Kara and Nicholas

How We Met

Nick and I have known each other since we were about 10 years old. We were backyard neighbors growing up in Wheaton, IL and despite what Nick jokingly likes to convince friends and family (that I was swooning over him ever since that first time I saw him mowing the lawn shirtless), it was not, love at first sight and it has been a long( but worth it) trip to the aisle!

Engagement Proposal Ideas in Chicago, IL - Millennium Park

Kara and Nicholas's Engagement in Chicago, IL - Millennium Park

Nick is a year older so we ran in different circles of friends and also attended different colleges but in 2014, Nick was graduating with his Masters in Accounting from University of Illinois and I was graduating from University of Missouri’s Journalism school and we both found ourselves accepting full time offers to live with our parents. While commuting to our respective jobs downtown, we both found ourselves on the same Metra schedule and soon became train buddies, endlessly chatting about life at home, our moms (who are “book club babes”) and everything else under the sun. At the time, I was in a long term relationship and eventually moved to the city with my sister and began immersing myself in the life downtown. Nick remained a friend who I’d still occasionally see on the Metra or exchange a few texts but that was it. The following fall, I was newly single and needed a friendly date to my sister’s wedding who would be comfortable with my family and fun to be around for the weekend. Nick, unfortunately, could not attend but he was aware that I was now single. Unfortunately, it took him way too long to ask me out and I had since been back in a relationship but an effort to maintain the friendship and minimize awkwardness, we got dinner as friends to catch up. It was clear that there was a chemistry between us but it would still be a long time before we ever found ourselves back together.

Marriage Proposal Ideas in Chicago, IL - Millennium Park

Where to Propose in Chicago, IL - Millennium Park

Over the next year, there were a few funny not so sober texts from Nick but otherwise, radio silence on his end that I assumed all of the complicated back and forth meant that we would always just be friends and nothing more. Fast forward to a few days before Thanksgiving 2016 and I was out with my girlfriends at a popular bar, Hook and Ladder/ Halligans in Lincoln Park and we were all ready to have a fun night out on the town and hopeful about maybe meeting someone. We holed up in a corner booth and were chatting when lo and behold, guess who walks up to the table but neighbor Nick. One of the gals I was out with was also from the same neighborhood gang so we quickly all got to chatting, laughing and of course, enjoying one too many of the bars beer specials.

Kara's Proposal in Chicago, IL - Millennium Park

While we were having a blast, I still couldn’t get a read on Nick and whether he was just being his friendly self or whether he was interested in me but I was intent on playing it cool so the ball was in Nick’s court. That night we bar hopped all over the city and finished the night in what seemed like all too soon with late night pizza (my favorite!) but thankfully, Nick mustered up the courage to ask for a proper date later that week. From there it was history and we have been inseparable ever since. The last two years together have included multiple adventures including the trip of a lifetime to Iceland and Denmark, many trips to visit family in Dallas, Texas, family time in Lake Geneva, a surprise trip to NYC, witnessing countless friends make the ultimate commitment to each other in Milwaukee, Nashville, Kansas City, Chicago, and Naperville and so, so much more. As I said, it has been a long trip to get to this point, but Nick and I both cannot wait for this next part of our journey!

Proposal Ideas Chicago, IL - Millennium Park

How They Asked

how they asked: Nick has been scheming over this day for a while and assured me it would be the surprise of a lifetime but oh my goodness he definitely was not kidding.

We got engaged on 1/5/2019 and earlier in the week I received a text from my mom and sister saying my mom and dad were going to come downtown to grab our Christmas decorations and that it had to be this weekend because she was on baby watch for my other pregnant sister. She said that they would be coming downtown but they had an hour or two they could kill and take us all for a drink and a bite so we should pick someplace fun. Given how we have no apartment storage in our Chicago apartment, visits like this are relatively frequent so it didn’t set off any alarms. My sister quickly responded that she made a reservation at Cindy’s rooftop in the loop because my mom had apparently been talking about wanting to go there. Again, my sister Sara and my parents had just been in Dallas all together for NYE so I thought ok that must’ve been something they discussed while together.

