Real Life Love Stories: Chapter 3 - Engagement


AYNGELEA

June 2, 2013, it’s a date that I look on with so much fondness. It was a rainy summer Sunday, there was no sun and the clouds were hanging out lazily in the sky - my favorite kind of summer day. After church Mikey and I got some Wendy’s and headed to one of my favorite parks to eat. The rain had stopped so we got out of the care to walk around and as soon as we got out of the car Mikey started acting SO WEIRD. Like, beyond his normal weirdness. He was avoiding my eyes, not holding my hand, not walking too close to me. I immediately thought, Oh gosh they gave him old meat and he has to poop. Well, fear not this story is not about Mikey rushing to the nearest porta potty.

After about 15 minutes the rain began to start pouring again, so I started my making my way back to the car. “Wait!” Michael says grabbing my hand. “I need to ask you something.” Holding my hand he leads me to tree nearby to offer me some kind of shelter from the rain. “Babe, it’s pouring. What is it?” I ask impatiently. As soon as I ask he begins to fumble in his pockets and then there it is. A little black box. The little black box that so many young girls dream of. He drops to one knee, in the deepest puddle of mud. “Ayngelea, I love you. Will you marry me?” OH MY GOSH. Is this really happening? Oh my gosh. Wait am I still breathing? Ayngelea, you can do this. It’s a three letter response. Yes. Yes. Yes. I look at the ring, I look at him and respond with, “Are you sure?”

“I mean, can you tell me how much you love me? Are you really sure?” I ask again. Ayngelea, stop with the word vomit! Michael was shocked and he didn’t even respond. He was still on his knee, in the mud, looking at me probably trying to pretend I didn’t just say that. “Wait - I mean yes!” FINALLY, the right words came out. He jumped up quickly, laughing at me, and wrapping me in a hug.

We stayed engaged for one year; in that year we welcomed our daughter, Arabella, into the world. So not only were we trying to adjust to our new relationship but to also being parents. All while he was in college, I was in my senior of high school and wedding planning.

It doesn’t sound like a lot but trust me when I say it was incredibly difficult. There were many times when I was so incredibly exhausted, emotionally and physically. Sometimes I felt like calling it quits and staying in bed forever. But just as we had done while we were dating, we kept God first. In doing that we were able to trust that although things were not always going how we wanted them to that God was still in control. It really gave us an opportunity to grow closer in love with each other and God. It also allowed us an opportunity to trust in God during a less than perfect season. I’m not saying my engagement season wasn’t enjoyable, it had its moments, but it wasn’t perfect and that’s okay because a “perfect engagement” is not indicative of a good marriage.

REBEKAH

My first real Valentine’s date was expected to be nothing too special. I had spent the first 23 years of my life receiving heart shaped candy from my Mom and Dad and as much as I dearly love my parents, it had set the Valentine’s day expectations fairly low.

I don’t really care about Valentine’s Day, were my exact words to Patrick and I meant it. He didn’t make a big deal about my reluctance towards the holiday. Instead he planned a simple date night- movie followed by a dinner at a nice french restaurant.

I made the 90 minute trek from Lexington to Louisville for the date (which was where Patrick was living at the time and conveniently where I grew up). My sister and her family were in town. Snow was heading to the mountains and instead of being stuck in the holler for 5 days, they drove 5 hours to Louisville to spend the week. Not too out of the ordinary, but still this should have been my first clue that this so called simple date had a hidden agenda.

But, like most of our pre-marriage relationship, I was hopelessly clueless.

“Hey since we are all here, let’s have a girls day and get our nails done,” my mother sweetly demanded. Another missed clue.

“Rebekah, let’s go get your makeup and hair done since it’s your first Valentine’s date, my treat,” my sister suggested as we were finishing up at the nail salon. It was not unlike my sister to spoil me in this way so I took her up on the offer and thought nothing of it.

That evening when Patrick came to pick me up my family went into full on prom mode. Taking millions of pictures and I swear I saw my mom tear up a bit. My sister kept staring at me as if she were committing each moment to memory. They gathered around the front door waving their goodbyes and stealing one last hug as we left for our supposed simple date night.

Well that was odd, I thought, maybe Patrick has a surprise up his sleeve. Maybe we are not going to the movies at all. Maybe….maybe he is going to propose.

On the way to the movies I was completely silent (which is rare). My mind would not stop racing. He’s going to propose! It all makes sense!

“So my work has this fancy cocktail party in a few weeks. We would need to get pretty dressed up. I can pay for you to get your nails done and whatever else you may want. So would you want to go with me?” Patrick’s question broke the silence and my expectations for the evenings.

Oh! So that’s when he is going to propose. “I would love to,” I said as we pulled into our first stop- the movies.

Once we made it to our final destination of the evening, I was fully convinced this was exactly what I had asked for. A simple date to celebrate Valentine’s day.

