Amanda: I stopped believing in fairytales 15 plus years ago. Life was tough, and love was no different. But, then, Once Upon A Time … I met a boy who changed everything.
Drew: Amanda’s birthday was quickly approaching and I felt I needed to do something extra special to celebrate her and our relationship. I could think of nothing better than surprising Amanda with the perfect proposal surrounded by loved ones. There were a couple things Amanda had always said she wanted with her proposal; a great story, and her family. Well, I took that to heart and made her birthday and proposal wishes come true.
My birthday is August 24 th and I wanted to spend it with my twin and family in Georgia. So, we booked our tickets and planned to celebrate my birthday on August 26th, the Saturday following my birthday. Drew had bought me a new dress and Christian Louboutin shoes to wear for the event. His only request was for me to be ready at [x] time, which I was. He said he would take care of the rest. And, he did.
Amanda knew it would be a great celebration, but did not know that this birthday weekend would forever change her life. I started thinking through my ideas for a “great story” proposal. We planned to be in Atlanta for a long weekend over her birthday, it hit me that there was no a better time. However, I did not want the proposal to be on her actual birthday. That is her and her twin sister’s day and couldn’t take that away. So, I planned for two days after.
Once I had in mind what I wanted to do for the proposal and what I needed, I started my research. Who would to help me pull this off!? I had to start with researching helicopters! …I knew nothing about helicopters. What is a nice helicopter? What is a bad one? Big or small? Cadillac vs Ford Pinto. I finally found a touring company that offered rides and tours in a Robinson R44 from the rooftop of the W hotel in downtown Atlanta. I had struck gold! My plan was going to work! Little did I know, after further research, the R44 is the Ford Pinto of helicopters. Not exactly what I had in mind for this elaborate helicopter ride. I needed that Cadillac helicopter to charter us to the ideal spot to pop the big question. So, back to Google. “Find me the best helicopter in Atlanta, but don’t bankrupt me!” After even more extensive research, I found North Atlanta Executive Air Service (NEAS). An executive helicopter charter service. This is just what I needed. I was nervous, however, because I had quite the elaborate plan ahead of me. I needed to watch my budget. After a few calls and emails to Rich Maresco (with NEAS), the plan was set. It wasn’t clear skies just yet…I received some bad news. I needed to fly from and return to a rooftop helipad in Atlanta. My plan did follow that area’s helicopter regulations exactly. I didn’t want to compromise, I wanted the WOW factor I imagined. I made a few more phone calls, did even more research on helipads, Atlanta regulations, and every detail in between. In the end, I took Rich’s original advice. The Hilton Garden Inn and Ventana’s premiere rooftop event space was my only feasible option. Luckily, it turned out the be the best.
Next step: venue. Amongst this helicopter research, I ran across a few options to fly to for the big event. It had to be beautiful, it had to have the perfect scenery for the photos I knew we’d both cherish forever, and it had to be semi private. Chateau Elan was the answer! Easy to fly into, perfect location, beautiful scenery and exactly what I envisioned. I reached out to Holly Logue at Chateau Elan Winery in Braselton, Georgia, and Holly knew exactly what I needed. She laid out the options for me and walked me through the logistics, almost as if I was there in person. I had never been to Chateau Elan but after a few conversations with Holly, I was totally sold. We would charter a helicopter from the rooftop of the Hilton Garden Inn, fly to Chateau Elan, and then, show time.
With the helicopter and venue set, I was feeling pretty good about my plans. Except, I could not let this amazing plan and exciting events go to waste and not be documented. I’ve seen many proposal and wedding stories go viral over the years, but I wanted this is be original and jaw dropping. Holly from Château Elan’s recommendations lead me to Mark and Tracy at ‘This Is Us/Emotion.Film. After speaking with Mark and & Tracy, I realized that their reputation as one of the best videographers in Atlanta would live up to the hype. (later we found out it really did!) I was pumped! After sending countless inquiries for a photographer, I skimmed through the responses, until one caught my attention. “Drew- I would love to be the photographer for his amazing proposal. However, one I have question… is your girlfriend Amanda?” My jaw drops. Why yes, that is correct. Then I’m thinking, is this person stalking me? I never mentioned her name in these inquiries. I Keep reading… “Amanda and I went to law school together and were good friends back in the day”. Well, need I say more? Done. I’ve got a photographer-Rebecca Enslein. This was something special; our family and friends were incorporated into all the little details. Every piece was coming together. Man! I’m killing the game right now, I thought.
At [x] exactly, I receive a call from a driver telling me that he had arrived and will be taking me to meet Drew at an undisclosed location. After a 30 minute drive, we arrived at a hotel in downtown Atlanta. My initial thought was, why would Drew plan my birthday party here? Does he do not know me!! But, I should not have doubted him because on top of this hotel was one of the two helicopter pads in Atlanta. And, more importantly, on top of this hotel, standing on top of this helicopter pad was Drew. He (not the spinning propeller or the fear of flying in a helicopter) took my breath away. After triple checking that my seatbelt was fasten, we lifted off and flew to a vineyard in North Georgia. The view was amazing and unforgettable. The boy beside me indescribable.
As we land in the rear of the winery, my first thought is, are we here already!? I’m not ready! I’m still running through all the logistics and words in my head. But, it’s go time. We unload from the helicopter and get into a vehicle that I had arranged to drive us around to the front of the winery. There, we make our way into the winery and spend some time taking in the beautiful scenery. In the meantime, people are approaching Amanda to tell her how amazing she looks. (I’m thinking, this is wonderful! People are candidly helping me prepare her. Nothing better than a time to propose to a girl when she feels gorgeous, but she knew she was because I had made sure that she knew.) After we finish our glasses of wine, I suggested that we make our way upstairs to look around and see the rest of this beautiful winery. We walked up a grand staircase and made our way to a wall of French doors onto a private balcony overlooking the winery.
… I walked outside, I saw the rose petals and Champaign, and then everything went silent.
My initial words were, “Amanda, from the first moment that I saw you, I’ve always told you that I wanted to be with you.” And I proceeded to get down on one knee, while my heart was beating out of my chest…
The only thing I could see or hear was Drew, everything else disappears. Drew told me that he loved our story. Drew then asked me to be his forever… and, I said YES!
A loud cheer erupted from down below, and little did I know an entire crowd had gotten the word that this was about to go down. From there, we enjoyed a bottle of champagne and had a moment to ourselves before making our way back downstairs for engagement photos and boarding the helicopter.
After catching my breath, and trying with everything I could to capture this moment in my memory forever, we boarded the helicopter and flew back to Atlanta. Once in Atlanta, Drew surprised once more with dinner and drinks at SunDial with my family and friends who traveled from all over the US just to be there with us.
I put together a large dinner at The Sun Dial Restaurant on top of The Westin Hotel in downtown Atlanta. I worked with the SunDial event coordinator, Samantha Howard, who helped plan the entire dinner. I really wanted to get every part of that day perfect for Amanda. Each surprise was a hit! Our closest friends, Amanda’s large family and my parents all there under one roof.
I felt loved. I felt like a princess.