. Love is far more complex than anything I’ve seen in movies and television. I often fail at loving others successfully, and for a variety of reasons. Sometimes my failure is due to my selfishness. Other times I am nursing a wound, protecting a scar, tired, or even lazy.
One of the greatest revelations in my life I learned from this book. Here’s why you should read it, too.
The Five Love Languages: Why?
In any relationship–whether romantic, familial, professional, or friendly–it is always helpful to understand one another in order to love one another best. This book discusses the five main ways people love and receive love: The five love languages.
Spoiler alert: Here are the love languages:
- Acts of service
- Words of affirmation
- Physical touch
- Quality time
One major reason to read the book is to better understand these love languages–to understand what they mean, what the look like, and how to interpret the actions–and inactions–of others. You might understand better how your spouse/loved one is loving you and why you may occasionally feel unloved even though your beloved claims to love you in return. You will also learn some great ways to love others and why your efforts may be falling on deaf ears.
Consider this: If you were speaking to someone in English, but they only understood Mandarin Chinese, you wouldn’t be understood, would you? The same is the case when it comes to love. What’s great is that The Five Love Languages tells how we can learn to speak one another’s language and, therefore, foster a relationship that is more loving.
I encourage you to read the book, where you’ll find a quiz to help you decide what your love language is. If you’re like me, you’ll start wondering what the love language is of those around you.
Maybe you’ve heard of them. Unplugged weddings. Have you?
Unplugged weddings: A wedding where guests are discouraged from using cameras or smart devices with cameras during any or all parts of the wedding day.
In this amazing and glorious age of smartphones, social media, and cameras attached to everyone’s person, many brides are pushing technology aside for the most important beginning of their lives.
If you quickly skim through Pinterest, you’ll find a few different unplugged wedding methods.
- No pictures during the wedding ceremony only
- No pictures until after the first dance
- No pictures at all by any guests. At all.
I’m the first to admit that I love technology–taking pics everywhere I go and going social media crazy. But there is also something to be said for going off the grid for a bit. The Hunk and I have a media-free day about once a year. Media-free days are nice, detoxing, relaxing days. But brides across the country are requesting that their guests unplug for a bit and be in the moment.
How are brides letting their guests know about their unplugged expectations? Many are posting signs at their wedding, adding lines in the program, and even having their officiant announce the expectation at the beginning of the ceremony.
Time will tell if this is a trend or if unplugged weddings will stand the test of time. The big question is this: Why are brides opting for unplugged weddings?
Unplugged ceremonies are just what they sound like: a ceremony with no pictures taken (except by a photographer, usually) and no images from the ceremony can be posted to social media. Check out my Pinterest board dedicated to unplugged ceremonies.
A benefit to unplugged ceremonies is that all the guests are experiencing the moments with the bride, groom, and all the family and guests. Instead of watching parts of your ceremony through the smartphone screens. Guests are undistracted during the ceremony and can laugh when your groom forgets the line he’s supposed to repeat and cry when you gush through your self-written values.
Whether or not a bride and groom have a first look, the processional is a special time. I’ve heard numerous stories about wedding guests jumping in the middle of the aisle to snap picturess of the groom or the bride during the processional, completly blocking the view of the professional photographer for whom the bride and groom paid a great deal of money.
Imagine the disappointment of not having that moment delivered to you by your photographer because a guest was in the way; or perhaps a picture was taken but it is not something you want to hang on your wall becacuse of the smartphones in the picture. It has happened.
Unplugged through the First Dance
Some brides request that guests remain unplugged until after the bride and groom’s first dance. Of course, this doesn’t mean that guests aren’t plugging in during cocktail hour or in the parking lot after the ceremony.
Extending the unplugged element of the wedding day through the first dance has many of the same benefits, including guests being in the moment and enjoying your first dance, watching your dad shed a tear on the down-low and, if your dad is like my dad, wonder why he’s dancing strangely (because he re-broke his foot that morning). The same goes for your first dance with your new husband. You only get one first dance with your husband. If your uncle Bob is standing nearby with his camera, squinting at the back of it, slumped over with his shirt half untucked, it may be difficult for your fabulous photographer to capture an uninhibited picture of the two of you enjoying the moment that cannot be recreated.
As a photographer, I can tell you another benefit to extending this unplugged request through the first dance is to increase the likelihood of your first dance pictures being rock star awesome. The first dance is a special moment that cannot be repeated–not authentically.
Personally, this type of unplugged wedding is my favorite! It’s like the best of both worlds. Guests get to take pictures during the party, use your wedding day hashtag, and still be present during the most sentimental moments. If your photographer is awesome like me, she may even have a mid-day or early-evening image from the day posted to your Facebook page before you’re off to your honeymoon! People who weren’t at the wedding can swoon over the mid-day picture and then guests can post their rocking party pics to social media during the reception!
Unplugged through the Final Moment
Taking the unplugged idea to the maximum, some brides have a completely off-the-grid wedding, camera- and social media-wise. I’ve seen fewer of these weddings, but some brides do go for this. If you’re thinking of having this type of unplugged wedding, be sure to add on a second or even third wedding photographer so that the memories and all the fun can be captured from even more perspectives. Photobooths are a great way to let your guests capture memories from the fun night at the reception and still remain unplugged.
How to go Unplugged: My suggestions
If you’re considering going unplugged for your wedding, may I offer you some suggestions for making this happen?
- Post a sign at the entry of the ceremony location. Make it match the mood of your wedding day–fun, formal, rustic, or casual.
