How We Met
Ray and I met in college as first-year students at SUNY New Paltz in New Paltz, NY. I always joke that there’s the way that I saw him for the first time and the way we actually met. Ray was in an all-male a cappella group called Male Call, and they performed in my residence hall one night. The theme of the performance was “Dads”, so they dressed up as various versions of Dads (ex: Construction worker, chef, etc.) and Ray, well, he chose to go as “Nerdy Dad”, equipped with the sweater vest and everything. I remember seeing him and not being that interested. But we finally met through an Asian cultural performance club, called Jam Asia, where for the next three years we danced, modeled, and performed together.
Over the years we became closer, ultimately becoming best friends. Ray was in a 3-year BSDO program, which meant that he was graduating a year before me. I never considered myself to be an emotional person when people were graduating, but for some reason when it hit me that Ray was leaving, I became so emotional around our last Jam Asia show together that it helped me realize how much I really cared about him. From there, things just fell into place and we started dating long distance while I finished up the Senior year and he started medical school.
How They Asked
In New Paltz, there are many mountains and lakes to explore, which we certainly took advantage of while we were in college and even after we both graduated. We often go back for hiking, apple picking, or to eat at our favorite spots. Lake Minnewaska was one of the sites we frequented with our friends over the years and it became such a special place for the two of us. I always mentioned to him that I would love for us to get engaged there, but he took that and created a proposal even better than I ever imagined.
A couple weeks before the proposal, my best friend and her fiance mentioned they always wanted to go hiking in New Paltz but never had the opportunity. Ray and I looked at our schedules and August 18th appeared the be the only mutual time we all had available, so we decided to plan a group hiking trip that day. Little did I know, Ray had picked this date purposefully because 8’s are a lucky number, and 8.18.18 was full of them! The problem was, as it got closer to the date, the forecast was looking grim with a high chance of thunderstorms all day long. I was concerned that it would be dangerous to hike, but they insisted we at least try.
The morning of, we made the drive and stopped at our favorite breakfast spot, Main Street Bistro, explored the town a little bit and decided to try hiking since the forecast pushed rain back a couple hours. We got to Lake Minnewaska, and the four of us set off on our hike, stopping along the way to show them some of our favorite spots throughout the area. At this point, I didn’t think he would propose since we had already passed our favorite spots and because earlier in the month, Ray had to replace the brakes on his car, which set him back financially. Little did I know, he had the ring the whole time!
The spot that Ray proposed at had a small gazebo that overlooked the lake. It’s a spot that we don’t often stop at because there’s always a line of people waiting to take photos. Even when we got there, there was a big group taking photos, but Ray seemed insistent he wanted to stop. When they cleared out, I walked past the gazebo to the edge of the cliff to look for new climbing opportunities, and instead found three of my friends hiding with cameras.
Confused, I turned around to ask why they were here, and that’s when I saw the gazebo set up with petals, a bouquet of flowers, and a sign that asked: “Will you marry me?” Ray took me by the hand, led me into the gazebo, and got down on one knee…where I proceeded to ask about his car and stated (repeatedly) that I was going to throw up! It was such a blur, and if not for the wonderful video that my best friend made, I wouldn’t even have remembered the beautiful things he said, but I do remember that instead of saying “yes”, my response was “obviously!”
After we settled down from the thrill of the proposal, we hiked and took photos around the lake for about 30 minutes, before the sky opened up and rained profusely. I joke that Ray had good karmic energy because the universe let him have an hour of sun for the proposal and some photos! At that point, Ray mentioned that his next surprise was a hotel room and that we were staying the night. We went back to get ready because I thought we were going to celebrate with a fancy dinner at Shadows on the Hudson, a restaurant that we’ve had two Valentine’s Day dinners at. I walk in expecting to be seated at a table, but the hostess opened a party room door and I see both of our families and all our friends there for a surprise engagement dinner. The whole day was a surprise one right after the other and I’m so grateful for the beautiful day Ray had planned for us…now I can’t wait for the rest of our lives together!