My little brother got engaged this past Tuesday, June 17th. It was so much fun to be on this side of the proposal and see all the planning that went into it and anticipate the surprise coming. Eric and Mary have been dating for over three years, and I just adore them together. They have an incredible maturity in their relationship. They love the simple things in life. They have favorite restaurants for date nights, go for walks with their dogs together, and play sand volleyball with friends as many nights of summer as they can. Eric's pretty private for the most part, but he shares his whole heart with Mary. And Mary is as sweet and lovely as they come. Besides being adorable and having the most contagious laughter, she is the most thoughtful, selfless girl I know.
So here's the story from my point of view:
I got to tag along with Eric to help with ring shopping about two weeks before he actually proposed. We looked through rings case by case so he could decide what he liked best. He ended up choosing the diamond and then had the ring made for it. He went for a classic round stone, .66 carats, in a tiffany style setting. As an after thought I asked him if he wanted to look at the princess cut diamonds too. He said "No, the one I picked is my football number." I said "Huh??" He said ".66. Sixty six. That was my number." Love the way he thinks. Haha :)
Then he had to wait for the ring to come in, he was tossing around ideas of how to ask her, and our family was about to go away on vacation. As for ideas, they take their dogs for walks at this park often (the same park I took their senior photos at), and he was pretty sure he wanted to do it there, maybe even using his golden retriever Samson somehow in the proposal. But then Samson got sick, he had to receive blood transfusions and stay several days in an animal hospital and Eric wasn't able to come on as much of family vacation as planned. Thankfully Samson pulled through, and Eric even got to come to a few days of vaca, but he was going to need another idea of how to propose...
My dad had one. If you know my dad, this won't surprise you :) (Quite full of ideas for everything, he is.) ;)
He said Eric and I should tell Mary we wanted to re-create some of the photos I took of the two of them when I did their senior photos. Then somewhere along the way we could do a "pose" in which Mary would turn around to find Eric on one knee, meanwhile I could be photographing the whole thing.
To add to the plot I told Mary that I wanted to use my grandmother's old bike from when she first married my Poppop in the photos as well. I told Mary to wear a dress, and I stopped on the way to buy some flowers "as a prop"... wink. wink. (They were really to give to Mary after Eric proposed :)
So I was supposed to meet them at the park at 5:30. Shaun was going to drop me off and head the rest of the way to his parents' house for family dinner with our boys. However, he was a tad late getting home from work, I was determined to still buy Mary flowers on the way, and that put us a little behind in getting to the park. We turned into the amish store where I bought the flowers, I jumped out of the still moving van, ran and grabbed the bouquet of flowers from the vase, dripping water everywhere, I tossed the cash on the counter (because there was a line I didn't have time to wait in) and yelled something like "My brother's getting engaged, I don't have time to wait, keep the change!!!" And bolted away with the flowers. Such a fun, dramatic, pre-engagement moment :) Poor Eric was probably so nervous waiting at the park for me with Mary... but he did great!
So we made it about 10 minutes late, and then I put on the best act of my life. Eric and I had discussed previously that he would nod at me when he was ready. There were some funny moments trying to read each other's body language and eye movements and secret hand gestures while we waited for the perfect moment. But we walked up the same path we did for their senior photos and took some fun pictures along the way. Starting here:
Loved this fallen tree! I have been braving the harsh direct sun lately and trying to be artsy with it... I still prefer more indirect, filtered light, and you definitely have to be careful taking photos in full sun, but I am loving some of the results just from experimenting with it a little!
The way the sun falls and the shadows land can be so artistic and illuminating and feel so "real life."
We finally came to a spot where the path curves and a stream runs underneath into a miniature waterfall, and I got the head nod I was waiting for :)
So I told Mary I was going to do a photo where she was standing in the foreground and Eric was in the background behind her. In the photo below she has no idea he was down on one knee behind her. I took a few of these shots, then told her she could go ahead and turn around and walk over to Eric.
I'm pretty sure she was saying things like "What's happening?" and "Is this for real?" But it's hard to say, my heart was pounding in my ears, I was trying not to cry, and the click-click of my shutter sounded louder to me than ever before.
Because of the aforementioned, and because I tried to back away and let them have more of a private moment together, it was hard to hear what exactly Eric said in his proposal. But I think it was something like: "I don't really have anything prepared, but Mary Samantha I love you and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Will you marry me?"
(The most beautiful words a girl can ever hear....)
Opening the ring bos:
Putting the ring on her finger:
The most beautiful, joyful and natural reaction right afterwards :)
So after the proposal we walked back up the path and got my grandmother's bike out of Eric's truck and took some cute engagement photos for the two of them. We only took about 15 minutes or so with the bike, because my mom had made strawberry shortcake and there was a mini celebration waiting for the two of them at my parents' house that night :)
On Friday night, the 20th, we got to go to my parents' to celebrate Eric's 20th birthday with him. It was SO. MUCH. FUN. seeing him and Mary making their guest list and planning out their details, and I found out I get to be in the wedding party :) I am looking forward with all my heart to this wedding season for them. It just makes me so happy :)
Oh, and one other fun fact.... Eric proposed to Mary three days before his 20th birthday. And seven years ago Shaun proposed to me three days before my 20th birthday.... I think it's so cool that Eric and I were the same age to the day when we got engaged. :)