Natalie and I have known each other since 2001 – freshmen year of college. “Wow, you guys have been together a long time” is the usual, and valid, first reaction to that. Then we both laugh and say “Not really, only about a year and a half.” Neither of us can explain what took so long or why nothing happened sooner, but neither of us care. We were able to skip all of the initial awkwardness and questions that starting a new relationship entails, because we already knew each other. We were already friends.
As you’ll hear in the video, it is the running joke that it took me 10 years to ask her out, but it’s true. We both were living different lives. I graduated from Boston College and moved to San Diego, before moving to my hometown of Portland, ME and eventually to Boston. Natalie graduated from Boston University and backpacked around Europe, spent some time in Thailand, and settled down in Boston. The first time we met up and realized that we were living in the same city and were both single, something had to happen.
So, the first night Natalie and I broke off from our group of friends and went out together, alone, I knew she was the one. Who am I kidding? I knew long before that, I just didn’t expect it would or could ever happen. You can ask my long-time roommates and they will tell you, I used to always say “Natalie Patey is going to my wife” even though they didn’t even know who she was and we weren’t at all dating then.
But, after that first night, things moved quickly. 5-6 months after the date, my mom was having Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners with her entire family. Natalie was babysitting my newborn niece. Then a month after that, we moved in together. Like we always say, “when you know, you know” and we knew. We both had been so through so much individually from the passing of my father 5 years ago which took an enormous toll on my family to more bad dates and relationships than we could count, that when we finally felt how amazing it was to be at someone side that made nothing else in the world matter. We often stay up talking through the night and love traveling the country (and eventually world) to see new places, and we knew right off the bat what we were feeling had to last forever.
It is super cliche to say, but Natalie is the most beautiful person both inside and out that I have ever met. There is just no other way to put it. Her sincerity pulls her in so many directions and she handles it all with a smile. She works two jobs – a “9 to 5” for a marketing firm here in Boston, plus bartending at one of the North End’s best restaurants 3 or 4 nights a week. Yet, she still never fails to find time to meet a friend going through a hard time for a drink or drive down to Long Island to babysit her niece and nephew over a long weekend. She makes the people around her happy and that’s why everyone wants her around. I am the lucky one who gets to have her at my side for the rest of my life. To ensure that happens, I wanted to make sure she received the proposal she always deserved.
As for the big day, Michael Justin and I went to college together and also lived together out in San Diego. It was at another friend’s wedding he was shooting that he officially met Natalie and later pulled me aside and said “this is it, let me know when you want to talk proposal”. A month or two later, we were talking. We spoke every day for 3 months leading up to the event to finalize details and make sure all the places and people were on board, and I enjoyed every second of it just knowing that at the end, Natalie would be there (obviously crying) saying yes to a question we talked about every day since moving in together. The great part was, we talked about it happening 6 months to a year AFTER when it actually did, so even though she knew it was coming, she still was extremely surprised.
The day itself could not have been more perfect. We found a great hotel and boutique that really took hold of the story and did everything they could to help me out. All of our best friends and family were there – my brother even flew in from California! I could not have done this without them and of course, without Michael Justin Films. He was able to capture an entire day’s worth of events that we sent Natalie on and turn it into a 10-minute video that we will have for the rest of our lives. He managed all of us at the house while keeping tabs on Natalie journeying throughout New York City without a glitch and even though the end timing was a little off (she picked out the dress way too quickly!), it still turned out better than I ever imagined. I had fun every step of the way. People often say “wow that must have been a lot of work” but it really didn’t feel like it. The hardest part was planning it every day for 3 months and having to wait that long, but again, it was worth it. Here it is:
And one last funny story: 3 days after the engagement, I started a new job. To say I made some pretty important life decisions at the end of August would be an understatement. So, I walked into a fairly important business meeting with 12 colleagues of mine. All different job levels, from Senior Vice President’s to Junior Associates, there to watch me present on my role and what I will be doing for the company. As introductions were being made, one of the women stopped and said, “Wait a minute. Did you recently get engaged?” I said, “yes …” She said, “I saw your proposal. It was the most amazing thing I have ever seen!” My presentation was delayed 20 minutes because I had to go into full detail on the engagement and how everything happened. It definitely took the nerves away, but also required a box of tissues to be brought in!
And this was not the first time! We’ve been asked in elevators, at sporting events, at restaurants, everywhere. People either have heard about it from friends or seen it on Facebook. It’s funny when either of us go to introduce the other to a friend or colleague we haven’t met yet. The usual response is “Are you kidding? I know Natalie. I’ve seen her on TV!” and usually followed by a hug. Everyone who watches the video feels like they were there and know not only us, but the type of love we have. And that is more than I could have ever asked.