The Engagement Story

by Billy

The Beginning: I've known for quite some time that I was going to marry Katie, but it wasn't until May or June of 2009, that I finally started making plans for a tentative early fall proposal.

When whispers were going around that her brother Ben was ring shopping, I had to immediately consult him to hear what his plans were so we didn't interfere with each others proposals. That officially made Ben the first (and only for quite some time) person to know.

Once Ben and Kathryn got engaged, the real planning began.  Below is a long winded recount of the ideas, plans, and delivery of my proposal to Katie.

The Blessing: I knew I wanted to keep with tradition of asking the bride's parents for permission to marry.  So I drove to Huntsville on Sept. 26th to ask for Katie's parent's blessing for our union. 

By this time, my parents were in the loop as well, so they prepared to play co-conspirators.  There was a slight delay in getting to Huntsville (read carjacking), but when I arrived I hopped into the car with my parents and we drove up to Monte Sano Mountain. 

Katie's dad and brother play in a bluegrass band that had a show scheduled for that Thursday night, so Susan invited myself and my parents up to listen. Perfect!

After the concert, my parents suspiciously kept "going to the bathroom," but the timing kept being off and I couldn't get Susan and Danny alone.  When we were leaving, we decided to go get a drink at The Nook, and as we were walking to our cars I asked if I could jump in with Susan & Danny.  To my dismay, they drove separately.  Doh!

Luckily (for me, anyway), when we drove into the bar parking lot, my parents car over heated due to a burst radiator hose and Ben went to help, which provided the perfect distraction to get Susan & Danny alone. They were extremely gracious and accepting and the celebration was on. Susan knowingly (mother's intuition) had the ring with her and they gave it to me that night as well as their blessing. It was a truly great evening and offered the perfect opportunity for parents to talk and drink and get well acquainted.

The Ring:
Katie's parents were holding onto her great grandmothers engagement and wedding rings.  When I asked for their blessing to marry their daughter, they gave me the engagement ring to offer to Katie. I hadn't seen it, and was blown away at how pretty it is. It was way more than I could have ever asked for.

The Present: Since I didn't have to buy a ring, I wanted to get something meaningful as an engagement gift.  She has always drooled over antique furniture and I particularly took notice when she spent a longer than normal amount of time pining over a barrister styled bookcase at an antique mall once. I found a collector of the Globe-Wernecke barrister bookcases in Douglasville, GA on Craigs List. I drove down the day after asking Katie's parent's blessing, and picked out the perfect one, and then drove it to Birmingham for storage in her grandparents basement.

She has a very similar dreaming look in her eyes when we go to the needlepoint store together and she stands in front of their thread wall containing the hundreds of colors. She's mentioned before about how great it would be to have a wall full of thread to just look at and dream up the projects she could make.

I found 3 sets of all 454 colors (1362, plus lots of extras) of thread on Ebay to give her a near life's supply for a lifetime of projects.  I then built racks to fit the barrister bookcase and categorized (with plenty of help from my parents) and strung all of the thread so they'd display nicely in the bookcase.

To add a personal touch, and a vessel for the ring delivery, I also stitched Katie a biscornu. It's a tiny little decorative eight sided pillow like pin cushion that she adores.  I added tassels to hang the ring from.

I stitched her initials on top, plus the year, and my initials on bottom, and when stitched together they overlap.  On the top is a very pretty somewhat matrimonial pattern in blues, and the bottom I created a pattern out of the coded binary representations for the letters "Marry Me!" in white.

The Blessing, Part II: The morning after I asked her parent's blessing, I drove to her grandparents house in Birmingham under the guise of dropping off a birthday present (the bookcase) to Katie for holding.  I then surprised her grandparents by explaining to them my intentions of marrying their granddaughter and asking for their blessing, which was graciously received. They then became instrumental in the conspiracy to deliver the engagement gift.

The Proposal:
Right when Katie left for work on Saturday morning, October 10th, I called her grandfather who was transporting the bookcase and all the thread to Katie's house for delivery. I'd conspired with her grandparents to store the bookcase, and dropped off the thread on my way in town on Friday. He then drove over and helped me unload the bookcase and set it up in her painting room.

After the bookcase was setup & her grandfather had gone, I went to pickup some champagne and flowers and also pickup some suits I'd bought a few weekends prior.

I had asked Katie to call me when she was coming home from work.  When she did so, I explained that I had an elaborate ruse to show off my new suits, which I had picked up that morning. As a result, I told her she couldn't go into the painting room, which I'd closed the doors and blinds to.

When she came home, she wanted to immediately see what I was up to, so I obliged and went into the painting room while she waited outside.  I then changed into one of my new suits, and adjusted the flowers and double checked everything.  When I was properly dapper, I stood next to the bookcase, and called her in.

When she first walked in she just stopped in the doorway with her mouth open.  She stood there forever, and then finally started walking in repeatedly asking "what is this?" I just explained that it was a gift. She kept asking why and what and finally I said "I thought it was unfair that I got all these new suits and you didn't get anything." Apparently that was enough to get her to stop asking questions and then she just started pouring over the bookcase and thread gushing.  After she'd spent a couple minutes looking over everything, I told her I'd made something for her as well. 

At that point, I turned around and dug the biscornu and ring, out of the drafting table.  I made sure the ring and tassels it was hanging from were hidden well beneath the biscornu in my palm.  When she saw it, she immediately gasped, and said things like "Billy!" and "You made this?" "For me?", etc. She didn't pick it up for a second, but when she did the ring dropped, although she didn't immediately see it swinging beneath the biscornu.  I gave the ring a gentle nudge so it swung a little further out from under the biscornu and she then saw it.

When she saw what it was, I took a knee, and asked her simply "Will you marry me?" She didn't say anything but just stood there with the ring and pillow in her hands.  Finally she lunged forward and started hugging me.  I came back to my feet and still hugging whispered, "well, are you going to say yes?" She loudly proclaimed "Of Course!" I put the ring on her finger, and that was it.  She then started jumping up and down cheering and hollering.

The Rest of the Story:
It all really went perfectly to plan, and I'm a little amazed I was able to pull it off considering how many working parts were involved. Katie never knew and claims she had no idea that it was coming.  And not even until she saw the ring swinging below the biscornu did she know what I was up to.

We popped open the champagne and started making phone calls to family & friends.  About the time we made all of our announcements, we realized we'd finished off the entire bottle and were sufficiently loopy in our elation, and after a little while, quickly began crashing and a nap became in order.

That night I had made dinner reservations to her favorite restaurant, Hot & Hot Fish Club.  A high fine dining place in Birmingham that I had been dying to try. Katie had a salad and the filet mignon while I opted for the quail and the pork. It was just as good as promised, but unfortunately our champagne, lunch, nap & announcements did nothing for our energy levels, and it was promptly called a night... but not before Hot & Hot donuts & coffee for dessert.