a decent proposal

The other night on the Survivor finale, there was a surprise proposal during the live Reunion show. It was… a little bit awkward and to be honest, I thought for a moment that she might say no. On live television. In front of eleventy billion people.


It’s a risk that all guys who choose a Very Public Proposal take: she may say no and people will SEE IT HAPPEN. Or, maybe in their minds, it’s a safety net: maybe even if she WANTS to say no, she won’t because people will SEE IT HAPPEN. (and then later, she can back out. Which… how is that better?) Or maybe they are just Super Confident. I don’t know. Public proposals always make ME nervous, and I’m not the one putting myself on the line!

All of this got me thinking about marriage proposals in general and reminiscing about the night when Dan proposed to me. It wasn’t in front of television cameras, or even in a public place. It was in his (stinky! crowded!) dorm room during our senior year of college. Romantic! But honestly? It was perfect. Sweet, simple, and a long time coming ;)

We KNEW we were going to get married eventually. We talked about it a lot. But we were still in college, no money, no jobs, NO CARS. So there was no rush to make it Official since the actual wedding wouldn’t take place for years. But I would tease him all the time: WHERE’S MY RING, DAMMIT? Well finally, in 2000, I got my ring.

It wasn’t a gigantic public proposal (THANK GOD.), but he DID capture it on (hidden!) camera, because he knows my obsession with Documenting Everything In My Life On Film. And embarrassing him. So without further ado, I present Dan And Jen Get Engaged, complete with 90s ugly sweaters (what the HECK, DAN?) and Mousey-Voiced Jen.

Watching this now, after being married for nearly nine years and having two children together, it just… wow. It seems like another lifetime. We were SO YOUNG! Just twenty-one years old! So so glad I have it on video to enjoy and mock ;)

If you’ve been engaged and/or married, what was your proposal like? Big, grand gestures in front of a public audience? Or a quiet, private moment shared together? Or something in between?


  1. Sunshine

    May 19, 2011 8:45 am

    But where are the pictures of the posters?!?! This just reminds me that it’s our 10 year reunion this year. Crazysauce – we are not that old. ;)
    We got engaged nine years ago this month…Eric had come up to PA from Kentucky (where he was living at the time) with a ring in his pocket. It was just the two of us, quiet, nothing dramatic which is exactly perfect for me.

  2. Becca

    May 19, 2011 8:53 am

    AWWWWWWW. Thank you for sharing this! I melted. Perfect. ? Jason’s proposal to me was in his office, during a lunch break– we’d been dating two weeks, and I was really emotional for some reason because I felt like I was REALLY in love with him already, and if he wasn’t serious (Jason to this day is hard to read, heh), then we ought to break it off now versus later (when I became crazy-obsessed: I didn’t say that part to him, but I was thinking it). He paused for about two seconds, and then said he didn’t get to buy a ring yet, but… Heh. We used a little piece of string to wrap around my finger in the meantime. I don’t think I’d told anyone that story before. It was really fast and crazy– but obviously it worked out for the best. ;-)

    And oh my gosh, WORD to that whole ‘Survivor’ paragraph… that was the most awkward public proposal EVER. As soon as she started swearing and going, “SHUT IT DOWN. STOP. SHUT IT DOWN,” I was looking at J like :-O

  3. Becca

    May 19, 2011 8:54 am

    ^ Also, that weird ? after “Perfect.” is a heart symbol that didn’t translate. Heh. FOR THE RECORD.

  4. Jessie

    May 19, 2011 8:55 am

    That was absolutely adorable. He was so anxious! I love it.

    Our engagement story is pretty funny because I was absolutely clueless and was busy doing stuff around our apartment, so he basically had to chase me down and make me stop because I didn’t get what he was trying to do. He ended up kneeling on the pair of jeans I had just taken off, and after he asked, I responded, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?” out of excitement, but looking back it wasn’t the best response to a proposal ever. We still laugh about it all regularly.

