Ashley and Will
How We Met
We met the old fashioned way – at a bar, where we were each out on a Saturday night with friends. I was completely disinterested in talking to any guys that night, so when his friend approached my group, I wasn’t responsive. Eventually Will joined his friend at our table, and I noticed him, but I was still dismissive. During conversation with the group, Will brought up a common casual debate: “Cats or dogs?” I’ve had a cat for a long time, and I love her very much.
While I also love dogs, in my experience, most guys asking that question usually are looking for the dog-loving girls. I really just wanted to spend time with my girlfriends uninterrupted, and I assumed “dogs” was the answer he was looking for… so I defiantly said “cats”, thinking it would make him go away. Turns out my love of cats and stubborn nature were exactly what Will was looking for, which caught me off guard and pleasantly surprised me, and the rest is history!
How They Asked
In late November of 2017, during a Saturday night out to dinner with my parents, my dad asked Will if he had any vacation time left before the end of the year. Will seemed puzzled but replied yes. My parents said they were thinking of sending Will and me on a trip as a Christmas present, and they wanted everything else to be a surprise. I was so excited. Little did I know, this was all a staged set up, planned completely by Will, for the most romantic engagement I could ever imagine! Will knows how sleuthy I am, so he made sure all of my friends and family were in on the surprise to make sure I didn’t suspect a proposal. I’m not going to lie, the thought did cross my mind, but the guise of my parents planning this trip quelled all my suspicions on a possible engagement. I knew Will would never propose on my parents’ trip. Boy, was I wrong…
On Christmas Day, my parent’s handed Will and I a small gift, which we open together to reveal a glitter-covered Christmas ornament of a mustached man wearing a wide-brimmed straw hat, and a black and white striped shirt, with a red bandana tied around his neck. He was standing up holding a long oar on the end of a long black boat – it was a gondola! I immediately burst into the happiest tears; the only word I could manage was “Really???” My Italian heritage shining through, I knew instantly we were going to arguably the most romantic city in the world, Venice, Italy!
My parents sent over all the travel plans, and we left on December 29th to ring in the new year in the Floating City I’d always dreamed of visiting. Arriving in Venice was literally like a dream. Every corner we turned in this heavenly city was more beautiful than the next. The city was decorated for Christmas, twinkle lights, wreaths, and garlands hanging everywhere, making it somehow even more romantic and dreamy than I ever imagined!
On New Year’s Eve, we got up early, before all the crowds, and Will was particularly cheery, stopping every few minutes to take another selfie of us together. He had arranged for a private luxury water taxi to pick us up at our hotel’s pier. As we slowly floated down the Grand Canal, he told me about a small island he wanted to visit that wasn’t accessible by footbridge, only by boat. It was called San Giorgio Maggiore. As we arrived, I saw the enormous white marble basilica, gleaming above the blue water of the lagoon. The island was empty, and the church was breathtaking.
We walked through the church slowly, taking in all the beautiful architecture and artwork throughout. He took me up to the top of the Campanile bell tower, where we had the most breathtaking 360° views of the entire floating city with the Dolomite Mountains in the background. We wandered back down and outside to the square in front of the church. Will took my hand and lead me to the edge of the island, pointing out the unobstructed view across the Venetian Lagoon of Piazza San Marco and Palazzo Ducale. I was in complete awe. Will began to tell me how this all felt like a dream, how his life had been happier and happier since the day we met, recounting all of the amazing experiences we’d shared and told me much he loved me, how he couldn’t wait for our future and all it would hold. And as we stood there together on New Year’s Eve in Venice, the most romantic place I could ever imagine, he dropped to one knee, pulled out the perfect pear-shaped diamond ring, and asked me to spend the rest of our lives together as husband and wife. To which of course I sobbed, “Yes!!!!!”
It was at that point, he directed my attention to the hidden photographer he’d hired to capture the moment, which sent us on an hour-long photo shoot throughout Venice to document our engagement. Afterward, he revealed his master plan, telling me that my parents were just a decoy so that I wouldn’t suspect a proposal, and that all my friends were in on it. I’m still so impressed that he managed to take me completely by surprise!
That night, Will had planned a fabulous 5-course dinner at a swanky restaurant overlooking the Venetian Lagoon and San Giorgio, the basilica where we’d just gotten engaged. After finishing our meal, we were escorted outside to the candlelit waterfront private patio, away from all the crowds. We were given champagne and chocolate covered fruits and sat in awe as we watched the Piazza San Marco New Years Eve midnight firework performance, perfectly illuminating San Giorgio underneath. I could not have dreamed of a more perfect day or a more perfect proposal. I still get chills thinking about it, and I can’t wait to spend forever with the man of my dreams!