Rachel and Ryan

Image 1 of Rachel and Ryan

How We Met

Ryan and I didn’t start out happily ever after. The first time we met was the summer before high school at a camp in Minnesota. Ryan thought it would be hilarious to dare his friend to ask me out as a joke. I did not find the joke as funny as Ryan did and after working up the courage to tell Ryan and his friends not to bother me again, I would forever remember him. Flash forward four years to the first week of college. Ryan walked out of the cafeteria and right into me and her friend Aly. I immediately recognized Ryan and found it humorous, but hung back and watched as Aly and Ryan caught up on life. Aly introduced the both of us, and my perception of Ryan quickly melted away. He was actually kind of funny and sweet! I really liked how outgoing and personable he was. A couple of weeks later, Ryan messaged me on Facebook, and I told him all about the first time we actually met. Ryan couldn’t believe it!

We laughed about it together and I decided Ryan had redeemed himself. We quickly became best friends over the course of six months or so. On May 3rd of 2014, Ryan worked up the courage to ask me out on a date. He decided to be completely himself and create a goofy itinerary that we could laugh at and have to look back on. Our date started out at a beautiful glass chapel in Gretna, Nebraska and worked its way over to Omaha, Nebraska. We went to Jimmy John’s (Ryan is romantic, I promise), The Omaha Zoo, The Joselyn Art Museum, Omaha’s Old District, and ended the night eating unlimited pasta at Spaghetti Works (our ultimate favorite place). Oh, and we kind of started dating on this day. Minor detail. It was a day that they we will never forget, and it’s crazy to look back and see how far we’ve come and how Ryan planned this first date into the proposal.

how they asked

I remember the moment I was about to finish my Junior year at Union College, and I was in my room with a bunch of my friends. I had made plans to go back to Orlando, Florida for my second summer internship that May, and Rachel was going to Kettering Health Network to do a nursing internship. While I was hanging out with all of my guys I was asked by one of my friends when I was going to ask Rachel to marry me. I thought about it for two seconds and blurted out, “Oh, sometime this summer”. And they were like, “ARE YOU SERIOUS?” and I was like, “Why, yes I am!” Then they asked me how I was going to do it, and I said, “I’m going to fly her out to New York City, and I’m going to figure out how I’m going to do it there, because she has always wanted to go there!” Then once again they were like, “NO WAY!” and I said, “That’s what I want to do!” Then it hit me. I only had about two months to plan for this extravagant proposal that I hadn’t even fully thought through. I had been thinking about doing this for a while, but I kind of procrastinated on actually planning it! I didn’t even have a ring! After some more thought and tossing around different ideas (i.e hot air balloon off the coast, ring pop etc…) I knew what I had to do. I had to fly her to New York and to fulfill one of her dream’s! I knew that Rachel always wanted to go to New York City, not necessarily to be proposed to, but I knew she had always wanted to go there. I also knew that one of Rachel’s dreams was to get proposed to, so why not knock them both out in one? I was stoked!

Image 2 of Rachel and Ryan

So the first thing I had to do was to see if this plan was even possible. I started brainstorming about how I could make this work. Where would I do it? Central Park? Battery Park? How would I get us there? When exactly would I do it? We aren’t even together in the same state. I knew that Rachel was planning on coming to Orlando once that summer and I wanted to do it after she came because otherwise she would be expecting it during that time. So after a few days of planning and researching, I found some reasonable plane tickets for the both of us and I came up with the idea of Rachel coming to find me playing guitar in Astoria Park looking into the magnificent city complimented by the Robert Kennedy Bridge at sunset. It was an awesome view from the pictures I had seen, but then after a little bit more thinking, I realized that there was probably going to be way too many people around, and I’d have to figure out how to get a guitar. I also wanted to overlook the city so I could be up there with her taking in all of the city in every direction (cheesy I know). As cheesy as it was, I was determined that I was going to go above and beyond, I was going to do this on the 67th floor of Rockefeller Center (Top of The Rock) at sunset The hardest part of this whole plan was the delivery. I was in Orlando, and Rachel was in Kettering, Ohio.

How could I get her to New York City without her being in contact with me at all? I wanted her to not see me or talk to me until the moment happened, I wanted it to be a complete surprise. Rachel absolutely loves surprises (as long as they are pleasant), and something about me is that I’m always way too excited about the surprises, that I end up telling her about them before it’s the right time. But anyways, I had remembered that I had made what I called “The Itinerary” on our first date and I wanted to incorporate that into the proposal. What a good way to organize Rachel’s trip without me actually talking to her. So I started out planning every detail that I could. The Itinerary ended up being a large manila envelope that contained 8 envelopes with different times on it, not to mention some of her favorite quotes that I stole off of her Pinterest account. Each envelope also contained a QR code that she had to scan before she read each envelope’s content. Once scanned, the QR codes would open up a song on her Spotify and play the tune while she read. It was to add a little bit of a personal flare to the mix, as well as for a way for me to track if she was on time. Every time that she scanned the codes, it would tell me. I was set!