  5. Joy Markwart

    May 19, 2011 8:55 am

    Awww, Jen this is so adorable, I have to say that even though I know the outcome my palms still start sweating for him.

    My proposal was much different then this. Todd and I built my ring together, I even knew when it arrived and where he had it hidden (I secretly tried it on when he would be at work). The day he proposed there was a huge thunderstorm in Charleston, well he had set up a scavenger hunt all around downtown Charleston, where I followed hints all the way to our favorite restaurant to meet him for dinner, I was freezing, soaking wet, my hair looked horrible but the dessert was my ring in front of the whole restaurant that knew he was going to propose and they all clapped and cheered when he asked me. The sun came out right after the proposed (same as our wedding day, it rained all day and then the sun came out right after we got married). I have always said our relationship is a little rainy but always sunny! ;-)

  6. Carly

    May 19, 2011 8:58 am

    Isn’t is SO COOL to have these things captured on film! It’s fun watching what he was doing in the moments leading up to your arrival :) Funny you should bring this up today because a neat proposal video was going around on FB yesterday and a few weeks ago I posted a link to mine on my blog (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eCv6n8fSeoA) and the pre-proposal interview (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1t51buOYKs)

  7. Tracy

    May 19, 2011 9:04 am

    That is AWESOME that you guys have this all on video! :)
    Gary and I had dated on and off for um…YEARS…we talked about getting married but never maid it official. He did go to my parents and ask them if he could have my hand in marriage (whoa old fashioned and that we are really not!) Then we planned a party for cinco de mayo for all of our close friends and our family to come over for. I did not know that he had planned on that day to purpose but my family did. He did it in front of everyone, so yes we had a public engagement but NO ONE GOT EVEN A PIC of it! Gah…

  8. MamaPinkPinkBlue

    May 19, 2011 9:06 am

    Bwah hahaah! Takes me back. Gosh those rooms were SMALL! Very sweet, though.

    We got engaged 7 years ago this month (Friday of Memorial Day weekend) on the Roberto Clemente Bridge at 1AM with drunk guys on their way home from the Pirates double header yelling, “Don’t do it!” Heh. That was not the original plan… And you also know that’s not the only time I’ve gotten engaged ;) Just the one that stuck!

  9. Irene

    May 19, 2011 9:12 am

    That was SO sweet!!!!! I don’t have a proposal story because my husband NEVER proposed. After 2 years of dating (and we were in our thirties!) I finally said “listen, are we going to do this or not because I am not getting any younger”. He said “well, pick a date then”. We went shopping that weekend for a ring, together. No surprises, no planning, no hoopla. But we are extremely happy 13 years and 3 kids later.

    I sometimes think some of the “grand hoopla” proposals and weddings end up being more about the proposal, ring and wedding and less about the marriage.

  10. Becca

    May 19, 2011 9:20 am

    I remember watching this video… either on your wedding website or your blog. :)

    In fact, I remember your dorm decorated your wall or door after you got engaged? I was sad no one did that sort of thing when I got engaged… but then again, we had fb by then.

    I also specifically told Gray I wanted at least photos and video (if possible) when we got engaged. :)

    I have photos of our proposal. It was at an event, but he took me outside. It was very hard to surprise me because I knew it was coming soon.

  11. Jennifer

    May 19, 2011 9:33 am

    That made me tear up! So sweet!

    I love Everything Documented as well, but my proposal took place on an isolated stretch of beach in FL the day before I graduated college. I kinda had the heads up that it was coming since I kept asking (“When are ya gonna DO IT already??”) and I also accompanied him to my parents’ house where he asked (but was basically telling them) for my hand in marriage. I also love to be In The Loop! :)

  12. Erika

    May 19, 2011 9:40 am

    First I just have to say: your girls are going to LOVE that you have this on video as they get older.

