Sunday, February 21

The Proposal: His Perspective

The very first blog entry I wrote went into the detail of the actual night I got engaged. Upon reading this, my fiance decided he wanted to give his point of view of the proposal as well. It’s great that he’s so willing to share how everything happened from his point of view, and I think he wrote a really great story illustrating the night of our engagement from his perspective. Enjoy!

How It Happened By Joe Saito
Rachel and I had been together for a little over a year when we first started talking about getting married. I don’t remember how or when it first came up, but I was definitely open to the idea. After we were both smitten with the idea of committing to each other for a lifetime of togetherness, the next step was to pick out a ring. So one Saturday afternoon we went to one of the more upscale local malls to look at rings in person. We must have visited every jewelry store in that mall. Nothing. We left the mall and went to Jared’s across the street with high hopes that we would have better luck. While Rachel did find a band that she liked at Jared’s, it still wasn’t “the one”… and Rachel is all about “the one”. The hunt wasn’t a complete loss though since we at least found out her ring size.
When we got home, Rachel called her mom, Sharon, to tell her that we had been out ring shopping. Her mom then told her husband, Scott. As it turns out, Scott knows a guy who owns a fine jewelry store in West Palm Beach, where they lived. Thanksgiving was just a few weeks later and we made the trip to West Palm for the holiday weekend. While we were there Scott set up a meeting for us at Mr. Arto’s house so we could get a firsthand look at his newest ring styles. He showed us a lot of different bands, and there were so many to choose from. Rachel eventually managed to narrow it down to two or three, but there was one in particular that she really liked. She said it was “the one”. So with the band chosen, we next had to decide on a diamond to be placed in the setting. Rachel found that decision a bit easier, and she seemed really excited once the whole ring was chosen. Arto told us the total cost with the diamond set in the band and how much of a deposit he would need before he could set it.  For the rest of the evening, Rachel and I discussed if the ring she picked out was definitely the ring that she wanted. It was. She was sure of it. So the very next day, I called Arto to let him know that we were decided on the ring. Scott then drove me back over to the house so I could put down the deposit. On the way back, we were talking and Scott asked when I planned on popping the question. I already had a good idea of when I wanted to do it.
Rachel was aware that I put the deposit down on the ring. That wasn’t a secret. But what she didn’t know was when I would have the balance paid off. I told her that it was probably going to take me quite a few more months to come up with the rest of the money. Well aware of my finances, she figured that would probably be the case anyway. So as far as she knew, I wouldn’t have the ring paid for until March or April. This was what I refer to as “the smoke screen”. The plan was to make her believe that I wasn’t going to have the ring until early the next year. But little did she know, I would be able to pay the balance on the ring before Christmas.
Knowing that I just spent a pretty large sum of money on the deposit for her ring, Rachel wasn’t expecting anything from me for Christmas. She was okay with the idea that the deposit on her ring was her Christmas present. So one day we were doing some shopping and she found a pair of shoes she really liked. I told her even though she didn’t want anything from me, I wanted to at least get her something, so I got them for her. Another time we were at the mall and she saw a shirt she liked. Again, I told her I wanted to get it for her for Christmas. And one day when we were shopping in Target, she found a belt she really liked. Again, I got it for her. But this was all just part of the smoke screen. I had to make her believe these smaller gifts were all she was getting for Christmas.
Rachel and I had been planning on driving up to our hometown of St. Louis, Missouri for a week during the Christmas holidays. We both have a lot of family and friends that live there and whenever we get the chance to go back home, we try to spend time with as many of them as we can. It’s hard though, especially around the holidays, to try and spend time with so many people in only a few days’ time, so we normally organize an event where everyone can meet in one place. This year we figured there was no better place to have a fun winter get- together than at a public ice skating rink. So we invited all of our closest family and friends – most importantly, Rachel’s dad Terry, and Scott. I’ll explain in a minute.
