Last time we ran our 14 Days of Valentine’s Day, Gretchen shared her version of how I proposed.
Gretchen and I started dating in high school when we were both 16. We met while working at Stauffer’s of Kissel Hill in Lititz and I thought she was so awesome: she was super-hot, had a great personality, and we shared a lot of the same interests.
But as most high school relationships go, we broke up after a few months.
The summer after high school graduation, while still working at Stauffer’s, we started dating again. We reconnected after Gretchen and I discovered a shared interest in the Dave Matthews Band. She wanted to go to the DMB concert, but had no one to go with her. I told her I’d go with her and we bought tickets and went to the concert.
Our first date was a Dave Matthews Band concert – September 11, 2003.
Fast forward to 2009.
I decided in the summer of 2009 that I’d propose to Gretchen. We were both out of college, we both had decent jobs, and after dating nearly 6 years, the time was right.
A few months earlier, we had done some engagement ring window shopping and she had showed me some rings that she’d like, “in the event that I propose any time soon.”
We always talked about getting married someday, but it was more like someday in the distant future. I know Gretchen probably thought it’d never happen.
In August 2009, I got a job in Lancaster after having commuted to Chester County for over a year for work.
So one day during lunch, I went to the mall and bought the ring. I didn’t stew on it too much; I just made the decision one day that I was ready to do it.
Now that I had the ring, how was I going to do it?
First things first, however – I had to ask her parents. I was actually more nervous about this, than I was during the actual proposal. Not that I thought her parents would object, it was just a nerve-wracking task.
Plus, Gretchen’s dad is REALLY, REALLY, REALLY bad at keeping secrets.
(That was probably the biggest secret he’s ever had to keep!)
It was such a fun little getaway and we talked about it the rest of the year and how it’d be nice to go again when it was warm out.
The highlight of our Valentine’s weekend was an amazingly romantic dinner we had at a Spanish Tapas restaurant called Bodega. *This restaurant will be significant in my engagement story.
Since this little getaway earlier in the year was front of mind, I knew I’d do it in DC.
I told Gretchen that I planned another getaway for us the weekend of our anniversary.
Our actual anniversary, September 17, fell on a Thursday.
Since it’s kind of typical to propose on an anniversary, I thought that our weekend should start on Friday September 18. That way, Gretchen would have no idea, and it’d be completely unexpected.
Before our trip, I bought a Washington DC travel book. I researched the best places to propose. I even thought to propose to Gretchen at Bodega, the restaurant where we had our romantic Valentine’s dinner. But the more I thought about it, I realized that a proposal should be a private event for us.
My research led me to the Gardens at Dumbarton Oaks in Georgetown, a beautiful estate that was once owned by an American diplomat (nowadays the large estate includes the original mansion, the gardens, a research facility for Harvard University, and even the Embassy of Denmark).
The Gardens at Dumbarton Oaks even made National Geographic’s Top 10 Gardens in the World, coming in at #6.
My research led me to the exact site where I’d propose: The Lovers’ Lane Pool.
On September 18, Gretchen and I took off for DC where we arrived around noon. We dropped off our stuff at our hotel. I told Gretchen I had a surprise for her. From the hotel, we walked to Dumbarton Oaks. I explained where we were and that we were going to walk through the gardens. She had no idea!
I was actually REALLY nervous.
I reached in to the bag, told Gretchen that I loved her, to which she replied, “I love you too!”
I then said, “No, I really love you and I can’t wait for us to get married someday.”
Gretchen, “Yeah, I know. I really love you too and I agree.”
As she’s replying to me, I grabbed the ring box and opened it, I get on my knee and I asked her if she’d marry me.
We walked around the garden, went back to the hotel room, got ready for dinner, and celebrated at our favorite restaurant: Bodega!
*Wedding Photos by Jeremy Bischoff Photography and Family Photo by Liesa Miller Photography*
THANKS FOR READING OUR ENGAGEMENT STORIES FOR 2015’S EDITION OF 14 DAYS OF VALENTINE’S DAY!