    We got engaged about three years ago. I knew my proposal was coming because we’d already pretty much decided we’d have to get married at such and such a time because Ryan was joining the Marine Corps. So I was just waiting for it all of the time. It was brutal. As we were driving toward the movie theater in my hometown to see a movie with his family on Christmas Day 2007, Ryan took a strange detour toward downtown. I assumed he was just being his random self and thought nothing of it…until he turned into the loop in front of our old high school. After opening my door for me, he led me by the hand up the stairs to stand in front of the main school doors. (By this point I knew what was happening so I was all giggly and nervous.) He proceeded to tell me that I was standing in the very spot he’d seen me standing in from where he had been just inside the school the first time he ever laid eyes on me back in the fall of 2004. The day he thought my younger brother was hitting on me, but decided to come introduce himself anyway. The day he found out that my brother was not my boyfriend, but was in fact my brother, and decided to pursue me. The day he practically fell in love with me at first sight. The day that spawned years of flirtation and eventually our relationship two years later. The day everything between us began, though we had no idea at the time we’d end up back on those front steps for the beginning of something else entirely between us. Then he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. Of course I said yes!

  13. Sarah W.

    May 19, 2011 9:42 am

    awww! why don’t i remember seeing this? too bad you don’t have the wolf creek toss on video too! isn’t it funny how seeing one thing brings back so many memories…that dorm chair at the desk put be back in GCC with you guys. miss our thursday night tv nights! it is ten years this year isn’t it? so weird.

  14. katrina413

    May 19, 2011 10:53 am

    This is adorable! I love the sweater!

    We got engaged at the park where we walk our dog(s). It was just Katie then. His best friend had the ring and the plan was for him to hide in the woods and lure Katie to him so he could tie the ring onto her collar and send her back to us. It turns out that she’s suspicious of anyone hiding in the woods and trying to lure her, even someone she knows. They kept changing the meeting point, there was a lot of silent texting and changes in direction. Finally, Kevin chased her into the woods to where Brandon was, got the ring and tied it on himself and then chased her back to me. Also, a runner threatened to pepper spray Brandon because he was hiding in the woods along the trail like a creeper. It was pretty awesome

  15. Jenn

    May 19, 2011 11:25 am

    The church I grew up in (and where my parents were married) closed while my husband and I were dating. that’s where I had always wanted to get married. I had NO idea the proposal was coming. He drove to Iowa and surprised me right before Thanksgiving (he came to ask my dad’s permission). Then he & I drove down to my grandparents’ farm for Thanksgiving. On the trip down, he asked me what kind of ring I wanted (cute, size, etc), making it sound like he hadn’t bought the ring yet (when in reality he’d bought it months before). So I really had no idea he was going to propose. After supper, he asked me if I wanted to go for a walk. So we meet at the back door and head off. I decided I wanted him to see my old church (it was only 1/4 mile from my grandparents’ farmhouse). I didn’t know it, but that’s exactly where he wanted me to go. As we were walking I could see light shining through one of the windows…I assumed it was the neighor’s yard light shinging through. The church was, of course, unlocked so in we walked. When we turned the corner into the sanctuary, I saw candles lit and lining the stage area (it was completely empty)! He dropped to his knee and proposed. Come to find out, he had practically my whole extended family involved!! Since there was no electricity to the building, they had to round up all the candles they could find at my grandparents’ and uncle’s houses! It was incredibly romantic and very private (well, the actual proposal). He told me that he had orginally had a completely different plan, but when he found out I wouldn’t be able to get married in that church, he fiugred proposing there would be the next best thing. Wow…that was 9 years ago this last Thanksgiving!

  16. Laura

    May 19, 2011 11:29 am

    SOOOOOOO cute! Love it! And the hair! And the coat!
    We got engaged by the Christmas tree at his house. I had no idea it was coming – but we were like you. I’d been hinting and asking about it for a while. No big story, but it was still a good memory. :)

  17. Liz

    May 19, 2011 12:41 pm

    That’s is just amazing! I love how anxious & excited he was waiting for you to get there! Such love. I also LOVE Jenn’s story above about getting engaged in the old church. That is beyond romantic & thoughtful!

