I am a control freak. There, I said it. I am a complete control freak. I love surprises but I hate leaving things to chance, especially the big things. I like everything to be perfect, just the way I want it. I wanted to be proposed to in a garden, at night, with lights everywhere. If you’ve seen A Cinderella Story, think the scene where Hillary Duff and Chad Michael Murray are dancing. I told David all of this, and to do the best he could. In hindsight I wish I had let it be a surprise, but I was also already planning the wedding and I just couldn’t wait.
At the time we were still living in Greenville, SC. I had been going to Charleston at least once a month for several months looking for an apartment for us, but with no luck. David and I were coming down this particular weekend in part to find an apartment, but also to get engaged.
The ring is a family heirloom. According to my grandmother, her mother purchased it in 1940, thirty years after she and my great-grandfather had been married. She didn’t own a nice piece of jewelry, and knew a loanshark who she heard had collected a diamond ring on a debt. She went to the loanshark and purchased the ring from him. Before her death, she passed the ring on to her youngest daughter, my paternal grandmother, roughly twenty years after she married my grandfather, and it became part of her wedding set. She planned to pass it down to her eldest daughter, but was blessed with four wonderful sons and no daughters. I was the first, only, and favorite, granddaughter so the ring was naturally passed down to me for my sixteenth Christmas. It was put in my parents safety deposit box until the weekend my husband asked for my hand in marriage. He had it polished and resized, and brought it with him to Charleston.
As I said, I knew the proposal was coming. He had upgraded our room at the Mills House to a corner suite where we could see St. Michael’s Church from our window, the church we knew we were going to be married. He arranged for champagne and chocolate covered strawberries to be brought up to the room after the proposal. He really is a thoughtful person and I’m so grateful to have met and married him.
One afternoon, he took me for a walk. I would like to say I went blindly, but I asked questions the whole way, including what was that box shaped bulge in his pocket and why are we walking toward the Battery?
We walked around for a few minutes when we arrived at White Pointe Garden as a woman was sitting on the steps of the gazebo, where he wanted to propose. She didn’t seem like she was going anywhere, so he asked her to take a photo of us. I had told him I wanted a photo so this provided the perfect opportunity. We went up the steps, he got down on one knee, and asked me to marry him.
She was so excited, probably more excited than me because I knew it was coming. She actually took one look at my face and asked if I knew it was coming. But I was still surprisingly emotional. My voice actually cracked when I said “yes.” I’m not an emotional person and so while David gave me a hard time about it, he was also kind of happy I let that bit of emotion slip through.
We had dinner that evening at what has become our go to restaurant for special occasions, Peninsula Grill. I couldn’t stop looking at the ring, especially knowing the family history behind it. Even though I had planned it, being engaged was still incredibly surreal.
My father’s text message the following morning:
“It’s a small ring, but with rich meaning. It was not originally purchased as a promise of love, but as sincere appreciation for a loving marriage. That’s pretty powerful mojo.”