John and Nina

how we met

John and I met during a spur-of-the-moment brunch with mutual friends. My friend Liz and I were out getting donuts because it was National Donut Day. Her fiance, Don, had just finished a meeting and invited us out to brunch. We almost passed on the invitation, given that we had just ate donuts but agreed to go anyway. Don’s friend, John, had recently helped him get a job and Don invited him to brunch with his fiance and her “sister-in-law”, as a thank you.

John was the last to arrive. He sat right next to me and nonchalantly introduced himself. He had not seen Don in over a year and was excited to catch up with him. He spent most of brunch talking to Don, which left little time for us to interact with each other. I had overheard him tell a story about a young patient he had taken care of and his empathy and concern made me see how sweet and caring of a person he was. The icing on the cake was when he mentioned that he loved the selection of Motown classics being played at the restaurant. Being a Motown fan myself, I knew I was in trouble. After brunch ended, I casually mentioned to Liz that I was interested in John but wasn’t sure if the feels were mutual. The following night, we all got together at a bar to celebrate Don’s birthday. Don had heard through Liz that I was interested in John, so he took a moment to mention it to him while they were alone ordering drinks.

“So… Nina thinks you’re really cute,” Don said.
“Well… that’s really inappropriate,” John replied.

Confusion ensued, because Don had forgotten that he’d told John that I was Liz’s sister-in-law. Once that was hashed out, Don was able to clarify that he had made a mistake, and I was indeed, not married to Liz’s brother. By the end of the night, we had exchanged numbers, gave each other a high five and the rest is history. Moral of the story -NEVER PASS ON BRUNCH!

how they asked

Even though I knew I wanted to marry Nina after just a few months of dating, I waited two years before asking her. Surprising her with a proposal was difficult because Nina and I had gone ring shopping together. I knew the only way to really surprise her would be to wait until she planned something and then plan the proposal around that. The perfect opportunity came when Nina planned to go to Iowa to visit her friends for their son’s first birthday. I had told Nina that I would be working all weekend and would not be able to attend. I even created a fake work schedule to throw her off the trail. With the help of her friends in Iowa, I was able to set up the proposal at a local flower shop. They also helped me get an incredible photographer to document the event.


Nina set out to Iowa with her best friend, Erin, and I followed a few hours behind with our dog, Frankie. I made a quick pit stop at an Oasis, two-hours outside of Chicago, to let Frankie out and quickly got back on the road. An hour after that, Nina texted me saying that her friend had just text her that she’d thought she saw Frankie and I at the Oasis. The most important thing to me was being able to give Nina a surprise proposal like she always wanted. Panic began to set in after that and I really worried that Nina knew I was coming. I did my best to divert her suspicions, but couldn’t tell if it was working or not. I got to the Airbnb and barely slept thinking the surprise had been ruined.

The next morning, I woke up early to go to the flower shop and I met with the photographer, had a bouquet made, and fitted Frankie with the homemade sign that read, “Mom, will you marry Dad?”. Now, all that was left to do was wait.

Nina’s friend had told her she needed to go to the flower shop to pick up center pieces for their son’s birthday. Nina thought it was strange that they’d need centerpieces for a 1st birthday, but hadn’t questioned it and agreed to go with. Once Nina and her two friends arrived at the flower shop, the workers signaled to me that they were there. I waited, crouched behind flowers with Frankie. Nina’s friends led her down a row of flowers and hanging baskets, where we met at an intersection and the proposal happened. Thankfully, I had successfully diverted the Oasis sighting and she was completely surprised.

After the initial shock set in, I asked her to marry me and she said, “Of course!”. We spent some time afterwards getting pictures taken with all the flowers, Frankie and our friends. It all worked out perfectly and I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with this amazing woman.

Special Thanks