    Like most marriages that are meant to be, we had obviously discussed marriage many times. I actually knew it was coming because he didn’t hide the ring very well & I found the box while cleaning. So he made me wait for months because he was so mad that I found it (I didn’t peak at the ring, but I did know it existed!). We went away camping for my birthday weekend & I kept waiting & waiting by the campfire for him to finally get down on one knee. He really made me sweat it out, but he did finally propose. Just the two of us, at a secluded campsite.

  18. Dave (Scrumpy Daddy)

    May 19, 2011 2:45 pm

    This is so precious and wonderful! I even teared up when he asked. I love it!

    I agree with Erika, your kids are going to cherish this some day. Kudos to Dan for recording it!

    And I’ll share our engagement story with you soon, but I don’t have the time to type it all out right now…sorry! It was fairly private, though.

  19. Em

    May 19, 2011 3:05 pm

    I LOVE how much thought he put into this…into the ring, into how he was going to do it, and how he tried to hide it but he was totally nervous despite filming it. What a fantastic, perfect proposal!

    I think private ones are best.

  20. Melissa

    May 19, 2011 7:06 pm

    Aaaahhh! SO cute. :) I swear, you two haven’t aged, you both still look the same–just better dressed, lol. And I love me some happy endings.

    George proposed to me in his (stinky! crowded!) dorm room when we were 21, as well. I even remember the date: July 22, 2000. He gave me a poem he had hand-written, and I thanked him. Then he said, “Now read it vertically.” The first letter of each line spelled out, “Will you marry me?” I looked up in surprise and we both just started laughing, and of course I said yes. :) We had only been dating a little over 2 years by then, and even though we vaguely referenced the whole marriage thing, we still had a whole year of college to go (a year and a half for him–he switched majors halfway through), so I didn’t expect him to propose until after we graduated. But it was private and sweet, and perfect. :) I don’t have any photos but I do have the proposal poem!

    Oh, and he didn’t have a ring yet… as an international student, he was only legally permitted to work ON campus, part time, so he’d been saving up for months and finally had $250. He said he would keep saving if I wanted a bigger ring, but I said no way, because he needed his money for other things (he had to pay for his own health insurance, he didn’t have a car yet, etc). So after going to my house to tell my parents, we went and picked out a little 1/5-carat round diamond solitaire ring. To me it was the sparkliest one in the store. :)

    It’s funny because we were recently talking about the boys getting married someday, and referencing Gilmore Girls of course, about how college-age is too young to get engaged… “but that’s when WE got engaged”… “well, that was different,” etc. It all looks so different when it’s your own kids you’re thinking of! lol…

  21. Nichole

    May 19, 2011 7:13 pm

    that was so sweet!! and I love that you have it recorded!!!

    Bill and I were only together 6 months when we got engaged, We were at the mall and he wanted to show me a ring he saw and liked! I really didnt know he was looking!! He bought one that day, and we were going away the next week to Emerald Isle NC. I hoped he brought it with him, and one night we went to the pier and it happen!! met in Nov of 04, married Oct of 05 (second marriage for both of us)

  22. Kelly

    May 19, 2011 9:24 pm

    How great you have this on video! So sweet!

