Wednesday, March 8, 2017
Hi everyone, Nick here. So I'm assuming at this point you all know the big thing that happened in London. I guess this engagement story is really mine to tell since I'm the one who put the (little bit of) planning into it, so here it goes.
First, let me just lay out the plan:
Surprise Sarah somewhere out and about on day 2 in London with a nice staged photo using our tripod. I'll have a remote shutter control in my hand, and while we're trying to get a nice photo of us in front of something beautiful, get down on one knee and do the thing. Immediately following the proposal, whisk her off to a surprise celebratory dinner at her #1 must visit London restaurant: Sketch. Once there, keep the surprises coming with a bottle of champagne and personalized message waiting for us at our table.
London is a mad house! The moment we stepped off the train, I knew there was going to be no good place to properly propose. Sarah is a really quiet, private person and she seriously is not into any sort of public displays of affection or anything that draws unnecessary attention to us. Over the course of the entire first day, I was frantically searching for a decent place to set up for an impromptu "nice photo" of us for the proposal the following day. It wasn't until late Monday afternoon did I happen to see a park from the top of our Big Bus tour bus that was largely empty. After rooting around online that night in bed, I discovered it was Archbishop's Park, right near the London Eye.
The dinner reservations were also a bit tricky. I made the reservation months in advance, bought the champagne, and worked out all the details with the host staff at Sketch to plan it just right. Not 8 days before our trip departure did Sarah decide to book a reservation at Sketch as well... for the same day... at the same exact time. Now, that's not TOO big of a deal, but since this restaurant really doesn't mess around, there is a pretty hefty reservation cancellation policy I desperately wanted to avoid. So it was back to my contact at Sketch to see how we could get this resolved. I kindly asked for them to go into their reservation system, cancel Sarah's reservation, not charge us the fee, and to put a stop of the confirmation email that would be automatically sent to Sarah. I received back an out-of-office auto reply. Gulp. A bit more digging around over the course of a few frightening days, and I got it all sorted out. Sarah's reservation = cancelled. The plan was back on.
Next came the actual act of proposing in London. We took our tour bus over to the London Eye, and my plan was to go to the park after that and do it. After finally getting Sarah to agree to go into this random ass park for pictures for no reason, I was really starting to freak out. But then, I saw it: the perfect spot. Two benches angled slightly toward one another situated between two trees. Behind it an ivy covered fence, and beyond that the tops of some damn castle or something! It was a seriously magical setting, and I was excited over the prospect of this actually working the way I'd hoped.
As I get Sarah into position and take a few test shots (she still doesn't quite know why I'm insisting we take a picture here, but she's going along with me), I hear a sudden rush of chatter. Right at that moment some elementary school lets out for recess on the park right where we're standing. We're surrounded by little kids. At first I think we're screwed, but then I just tell myself, "Whatever, these little kids are about to watch us get engaged, and hopefully Sarah won't mind too much." So I go stand next to her to snap the pictures, and these two teenagers come and SIT ON THE BENCH RIGHT NEXT TO US AND START ROLLING CIGARETTES. So I was just like, "OK great, got it, good, thanks, let's go."
Now here, I'm starting to super panic. This is literally my only chance to do this before dinner tonight, and it is still far and away the most private place in London we've seen so far. I tell Sarah I'm going to keep the camera on the tripod just in case we find another pretty spot for a photo. "Why? What's wrong with the ones we just took?" asks a visibly agitated Sarah, and rightfully so. She still thinks I just want a nice photo of us on our trip even though we didn't even intend on visiting this random park and there's people everywhere and she just wants to get on with life.
So finally, I find one last spot that's decent. Not as pretty as the first spot, but still, nice. It's right next to a public bathroom (not ideal) but Sarah goes in to wash her hands and I set up the tripod before she has time to object. I look around and the only person I really see is this one old dude wearing sunglasses sitting on a bench watching our every move. But he seems pretty chill so whatever, he gets to watch. I take a couple test shots, and go join Sarah. From there I think I pretty much blacked out, because I don't remember a word out of my mouth. Sarah said when I turned to her and started off with something like, "Sarah, I know I'm bad at planning, but..." she thought I was going to yell at her for being cranky about all the photos we were taking. So it's all a blur, we both burst into some serious water works, and I get up to hug and kiss her. She then asks me, "Did you take the photo?" I did not. So, it's back down on one knee I go to stage a quick pic of the event. A random man walks out of the public restroom and gives us a slow clap.
Sketch was great, too. It was a bit disappointing that I wasn't able to just surprise her with dinner there (since she still thought she had reservations) but it was satisfying to give my name at the host table, slightly confusing her, and surprise her with the message and champagne.
Overall, I'm pretty proud of the engagement story. After over EIGHT years of being together, I'm so glad that I finally found a time and place that felt worthy of such a long overdue moment. Sarah has always been the person I was going to marry, but finally (finally) getting engaged has been far more rewarding than I could have ever imagined. I simply cannot wait to marry her and start this next chapter of our lives together. She is the best of the best.
6:26 AM The Junk Drawer
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