When we decided we were going to get married, I immediately started thinking of how I was going to propose to her. When we decided we were going to have the ice skating party at the rink… in St. Louis… during Christmas… with several of our family and friends in attendance… I knew right away that was when I wanted to do it. Now I just needed to figure out how I was going to pull the whole thing off. First I needed the ring, which was in West Palm. Luckily, Scott and Sharon were going to be in St. Louis for the holiday too. They were also going to attend our ice skating gathering at the rink. I had been in contact with Scott the entire time regarding the ring and since he knew I was going to be proposing that night, he agreed to get the ring from Arto, act as courier, and bring it to the rink with him that night. The next thing – and this was important – was making sure Rachel’s dad was going to be at the rink that night. Since he lives in St. Louis, I hadn’t yet had an opportunity to ask for his permission to marry his daughter, and I wasn’t going to propose to Rachel without it… which meant I was going to have to ask him that night. Talk about added pressure. If he wasn’t going to be there then my whole plan would be ruined. So in the days leading up to the party at the rink, I kept asking Rachel if her dad was going to be there. She insisted he would. I bugged her about it so many times that I’m surprised she didn’t start to get suspicious as to why I wanted her dad there so badly. So at that point, I knew the ring would be there. I knew her dad would be there. Those were the only variables that were out of my control. Since those two things were taken care of, the rest was up to me.
We picked the night of December 20th for the party, our first night in St. Louis. We arrived at the rink around 8:00 pm, happy to see a lot of our family and friends already there, including her dad. Some people were already skating. Some were still lacing up. The rest were just spectators. We said our hellos to everyone and then went off to rent Rachel some skates. I play hockey so I brought my own. I laced up Rachel’s skates and sent her on her way.
Lacing Skates
Not long after, I saw Scott and Sharon arrive. Scott and I went straight for the men’s room so he could hand off the ring. Remember – at this point Scott is the only other person besides me who knows what is about to transpire. Her mom doesn’t even know. When we got to the bathroom, Scott gave me the box holding the ring. When I finally opened it, I was speechless. The last time I had seen this band, it was justa band. But now it looked completely different. The diamond had been set, and it was absolutely beautiful… and so sparkly. We had a short conversation in the bathroom but I can’t remember exactly what was said. I was in such awe to be holding this ring in my hand, knowing what I was about to do with it, that I kind of zoned out. I do remember him asking when I was going to do it. I didn’t know exactly when, but I wanted to wait a little while because I didn’t want anyone to miss anything in case they were running late. The box was too bulky to keep on me so I handed it back to Scott and I put the ring in my pocket. Ring? Check. On the way out of the bathroom, he asked if I was nervous. Not yet.
I exited the bathroom and made my way to the nearest bench to lace up my skates. I noticed that a few more people had arrived. Skates finally laced, I hit the ice. There was so much excitement in the air that night. I guess it was a combination of being home in St. Louis, being on the ice, at Christmas time, and being amongst family and friends whom I haven’t seen in a long time. But really, most of it probably had to do with the fact that I had this incredibly sparkly ring in my pocket that I was going to use to propose to the most wonderful person I know. I skated by myself for a while. I wanted time to think. I felt for the ring in my pocket. Still there. I zoomed past Rachel skating with some of her friends. They were having a good time. Everyone was having a good time. So far everything had worked out perfectly.
Halfway through the session everyone had to leave the ice so it could be cleaned by the Zamboni. Break time. I found Rachel and we mingled with the guests since it was an excellent opportunity. Once the Zamboni was taken off the ice and the gates we re-opened, I hit the ice again by myself. I felt for the ring in my pocket. Still there. Every few laps, Scott stopped me long enough to ask “when?”. “In a little bit,” I would say. I wasn’t stalling. I was just waiting for the right time. Besides, I still needed to talk to Terry. Speaking of which, I saw Rachel skating with him across the rink. I continued to skate, waiting for my opportunity. I felt for the ring in my pocket. Still there. Scott stopped me again, this time to ask if I’d talked to Rachel’s dad yet. I told him I hadn’t had the chance because Rachel had been with him most of the time, but just as the words left my mouth, I saw him skating by himself, hanging onto the boards for dear life. There was my chance. So I skated over to him and asked if we could talk. I told him how much I loved Rachel and that I wanted to ask her to marry me… that night… in front of everyone. He gave me his blessing. Dad’s approval? Check. Ball’s in my court.