We walked into the restaurant. The maitre de led us to two tall super fancy double glass doors. Awe, Patrick got a private room. How sweet, I thought.

The doors opened to what seemed like an empty room. There in the middle of the emptiness was a chair with a daisy on it (my favorite). Patrick guided me to the seat and as I looked up a room full of family and friends were staring back at me. I shifted my gaze back to Patrick who was now down on one knee. He said a bunch of wonderful things I so wish I could remember (but no worries someone recorded it), opened up a small shiny red box and then he asked me to marry him. To which I screamed, “yes!”

It had taken me months to call Patrick my boyfriend without my face turning red and butterflies doing the cha cha slide in my stomach...and I figured saying fiancé would be a similar experience. But I was wrong and so happy to be.

Calling Patrick my fiancé felt right and certain and I was oh so certain I wanted to spend the rest of my life with Patrick Jeffrey Perryman. My spirit knew this was the man I had been waiting to call my husband.

We were engaged for eight months, which was five months way too long! The wedding was fully planned three months into our engagement. Everything was ready to go, leaving us playing the longest waiting game of my life.

Honestly, the only part of our engagement season I really enjoyed was having a fiancé (oh and the cake testing). I wish I was kidding. Waiting is not my strong suit. And try as you might, weddings are never without their fair share of drama. Let’s just say at one point during our engagement season Patrick spent 5 hours on the phone with China in the middle of the night trying to persuade them to send me bridesmaids dresses all in the same color, or at least ones that wouldn’t make people think of the golden arches of McDonald's as my girls walked down the aisle.

Needless to say I am team short engagements all the way! But I’m also a huge proponent of God’s timing. And even though it took us eight months to get to I do I am thankful for the waiting. For God knows me far better than I even know myself. And just like I needed a long time to get use to the word boyfriend, Patrick and I needed those eight months to prepare our hearts for forever together.

The prep work made all the difference. Marriage has been very good to us. Not without its challenges, of course, but still so so good.

STACIE

After an unsuspecting dinner date on a random Tuesday (actually, it was Flag Day - who knew?), we were supposed to go toast s’mores around a campfire with my now-brother and sister-in-law, but their cars were nowhere to be found when we pulled up. Very quickly, after Lucas coaxed me out of the car despite my hesitations (“Emily’s car isn’t even here yet! It’s getting late...you might just have to take me home”), I saw the firepit, the light-wrapped trellis in his backyard, and heard the familiar hum of our song, JJ Heller’s “Boat Song,” fill the air.

And so I looked at him, took his hand, and said, “OH.” He walked me around his family’s pool, warmly lit in soft colors, and up to the twinkling trellis. So this is how it feels. Wow.

“Stacie, I love you, and there’s no one else I’d rather spend my life with. Will you marry me?”

So of course, I said, “Yes!”

Because there he was, on one knee, smiling up at me. Holding that sweet wooden box with the brilliant, sparkling treasure I’d dreamed of for years. With clammy, shaky hands I gently took the ring and managed to say who-knows-what; I think something along the lines of a quiet, “Wow.”

This ring, rose gold and delicate; this man, my boyfriend of four-and-a-half years; this moment, surreal…to say it was everything I dreamed of might be an understatement or, at best, a disservice. It was so much more than I expected, and let me tell you, my expectations were high. Yet still, I never imagined it could be this much more.

The period between I-might-propose-to-you-sometime and Will-you-marry-me is not the easiest. For us at least, it was a time filled with pressure. My sources of pressure were all of the UNKNOWNs, of wanting to plan for this wedding and this marriage but not quite being ready yet, of wondering if and when he was ever going to propose. For Lucas, he had the pressure of communicating with my parents about wanting to marry me, working hard to prepare to buy a ring, and figuring out how to prepare for the marriage that would follow. We learned to communicate better through the process because we had to tell each other what was difficult, while always trusting in something good to come. And when the first something good came, in a series of what I hope will be countless something goods till death do we part, the waiting became so worth it and my trust in him - and in God - solidified.

After our sweet engagement on Flag Day 2016, Lucas and I were engaged for 11 months. While some days, I wish we would’ve just jumped the gun and gotten married that fall after he proposed, most other days I appreciate instead the huge value in the time we were given to continue growing - individually and as a couple - so we could be most prepared for when we finally said our vows. Those 11 months gave us time to learn, time to grow, and time to invite others in to that season with us. I could write a book about all I learned through that process - from taking time to value the friends and family who came alongside us, to navigating (aka stressing about) what it looked like to plan a God-honoring wedding that reflected our relationship and values, to creating a physical intimacy contract (because, news flash, when you’re planning out how to live a life “two as one” with someone, you love them more! And temptations get harder), to praying and talking through all the preparations we needed to communicate with one another well, love one another well, and live in unity on mission once we did become husband and wife.

So in God’s truly perfect timing, we said “I do” on May 6, 2017, literally a few days after my junior year in college came to a close and the day after I moved out of my sorority house, and it has been a dream to figure out this married life together so far.