Once I got all of the details squared away, I sent the big manila envelope to one of Rachel’s other friends at Kettering who was given the instructions to give her the envelope to open at 9:45am on Friday, July 15, 2016. By this time, I would be on a flight to New York City trying to get things in order. You may be wondering, what in the world does she do if she has a question, or misses a step? This is where Steven came in handy. On the very first envelope that explained to Rachel that she had to download a specific QR code reader app, I told her that if she needed anything not to contact me, but to contact my friend at Adventist Health System named Steven. And the story behind this one is that Steven wasn’t really a real person. Steven was me, and I got a texting app that gave me a phone number that I could text Rachel using. So the whole day she thought she was texting someone else, but she was really texting me. It was awesome. So back to the story, after her friends woke her up (on her only day she’d had to sleep in for a while), she got to open her first envelope which told her to pack her bags because she was going on an adventure. She also had an “Adventure RuleBook” that contained many cheesy things that she was “required” to do. As she got to the airport by a specific time that I had specified, she then got to open an envelope that contained her record locator.

As she printed out her ticket, she told me that she was super confused. She thought she was going to Florida, not La Guardia airport in New York. She even asked one of the security people if there was a possibility that her boyfriend (not for much longer) had bought the wrong ticket because I was in Orlando (or so she thought). Their response was, “Well, he’s not in Orlando anymore” and sent her on her way. By this time, I’m told from Steven that she was freaking out. She had an idea what was happening this whole time, but now she thought she had to do her hair, so before she got on her airplane, she went into the lady’s room at the Dayton airport and straightened her hair. When she arrived in New York City, she was instructed by Steven (me) to send her location to him so that Ryan could get an Uber ride for her. After almost missing an Uber ride, Rachel successfully went on a 45 minute ride to the place that we were going to be staying for the weekend. As she arrived at the location, one of Ryan’s middle-school friends, Joe Nelson, was standing outside of her drop off location with a sign that said, “Rachel Peppel”. This way she would not feel too intimated in the big city. When she arrived, she was instructed to change into something dressier than what she came in, and only had about 25 minutes to do so. This was just about the last step before she was going to see me for the big moment. Just minutes before Rachel arrived, I headed out the door to head to Rockefeller Center.

When I got to Rockefeller Center, I freaked out a little bit. The only way to get into Rockefeller is by having tickets with designated times on them, and while I bought sunset tickets, I wasn’t supposed to go up to the top until it was exactly our time, the only problem is that I was worried that if I waited, Rachel and Joe would see me before I got up there. So I asked the door keeper if I could go up early and before I finished my sentence, he said, “Nope, go to the back of the line”. Taken back a little bit I waited. I was wondering what I was going to do. There was about 30-50 people ahead of me in line and I knew that Rachel and Joe were coming very soon. As I approached him the second time, I showed him the ring box that I had and within a couple seconds he said, “Oh shoot man, why didn’t you tell me?” He abruptly stopped letting ticket holders in and went to talk to one of his managers. Before I knew it, I was walking into Rockefeller and getting talked to by staff about what I wanted. What I wanted? Man I thought that I was just going to find a spot and plop down in the middle of a huge crowd. I didn’t think that the staff would have done anything for me. Not having a clue, they told me to ask for someone at the top, and so then I went through security and waited my turn in line to get to the top.

By the time I got to the top I was even more worried now. It took me a good 30 minutes to get through the lines and everything, how was Rachel going to get up there by sunset? Well man, did the staff at Rockefeller help me out. When I got to the top I was again asked what I wanted. After stating that I didn’t really know I was asked if I wanted one of the decks cleared off. After I heard this my mouth dropped and my eyes lit up, I said, “Absolutely!” From here on out things went in slow motion. The staff were talking on ear pieces and keeping me updated along the way, they brought her up through all of the people getting in line and got me out on the deck all by myself. I was totally composed until they kicked the people off of the deck and caused a bit of a ruckus.

They had no idea what was going on, but once he unlocked it and let me out there, I took one look out into the city at sunset and took another look towards the people lined up against the glass and I knew that this was it. She was going up the elevator just as my heart was starting to beat faster. This was happening. I got my ring box ready and I started the video on the box. I was pacing slowly looking out into the horizon trying to rehearse my lines, but everything seemed to be slipping out of my brain. As I turned around one more time I noticed that the staff was opening the door and all I could do was smile. As Rachel walked out onto that windy deck I knew that I had done the right thing. Her face lit up and I saw the woman of my dreams walking towards me. And from here I started my lines and just winged it. I don’t remember exactly what I said, and I know there was a little tremble in my voice, but I felt like a rock star. There were three distinct things I remember saying throughout my 20 second speech, “Rachel Jillian Peppel”, “You’re my Best Friend”, and “Will You Marry Me”.

Image 3 of Rachel and Ryan

From there I remember dropping to me knee and having a crowd screaming, clapping, and cheering us on. It was an experience I will never forget. And of course, she said “yes”! After an amazing proposal that I would not have been able to pull off without the support of my family and friends, we spent the next two days in New York City exploring as much as we could in the short amount of time that we had. We experienced one of Rachel’s favorite Broadway shows, Phantom of the Opera, ate one-dollar pizza, rode on a boat tour around all of Manhattan, explored Chinatown, Wall Street, and many more things that we greatly enjoyed. I wouldn’t have wanted that week to have been any different. She brings me such joy and truly cares deeply for me.

Image 4 of Rachel and Ryan

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Image 6 of Rachel and Ryan

Our Video

Special Thanks

Joe Nelson
 | Filmed our little video and shuttled us around New York
Rockefeller Center
 | Hosted our proposal