Irine and Shawn

How We Met

I met Shawn through our local church shortly after I moved from Texas to New York when I was 12 years old. We quickly became friends, often spending our time in group chats on AOL with our other friends -most of who are now in our bridal party- or on the phone whispering for hours at night, well past bedtime so that our parents, more specifically my brothers, wouldn’t catch us.

From the beginning, I always knew Shawn was someone special because of how he carried himself and the way he offered sound reasoning. I never would have thought I would be marrying him except for that time in 7th grade where I wrote in my diary “OMG, I think I like Shawn.” However, I quickly revoked this confession the next day, possibly due to a bickering incident.

Over the years, our friendship grew deeper and it was when we were in our early college years, Shawn and I had a conversation that ultimately led us to think of forever. I’ll never forget that day at the park when we talked about our dreams and goals in life and what we hope to accomplish. It intertwined in such a way, that confirmed to me, this was my guy. Seven or so years later, and here we are planning for that forever. Throughout these years, those same conversations continue to push us to pursue our calling in life. It’s been one of my greatest adventures being able to go through all the ups and downs of life with my best friend.

How They Asked

Irine’s Version: Some background is required first. In all the years we have been together, I have never gotten flowers from Shawn. However, he has given me parts of flowers which include stems, leaves, seeds, and even a tree that unfortunately did not stand a chance and died too soon.

Okay, now we can begin: It was the day before my birthday; a brisk, windy Monday afternoon. Shawn loves to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and so of course, my 26th birthday was no exception. He told me we were going to celebrate my birthday early and told me to wear a dress, do my hair, and he’ll be at my door to pick me up.

As soon as I got in the car, he handed me a paper that said “Irinerary (itinerary – get it?). This was no surprise to me, as he did this for my 23rd birthday (way to recycle your ideas Shawn hehe jk- it was really to throw me off). He listed everything we would be doing that day even down to when I would be in bed by (I have a very strict sleeping schedule ). We first stopped at a local restaurant for lunch, then dessert at our favorite bakery, and then to the same park where 7 years back, we made the decision to be together. He then said he wanted to take me to the Planting Field Arboretum see all the flowers in bloom. When we got there, we strolled around, taking in the beauty of the park. Shawn then leads me to a field where a picnic was set up under a giant and beautiful Cherry Blossom tree – which so happens to be my favorite tree. When I heard singing and a guitar being played, that’s when I knew, oh my, he’s proposing! He sat me down, and gave me a box of all different knick knacks (movie ticket stubs, souvenirs, a bobby pin that I left in his car etc), most of which I couldn’t believe he kept! Beside us was a picnic basket in which he opened and out came the ring. Cue all the water works. It was truly perfect. Afterward, he took me to a restaurant overlooking the Oyster Bay Harbor, but before we went in, he wanted me to see the harbor… As we were walking down, our family and friends were waiting for us, each of them lined up, and had a rose that they presented me with. At the end of the line, there stood Shawn with the very first bouquet of my favorite flowers- peonies with stems, leaves and all, intact. It was truly the most special proposal and a day that I will cherish forever.

Shawn’s Version: Proposals are extremely stressful for the guy. You try so hard to come up with this amazing moment that will blow her away. After dating Irine for so long, the pressure was really on to achieve the perfect proposal.

During our first year together, I noticed Irine really liked flowers. She was obsessed with floral, and even had questionable fashion choices as she wore flower clips in her hair until the age of 25. Naturally, since my job is to annoy her, I decided I would never give her flowers. However, throughout the years, I did give her seeds, stems, flower petals, and even a tree. She would always leave upset, and questioned why she would even put up with someone like me. Why am I telling you this? Well this on-going joke was all part of a larger proposal I had in mind since the day we started dating. I knew she was the one.

Leading up to the proposal, I had been on calls with restaurant owners, florists, barn operators, park staff, photographers, videographers, and musicians trying to prepare the perfect proposal. I kept thinking back on our memories together throughout the last seven years. There were two that really stood out and I knew I wanted to incorporate them into my proposal.

The first memory was the time I saw Irene mesmerized by the beauty of cherry blossom trees. Irine is extremely direct and made sure I knew she would love it if I proposed under some cherry blossom trees. I made sure to note this in my head for a future prank/gift. On Irine’s 25th birthday, I got her a cherry blossom tree. Unfortunately, I had no idea it would take 20 years for this tree to grow. Irine was not too fond of this prank and later told me the tree had died. I suspect foul play was involved.

The second moment that I wanted to capture was actually from our favorite television show, The Office. It was the episode where Michael proposed to Holly, and Michael had the cast lined up in two rows. As Holly walked down, she found Michael at the end on one knee. This show has brought us both unlimited amounts of happiness. I had to find a way to incorporate this into the proposal.

The Big Day…

It was the day before Irine’s birthday, and I told her we were going to spend the day together as her birthday present. I picked her up at about 11am. I had asked her to wear a dress and told her we would be going to a fancy restaurant.I handed Irine a folder. Inside the folder read “Irinerary”. A combination of Irine and Itinerary. The paper had pictures of 7 different activities for the day. Our first stop was lunch and after to her favorite bakery where we pigged out on Rainbow cookies. The next item on the Irinerary was to take her to Eisenhower park. Eisenhower Park meant a lot to both of us because as poor young college students, it was the best place for us to hang out and spend little to no money. After reminiscing on our relationship, it was almost time for the big moment. We proceeded to drive to the Arboretum, and along the way, I’m getting messages to keep stalling. I kept ignoring the GPS system and went the wrong way several times. We finally made it. We walked hand in hand and I led her to a path near two enormous cherry blossom trees. As I started to walk with her I could feel her shaking and beginning to tear up. I led her to a picnic that was laid out under another Cherry Blossom tree. The picnic basket contained memories and souvenirs of all of our dates throughout the past 7 years that she had no idea I kept. Two of our musically talented friends were singing our favorite songs as we enjoyed the picnic. I told Irine I had one last thing to show her. I pulled a ring box out of the picnic basket and asked her if she would be my wife. She said yes!

Irine was ecstatic, but I knew she was looking around for her family and friends. I lied and told her everyone was busy. We did a quick photoshoot with the photographer and videographer. During our photoshoot, a few of our closest friends and family members were at a second site I had picked, near this amazing restaurant. I told Irine the surprise wasn’t over, and that I really wanted to take her to this particular restaurant that I made reservations at. The restaurant was right by a harbor, and I first had her come with me down to a small park by the harbor. There, our family and friends were waiting in two lines. Each of them held white roses to give to Irine. I stood at the end to give her a bouquet of peonies (her favorite!). She finally got her flowers and I got the love of my life!

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