So, I finally did it. I put a ring on it. There is to you who never said I would :-). All joking aside. I should have done this years ago. Jen and I have been together for almost 4 years now. Whenever we photograph an engagement, we have the opportunity to capture love in it’s truest form, as it is happening. It is nice to finally be able to experience that for ourselves. I know, I know, I am a bit of a procrastinator with this, but the truth is, I know that we have built our relationship to last, we took the time to do it right, and we waited until we really knew each other before taking this step. That said, I am happy it is finally here. This is pretty much how it happened, although I must warn you, I am not the romantic type, never have been, so if this was not as extravagant as you thought it would be, sorry ;-):
Warning before proceeding: If you are a Macho Man, and you don’t like romantic comedies or long walks on the beach, do not proceed further, instead click here
I originally told Jen’s sister Barby that I was going to do this sometime soon, although I wasn’t specific because these two cannot keep a secret from each other to save their life. I mean it, they were the type to snoop around their parent’s bedroom around Christmas time to see what their parents had bought them. Had I told Barby any earlier than I did, Jen would have found out.
I decided to go looking with Jen a few months ago so that I could see what her expectations were. Jen has expensive taste, so I will admit, I was worried at first, but when it came to a ring, she just wanted me, rather than an expensive rock. That being said, I still wanted to give her something amazing. I will never forget what my late brother-in-law, CHP Officer Tom Coleman, said to my sister when she decided to look at rings that “cost three times a month’s salary.” He stated to her “You know I am an honest cop, right?” My mom, also having expensive taste always told me when I was a kid that I had to purchase my future wife’s ring at Ben Bridge Jewelers. I guess that isn’t so bad, I mean she could have said Tiffany’s right? Jen had worked in jewelry sales before, and the quality of the ring is more important to her than the size. The first store she wanted to look in was, what do you know it, Ben Bridge Jewelers. We headed into the gallery, and we met with Gilda, the sales rep there, who was very nice and helpful. Gilda picked out a diamond with Jen, as well as a setting, and offered to “hold it,” for a few weeks until I was ready. I thought “Ya, sure she is going to hold it, it will be back on display in an hour.”
So a week or so ago I decided to get to it and make the purchase of a ring. Knowing what Jen wanted I decided I would shop around a bit. I hit every jewelry store in the mall, and although there were larger diamonds (some even less in price) I knew that Jen wanted something of the best quality (and she knows how to tell the difference). I settled between two rocks. One from a local Jewelry store, as well as the original one Jen picked out (well I figured a similar one from the same store). The one at the local store was a little larger than the original one Jen picked.
So I called my advisor (mom), who told me that if I purchased anything other than the one that Jen picked, I would regret it. My childhood instincts suddenly kicked in, “You will Regret it,” had rang a bell in my subconscious memory. This was because when my mom told me I would regret something, that signaled that she meant business. Although I knew this time the statement didn’t have the same meaning, I still purchased the one Jen wanted without hesitation……………………………………………..Ok fine with a little hesitation, Jen is priceless to me, and I love her to death, but what man doesn’t hesitate dropping a wad of cash on a stone comparable in size to a pencil eraser? (At least it came with some nice champagne glasses)
I knew I wasn’t capable of an extravagant proposal, so I figured that I would start with dinner. I am normally a make-it-up-as-you-go-along person, but I wanted to have some sort of a plan going into this thing. Barby suggested that I take Jen to Moon Shadows and do it there. The more thought about it, the more my OCD kicked in. Maybe put the ring in a glass of champagne and have the waiter bring it? But what if the waiter lost it, or what if Jen swallowed the ring by mistake while downing her champagne (I saw that in a movie but I can’t remember which one it was). Moon Shadows sounded good for dinner, but proposing in a loud restaurant didn’t seem like it would be my cup of tea. Jen’s birthday was coming up, so that would make a great excuse for a nice dinner.
Point Dune was a local beach that I loved. I had taken Jen there a few times before, and it usually wasn’t crowded, so I thought that would be a good place. How would I do it? That’s obvious, I would have a plane sky-write my proposal over the beach……………. Well maybe if I was a lottery winner, or if I actually took up one of those e-mails telling me that I had just received a large inheritance from a deceased relative in Cambodia, and all I have to do is send in $1500.00 for “legal fees” so that I can transfer the money into my name. Being that I have held off on that, I had to stick to a simpler solution.
