She said yes!
There's ton's of background I (Josh) should give here but for now I'll focus primarily on the engagement day itself.
Because of schedules (primarily mine), we hadn't gotten to spend a lot of time together in the last couple of weeks and so about a week and a half out, I reserved August 14, 2010 with Kendall for a surprise date. At the time I was still in the process of getting her ring but I expected I'd have it squared away in time (fortunately, I did). I was excited about August 14 because it's 6 months to the day after Valentine's Day. For Valentine's Day (3 weeks into our relationship), we'd gone to Dahlonega, GA and upon emerging from Dahlonega General Store to find it snowing (a bit of a rarity in Georgia), I pulled Kendall to me as I sat on a little ledge in the Dahlonega square and told her how amazing she is--and then I told her I loved her, I asked her if I could kiss her (much to my delight, she said yes), and then we had our first kiss--and so I thought a return to Dahlonega culminating with a proposal in that same spot was befitting.
We started our day with a run. Kendall drove to my house and we ran our favorite 3.3 mile loop in my neighborhood--and though we (I in particular) had not run quite so much recently, we even ran reasonably good time! :) I showered and got dressed and then while Kendall showered and got dressed I scrambled to kick in the backup plan for the middle of the day since the forecast of thundershowers put the kibosh on the primary plan.
We headed out--once, twice, then a third time: we just kept remembering stuff we'd forgotten (I guess I was a little focused on the main event!). First surprise stop of the day: The Red Hen in Alpharetta, GA for a late brunch; neither of us had ever been there before but I had heard good things and it was quite an enjoyable brunch. Then we headed north...and north...and north...and north. Kendall was excited.
As we drove, Kendall asked a couple of times if we were getting close to where we were going but I wouldn't tell--but when we turned off for Dahlonega, it became obvious what was the city of our destination (at this point, I revealed that our return to Dahlonega was because it was precisely 6 months to the day since Valentine's Day: I wanted her to think we were returning there just for that reason, no other). Still, she didn't know precisely where we were going and so she was ecstatic when we turned into Littlefield Cottage Healing Arts and Day Spa--so imagine her response when she saw the ring! But we'll get to that in a bit...
LIttlefield Cottage is amazing--highly recommended! Andrea did a great job of making us feel welcome when we arrived. She even took our picture!
We each got an hour-long massage (we did couple's massage, meaning we were both getting a massage at the same time in the same room--it was nice!). Lita (Kendall's massage therapist) and Fred (my massage therapist) gave us great massages and then Littlefield Cottage was kind enough to allow us the use of an available room to shower and dress. I showered and dressed first: Kendall was so blissfully relaxed that she enjoyed the opportunity to simply lounge for a bit.
While Kendall showered and dressed, I prepared for the proposal. The funny thing is that, in order not to leave the ring in the car, I had put it in my sunglasses case and asked Kendall to carry it in her purse--so unbeknownst to her she'd been carrying around her ring for most of the day! But while she was getting ready I got the ring out and put it, still in it's ring pouch, in the top of my left sock.
When Kendall was ready, we walked the 2 blocks to the Dahlonega square and we roamed through some of the shops there; we had done that on Valentine's Day too. We got up there about 5:00 PM which gave us an hour until the designated time the proposal was to go down. I was ready, but there were other plans in the works (more on that to come) and so we needed to kill the time. My concern was that the weather might turn bad: it wasn't supposed to be a question of whether or not it was going to rain, just a question of how much it was going to rain. But it never rained a drop until we left Dahlonega. God is good!
Because I had chosen a public place for the proposal, I had hired Matt Clark to photograph it: I knew he could employ his ninja training to remain out of site while he snapped shots of our big moment. A few minutes before 6:00 PM, I got the text from Matt signaling that he was in place and ready so I commenced final preparations: I wanted to get to the public bathrooms on the square from where we were so that I could get the ring ready and rehearse for a moment and since we were on the opposite side of the square, I was able to do a "fly by" of the proposal spot on the way to the bathroom. I spotted Matt and noted his position and then noted that a dude in camo shorts was sitting on our wall! The horror! But I knew I could count on Matt to set the stage for us so when I got into the bathroom I texted him asking him to request that the guy move because when we came back out, it was go time! I took the ring out of its pouch and replaced it back in the top of my left sock, diamond down, ring sticking out the top of my sock, so I could get it out quickly when I went down onto my right knee. I'd told Kendall I needed to use the bathroom so I figured I'd better do that (though it was really just a ruse to get away from her to prep) and then I washed my hands and my face. By the time I'd used the crappy automatic hand dryers to get my hands and face dry, I'd been in the bathroom a bit of time and I later learned that Kendall, who had long since finished in the women's bathroom, was thinking it was taking me an awfully long time in there.