- Add a line in the program; mention that you’ve hired an awesome photographer to capture the moments and that you’d just love it if they were present dudring the ceremony or other special moments.
- Hire a shoot and share photographer–a photographer who offers an online gallery so your friends can view the images from your special day.
- Ask the officiant to begin the ceremony by asking everyone to turn off their phones and cameras, topping it off with a request for guests to be present during the special events that will occur.
- Check with your photographer to see if they have any special for having unplugged weddings. Some photographers will offer extras for brides who successfully have an unplugged wedding.
- Have a photobooth at your reception and possibly even during coctail hour. Guests have a ton of fun with these and I provide a link to the gallyer and upload my photobooth pictures the next day.
FAQ: Questions about going unplugged
Still, it can be tough bucking the ways of the world for your special day. Maybe you have questions. Here are a few you may have.
Will I offend some picture-lovers?
You might if you’re not careful. This is where it is important to think about how you state your hopes for the wedding day. I attended a wedding where the bride wrote in the program, “Get your camera ready!” on the same section as the processsional line. And, indeed, many people brought out their cameras for mass picture-taking. This is what she wanted. She loved it!
So, if you want the opposite, make the line–whether you put the line on a sign, in a program, or both–sound friendly but clear. You don’t have to be mean or harsh in order to be clear. Consider a short poem on a chalkboard for a fun touch or a scripted and framed sign for a more formal touch. At a formal wedding I shot, the minister was able to make the sentimate clear and formal and not a single guest bawked at the idea. This was great because it sounded very much like the minister’s idea–whether or not it was, I don’t even know! Ushers can also point guests to a posted sign as they hand out programs.
Do I have to confiscate cameras if people are using them at the wedding?
No. You absolutely don’t have to confiscate cameras or phones if people are using them when you’ve asked them not to. If someone is snapping unwelcome pictures, keep enjoying your day.
Put someone in charge of reinforcing you unplugged wedding with guests.
A day-of wedding planner is one of the best things you can do to make your day run smoothly. If you make your day-of planner aware of your desire to have an unplugged wedding, you can ask him/her to direct people to stop the picture-snapping. Day-of planners are great at being diplomatic while also encouraging guests to follow the bride’s expectations. Maybe even fill in your day-of planner if there are people who are exempt from this rule–like the parents of the bride and groom. Then, you can make your wishes known to these exceptional people directly, so they can still feel free to take a few limited quick pics but won’t set the tone for everyone jumping in line to interrupt your moments. You might also let your photographer know that you’re having an unplugged wedding and possibly give him/her permission to say something like, “Hi! The bride has asked that all guests keep their cameras put away for now,” with a big smile to any guest getting in the way of photography.
Is this even possible? Will people follow my wishes?
Unfortunately there’s no way to know for sure if everyone will follow your wishes. If respect were universal, this world would for sure be a better place. But I haven’t seen a wedding where this request was not honored. I know it has happened. People in my wedding photography network bemoan these disrespectful guests. Truthfully, your photographer has probably had lots of practice dodging these types of guests.
If you spend your day enjoying every second and put your day-of planner and wedding party on this issue, it will be fine. Anyone who is disrespectul enough to ignore your wishes isn’t someone you need to worry yourself with on that day, anyway. Focus on the important moments of the day; you’re married. No matter what goes wrong, the only reason to sincerely be upset about your plan is if you don’t actually get married. That would be a problem, amirite? :)
Unplugged: Recommended, but make it your own
In the end, your wedding day should be about you, your man, and the Creator who will be at the center of your marriage until death do you part. I always recommend unplugged ceremonies–both because it makes it easier for me to capture your wedding day and because it is great for guests to enjoy the day in person and not via a three- to five-inch screen. Consider how you want to interact with your friends and family at your wedding; focus on the memories and hire a kick-butt photographer to help you capture the memories so you and your family and friends can make the memories instead of worrying about capturing them.
I love you. Forever.
One of the most important things you can do for your marriage is to read about marriage. Find resources which help you strengthen your marriage. The Hunk and I try to read at least one really good marriage book a year. Sometimes it’s an audiobook and we’re on an 8-hour trip and I can’t take it anymore because I’m so totally not an auditory learner unless you’re Melinda Morgan or Barbara Mann.
For today’s Monday memo, I’d like to recommend a book for you and your spouse to read together. Now, I won’t always say that you should read books together, but I think this book is special in this way. This book is a 28-day journey for the two of you to commit to. A short 28 days and you and your spouse can become closer, healthier, and more intimate. Seriously.
Don’t let the title of the book freak you out. There’s a difference between an argument-free marriage and a conflict-free marriage. Arguments don’t have to happen, but conflict must happen in a marriage.
So many husbands and wives think that stresful arguments–complete with yelling, name-calling, or the quiet treatment–are a normal fact of life. That doesn’t have to be the case. Author Fawn Weaver, founder of The Happy Wive’s Club, contends that, if you commit to the journey and both of you commit to take the book’s concepts to heart, you, too, can have an argument-free marriage and, as she says, have more time for cuddling. I’m game for more cuddling every day and twice on Sundays!
I highly recommend this book. Even if you don’t have an argument-ridden marriage, read it. From either end of the spectrum and anywhere in between, Fawn’s research and stories really help us understand some of the ways we can eliminate arguments and go into problem-solving mode no matter what our personalities are. You can grab it on Amazon.
Links to Amazon are affiliate links.