I decided to create a website for Jen, one optimized for her iPhone so that she could read it while we were at the beach. (Yes I covered my bases and checked the Verizon map to make sure that I had coverage at Point Dune). I created it so that It would give her the impression that her birthday gift was going to be anything besides a wedding ring. If you want a link to the site, you will have to ask Jen to give it to you at Jen@MAPhoto.co (remember I am not the romantic type)
Barby told Jen that I was getting her a dress and shoes for her birthday, so this time Jen’s curious personality actually worked for my element of surprise.
Before dinner I snuck the ring into my pocket while Jen was getting ready. It worked out until I realized that I had a noticeable bulge in my pocket that was the shape of a ring box. Not gonna work. This was the first time during this process that I had a mini-panic attack. Of all of the planning I had did to keep this a surprise, I did not plan for this. Where would I hide it, and not lose it?
I made up some story about how it is usually colder at the beach, and we should bring a jacket. It was 100 degrees in Valencia, so Jen looked at me like I was crazy. I pulled up a record low temperature for this day in Malibu, CA, and told Jen that it was going to drop to 40 degrees tonight, and we should bring warm clothes in case. She obliged, and I pulled a jacket out of my closet and put the ring inside it. Now I habitually leave things behind without knowing it, so I was not going to take this now extremely expensive jacket off and risk ruining Jen’s perfect night. So I sucked it up and wore it in the heat.
We headed out to Moon Shadows for our 6PM reservation (I tried to time it so that I could propose during the Malibu Sunset). NOTE: I did find out that my parents actually had their engagement dinner at Moon Shadows, after I had booked the reservation. They have been married happily for almost 30 years now. The restaurant was a very beautiful setting, overlooking the waves. Jen had decided to have a Lemon Drop Martini, mind you she drinks maybe once every three months, so this was surprising. We both ordered seafood dishes, as well as an awesome chocolate soufflé for dessert. As Jen was finishing her second martini, I couldn’t help but think that I was the one who needed the drink! I was nervous, as any guy would be, but I had to drive so I had to man up and do this the un-inhibition-supressive-assisted way.
Being that we waited a bit before we left (I wanted Jen to answer without the influence of a Lemon Drop Martini) we were a little late. The sun was heading down fast, and I wanted to make sure that I made it to Point Dune before dusk. We headed over a ridge and I could see the beautiful red sky, similar to this one below:
In fact, this time of year the sun was actually setting right over the ocean, so it was amazingly beautiful. We had made it just in time. I kicked off my dress shoes, and Jen did the same to her sandals. When we got out of the car I realized that it was a good thing that I had brought a jacket, because it must have been in the 50’s! Jen thanked me for reminding her to bring one, and I allowed her to believe that it was my amazing ability to think ahead that caused me to prompt her to bring a jacket.
By this time she was wondering why I brought her here, and she was begging me to give her her birthday present. The beach was not too crowded and we found a little spot to sit down by the lifeguard tower. The entire time at dinner I kept telling her how much I loved the ocean, and how we needed a vacation, causing her to believe that I was going to take her on a trip to Hawaii (we have a lot of unused credit card miles). I obliged and text her the link to her website that I had made up for her.
I designed the website to have a series of links that she would need to navigate through to get to the last page. The first of which informed her that she was going to have to work through the links because I didn’t intend on making it easy for her to get her present. The second and third page built the excitement by telling her that she was getting closer to her present. On the fourth page, I had a picture of us in Cancun back in 2008. She immediately knew that she was taking a trip, until she scrolled down and learned that she was not going on a vacation. Her curiosity immediately took the best of her, and she started rushing through the 5th and 6th page, which informed her that her present was not a dress, shoes, or a new puppy. She then clicked the second last page which instructed her to stop and give me a kiss. When she did, I presented her with the ring and told her how much I loved her.
By now she knew what I was giving her, and I asked her to click the last page, which confirmed my proposal to her. Honestly, though, she didn’t read it because as she would say she “Was in shock.” Aside from her disbelief, and confirming if I was sure, I reminded her that she hadn’t answered my question yet. She finally said “Yes!”
On the way home she contemplated who she needed to tell first, and I wisely suggested her sister, who had helped me out a lot along the way, and would have taken it personally if she had called anyone else. Jen seemed slightly offended that she was the last to know about this, partly because I had told everyone, including her mother and father. Nonetheless, she got over it!
We then headed to my parents house for some congratulatory drinks, and we spoke with my mom and dad as they seemed nostalgic when talking about their engagement and subsequent wedding.
Jen now gets the pleasure of planning a wedding in the not-so-distant future, including the task of finding an engagement photographer. We have many friends in the business, so I look forward to sharing that person’s work with you as soon as we get them done!