We left the bathroom and headed back towards the spot. This was it--it was on. The weather was amazing. We had already had so much fun just being together. It was perfect. I saw Matt up ahead scrambling away; he had let everyone in the area know we were coming. We got to our spot. I wasn't nervous about asking her to marry me--but I was nervous about making sure I really said what I wanted to say. I started by asking her a question as we sat down on the wall together: "hey--do you remember this spot?" Kendall told me that she remembered it and I asked what she remembered about it. She said "this is where you told me you first told me you loved me and you kissed me." And I said "yep--do you know what I remember? I remember how delighted I was to be here with you, to be in love with you, to tell you I'm in love with you, to ask you if I could kiss you, and to kiss you--but mostly I was delighted to tell you about you because you are so wonderful and you get so embarrassed when I tell you how wonderful you are. But you know, I didn't know even know then--I had an inkling but I didn't really know then. But in these 6 months since, I've really gotten to know and you truly are are amazing: you're so positive and encouraging and supportive and I'm so privileged to have you in my life. You're the most incredible woman I've ever known." And sure enough, she got embarrassed but she responded with some wonderful thing like "thank you--you're so wonderful too" (sorry I don't remember precisely what she said: I was a little preoccupied with the rest of what I had to say!). And then I asked her "do you remember at the end of our second date, I just knew I had to have more of you and I asked you when I could see you again?" and she said she remembered that. I said "well, this is our second visit to Dahlonega and again, I gotta have more of you, but this time I have a different question" and with that I swung off the wall and onto my right knee and I reached down into my left sock with my right hand and I grabbed the ring and held it up to her as I asked "will you marry me?"
And then Kendall's brain experienced a system overload: in a testament to how wonderful she is, in this situation that was I think for everyone who knows us simply a matter of time, she still went into absolute shock. She asked "are you serious?" over and over and over and over and over and over. I stayed on my knee and responded "yes. Will you marry me?" as many times as it took (I'm not sure how many that was) for the reality of the question to hit her; when it finally did, she enthusiastically said "yes--of course I'll marry you!" (she has since remarked that it was the easiest question she's ever been asked!). Somehow the ring ended up on her finger--we think she grabbed it and put it there--and I got to my feet and kissed her a bit, though she was still in serious shock and asking things like "am I in a coma and is all this a dream?" The people in the square burst into applause and we smiled and thanked them. Matt came up and I introduced him and Kendall and he took a few more shots. And people were so nice and generous to us: a young lady came up and gave us 2 chocolate-covered cherries and said she and her mom had bought them for us because they were touched by our moment and they wished us a blessed life. Then a woman from Juls Candles came and presented us with a wonderful candle chalice; she said the people in the store had been watching from the window and they were so happy they wanted to give us something. And then...then we just stayed for a few minutes and enjoyed the moment: Kendall didn't want to leave. :) When we did move away, it wasn't far: we just moved to a couple other areas in the square for a few more photos.
Then it was time for dinner. On Valentine's Day, we'd left our spot and gone to The Smith House for a wonderful family-style Southern meal with...complete strangers: we sat with a couple on our left and their daughter (or...well, it wasn't clear what was going on there actually) and a couple on their right with their son and we had a nice time with these folks. So though after we got engaged Kendall would have been fine with absolutely anything we did, it was only fitting that we should go to The Smith House. And that's where the last surprise of the day lurked: as we turned the corner from the stairs down into the restaurant, there in front of us were (by prior arrangement with me), her parents and mine (plus our family friends Suzan & David Cameron and Ron Hamman whom we were fortunate enough to have with us because they were in town to visit my parents). She stopped for a moment, trying to figure out what she was seeing then ran to her dad for a hug...and then things devolved into a chaotic mess of hugs and snapshots (but I should note that Matt was kind enough to join us and photograph this part as well so the snapshots were just because our parents and friends wanted to have photos immediately in their possession).
We had a wonderful dinner, though Kendall was so overwhelmed with joy she could only pick at her food. My mother had done a fantastic job of decorating the table with approximately a dozen tea light votives and 3 arrangements totaling 4 dozen white roses. Kendall's parents had a gift for us: a cream and sugar dish, as is their tradition to give as a first gift to those most special to them. It was wonderful to spend that joyous time with our parents and friends! The perfect ending to our trip to Dahlonega!
We walked back to the car--well, I walked but I think Kendall might have merely floated--and headed back home. The rest of the night was fantastic: Kendall shrieked with joy the whole way back as she talked to her family and friends. At one point she noted "my face is sore from smiling but I don't care!" Our final destination was her parents' house and they had yet more presents for us: a gift basket for each of us--it was amazing! She stayed to spend the joyous night with her parents as I headed back to my house, amazed once again at how her response to everything had completely blown away my expectations. What a wonderful day--it truly could not have been any better!
And all this goes to show: The Push Old Lady knew what she was talking about! Thanks, Madeline!
My mother says it's the best engagement story ever. That's sweet but all I wanted was one thing: to have it be perfect for Kendall. And I think that, by the grace of God, I succeeded! :) And really, it's so true that it was only by the grace of God: too much went right for it to have been the results of my planning. Only God. Thanks, Father God!