How We Met
We met on Christian Mingle!
Michael: She was in Georgia and I was in Arizona. Back around 2011-2012 I was against online dating. I naively thought the only people online were people who couldn’t get dates in real life. It wasn’t until after I had two separate conversations with each of my sister-in-laws. Both of them mentioned that if they hadn’t met my brothers when they did, they would have signed up for online dating. Knowing that both of them are normal women, I thought, if they would have tried online dating, then there had to be other normal women that were trying online dating. I decided to sign up after seeing an advertisement for Christian Mingle while listening to music on pandora.com.
I signed up on my phone because I was at work at the time and didn’t want to do that on a work computer. Signing up on my phone I did the bare minimum and didn’t set any parameters for where I was looking. I saw a picture of Kristen and sent her a “smile”. It wasn’t until she responded that I realized she was nowhere near Phoenix, Arizona. I decided to simply tell her that from her profile she seemed like a real catch and that it was unfortunate that we’d really never meet.
That lead to a conversation back and forth for a few weeks, but nothing serious. I went on a few dates with others I met on the site and things were just fine until I got home from a date one night that I actually felt went really well. I came home and saw that I had a message from Kristen. After responding and realizing that she was also online, we quickly moved the conversation to facebook. That night I went to sleep thinking about Kristen rather than the woman I had just gone out on a date with. It was then that I realized I was in trouble. I decided that it was worth seeing if something with Kristen would work out.
Kristen: I had just recently graduated college and moved back home with my parents. I was dating a guy at the time and found out he cheated on me and my mom saw how much this upset me. While she was talking with my grandpa, he mentioned he saw a commercial on tv for Christian Mingle and that it could be a good option for meeting someone. My mom had never heard of it before, so when she got back home, she looked into it more and decided to sign me up without me knowing it.
She posted pictures of me and filled out my profile for what I was looking for. She did not talk to anyone on the site after signing me up. Shortly afterwards she confessed to my sister what she had done. My sister, who also thought it was a good idea, decided to put it on her credit card so that my dad didn’t see the charge on my moms card and get suspicious that my mom may be cheating on him.
After a couple days of being on this site that I had no idea I was on, I came home from work and my mom wanted to tell me something but not to get upset. She confessed she signed me up for the site but said that I shouldn’t worry because I was “getting a lot of responses”. My first reaction was that it made me look desperate but after talking about it and looking at the site together, I decided it was pretty entertaining. Not too long afterwards, I received a “smile” from Michael so I “smiled” back at him.
How We Started Dating:
We decided to have a purposefully short phone call the first time, both stating we had other plans to run to just so we had an out if it was awkward. We ended up talking for over an hour! Then a few days later we tried FaceTime. THIS was really the nerve-wracking moment. Neither of us knew if it would be odd seeing each other “face to face” through technology, but again, to our surprise, we talked for over 3 hours without any awkward moments. We ended up meeting for the first time over New Years Eve 2012 after I agreed to fly out to Atlanta for the holiday. The whole trip went better than expected and as they say, the rest is history. We flew back and forth every month, trading off months, to see each other throughout our dating relationship and the times apart were spent hanging out via FaceTime.
How They Asked
Being that our entire relationship was long distance, I didn’t want to propose in one of our home towns and leave the others family out of the celebration. The only solution was to propose at a remote location, a place where we both could enjoy the moment together, but at the same time capture the entire event with a photographer so that we could share the proposal with family afterwards. Never having been to San Francisco, I did a google maps search of the area looking for places that looked cool and “romantic”. I saw the green patch on the map and thought it was a park so I zoomed in and noticed it was Golden Gate Park. At that point, I dropped the little yellow “street view” guy on the map so I could see the area. I was able to click around and see that it was a neat place. It wasn’t until I saw the old bridge that I thought “wow, this could be the spot”.
After doing some more digging, I found the website for the boat house at Stow Lake and sent them an email asking if anyone had ever proposed there and if they had any recommendations. They said they couldn’t recall any proposals but did know that people had taken pictures there before. I then did a google search for proposals in San Francisco and stumbled on a blog of a photographer that had taken photos of a couple proposing at the Palace of Fine Arts. I reached out to him and asked if he captured proposals anymore.
Gavin responded quickly, and to say he was extremely helpful would be an understatement. He asked about my plan and after hearing where I was hoping to propose, he went to scope out the location all on his own accord. I hadn’t even hired him to be the photographer yet and he came back the next day with pictures he took on his phone of the location. He found the best spot to propose in front of the bridge and helped explain why the location would make for the best vantage point. I couldn’t have made it as special as it was without his help.
