The next step was picking out the ring. This was tougher than I thought it would be. I went out one Saturday morning and went to 3 different stores. I had an idea of what I wanted to get for her but I wasn't sure. I had to shoot a bridal portrait that afternoon so my time was limited. The last store I went to was Sylvan Bros on Main St. in Columbia. I immediately discovered why they have been in business some 120 years. They showed me all sorts of diamonds and explained a bit. They showed me the diamond I ended up getting for her, and I thought that it could be the one but I wasn't sure and they were having an estate sale in 2 weeks that I wanted to look through. So I thought about it for 2 weeks and made an appointment to go back and look through their items. In the meantime, I went out and hiked a portion of the Appalachian Trail. I ended up hurting my knees and had to take off the trail earlier than expected and Melissa drove up to NC to pick me up. She dropped what she was doing, got in the car and drove 4.5 hours to pick me up. She is amazing and I love her. Anyways, the next week I went in to look at everything. I had already decided that I was going to buy from Sylvan's. I went through the estate pieces and picked out several to compare to the new diamonds they had. When I ended up comparing them to the new diamonds there were no comparison in the brilliance of the new diamonds due to their cut. So once I eliminated those, it was choosing between the "Hearts on Fire" series and Sylvan's own "Signature series". I narrowed it down to about 3 different diamonds I was looking at. There were some young ladies in the store shopping and my sales man called them over to get their opinion and so I could see what the rings would look like on a female hand. They were happy to do so and to give me their opinion. They ended up choosing the one I was leaning towards. We thanked them and I considered it some more. Finally, I chose what I was going with. They ended up setting it in a new ring and polishing it all while I waited. I exited the store with diamond ring in hand, and a lot less money in pocket. It started to sink in that this thing might actually happen. This all happened in early Nov. Now the wait.
I've always wanted her to have a storybook proposal that was done right. I wanted to treat her like the princess that she is. However, the wait was killer. In the meantime, I emailed by photographer friend Chris Smith of Chris and Cami Photography in Charleston, SC, because I want him to photograph my wedding and I knew that the best vendors book first so, I wanted to check his schedule. When he responded he mentioned if I had ever thought about having someone photograph the actual event while it was happening, like my own personal paparazzi. Originally, in some of the other plans, I did want to do that but I had kind of pushed that to the side. Once he mentioned it and I saw some of the photos he had done in the past, I knew I had to have it done. I told him the plan and when I was going to do it. Everything sounded good except that he was out of town that day and couldn't do it. Well, I didn't want to delay any longer, so he suggest an interval timer or videoing it. Well, I didn't have an interval timer at that point and I couldn't figure out how to make videoing it work. I racked my brain trying to figure out who I could hire that she didn't know that could pull off those photos. I couldn't really think of anyone that had the gear required, was stealthy enough, and that she didn't know. (She knows a lot of my photographer friends). And I figured if she saw a photographer she knew out there (the lot is in a remote location) it would give it away. So I thought about scrapping the idea. Then it hit. Set it up so that she won't suspect anything. I ordered an interval timer but they shipped the wrong thing and it came in on the Monday before Thanksgiving. I immediately rushed to a computer and next day shipped another one from a different company. It came in on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. So how would I set it up so she wouldn't suspect anything? This took some work. Both our birthdays are in Nov. and hadn't happened by the time I found out Chris couldn't do the photos. So I ended up getting snap shots of us on her birthday, my birthday, and several of the events surrounding those days and told her that I didn't have enough photos of us. She knew I was up to something but figured I was putting together an album for our anniversary like I did last year. Perfect!