    I actually ruined his proposal because I am a stubborn idiot. Spring break our last year of college we took a cruise. We picked out the ring in Cozumel, scrounging to combine our credit cards to pay for it because he didn’t tell PNC we were leaving the country so they denied his initial attempts to pay for it. I figured he’d hang on to it until we were back home some time. On the last night of the cruise, after a comedy show, he asked if I wanted to get something to eat. I didn’t want to, I had to go to the bathroom. He suggested we go up to the top deck to get pizza. I didn’t want to, I had to go to the bathroom. He insisted. We got pizza and then he suggested we go out on the back of the ship and look at the stars. I didn’t want to, I had to go to the bathroom. Finally, he gave up and we headed back to the room. And then I realized what he was trying to do. I said we could go to the deck, we could, I could wait, but he said no, I’d killed the moment. We went back to the room. I… ya know… went to the bathroom, and then went to bed, pouting at my own stubbornness. Just before I fell asleep he knelt next to the bed and asked me to marry him. Our 7th anniversary was last Sunday.

  23. Elizabeth

    May 19, 2011 9:54 pm

    I remember this! I must have been in 9th or 10th grade. Wow.

    So sweet :)

  24. Andrea

    May 19, 2011 11:17 pm

    Aaawwww! I remember seeing you (and ogling your ring) when you walked through South Lobby after dinner that night!!! :)

    Brad and I got engaged at my parent’s house on a Sunday morning (3/4/01). I was running late for church (of course) so my whole family left, with Brad waiting patiently for me. I was putting on my boots at the kitchen table, apologizing, and he said, “It’s okay. I have one more thing I want you to wear to church.” And got down on one knee in front of me. Apparently everyone but my mom knew it was coming. So I got to go to church and tell her. :)

    It totally took me by complete surprise. We had one conversation about marriage, and I remember alluding to the fact that I wanted to get married in the fall, and it would probably have to be next fall b/c there’s NO WAY we’re getting engaged yet. (This was in, maybe, February?) Little did I know he already had the ring, and when I said that, he was thinking, “Well too bad, because I’m ready to get engaged!” :) We only dated six-ish months, and were engaged for less than seven. I guess when you know, you know.

  25. Lizzie

    May 20, 2011 4:12 am

    OMG, I love this post!!

    I’ve not been proposed to yet *booo* BUT when I do I hope it’s a quiet affair – and god help him if he tries to do it in public.

  26. Jennifer, Playgroups are no Place for Children

    May 20, 2011 2:11 pm

    I loved this so much! He is such a smart guy to have thought to video the occasion!

    My husband proposed to me on Halloween 1999, which was one week before our 1 year anniversary. We were eating dinner on our couch, listening to Eric Clapton’s 24 nights. When our song, Wonderful Tonight, came on, he got down on one knee and proposed. We took pictures afterward, but I wish there was video!

  27. Mrs. Tuna

    May 20, 2011 2:34 pm

    Well I got married in the stone ages, before cell phones and video cameras. Funny that I came across your blog this week because my post had to do with the cluster that my wedding turned into.

  28. Jamie

    May 20, 2011 6:24 pm

    Omg this is the sweetest video ever. I got misty eyed lol.

  29. Mel

    May 20, 2011 8:31 pm

    Aw! I remember when you got engaged! :) What a sweet and nervous guy he was!

    My husband, Dan, didn’t do anything big and public. Although, I had always imagined that is how I would want my ideal proposal. He made me dinner that night and when he told me it was time to eat….I walked into the kitchen and he was down on one knee. I totally thought he was joking. :) I’ll never forget that moment.

  30. Judi

    May 20, 2011 8:58 pm

    OMG! I LOVE this!! Jen, you look just like your mom when you look at the camera. So cute!

  31. Natalie

    May 21, 2011 5:57 am

    oh my gosh..seriously too cute!!! i watched the whole thing haha. love it! thanks for sharing your cuteness!

  32. samantha jo campen

    May 24, 2011 10:58 pm


  33. keli

    May 27, 2011 12:01 pm

    i just got all teary-eyed!! this is so so sweeeeet!!!

  34. Tristina

    June 2, 2011 3:54 pm

    I’m going to watch the video, but my internet is having angsty teenager issues today. Guh.


    Our proposal story is hilarious if you haven’t read it. http://www.mrandmrswright.com/2010/03/writers-workshop-blindside/

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