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The Proposal

Ok, Ok. I’ve seen all the comments coming in, for the past 3 years. LOL. You guys wanted the proposal story, here it is. I hope you’re not disappointed.

Ashley and I began dating in the Fall of 2004. She was 17 and I was 22; for all you fact checkers out there. Yes, we were both very young, but fell very much in love instantaneously. As most of you know, women are far more mature than men, and this was the case with us as well. Sometimes I feel like our ages should have been flipped, but it all worked out in the end. We dated exclusively over the next several months. I don’t think there was a day that went by that we didn’t see each other. Every spare moment we had away from work and family we spent with each other. We hung out with a very tight nit group of friends at the time. There were about 8 of us always together, so much in fact that 4 of the guys actually worked together, and lived together. So you could say we were almost brothers.

Ashley and I knew we wanted to get married. There was never a doubt in either one of our minds. We started talking about marriage the following Spring. Wedding bells were in the air as two of the good friends had become engaged and were both married that spring. Ashley and I began talking more seriously about setting a date, and informing our families of our decision to spend our lives together.

I guess you could say we were a little unorthodox with our engagement and timeline. Most people get engaged and then plan the wedding. We kind of did it a little backwards. We were both working and trying to save up as much as we could to have a nice wedding and also get us started on the right foot. I was working 2 jobs at the time, so our free time was limited. I think Ashley wondered if I was ever going to actually propose since we were already down the road starting wedding plans. Little did she know, I was working behind the scenes on her wedding ring during that time. We both were happy to continue planning things, and we set a date for that Fall to be married. Her parents were instrumental in helping with all of the wedding plans, and it seemed we were off and running, except for I hadn’t actually proposed yet!

I’m sure all of her family, and Ashley were wondering when the ring and actual proposal was coming. In my defense, I was young and naïve and thought if I wasn’t talking about it, nobody was thinking about it. I knew I wanted her to have the best I could afford, and also something unique. I also wanted to make sure the way I asked her was romantic, and something she would remember forever. I was lucky to have a friend of mine who was in the jewelry business. He was impressive with his design of the ring as well as helping me out with cost. We were able to create something very unique for Ashley, and something I’ve never really seen re-created. Im sure its out there somewhere, but I think its pretty cool to this day, I’ve never met anyone with the same design. I think that has made Ashley know how hard I worked and how much I wanted her ring to be unique, just like her.

The only problem for me was the ring was taking some time to finish, and I started late, being a man and not planning better. I think Ash thought I was going to give it to her on her 18th birthday, which was July 20th. I very much wanted that to be the case, but did not end up getting the ring in my hands until later that week. So we celebrated her birthday with friends and loved ones, creeping closer to the wedding date we had set for August 12th, and she still didn’t have a ring. Ok, at this point, I was starting to feel the heat, from all sides of both families. If any of you knew me then, you knew that I kept most everything personal to myself. I’ve come out of my shell a bit the last few years. LOL. So basically long story short, nobody knew what was going on, or when I would be proposing, including myself!

I finally got a call that the ring was finished and being overnighted to me so I could finally propose to the love and my life and make everything official; a little over 2 weeks before the wedding. Think of the pressure I had on my shoulders. LOL. I was just grateful it was done. When I opened the package and got my first look at something I’d been working on for months, it was even better than I thought it would be. It was gorgeous and I knew Ashley would love it and cherish it forever.

I planned a date night that week and took the day off of work. Ashley had no clue what was going on. I think at this point she thought she was going to walk down the isle with nothing on her finger and no actual proposal. I could say that I planned it this way all along, making her sweat it out, but the truth is, I was just as nervous and anxious about the timeline, proposal, wedding, family, life decision, adulting that she was! I was terrified. This was the first decision in my life I can remember actually thinking about daily and nightly without any break. This was a serious decision that I knew was going to affect both of our lives forever. This night needed to be perfect. It needed to be everything she dreamed of and anticipated and then some. I prayed for inspiration on what to do and how to say what I was feeling in my heart. I think my prayers were answered.

To throw her off just a bit, I made reservations at PF Changs, one of our favorite restaurants, and one we frequented as much as we could. She had no idea what was coming. We had a very lovely dinner talking about the summer, life, and our plans for the future. It was a night filled without any worry, or thought other than how happy we were in that moment. I will say I did confuse her a bit before dinner. I brought with me a gift box and told her she could have it later that night. I think initially she thought it was her ring until I pulled it out of the car and it was a lot bigger than a ring box. More like the size of a clothing box. That was my plan though. So she was guessing through dinner what it was, probably assuming I bought her something to make up for not having her ring yet. Man this story is making me look really bad, I just realized. Face Palm right now.

We finished dinner and I told her I wanted to go look at the venue where we had planned to have our reception. It was an outdoor venue with plenty of trees and flowers and a beautiful amphitheater. This is where I had planned to propose to her. When we arrived, I walked her to the top of the amphitheater and over to an open grove. In the back of the grove there stood a tall oak tree surrounded by beautiful flowers. Since this was a popular wedding venue, there was good lighting throughout the area, so it was perfectly lit. I had packed a blanket for us to lay out on the grass and look at the stars. We went under the tree and got our area all set up. I then handed her the “big” box and told her I was sorry for the inconvenience of not having her ring sooner and for not officially proposing, but that I wanted to give her something to make up for it. Ashley was always very understanding and always forgiving. She just smiled and gave her little giggle and began to open the box.

As she handled the box, she could hear something jingling. She was very confused, I could tell from the look on her face. She thought it was clothing of sorts, and it was definitely not. As she opened the box, and cleared through the tissue paper, she found a handful of unshaped keys. She was officially confused, and I could see it clearly. The moment was perfect. I knelt down and took the keys from her hands and began to explain their purpose. I told her that these were the keys to our life. None of them were shaped yet, and that was intentional. We were going to shape them together. They each represented something; our first car, home, vacations, children, etc. I told her I wanted to share the rest of my life with somebody that I would never stop loving, and that somebody was her. I asked her if she would go on this lifelong adventure with me shaping our keys together, and shaping our lives together. She was beaming at this point, as most of you can assume, I think she knew what was coming.

I pulled from my jacket the “small” box and handed it to her. She was speechless. I asked her to open it. I can remember her face vividly in that moment. She was surprised, speechless, elated, crying, and happy all in one moment. It was perfect. The ring was perfect. She was perfect. The moment felt perfect. Still kneeling, I took out her hand and asked her if she would be willing to spend the rest of her life with me. Crying, she told me she would, and I placed her ring on her very deserving finger. We held each other for what seemed like a weekend. It was one of the best feelings I’ve ever felt in this life. The rest of the night became a blur as we melted into each others arms, holding each other like we would a child and expressing our love and gratitude for each other while Ashley kept admiring her new ring. We laid under the stars and enjoyed that moment as long as we could, not just letting it brush by. It was one of the happiest moments of both of our lives.

I hope you all enjoyed reading this as I did writing it. It was nice to go back on memory lane for a moment and remember those two young lovebirds and how crazy about each other they were. The truth is, I believe they still feel that way even today!


Image may contain: Ashley Weisenburger Gardner, sitting, standing and outdoor

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