Okay, so it’s Saturday, we’re supposed to meet my parents and Sara at 3:15 at Cindy’s and Sara had suggested we get together with our two friends for dinner after Cindy’s if we didn’t have any plans. We didn’t so Nick and I both said sure. The day started off pretty normal; Nick and I got up and went for a run, we got some breakfast and then did some house cleaning and lounging before getting ready to head downtown so nothing was suggesting ‘GIRL SPEND EXTRA TIME ON YOUR HAIR, TODAY IS THE DAY’. Plus, Nick had suggested we book a reservation for date night the following Saturday because as an accountant, busy season is about to kick off and he said we should do a date night before things got crazy. When he said that, I was convinced it was happening the following weekend so I was not at all suspicious about this day though I did try to investigate by casually asking what his parents/ family were doing that night (since Nick knew it’s important that we get engaged privately but celebrate with everyone later!).

Nick and I get on the red line to head downtown and I go to give him a hug and for the life of him, he WOULD NOT use both hands to hug me. Little did I know, he was clutching my ring for dear life! Little quirks like that happened all the way to Cindy’s – he wouldn’t let me walk on his left side, he wouldn’t face me straight on so I could see his pockets on the train etc. As we’re getting closer, I realize we’re running late and think we should text my family to give a heads up but at the same time, I got a text from my Mom saying they caught traffic and would be 40 minutes late. Again, I was so aloof and was like well let’s go get a drink or something and wait it out but Nick was very specific and said let’s go to Park Grill in Millennium Park. I was like “hm..okay” and definitely knew what was happening but didn’t want to take the spotlight from him so let him keep up the charade. He suggested we take a photo overlooking the park and after the photo, he said thanks to the photographer and seemed to be walking away so in my head I’m thinking “okay guess it’s not happening”. Then, Nick pauses and said “wait, one more thing: are you ready for the rest of our lives?” and got down on one knee. I completely blacked out at this point and was grinning from ear to ear and after saying “Oh my god; yes!” I turned around to see a photographer I admired snapping away for us. We went all around the city taking photos and soaking in each other and the excitement but I was still in shock that my parents were apparently not coming, that Cindy’s, the dinner with friends, the Christmas decorations were all a lie!

Nick said we were heading to Pops for Champagne to celebrate privately and that tomorrow we were doing brunch with the family so we head that way and are walking in when the host asks if we want a table for two. Nick says we already have one and I’m expecting there to be roses or balloons or champagne on our table but instead we walk in and my family and Nick’s are all there smiling and shouting for us! I was stumped once again and so surprised and elated to be able to celebrate with some of those dearest to us. After a few bottles of champagne and snacks, all of our family is telling us of the various places they have to jet off to my mom and step-dad to see a late night movie (?? – read fall asleep in one), my dad and step-mom to go to dinner, Nick’s mom is carpooling with my mom and dad so I ask my sister Sara if she’ll continue to celebrate with us and suggest we grab some prosecco and all go back to our place and then go to Hook and Ladder/ Halligans where we officially rekindled everything.

At our apartment, we started to FaceTime and text friends and family and but Nick was weirdly eager for us to hurry up with our drinks and get out the door. I kept asking why and he said because the playoff games were ending and another was starting so it was a good time to get there before it got busy. He was definitely banking on my lack of sports knowledge because I finished my glass of prosecco and followed him out without contest. In the car, we’re texting friends in the area saying to come out and celebrate at Hook and Ladder if they can but Nick at some point said: “come on we can finish texting people at the bar”.

We walk in and immediately I see our friend Kristine who was supposed to be our dinner plans for the night and a friend Evan who was one of the pals I texted en route and who said she would come out to celebrate but as I am hugging them I look behind and see A ROOM of our friends and family and I just started sobbing. My mom, dad, Nick’s mom, his extended family, friends from college, high school and all walks of life, my closest friends from out of town – everyone we love and cherish was all there to celebrate us. It was simply staggering. I was surprised for the third time over and as I was making my way around the room to say hi and thank you and try not to cry I just kept looking for my new fiance who I literally could not believe managed to pull off this whole day. I am undeserving of his love and so beyond grateful to share this new life together. He asked in the most perfect and epic way and I was all too excited to finally say yes.

To all of our friends and family who helped make the day extraordinarily special – from the bottom of our hearts- thank you!! We are so lucky to have you all in our lives and to share in this exciting time!

Special Thanks

Christi Lee Poulson
 | Photographer