|Before the engagement|
So the big day came. I was Black Friday so that morning I hit some of the sales. I was pretty good with the whole idea of what was about to happen that afternoon. I got back, and got ready. One issue was the ring box was huge relatively speaking. I had to wear cargo pants and put it in the side pocket to keep it from being noticeable. I put on a nice shirt that I knew she liked and hoped she wouldn't notice. She came over about 1:30 that afternoon, and we made sandwiches put them in a picnic basket with some other snacks, grabbed a picnic blanket or two, and headed off. We talked about all sorts of stuff on the way up to the lake. I don't remember everything but I do remember her saying that the last time we did this date it was so memorable and so perfect. I was thinking to myself, just wait until this one is over. She made some other comments about how perfect the other one was and how she felt like I understood her so much, and how she told her friends etc. I was thinking, just wait. There were several other comments that she made that made it hard not to say anything but I just shut up and drove. We got there and set up. I headed back up to the car to pick up something. As I had the trunk open and her down on the dock, I decided to take out the ring and make sure I knew how to open the box etc. Well when I opened it, the ring fell out and fell into the trunk!! I was going to propose on the dock over the water. Panic mode set in. I picked up the ring and put it back in the holder. I tested it and it seemed like it was going to hold it ok. I just had to make sure to test it before I open it out on the dock. So anyways, we had our picnic and there were some perfect moments that I thought about popping the questions when her head was on my shoulder etc. but I said to myself, no, stick to the plan. Plus I couldn't have captured the images if I had done that. So we finished eating and I suggested we clean up and go out on the floating dock part. I set up two chairs on the dock but off enough that I could get some good photographs without them in it. We also setup my iPod and some speakers for music. I told her I wanted to get some photos of us at sunset and I was going to set up my camera for that and told her to go sit down on the dock. In the mean time I set up the point and shoot to take video and the DSLR to take images every 5 seconds because I knew the camera could keep up writing images to the card. The only catch was I had about 23 minutes worth of video space and 28 minutes on the interval timer for those cameras so I knew I had to move fairly quickly. I put my hand in my pocket and opened the box to make sure the ring was ok, which it was, but I gave it a little push down into the holder just in case. All set, so I stared the camera going, and walked out to the floating dock to sit down. We sat there for a bit watching the ducks go by and just talking a bit. With limited time, I knew we couldn't just sit there forever, and I knew the light was starting to get limited so I asked her if she wanted to dance. She did so we found a Colbie Caillat song to dance to because the iPod was on random. We just danced and said sweet things to each other. Everything I said to her so would echo similar sentiments. Originally, I had thought to do this long speech but it was working as I had planned so I was shooting from the hip at this point and rolling with it. The song ended as we are dancing, and I had to go over there skip a couple tracks and then a Little Big Town song came up that would work. During the time I was trying to find a song she noticed that the DSLR was taking photographs but she didn't know why. So we went back to dancing and I was trying to find the opportunity or way to transition to the big question. I twirled her some and tried to make it fun, but still have a good position for the camera. So finally we are dancing close, and I look over to the camera as it was taking a photos as if to say the time is now. So, I asked her if I could ask her a question. She said sure (and she knew what was about to happen). I took her hands and got down on one knee and asked "Melissa, will you marry me?" or something similar. Meanwhile, I was pulling out the ring box. She was looking at me like is this real or are you joking until she saw the ring box come out with a ring in it and that is when it hit home and she realized this was real. I was trying to move slowly because I wanted the camera to catch several frames of the whole thing. I managed to get 3 frames before I stood up. She said yes about 50,000 times in between crying and hugging. We sat there hugging and talking for another good 10-15 minutes with the camera going. I told her the camera was going and we walked over to grab some posed photos of us newly engaged while the interval timer was going. After that, I walked over and turned the cameras off. We watched the video while we sat for a bit letting everything set in. She had no clue that I had videoed it as well. The sun was starting to set and she wanted to tell all her family because everyone was in town for Thanksgiving. So we packed up, then headed over to take a few last photos of us as an engaged couple with the sunset.
We went told her family and extended family. Ate dinner with them, and then went over and told my family. Everything worked out perfect. She wouldn't have wanted it any other way.
|Showing her the ring|