Asking Dad
I took a couple more laps by myself. I felt for the ring in my pocket. Still there. Scott stopped me to tell me that some people were taking off their skates and were getting ready to leave. Looked like I had to do it sooner than expected. I asked him to stall them somehow. It was time. I found Rachel skating with some friends. I slowed down next to her, took her by the hand, and asked if she would skate with me. Since we hadn’t spent much time together that night she got pretty excited when I asked. We made our way around the rink a couple times. I was giving Scott enough time to stall the early exiters and I saw that he was corralling them behind the glass in one of the corners of the rink. Some of the other people who were still on the ice, some of Rachel’s relatives, were standing in that same corner as well. When Rachel and I skated past the gates to the rink, she started to pull away and said she wanted to go look for her dad. I pulled her back and said, “Hold on, let’s just skate over here for a minute.”
Come Over Here
I led her over to the corner where all of our guests were standing behind the glass. My heart started pounding. Adrenaline kicked in. Now I was nervous. Rachel looked really confused. She saw all these people standing in the corner and they were looking at us with cameras cocked and loaded. She looked at me and probably saw the nervous look on my face, and then it hit her. She figured it out. She whispered, “Are you really doing this? In front of all these people?” She couldn’t believe that I had the fortitude to do something like this, in front of so many people. I’m a pretty low-key guy. Flashy, ostentatious behavior is not my thing. I really had to step out of my comfort zone to do this, but I knew if I was going to create a memorable experience, I was going to have to do just that. We made our way into the corner and stopped a few feet away from the glass. I took her by the hands and said, “Baby, I have a confession to make. I haven’t been completely truthful with you about something.” I reached into my pocket and took out the ring. Either out of embarrassment or disbelief (or both), Rachel covered her face with her hands. I said, “I already know what you’re going to say, so this is just a formality.” I took her glove off her left hand and knelt down on one knee. 
Glove Off
One Knee
“Baby, will you marry me?” She shook her head and said a single “Yes!”. I stood up, gave her a big hug and a kiss, and put that beautiful, sparkly ring on her finger. I thought I heard cheering and applause, but the whole next few minutes was such a blur. Once we skated over to that corner and the nerves kicked in, it was like time slowed down or something. Or the world around us ceased to exist and it was just the two of us. 
First Photo 
Everyone who was on the ice gathered around us to offer congratulations. Rachel proudly showed of her new piece of jewelry and we posed for our first pictures as an engaged couple. Then we took a couple of laps around the rink by ourselves. Rachel talked about how surprised she was. She couldn’t believe what had just happened. She couldn’t believe that I had just proposed to her in front of so many people. I told her about how I planned the whole thing; how I was able to get the ring sooner than expected, how Scott brought it with him from West Palm, how I’d had it in my pocket the whole night, and how I’d talked to her dad earlier in the night. She had absolutely no idea. Mission accomplished. After our victory laps we exited the ice to many more congratulations, including a few from complete strangers. 
Looking back on it, I wish I had said something other than “this is a formality”. I mean, that’s not exactly romantic, is it?  But in the heat of the moment, with all the nerves, that’s what came out. In the end, it was still a special and memorable moment that neither one of us will ever forget. 
The next day, Rachel’s mom printed off some pictures from the night at the rink and compiled them into a photo album for us. While flipping through the pictures I noticed one in particular that was taken of the scoreboard in the rink. During a public skating session, the scoreboard displays the current time. Rachel’s sister had the brilliant idea to take a picture of the scoreboard clock the very moment I proposed. The time read 9:17 pm. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was pure coincidence that the exact time I proposed is also my birthday: 9/17.  Now that, I didn’t plan.

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