Jenna and Giovanni | Shedd Aquarium Proposal in Chicago

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Jenna and I met over 4 years ago when we both lived in NYC. After about two months, I moved to Chicago and we began the struggle of long distance dating. In our near-monthly reunions we took a trip to Costa Rica and tried to find some sea turtles, had our first winter snow-date ice skating in Central Park, and generally tried to pack in as much fun as possible into a short weekend together, usually in Chicago or NYC.

After a long courtship (including Jenna moving to Chicago and me moving out of Chicago to attend business school) we felt we were ready to commit our lives to each other. On December 14, 2013 we had planned to volunteer at a holiday event for struggling young mothers at New Moms, Inc. (which we had been supporting for a few years). We decided earlier that week to check out the Shedd Aquarium, because sea animals always reminds us of our first trip together to Costa Rica. I thought this was enough of a backdrop to set up a surprise so went to work planning.

Saturday we got up early to make it to the Shedd before volunteering at noon. I had cased the joint the day before, and planned my proposal. After some stalling we made our way to the special Jellies exhibit, awash in bright colors and other-worldly undulating cnidaria. I held her close, professed my undying love and adoration for her, and offered her my hand, my life, and a ring. Keren was close by catching each moment, and took us outside for some blissful photos in a fresh snowfall. She did a great job capturing our happiness, personalities, and ecstatic interactions!


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We left the Shedd and drove to the New Moms building, because even though this day would be a celebration of our love and my bride-to-be, there are still people who need help in our city. After volunteering, I brought Jenna to a restored mansion on Chicago’s south side, where she found a new dress and purse amid rose petals on the bed, a private ice skating rink for us to relive our first winter date, and a spa appointment. On our way to dinner, we stopped for a drink, where a group of 20 friends and some family surprised Jenna with hearty congratulations and more than a few cheers. We ended up skipping dinner to share the evening with our loved ones for the perfect end to a wonderful day.

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Photos by Keren Sarai Photography