When It Happened

Sunday, April 08, 2012

How We Got Engaged, As Told By Neil

Brittany said yes to me during the early morning hours of April 8th, 2012. To be precise, it was 1:14 am when I finally mustered up enough courage to ask her the most important question I have ever asked anyone, will you marry me? What led us to this fateful moment is a story about love, life, and a trip to Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Brittany and I met in the fall of 2007 in the cafeteria of West Charlotte High School. We were young teachers just starting out in the real world so we had a lot in common from the very beginning. It did not take us long to realize that we had a connection that neither of us had ever experienced before. Our relationship started out as a friendship but by the end of April we were in a full blown, head over heels romance. We have been together ever since. Brittany is no longer a teacher and I am no longer at West Charlotte, but unlike our careers, our love for each other has never changed. Fast forward four years later to January and you can find me sitting down with Brittany’s parents asking them for permission to have her hand in marriage. For me, this was the first and most important step I needed to take to make this engagement a reality. After some tears and hugs I knew it was now time to buy the ring.

Two weeks later, I went to Diamonds Direct in South Park with Julie, Brittany’s mom, to hopefully find a ring worthy of Brittany’s finger. I thought the ring buying process was going to be a long and stressful endeavor. It turned out to be one of the easiest items I have ever purchased for my fiancé. I had a pretty good idea of what I was looking for and within two hours I had purchased her ring. I thought the stressful part was over. Unfortunately, I was wrong. The ring at the store was sized at a 5.5 and Brittany needed a 7.5. Rather than resizing the ring, Diamonds Direct thought it would be best to have a new one made. I was told that it would be two to four weeks before the ring would be ready. This was perfect timing because it meant I would get the ring back a week before my spring break, which is the time frame I had planned to propose. After three weeks the ring was ready to be picked up. I arrived at the store to find that the wrong ring had been ordered. The sale’s associate had written down the wrong style number! After meeting with the owner, I was assured that my order would be rushed so that I could still propose that following weekend. On Tuesday I got the call. I picked up the ring and the timing worked out beautifully.

I had searched and searched to find a romantic and unique place for us to travel to over spring break. I found a groupon for a weekend stay on a river boat called the Delta Queen which had come to rest on the Tennessee River in Chattanooga, Tennessee. We both thought that staying on the Delta Queen would be an interesting experience so we booked the trip and left Friday morning. We arrived in Chattanooga that afternoon and decided to do a little exploring. Chattanooga is an awesome little town with a vibrant and diverse culture of families and people similar to our age range. The city is almost entirely walkable, and there are a lot of things to do, like going to their state-of-the-art aquarium downtown. Brittany and I are both animal lovers, so I thought the aquarium would be a perfect place to pop the question.

Friday came and went and Saturday morning soon arrived. I knew that today was going to be the day but I did not know when or where. Either way I could feel myself getting more and more anxious. Saturday afternoon, after a picnic in the park, we walked from the Delta Queen across a beautiful walking bridge to the other side of the river where the Aquarium was located. Brittany loves architecture and especially bridges, so I thought that if the Aquarium did not work out I would do it on the bridge which is beautifully lit up at night overlooking the river. When we got to the aquarium I knew pretty quickly that my plan would be hard to execute. There were tons of people and small children everywhere. One of the exhibits was a butterfly garden which would have been an awesome place to do it but I could never seem to get her alone. As the tour continued I decided to wait, unless some how I could get a penguin to walk up with the ring for me! Of course that didn’t happen and so the wait continued. After dinner Brittany started to complain of a head ache so we decided to go back to the boat and take an hour-long nap. We woke up three hours later at 11:30. We finally got up and made plans to go get some drinks and a late night dessert. Once again my plans were shot. So I did what any reasonable person would do, I panicked! On the way to the bar we decided to make a brief detour through the park that was beside our boat/hotel for some pictures. There was a beautiful little fountain in the middle of the park that we had seen earlier in the day when walking to the aquarium. It was encircled by stone animal statues that we both thought were so cool. After taking a few pictures with the animals, I knew this was the perfect time. I pulled her to close to me, dropped down on one knee and before I could get the ring box out of my pocket she started to cry. When I finally opened the box she said YES then told me to move away from the fountain before I dropped the ring down one of the grates in the ground. We both had a good laugh then I slide the ring on her finger. After a long kiss and hug she picked up the phone and called mom and dad, and her siblings at 1:30 am. It was a moment that I will never forget. I will remember her look of joy and happiness for the rest of my life. At that moment I know I was the luckiest and proudest man on the planet.

If the “I do” in a few months is anything like the feeling I had on April 8th, I know March 23rd will be my new favorite day.

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