Joanna and Jesse

Engagement Proposal Ideas in Carteret, NJ at the groom’s backyard

How We Met

Jesse and I met on camping trip in June of 2017. I had just come back from volunteering in Nicaragua and wanted to enjoy the summer with my friends. My friends told me about a Polish DJ possibly coming on the trip, but I didn’t think anything of it.

Jesse and his friends arrived the following morning. He introduced himself as Griffon, his DJ name that was well known. I later found out that his name was actually Jesse, but not too many people knew that.

The entire day was spent rafting, swimming, grilling, and playing sports. Everyone was having a blast! Throughout the day, Jesse and I got a chance to know each other. We picked each other for all the team games, sat next to each other during meals, and just enjoyed each other’s company.

When nighttime rolled around, the whole group sat around the campfire. Jesse had asked if I wanted to go down by the river. We talked for hours about our favorite things, families, goals, and dreams.

In the far distance, we could hear our friends playing softer music. We both stood quietly unsure of what to say next as the music played. Jesse slowly takes out his hand and says, “Would you like to dance?” I placed my hand in his and we danced under the stars. A moment that felt so pure and warming, unaware that it would change my life forever.

Where to Propose in Carteret, NJ at the groom’s backyard

How They Asked

Jesse and I talked about wanting to get married very early in the relationship. It’s true what they say when you know, you know. However, I had just begun my senior year of college and had plans of getting my Master’s. Jesse, on the other hand, was very busy in building his career. There just wasn’t a perfect moment.

As the Wedding Director for an entertainment company, Jesse primarily works weekends. I, on the other hand, work a 9-5 pm job on the weekdays. Our schedules most of the time are the opposite.

This year, my birthday landed on a Thursday, so celebrating for a full day was not ideal. However, weeks prior, Jesse told me clear my schedule the last Saturday of June because he was able to get a day off. I was so excited to finally have a day to ourselves!

Leading up to Saturday, June 29, Jesse would not spill any details of our date day. It was all a surprise, he said. I wasn’t even aware of how to dress for the occasion. This made me feel more anxious because I’m the type of person that has to plan everything.

The day before, Jesse said he had to work all day. I was used to this so I didn’t think anything of it. My friend Angela had asked if we wanted to get our nails done to celebrate our birthdays like we do every year. Again, nothing to be suspicious of. What I didn’t know was that this was all planned. Jesse made sure my nails were done for a special moment.

After not hearing from Jesse all day who said that he couldn’t find any cell service at his venue, I get a text from him to check my mailbox. As confused as I was, I went outside to find a sealed envelope with my name on it. Inside was a handwritten card with the very first picture we took from our camping trip. The other side was a layout of what to expect and ideas of what I could wear tomorrow. I was so surprised but so excited for the next day.

When I woke up the next morning, I could barely contain my excitement. Jesse picked me up around lunchtime and we headed to a beautiful park for a picnic. After lunch, we went to the Liberty Science Center to do some exploring. Jesse and I’s entire relationship has been built around adventuring, traveling, and being spontaneous, so these random things he was surprising me with were normal to me.

After a few hours, we headed back to my house to get ready for dinner. He told me to wear something that made me feel beautiful so I put a sundress and sandals on. All-day the weather had been sunny and hot so when it started to downpour all of a sudden, I heard the panic in Jesse’s voice. Yet still, I didn’t think anything of it. In my mind, we were just going out for dinner.

After dinner, the waiter comes over to ask if we wanted any dessert. Without thinking, I ordered a cappuccino, completely forgetting that I have an intolerance to milk. After taking a few sips of my drink, I instantly felt sick. We had to leave the restaurant, but Jesse kept saying, I have one final surprise for you. To be honest, the only thing I wanted to do at this point was to go home and jump into bed. I felt so horrible.

Jesse had pulled over to a convenience store to pick up some medicine and cold water. I couldn’t understand why Jesse was so persistent in figuring out a way to make me feel better right there in the car. However, I went along with it. At this point, it had stopped raining and the sun started to peak out.

About 20 minutes later we arrive at Jesse’s hometown but instead of making a turn onto his street, he went the other direction. We pull into a gas station to grab another cold water. When I return, Jesse hands me a wrapped box and asks me to open it. Inside was a sleeping mask and earplugs. He asked that I put both on along with some headphones. “Don’t peak, I have one final surprise,” he said.

We drove for roughly five minutes when the car comes to a stop. I had no idea where I was or what was going on. Jesse leads me into a building that I later find out to be his house. He removes the earplugs but tells me to keep the sleeping mask and headphones on. I was then left alone. All of a sudden I hear a recording of his voice through the headphones where I was instructed to remove the mask. The TV continues to play and I watch in awe. Jesse had recorded himself talking about our life for the last two years, his favorite moments, and talking about how much he loved me. In my head, this was still a birthday present. Halfway through the video, it cuts to a video of my favorite cousin wishing me a happy birthday from Poland. The majority of my family lives in Poland and I don’t get to see them too often so it instantly made me cry. The video continues and Jesse’s face returns on the screen. I was still crying.

The next part of the video, Jesse tells me he has more instructions. He said, “on the count of three, I need you to say I’m READY. Ready?! One, Two, Three!” Without hesitation, I yell, “I’m ready!” It was a moment of silence after. All of sudden, I see a male coming down the steps who I thought was Jesse. However, I hear an unfamiliar voice. It was then that I realize that it was my cousin!! The same cousin that wished me a happy birthday in the video. I was in tears, so surprised, and happy! I couldn’t believe that he was in America!! After my cousin Adrian calmed me down, he told me that we had to continue watching the video.

The rest of the video was so special. Jesse spoke of his promises for the future and our life together. After the video was over, I was instructed to put the blindfold back on. In a few short seconds, I felt a pair of hands pick up mine and guide me out the door.

After we made it to the backyard, I was told to stand still and wait. I felt Jesse begin to uncover the blindfold and when I was able to finally see, I couldn’t believe my eyes!! In front of me, I saw Jesse’s smiling face, above him, I saw hundreds of sparkling lights, to my right I saw a band, and to my left were ALL of our families and friends. I immediately started to cry. The band was playing H.O.L.Y. by Florida Georgie Line which had become a special song for us from the first night we said: “I love you.” Jesse takes my hand and asks me to dance just like we danced for the first time under the stars. It was the most magical moment of my life.

We danced for a few minutes and then Jesse takes me to the center of all the lights. He begins to explain how he’s been trying to find the courage to ask me an important question. All of a sudden, I see him get down on one knee and says “Will you marry me?”.

Of course, I said Yes!!

Everyone began to cheer because they too had no idea that this was a proposal. Jesse had gotten them all together by telling them that it was a surprise birthday party. We were all in shock!

I always felt like the luckiest girl in the world however, after this proposal, I couldn’t feel more grateful to God for bringing this man into my life.

Our Video

Special Thanks

Stephen Komar
 | Photographer
Gian Carlo Stigliano
 | Videographer
Acoustic NRG
 | Band