Dennis and Inga

Dennis and Inga's Engagement in National Portrait Gallery

How We Met

We met working at Target Corporation in Minneapolis around 2013. I had just been hired, excited to start working downtown when I walked onto a team which consisted of 12 girls! There were a few that hung back, a few that stepped forward but Inga more or less, kept her distance even though I sat right next to her. Her best friend Lana thought that I was a pretty cool, so we started a friendship. Her other friend Mimi has heard about me from her other friends, so we became close as well. Since Inga was friends with them, she finally came around when her best friend decided to set us up on a small casual outing (date) where we became closer after learning about each other. From there, our relationship began to grow leading to us finally getting together officially in 2015.

Where to Propose in National Portrait Gallery

How They Asked

I grew up listening and loving RnB music. I remember when I heard the song, “Happily ever after” by Case for the first time and fell in love. I told myself, whenever I get engaged, this is what I am going to do. (Referring to the music video that was produced for the song, starring a young Beyoncé the day she got engaged.) I never thought I would reenact the video, but I always knew I would utilize the song in some way, shape or form. This was like 20 years ago.

3 years ago, we moved to DC together. This was our first big step and our first time living together. I always wanted to propose on a trip, maybe Paris, maybe in Thailand or even Aspen but with all the travel we had already taken the past few months and saving to buy a home, we were grounded for the time being. I was never going to propose in Minnesota, so DC was it. It also fit the bill if I wanted to recreate the music video. DC has amazing architecture and history. Now it was time to plan.

I had connection to the video because of the song and I believe Inga came into the picture because of her love for Beyoncé. I was also a Jay-Z fan so focusing on this power couple was nothing out of the norm. They are a billion-dollar team that made headlines everywhere. There have been days that have gone by where Inga was not in a positive mood, wasn’t feeling well or just had a down day and I remember always telling her to be Beyoncé; find your Sasha Fierce.

This is a trick that I use myself when things are tough and if I find myself needing strength, I try to channel something else like another person or an animal to get me through the hardships. I would always go back to Sasha Fierce for Inga. Having this small, and subtle connection between Inga and the leading lady in this dream proposal video, a young Beyoncé, added a charming and romantic, personal touch for us both.

The video starts off with Beyoncé, the love interest coming home to a house full of roses and receiving a note for the next move. She is then picked up and whisked away to the store to pick up a dress and then to the final destination (which looks to be like the atrium of a museum where Case (The singer) was waiting to sneak up behind her with the ring. When I was young, I thought that was the smoothest thing anyone could do and because of our history and small attachment to the video, especially living in DC, I thought it would fit perfectly.

The day started when my friend Vbo picked her up from a day of pampering in her favorite car of all time, a white Cadillac Escalade. He took her around to specific points throughout the day which included stopping by Rent the Runway so that she could pick out the perfect dress. Throughout the day, I left her notes to guide her which eventually led her to the National Portrait Gallery where our friend Omar was gracious enough to lend his photography skills to capture the picturesque moment. Patrick was the final piece to the puzzle to greet her at the steps of the gallery. He then escorted her to the final location, handing her the last note. As she was reading, I made my way from behind the pillar to seal the deal.

Everything worked out great and ended up being perfect. One thing that I have heard of many times after hearing proposal stories was that when the guy pops the big question, the girl is so in the moment that she basically blocks out whatever the guy was saying. I wanted to get around this by sneaking up behind her (just like in the video) to placed headphones onto her ears so I can play her the song that started this entire proposal. The first verse of the song pretty much says it all. Also, because it is a song, she can always remember it and have it as a piece she can always look back upon to listen to whenever she wants.

The story is that before moving to United States, she didn’t want to leave Belarus but then she remembered that Mickey Mouse (one of the only American cartoons she knew) lives in America! She was sold. She envisioned herself getting off the plane and Mickey would be there with open arms to greet her. Sadly, this 3-year-old was crushed when that it didn’t happen. For our celebration, there was no other place that I would have wanted to take her. Now she can finally meet Mickey while celebrating one of the best times of her life, during the month of her birthday and going to Disney World after the release of the new Aladdin movie, our favorite Disney film.

Special Thanks

Omar Baddar
 | Photographer
Michael Villalobos
 | Driver
Patrick Liston
 | Escort
James Allen
 | Ring