Samantha and Melissa

Proposal Ideas Valenzano’s Winery, Shamong, New Jersey

How We Met

I graduated from the New Jersey State Police academy in January 2016. My second station ended up being in central New Jersey, which is where I met Melissa. She graduated in June 2018, and her first squad ended up being the same one that I was on at the time. I’d love to say that it was love at first sight, but she likes to point out that I ignored her for the better part of three months. Both she and I were relationships at that time, so we focused on being partners and friends instead of anything else.

Samantha's Proposal in Valenzano’s Winery, Shamong, New Jersey

Marriage Proposal Ideas in Valenzano’s Winery, Shamong, New Jersey

Where to Propose in Valenzano’s Winery, Shamong, New Jersey

However, it was impossible to deny just how incredible Mel is. She and I became fast friends and 12-hour shifts working with her quickly became filled with inside jokes, meme wars, and more smiles than I could count. As the only two girls on our squad (and two out of five women total at the station), we became inseparable. Our squadmates even nicknamed us the “Hair Bun Gang,” thanks to the way we have to wear our hair for work. Pretty soon, H.B.G. became our moniker and everyone knew how close we were.

Wedding Proposal Ideas in Valenzano’s Winery, Shamong, New Jersey

How They Asked

Mel and I started talking about marriage pretty much from the start. We just knew that we had found our “person” in the other and it was easy to talk about a forever together. We exchanged ideas about or dream rings, and I had a general idea that she was looking at getting mine. The biggest request she had for her engagement ring was that it be made by a jeweler in New Jersey whose son had been a New Jersey State Trooper killed in the line of duty. I spent a month trekking back and forth from our house to his store to talk about designs and pick out stones. In the end, I couldn’t be happier with the finished ring. I knew as soon as I picked it up (which happened to be on my 28th birthday!), I knew that it was perfect for Mel.

Over the summer, I had planned an elaborate December trip to Europe for Mel and I. I figured that it would be the perfect way to top off our first year together and the best backdrop to ask her to marry me. I even went so far as to reach out to Italian photographers to make sure that the moment was captured. However, as the trip approached, I knew that Mel has her suspicions that I’d propose on our vacation. Add to that that all of her friends kept bringing it up and taking bets on it! I knew that if I was going to surprise her, I had to speed up my timeframe a little bit. I decided to propose at the same winery where we had one of our first dates, where we said “I love you” for the first time, and where I had asked her to be my girlfriend.

I told her that I had planned for us a date night there, which wasn’t very out of the ordinary. I reached out to my incredibly talented photographer friend and the event planning staff at the winery to coordinate the whole thing. November 15, 2018, arrived and Mel and I headed out for our date night. A sudden snowstorm almost threatened to ruin everything, but my photographer braved a three-hour drive in the snow to make sure that everything went off without a hitch.

Once we got the winery, one of the staff escorted us to the back cellar to “try some recently opened barrels of wine,” and we walked into a perfect scene. Under colorful, hazy lights, and with a fresh bouquet of flowers, I got down on one knee and pulled out the Harry Potter ring box that I knew would help seal the deal. I asked Mel to spend forever with me, and I got another “yes” from her. We celebrated the night and when we got home, our dogs greeted us with a “My moms are getting married” sign that I had crafted the day before. Then I led Mel to the box I had filled with 100 reasons why I love her, and we celebrated our new life as fiancées.

I thought that that was the end of it, but I knew that Mel still wanted to do something special to give me my engagement ring. She told me knew how she wanted to do it but was tight-lipped about the rest. So, I didn’t think too much about it and continued planning for our upcoming Europe trip. December arrived and she and I flew out to Italy, Poland, and France. We explored Rome and then headed to Florence. Once we got to Florence, I knew that Mel had a special place that she wanted to visit. She kept mentioning that our mutual friend suggested Piazzale Michelangelo. I had been to Italy before, so I was happy to let her take over and to follow her lead.

We walked up what must have been a hundred steps to the most beautiful panoramic view of Florence. As the sunset and a local musician played my favorite Ed Sheeran song in the background, Mel looked at me and told me that she knew that we were meant for each other. She said that we made each other happier than either of us ever imagined. She pulled out my perfect engagement ring and asked me to marry her, too. I couldn’t imagine a better way to have ended a whirlwind first year with my perfect person.

Special Thanks

Shawna Rodgers
 | Photographer