How We Met
I met Halie my senior year at Virginia Tech. Though she was only a junior, we had several friends in common who I wouldn’t stop pestering to introduce us after I first laid eyes on her at one of our campus dining halls. They obliged, and at a Virginia Tech football game shortly before my 21st birthday, they asked her to come sit in our section for a few minutes. One of the things that always struck me about Halie was her resemblance to actress Leighton Meester, from Gossip Girl. And with a little liquid courage courtesy of a pregame tailgate, when we were introduced, I ran with the cheesiest line I could think of, “Hi, Blair – I’m Chuck”. To this day I’m not sure how she ever took me seriously afterward.
After a series of Facebook chats that lead to texts that lead to hanging out that lead to our first kiss, we’ve been happily inseparable ever since.
how they asked
The five years since Halie and I met have been set all across the Mid-Atlantic region. I spent a year in New York City in grad school while she finished up college, and when she moved home to Washington, D.C. thereafter, I looked for every opportunity to move close to her. I mention that because though I moved to D.C. a few years back and it’s become our home together, no one place has singularly defined our relationship. And that made finding the best place to bring our relationship full circle and ask her to marry me difficult.
We had a trip planned to New Orleans, and we were coming up on our fifth anniversary. The time was right; I knew I wanted to be with her forever, and I knew she felt the same.
After countless hours of research each night after she went to bed, I decided Jackson Square would be the most picturesque setting to pop the question. Scavenger hunts, messages in bottles, surprise parties — I read about them all. But none of it felt right for us. We were too spontaneous and in-the-moment, real and from the heart. So I hired a paparazzi photographer to camouflage in with the tourists and shoot photos of us in front of the cathedral when I would drop down on one knee and asked her, completely unscripted and genuine. For weeks ahead of the trip, I worked with the photographer and special company to set up the perfect proposal down to the minute and exact spot in the park where we would stand.
Note to guys: If you go this route, think well ahead about a good excuse to get her to that spot at the exact time. This was the most difficult part, because why would it be so important that we needed to be at Jackson Square promptly at 11 a.m. on the third day of our trip? I’m sure this crossed her mind, but I told her there was an authentic New Orleans second line Jazz parade that left exactly then each Monday. What a dumb alibi — such a corny white lie — but I guess it worked, because she never asked questions.
After beignets and cafe-au-laits from Cafe du Monde (her clothes were covered in powdered sugar, and I had to firmly suggest she clean herself up) we started our stroll through the park to where I’d propose. I had no idea what I was going to say, my heart was racing, and I was officially beginning to freak out.
I spotted our photographer on the walk over, and when I arrived at the area we decided I’d do it, and I stopped Halie. Acting like I was searching on my phone, I told her there was no parade. She was confused.
I can’t even remember what I said in that moment because I was so terrified and excited all at once. When I saw her eyes begin to well up, it was all over for me. Honestly I think I blacked out a bit, because I initially tried to put the ring on the wrong hand. But after a huge celebratory kiss, I got it right, and she absolutely freaked out, all of which our photographer caught on camera. After a few moments to decompress, the photographer took us around the city and continued to take pictures of us. It was perfect and not overdone, just like I wanted.