Now that I had the location, the next step was to plan all the details. I wrote out 100 things that I loved about Kristen and captured them on small chalkboards with a whiteout pen. After writing them, I realized that 100 small chalkboards took up more space than I had originally expected, so I had to build a frame that I could hang them all on. Once that was created, I had to figure out how to give her the gift when we were going to get engaged in a remote destination. I decided that I would mail the picture frame and 50 of the 100 things I loved about her to her home in Georgia the day I left for San Francisco. That way I knew it would arrive after she had also left to meet me there. This way, when she would arrive back home she would have one last surprise. As for the other 50, I brought them with me and planned to give them to her throughout our weekend trip.
I arrived in San Francisco a day before her and checked into her room and laid a Nike workout outfit on the bed with the first set of notes. I also went and bought champagne and brought it along with some blankets to the boat house so that when we arrived there after proposing, we’d be able to go out on the lake in a row boat to celebrate. Then when Kristen got to town the first night, she received the Nike outfit. I told her to wear it the next day because we were going out site-seeing.
The next morning, I woke her up with room service and another set of notes that I loved about her. Each time I gave her a set of love notes, I gave her a card that explained why those particular notes were grouped together. Each card and group of notes focused on a larger overarching topic like her personality and humor, her looks, and her faith.
The morning of the proposal I planned for us to rent bikes and ride across the golden gate bridge. It was an absolute blast! We rode our bikes into Sausalito and ate lunch and shopped for a little bit. This is where my nerves started to go nuts. I realized that there was only 1 more ferry left that afternoon that would be able to take us from Sausalito back to the other side of the bridge in time for us to return the bikes, get back to the hotel, get ready and catch a taxi back out to Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park in time to meet Gavin.
Kristen, still having no idea that I had plans to propose, wanted to take her time and shop more. I, on the other hand, was trying my best to act normal but still trying to rush us to the ferry. I was able to get us back to the hotel in time and told her I’d meet her at her room in an hour. I was still so nervous that I’m surprised I didn’t give it away, especially after the ring was in my pocket. I rushed us into grabbing the first cab that I could find, which was surprisingly more difficult to hail then expected, and made some excuse that I didn’t want us to be late for our reservations for dinner.
We got to Stow Lake and because we were running a few minutes behind, I didn’t want the boat house to close up thinking we weren’t going to show up after all. I told her I’d be back and ran up and told them that I was here and that I’d be back for the champagne after proposing and to save a boat for us. Then the two of us walked around the park as I subtly lead her to the spot Gavin had planned for us to meet at.
He had me send him a picture of ourselves beforehand so he would know who we were when we arrived. He said that he would be there first pretending to be taking pictures of ducks in the water when we came up. After walking past him, I was to walk into the spot we agreed upon and propose, he’d take care of the rest.
We did just that but I had one last card to read to her. It was a bit long because it pulled together all the previous cards I gave to her. It explained that they were all pointing out the simple fact that I loved every single detail about her, body, mind, and spirit. Then I got on one knee and proposed. She said yes!
After a short while, I mentioned that I was having the moment captured by a photographer so that we could share it with her family. I pointed Gavin out to her who was standing about 20 feet away taking pictures of us and we both went over to meet him. Afterwards, we walked over to the boat house with Gavin and again he went above and beyond and stuck around another hour to take pictures of us on the lake. We went around the full circle and he followed us taking pictures of the whole event.
He was not obligated to do any of this because I only had hired him for the proposal! If that was not enough, he stuck around after we got off the boat and offered to give us a ride to our dinner reservations! He drove us clear across town to Epic Steakhouse. I could not give Gavin enough of a shout out here because he went so far above and beyond what anyone would expect from a photographer, and that’s not even mentioning how incredibly talented he is on capturing the moment!
After parting ways with Gavin, we told the restaurant we were there for our reservation and they said it would be a few minutes. We decided to walk outside as we waited and just around the corner we realized that we were right next door to Cupids Arrow which was just a neat coincident. Then to make a perfect evening even more special, we found out that the moon that night was a full yellow moon called a “honey moon” which is pretty rare! (http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-honey-moon-20140612-story.html). There were so many things that worked out just right with the proposal that it was exciting to see that God was really apart of our story! So that’s our story of how I proposed!
I purchased the ring from The Diamond Guys but I had it custom made. I had an idea of the ring I wanted to give to her so I picked the diamonds out in their store and then described the ring design to them. They did a fantastic job capturing the design. They first sketched the ring as a proof and then created it in their shop.
It turned out perfect!