Plans began to take shape at beginning of June of 2012. Steph and I were visiting her parents in Maryland. All of us had been talking about ring shopping and getting engaged several times leading up to this weekend, but that first weekend in June was when I had time to talk to her family alone about the plans. I had a few ideas in my head but after talking to them, I knew one was the right one. I wanted to surprise her, which as her close friends and family will tell you, is no easy feat!
I needed an insider. So I sent a message to Steph’s best friend Ginny asking if she would like to be a part of the proposal. Steph & I had visited her a month or so before and at the end of that weekend, she was talking about coming up to Pittsburgh for a visit sometime in the coming months. At first no one’s schedule lined up. I knew I wanted to propose before our 1 yr anniversary but it didn’t look like any weekend was going to work. Then fate intervened.
The band I was in at the time had our last two gigs on Friday July 13th and Saturday July 14th. This was one of the weekends that everyone else would have been free but I was tied up both nights with the gigs. I was briefly contemplating if I could skip one night to make my proposal plans work but I decided that I also didn’t want to miss the band’s last gigs. Then, we got a call from the bar we were supposed to play on Saturday night saying that they had to cancel. This created the perfect opportunity for me! I decided not to tell Steph about the cancellation and leave her thinking that I still had a gig on Saturday night. I talked to Ginny and made sure that weekend worked and she made plans with Steph to come up to Pittsburgh.
Family is very important to Steph & me. I knew that she would enjoy her parent’s surprising her by being up here to celebrate too. So I invited them to come to Pittsburgh and visit that weekend. This was all done in secret. There were a couple times when I thought the surprise was going to be revealed or that she had figured it out. But when the day came, I could tell that she had no idea.
The day of the proposal I was very excited and could hardly contain myself. Steph and Ginny would be stopping by my house early in the day because that was all she thought she would see of me that day. It’s a good thing they weren’t over for long as I probably would’ve given something away. Actually, there was a very close call when they showed up. Steph usually texts me when she’s on the way over to my house. I was expecting this text so you could imagine my surprise when she pulled in to the driveway when I was in my living room practicing what I was going to say to her that evening. I was sure that she saw me through the windows but I scrambled to hide my papers and the ring. Everything calmed down and things went smoothly from there.
Later that evening, Steph’s parents, my parents, and I met on Mt Washington in front of Monterey Bay. I was nervous and constantly going over what I was going to say. Fortunately, everything had been planned out ahead of time. I had come up earlier in the week and planned out where I was going to stand and where the parents should hide.
Steph and Ginny came walking up to the spot. I stepped out from my hiding spot and she did a double take. I could tell that she was in shock. I said what I had planned, she said yes of course, and gave her the ring. After, I told her that there was another surprise and that she should turn around. There were her parents & my parents walking over to congratulate and join us. A very nice and memorable dinner followed in Monterey Bay.
I still am amazed that I pulled it all off. If you know Steph, you know how hard she is to surprise. In the end, everything went perfectly and exactly as I had planned. It is something we will both remember for the rest of our lives.
I had an inkling that something was going on when Ryan started laughing randomly several times a week. At least once or twice every evening, I would feel his shoulders start to shake as we sat watching TV or talking. I figured it had something to do with a propsal since we had been talking about rings for a while, but I had no idea one was on its way.
I didn’t think it was odd when my best friend, Ginny, called to plan a girls’ weekend and mentioned she wanted to go to a Monterey Bay, a really nice seafood restaurant with spectacular views of the city. I thought it worked out nicely since Ryan was going to have two gigs with his band–there would be plenty of time for popcorn and girly movies! I did notice that my mother and Ginny weren’t calling as much in the weeks leading up to the proposal. Normally I talked to them every other week or so, and every now and then I would wonder if they weren’t calling because they were busy. I had no idea they weren’t calling because they were afraid of giving something away…
Tthe day of the proposal was filled with clues that I completely missed. Ginny (who should be up for an Oscar) quizzed me about when I thought Ryan was going to propose and what I would like to be wearing so she could be sure I was in an outfit I liked. She insisted on taking the incline (a Pittsburgh landmark) even though we were running late. I mentioned this to my housemate, Ellen, in a slightly miffed tone. Ellen just nodded and said, “Uh huh,” without making eye contact. My only thought? “Weird.”
As we travelled up the incline, I thought about Ryan getting ready for his show and completely failed to notice that it was his camera Ginny was using to take photos–his camera complete with an arrow pointing to the video button… When we reached Mt. Washington, Ginny grabbed me in a half hug, and I still didn’t get it–I was too worried about arriving late and sweaty to the restaurant. When she pointed ahead and said, “Stephanie, look,” I thought she was pointing to the view. It took my brain a full 30 seconds to register that Ryan had stepped out from behind a statue on the overlook in front of the restaurant. As soon as it did register, I know exactly what was going and went into a state of full blown shock.
I was vaguely aware of Ginny videotaping, and the rest is all slightly blurred. What do remember are several favorite moments–turning around to see our parents crossing the street, my mother laughing hysterically at the look on my face. The feeling of absolute, giddy joy as I looked out at Pittsburgh from our table with Ryan holding my hand. A jolt to my stomach every time I caught a sparkling flash out of the corner of my eye. Ellen running out to meet us with arms waving wildly. Everyone’s huge smiles as they recounted the thousand and one small moments there were sure I had guessed.
Although I never (and I really mean never) saw it coming, it’s a night I won’t ever forget.