Colleen and Pete

How We Met

We had been friends for many, many years, and after being friends for so long, and the right timing, we decided to give love a shot (and it worked!)

how they asked

Pete’s Story: Colleen’s dad John is a well-known executive in professional sports, and my boss asked if I would ask John to speak at our company’s annual luncheon meeting on Friday, December 2, 2016. John agreed and attended with Colleen and her mother, Karen. Afterward, I asked Karen if she would have John to join her that evening for dinner at his favorite restaurant. But when they arrived, they found me at a table waiting for them. I said said he wanted to surprise John as a thank you for speaking at the luncheon earlier that day, but what neither Karen nor John knew, was that I had an ulterior reasons for dinner. I wanted to ask BOTH parents’ permission to marry their daughter!

After many tears were shed by all three, permission was given! When Karen asked how I intended to propose, I informed her that I needed her help once again! More on that part of the story later. The annual meeting took place at the Paramount Theatre, in Aurora, IL. A beautiful art deco vaudevillian theatre built in the 1930’s, and home of award-winning Broadway-caliber performances. The featured show in December, 2016, was a stage production of “The Little Mermaid.” Having grown up a lover of all things Disney, Colleen couldn’t wait to see the show! So I arranged for a pair of tickets for the Wednesday, December 7th , 7:00 pm performance. We are living in a city about 50 minutes away from Aurora. Not wanting us to drive home separately after the performance (as I explained to Colleen), I arranged for an Uber to pick Colleen up after she had arrived home from work to take her to meet me in a restaurant for dinner a few blocks from the theatre.

Once she was in the Uber at 5:00 pm, Colleen texted me saying she was on her way. During her ride, Colleen reported traffic was slow due to an accident…not once, but THREE TIMES, slowing her arrival to several minutes after 6:00 pm. After finally arriving at Ballydoyle’s in Aurora at 6:15 pm, she found me in the restaurant sitting at a table with her favorite drink (vodka soda with lime) waiting and her dinner request on the way. After a hurried dinner, drinks, and paying the check, I excused myself from the table. As the time drew closer to 7:00 pm, I returned and asked Colleen if she was ready to go to the show. As we gathered their coats and exited the restaurant, we started our short walk to the Paramount. The route we took went along the Fox River up to Galena Street, where the Paramount theatre stood. This route just happened to take them past my office at the Aurora Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. As they approached the office, Colleen noticed a young mother with her beautiful 5-year- old daughter walking a sweet, tiny, 8 week-old Labrador puppy. “LOOK AT THE PUPPY!” Colleen exclaimed upon seeing it!

I looked toward the mother and daughter and said to Colleen, “Oh my gosh, you KNOW we have to see this little cutie!” As they approached, the young girl immediately walked up to Colleen to give her a hug. Colleen announced how sweet this was, and noticed the girl was wearing a dress under her coat. “Oh, you look so pretty,” Colleen observed, smiling at the little girl, “I bet you’re going to see ‘The Little Mermaid’, too!” The little girl didn’t respond, and Colleen looked over to the girl’s mother, who was holding her phone up, pointed at Colleen, as if about to take a picture of her. The one thing that confused Colleen more than this mother’s odd behavior was that she was smiling and giggling as she did this. Finding this very bizarre, Colleen turned to look at me….who, by this time, was kneeling down on one knee and holding the puppy up in his hands, both faces looking up at Colleen. “Colleen, you are the love of my life…” was all she managed to hear. She would say later that she remembered hearing me say something about “being the best thing that ever happened to me” and “having to wait a 1,000 years”, but that basically it was all “hazy buzz” because of the wave of confusion that washed over her in this moment. So many strange things happening at once…a pretty girl in a dress hugging her, a strange woman laughing and videotaping her, me  taking their puppy and holding it up at her like he owned it, saying to her, “Sweetie, I think this is for you…” With each breath she took, she literally took a step back in disbelief. “Oh my gosh, is this for me,” she asked as she took another step backward. “Is this seriously for me?!”

Another step back. “WHAT IS GOING ON?!?!” Another step in reverse. Pulling off the hood of her coat and looking at the mother, then back to me,  taking another step. Looking over Pete’s shoulder into the window of his office she shrieked, “OH MY GOSH MY MOM IS HERE!” Through the office window, Colleen could see her mom standing next to my co-worker Moraima and her husband Jesse, standing side-by- side with Karen in my office, all three taking pictures and recording the moment they were witnessing in the office courtyard. It was in THAT moment of seeing her mom that Colleen knew…this is the scene she had played out in her head since she was a little girl…this was her marriage proposal!

As she attempted to compose herself, I directed her eyes to a little sign that the puppy was wearing around its collar. As I stood and walked toward her, I held the puppy up so Colleen could get a closer look at the note, which read on the outside, “Will You Be My mommy….” Colleen replied with a near-inaudible, “Aww…” Then I opened the card, which continued inside, “…By Marrying My Daddy?” Accompanying the note inside was a beautiful diamond ring…the same ring Colleen had once said to me in passing was her dream engagement ring. After what seemed like minutes of stunned silence, I reminded her, “Colleen….I’m going to need an answer….” “YES!!!

Of course, I will marry you!” was her response as she leapt at him to kiss her new fiancé and new puppy. While attempting to put the pieces of everything that just had happened, Colleen followed me and the puppy inside the office where they were met with congratulatory hugs and kisses from the accomplices inside. Here, Colleen discovered the mother and daughter were Jennifer and Jeniyah, friends of Moraima and Jesse’s! I had asked Moraima to help him find people Colleen wouldn’t recognize to walk a puppy wearing the note and ring. (Jennifer and Jeniyah were more than willing to help, and did a wonderful job!) Once inside, I told Colleen our new puppy was an eight week-old female SILVER Labrador! I explained how I’d been searching for weeks and difficult it was to find a Labrador puppy (something Colleen had said she’d wanted) and had luckily found one the very day before, but two hours away in Johnsburg, IL!) While talking with her mom and trying to figure out how to get the puppy and what to do with it once I had her, Karen said she’d be willing to drive the two hours to pick up the puppy and keep her overnight in her house (where two frise bichon dogs were already living)! Once home, and after a lot of exploring (and chewing up a TV remote and a pair of reading glasses) the puppy settled in for a long December’s nap.

The next day, Karen drove the precious cargo to Aurora (an hour away) and waited for me to meet Colleen in the restaurant before being let into his office by Moraima. Once inside, they harnessed the puppy up and attached the card/ring to her collar and waited for Pete’s text saying they were leaving the restaurant. Soon, Karen and Moraima got the text that we were leaving, and a few minutes later Jennifer and Jeniyah went outside with the puppy, and the rest was history! Because it was Christmastime and she was a Silver Lab, (and because of the aforementioned love of Disney) we decided to name the little girl “Belle.” The next morning, while regaling everyone at work with the story of the proposal, a delivery man arrived at Colleen’s office with a dozen roses addresses for her. The card simply read, “Thank you for saying ‘Yes’! I love you! Pete’” We are in the midst of planning our dream wedding in October, and raising our sweet, 6 1/2 month old puppy, Belle, whom we love with all of our heart!

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