KATIE H.

So this is how it’s gonna be. Nice. I quit my job and moved three hours to live in the same town as Anthony… and he was dumping me after three weeks. I could just tell.

He acted strange when we hung out, and made mysterious plans when I wasn’t around. And here I was with no job, no friends, stuck in a new town by myself. Terrific.

Anthony and I met at the end of April 2004, and starting in July drove back and forth from Ohio to Kentucky nonstop because we couldn’t stand being apart. By September, I quit my job and moved to Lexington.

The first week was a dream come true. We went to Las Vegas with a huge group of friends, and my mom later confessed she thought we were eloping. While the trip was amazing, despite being madly in love, we didn’t visit the little white chapel after all. I almost said “I love you” on our trip, but stopped short when Anthony mentioned he only planned to say he loved someone when he was engaged.

And when we got back, he got weird. While I was 110% sure he was regretting my move, he was actually plotting our engagement—meeting with my parents, taking his sister and mom to pick out my ring.

Two weeks later, I knew something potentially thrilling—not terrible— was up because he called to say he had reservations at the restaurant where we first met his best friend’s birthday party. Reservations? At the restaurant where we met? Gasp. There was a 50/50 shot he was going to propose. We are not “make reservations in advance” kind of people.

I teased and sprayed my hair within an inch of it’s life (which after seeing the subsequent pictures from the night, I immediately dropped the concrete helmet look), and dressed in my cutest blue shirt and pencil skirt. The whole night was a blur! Now, the conversation was stilted because of me. I was so awkward! Ack! The waiting.

Yet the waiter never delivered a chocolate cake with a ring inside. Maybe I was getting dumped after all? With my hopes deflated, I shrugged “sure” when Anthony asked if I wanted to go for a drive.

We wound up taking a walk in the Ashland Estate gardens—the place where we both knew we were crazy about each other on one of our very first dates. When we sat on a bench where we first shared our deepest dreams and secrets, he pulled out a note.

The note started “Katie, I love you…” and I started shaking. I could barely comprehend his words, but teared up as he got on one knee. When he asked, “will you marry me?” I couldn’t say yes fast enough!

Breathless, we sat back down on the bench… and I accidentally dropped the ring. Picking it up in a skirt was tricky… especially because Anthony said “watch out!” And pointed to one of his friends taking pictures in the bushes. Out of nowhere, his best friend pops from behind a tree playing his guitar and singing. Ha!

Our engagement was perfect. All of the angst and questioning leading up to it made sense, and it became funny and sweet when I realized all he had done behind the scenes to make it happen. Saying “I love you” to Anthony and hearing it back was one of the highlights of my life. And hearing him saying it today?

It’s just as sweet.

KATIE S.

Our engagement seems so long ago and most of it is hazy. Wonderful but seemingly a distant memory.. Trae and I got engaged on Oct 5th..2007.. Yes, we’ll say that's accurate… neither of us are big on dates and if I am honest… I had to look it up for accuracy and I was wrong! Sorry babe. Anyway, it was really sweet.. We had talked about the future for a while.. (If you remember from a few weeks ago.. I was head-over-heels at week one.) But if I’m honest in the moment, I had no idea what was going on!

We went on a trip to Gatlinburg for the weekend.. And of course we went to the outlets.. One of my favorite past-times.. We were looking around and I spotted this TINY Coach bag.. Silly because I had the matching large bag on my shoulder.. But I thought I had to have it.. I moved along quickly without making the necessary purchase and didn’t think much more about it.. Until later that night. I thought.. I should go back tomorrow and get it!

A while later when we got to our cabin we were getting ready to go out to eat and he walked into the living room with a Coach bag… I was thrilled.. And then I began to wonder… when did he have the time?! Quickly, I remembered we went separate ways for a little bit.. Thinking he was just taking my bags back to the car but he had other plans…. Opening up the Coach wrapping I was ecstatic! As silly as it sounds.. I was just so excited about the purse! He said, “Katie, look inside.” Of course I obliged.. Thinking it was a wallet.. Haha… well.. It was way more than that.. The MOST BEAUTIFUL little navy box.. And inside that little navy box was the MOST GORGEOUS ring I had ever seen.

It was everything I could have imagined. Classic, simple and breathtaking.. Of course I was in disbelief. He got down on both knees in front of me and said.. Who am I kidding.. I couldn’t tell you the beginning.. But.. the conversation ended with a sweet kiss, an I love you, a big fat YES and lots and lots of tears.

It’s funny and slightly out of my character to not remember every exact detail.. But that’s part of the story I love. I love our story, because it’s ours.

I am pretty sure that’s the way God works sometimes.. He gives us a gift but the even better, more life altering gift is the one inside. I am so thankful I had someone to encourage me to “look inside” because I could have missed the best gift ever.

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