Before I get too far into my crazy adventure in wedding planning, I should probably tell you the story about how I got to the point where I’d be planning a wedding in the first place. It’s not fairy tale material, but it’s beautiful to me. And so perfect. Imperfectly perfect, in my opinion.
My now-fiancé had planned the most amazing birthday weekend. It was my 40th, a big one, and he scheduled every day and night. Friends from New York and Virginia came to town. There were dinners and bonfires and late-night giggles. All of my favorite things.
He was especially secretive about a Saturday night bonfire at Assateague, though. He got up really early that day and told me he’d be gone all day because there was so much “setup” needed before everyone headed out to the beach. Which was weird, I thought, because honestly, how much effort does it take to plan a bonfire? Wood, matches, beer — boom! Done. But I let him do his thing and I spent a peaceful day alone on the water, just me and my paddle board.
I figured that something pretty special was planned, though, since he made such a big to-do about the bonfire. So when I was getting ready, I put a little bit more effort into my hair and makeup — you know, just in case there were pictures to be had. I also figured that, since preparations were an all-day affair, I’d be welcomed on the beach with a beautiful spread of white twinkle lights, candles, balloons, a big Happy Birthday sign — the whole nine yards. So imagine my surprise when I arrived to a semi-circle of three SUVs, a not-yet-built bonfire and a handful of my dearest friends. It was, just as he’d plainly said that morning, a typical Saturday night bonfire.
No twinkle lights. No down-on-one-knee. No oohs or ahhs. And a faceful of the GOOD makeup, all for naught (ladies, you know what I’m talking about).
I won’t deny that there was the teeniest, tiniest pang of disappointment, but also a wave of relief — I’m not good at being the center of attention. I’m super awkward and visibly uncomfortable when I’m put on the spot. And I probably would have crawled very, very deep into the sand.
The day after, I slept a little later than usual, I ate birthday cake in bed, had lunch on the water, and I rode my pretty pink Hello Kitty bike in the rain. It was perfect.
And then Monday came, and life was back to normal.
That night, we had tickets to see one of my favorite reggae bands. We met a few friends at the bar, had a few drinks, and watched the band from the same spot where we hang out every time we go to this particular bar — tucked away to the right of the stage, close enough to see everything, but far enough away from the crowd. A few songs in, my boyfriend — who would rather punch a kitten than rub sweaty shoulders in a pit of drunk 20-somethings — grabbed my hand and said, “Let’s go in. Let’s get closer to the stage.” So I obliged.
We weren’t there long. Like, half of a song. He looked at me and asked, “Are you over it?” I didn’t even answer. I just started walking toward the back of the mass. We kept walking till we were in a completely different room, at a completely different bar, where we sat down with the intentions of getting one more beer and some food to go.
While we waited, he asked me if I had had a good birthday. Did I get everything I wanted? I was honest — told him there wasn’t anything tangible that I wanted, and that hanging out with him and my friends was as perfect as it gets. Although, if I were being honest, I had thought that maybe he had something more planned for that night on the beach.
HIM: “You thought I was going to propose at the bonfire?”
ME: “Well, yeah. Why else would you make such a big deal about a stupid bonfire?”
HIM: “I wasn’t going to propose on the beach. I was going to propose tonight.”
And then the most perfect ring, and the most intense feeling of love, and the most beautiful tears, and the probably the most amazing hug we’ve ever hugged. I almost forgot to say “yes.”
And then the applause, and the bells, and the cheers and whistles. And then I realized we weren’t alone, but at a bar with a few hundred other people who had been watching the whole thing! It’s crazy how you can truly get lost in a moment…
My boyfriend had planned to propose on stage that night. He’d met with a member of the band earlier that day and had the whole thing arranged. Which is why I was pulled into the crowd that night, so we’d be that much closer to the stage. But the musician flaked, so the plan was altered.
But it turned into the most amazing, perfectly imperfect proposal. At least, in my opinion.
** ENGAGEMENT VIDEO: https://youtu.be/QthmChdFOX