Shelby and Stephen's Sweet Marriage Proposal on the Shelby Street Bridge

Image 1 of Shelby and Stephen

How we met

A tale as old as time, true as it can be, barely even friends, then somebody bends . . . we all know how it goes. The story is reflected in high school cafeterias throughout the country; boy meets girl, boy dates girl, girl turns out to be a little bit off her rocker, boy has to switch lunch tables, boy meets new girl at the new lunch table. . . we get it, it’s overdone. Hollywood told me they’ve got 30 of these scripts in their trash and 4 more making it to feature length in the next year.

What makes our story special is the details behind it. While we are not blockbuster or Rom-Com interesting, I believe our story is Cult Classic Indie movie material, minus the sepia filter. As high school goes I started dating a girl very quickly, and just as quickly realized that this was a bad idea. I had to go through a terribly stressful experience, finding a new lunch table. How was I even going to do this? Starting over in a new social circle? Is that even possible? Dear reader – I tell you it is. Something as simple as avoiding an awkward situation led me to meet the love of my life.

We did not start dating right away, though. That would be too easy. In high school I was Steve Martin’s Seminole character, a Jerk. Shelby was such a nice girl, with hobbies ranging celebrating Emo day, to driving around with her friends and friend’s grandmother TP’ing houses. She was so nice she could’ve been an extra in the Truman Show. She had no time for me. After much protestation, she agreed to go put putting with me . . . and made sure to bring a friend as backup. The door was open and I made sure to wedge my foot in it. Her love of Harry Potter (read love as socially crippling obsession) allowed me to let me inner nerd shine (we later went to the HP 7 part 2 premiere as Ron and Hermione).

As I worked my way through her heavy defensive front akin to the beaches of Normandy in Saving Private Ryan (all just for show), she was rubbing off on me and making me a nicer person. She then pulled a Lindsey Lohan on me (she faked like she was bad at school so I would tutor her, she did not do a ton of drugs) in order to hang out with me more. I turned it right back around on her and went full Spice Girls and made my way into her friend group. I then upped the ante and went all Dead Poets Society and wrote her a Sonnet to ask her out after trying so hard for 9 months. April 5th 2009, the perfect date. Sorry Miss Congeniality, you were off by 20 days.

Image 2 of Shelby and Stephen

how they asked

Shelby Honekamp isn’t the type of girl who has been planning out her wedding since she was 5. Daydreaming about the perfect romantic proposal and fairytale wedding was not a past time of hers. The only stipulation I had was that it couldn’t be at a game projecting it on a jumbotron, she saw how that worked out for Paul Rudd and Lisa Kudrow. I had nothing to go off of and my idea for a Reds Cubs game was shot down without her even knowing that was in the works.

The first step was getting the ring. It was a family heirloom and was her great grandmother on her mom’s side’s engagement ring. This means I had to go talk to her parents. I wasn’t too worried about this, the Honekamp’s are great! However, they live in Ft. Wayne (As do my parents, it’s where we both grew up), I now live in Cincinnati. I had to find a time to go back to Ft Wayne without it being suspicious to Shelby and without her coming with me. Thanksgiving weekend she went to a Colts game with her Dad and just staying in Indy for work afterward. I then waited until 9pm for her Dad to get back in order to talk to him. That 10pm-1am drive back to Cincinnati was the longest drive of my life, all I could think of was trying not to crash my car and loose this one of a kind ring. The ring is a European cut with a box setting with windows through the setting and band. The European cut is the predecessor to the very popular princess cut. The cut was discontinued in the early 1900’s. This ring cannot be replaced or replicated under today’s practices. I was driving akin to the father of newborn.

I then had to come up with a plan. I didn’t spend any money on this ring so I had to budget to go all out. I knew it had to include 3 things: Landmark with her name, new city with interesting things to do, and steak. Somehow fate conspired in my favor. I had already planned on doing a half marathon right outside Nashville on February 6th. Somehow, there is a famous pedestrian bridge named the ‘Shelby Street Bridge”. And somehow there is a famous steak house, “The Standard at the Smith House”, in walking distance of downtown. This thing was planning itself. I knew I had to get a photographer. There was no way were going to schedule time to do a photo-shoot after the fact. That just seems tedious. Working with Amy from AndHow!Imaging (shameless plug), they set up shop on the bridge and hid out waiting for the moment.

After the half marathon we went into the city, checking in at the Omni Hotel. That’s the point where I could tell she knew something was up. We had time to kill before dinner so we went and found a biker dive bar. We are what most people would call, “Yuppies”, or “Young Proffesionals”. An easy way to describe us would be TV’s main demographic they are targeting from the 8pm-11pm hours. We then went to the steak house and that is when she was tipped off that things were going down tonight. This steak house was about 3X fancier than I expected it to be (I was completely OK with that, best rib-eye I’ve ever had – this is becoming a yelp review isn’t it). At the end of the meal, I reached across the table and grabbed her hands, looked her in the eyes, and said, “Shelby Renee Honekamp… that steak was awesome.” I had to throw her off the trail, she can’t know this is coming. She was getting too cocky about it.

I then told her I needed to walk off this steak belly, true, so we walked about a mile through downtown to the Shelby Street Bridge. It was at this point where if I wouldn’t have had a photographer already paid, I would’ve considered just waiting until we made it back to Cincinnati, keep her on her toes. Then I remembered that this was about her and not me and she would want it sweet and to have a memento of this.

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On the bridge, Amy scoped out a spot for us with best lighting and downtown in the background. I took her to that spot, got down on one knee and let her know I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. No jokes, no silliness, all genuine.

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The one time in my life I was able to pull it off and it was worth it. We then had our own photo shoot on the bridge, the only thing we have to do now is get on MS Paint and replace the Titan’s stadium with Lucas Oil and send out the save the dates.

Image 8 of Shelby and Stephen

Special Thanks

And How! Imaging
 | photographer