Love at the State Fair, a Proposal in Minnesota

Image 13 of Love at the State Fair, a Proposal in MinnesotaHow We Met: We originally met in December of 2011 on an online dating site and exchanged messages for a couple weeks. I forgot to reply to one of her messages which she interpreted as me no longer being interested. All may have been lost if I had not gone to a bar in my hometown of Hibbing, Minnesota on December 26, 2011.

I saw a couple of friends that I hadn’t seen since high school. We were chatting and one said, “Hey, you know our friend Leah?” They had gone to college with Leah and she had mentioned my name to them when we had exchanged messages a few weeks prior. This jogged my memory and I then realized I had neglected to reply to her. My friends were convinced we would hit it off. They told me I should get in touch with her again, even going so far as to say, “If this works out and you two get married, we get the credit!” I sent her another message that night, apologizing for my absentmindedness. We set up a date for the following week. I took her to my favorite restaurant—The Blue Door Pub—for some cheeseburgers. She forgave me for my forgetfulness and we chatted about our surprise mutual friends, college, studying abroad, our families, and our favorite TV show: How I Met Your Mother.—Josh

Image 1 of Love at the State Fair, a Proposal in Minnesota

The Proposal Story: I wanted to make sure the proposal happened at a place we could revisit in years to come. I also needed to find a place that would have enough activity going on so Leah wouldn’t expect anything. Luckily the State Fair is a big event in Minnesota: It fit the scenario I needed!

I took a Thursday afternoon off from work and drove out to Shane Co. in Woodbury to pick up Leah’s ring. I ran my plan by the sales associate to make sure it sounded workable, unique and not overly cheesy. I got the thumbs up.

Next, I drove back across the Twin Cities to meet Leah’s dad, Todd, at the Surly Brewing Company for a pint or two and to ask his permission. (Todd loves to home brew and we both enjoy craft beer, so it was a logical spot.) Admittedly, I was more nervous to ask Todd than to ask Leah! He gave his blessing with no hesitation, only dropping in a casual, “Now you know there’s no return policy.” I assured him none would be necessary.

On Saturday, August 24 we headed to the fair. I tipped off our friends, Matt and Catherine, about my plan. I kept the ring in my pocket throughout the afternoon, constantly checking to make sure I hadn’t lost it.

Before popping the questions, I made sure we participated in some typical state fair activities. We visited the exhibits, got some food and walked around for a good three hours.

During those first three hours, I had been scoping out the fair grounds and exhibits for what I needed: a caricature artist.

The Plan: I had asked our friends Catherine and Matt to be a part of the set up. Matt would be the cameraman. When I gave the nod, Catherine would distract Leah. I would then run over to the caricature artist and explain my plan. I wanted to get a caricature of the two of us. For the finishing touch to the drawing, I asked the artist to add “Will you marry me?”

Amazingly, earlier in the evening when we walked by this particular artist, Leah remarked, “We should get a caricature done someday!” This left all three of us nearly speechless.

When we walked by again, I gave the nod to Catherine and she put her part of the plan into action. I ran to the artist, explained what I needed and met back up with the girls a few minutes later. As we walked by, I suggested that we follow through on “Leah’s idea” to get a caricature done.

At this particular booth there was only room for one person to sit for the artist at a time, so I went first allowing Leah to go last and be even more surprised.

Image 2 of Love at the State Fair, a Proposal in Minnesota

Image 3 of Love at the State Fair, a Proposal in Minnesota

Image 4 of Love at the State Fair, a Proposal in Minnesota

When the artist finished, he invited Leah to step down and look. She turned to see what he had written. Her jaw dropped as she turned back to see me on one knee, producing the ring – her ring – from my pocket.

Image 5 of Love at the State Fair, a Proposal in Minnesota

I asked her if she would make me the happiest guy in the world by marrying me and while at first she just nodded, she eventually managed to say, “Yes!”
Image 6 of Love at the State Fair, a Proposal in Minnesota Image 7 of Love at the State Fair, a Proposal in MinnesotaImage 8 of Love at the State Fair, a Proposal in Minnesota Image 9 of Love at the State Fair, a Proposal in Minnesota

There was a small crowd of bystanders gathered around us who had seen the words being added to the drawing and my proposal. This created the perfect amount of theatrical applause.

Matt captured some great pictures of us and I thanked the caricature artist for his help.

We took a celebratory gondola ride and called our parents to share the news. Each year, we’ll be able to revisit the Minnesota State Fair and remember how and where we got engaged!—Josh

Image 10 of Love at the State Fair, a Proposal in Minnesota

The Ring: We had been talking about getting married for almost as long as we had been dating. After one conversation, I realized I had better start looking for a ring!

Image 11 of Love at the State Fair, a Proposal in Minnesota

After work one day in early August, I called Leah and asked if she wanted to drop by Shane Co. and go browsing a bit, just to see what they had and if anything caught her eye.

At Shane Co, we looked and tried on rings. Leah kept narrowing down her options and I started getting a clearer idea of what she wanted.

She tried on a ring that I noticed right away had a special look on her hand and her demeanor immediately changed – she clearly liked this one the best. She started referring to it as “her ring” even while comparing it to others, so I knew that was going to be the one.

This ring, a halo design, was more dainty and delicate than some of the others and really looked perfect on Leah.

Dianna, the Shane Co. sales associate assisting us, was incredibly helpful. She suggested that Leah take a walk around the store so that we could talk about a few options (and so Leah wouldn’t know if I had actually chosen one particular ring or not).

I put “her ring” aside on layaway, but made it sound to Leah as if I was going to continue to look at more options. It was hard to keep it a secret and still be truthful to Leah without revealing any plans I had!

Image 12 of Love at the State Fair, a Proposal in Minnesota

A week later, I went back to Shane Co. to select a diamond. I told Leah I had a dental appointment, which I did but it just didn’t take as long as I made it seem! I looked at several center stones and settled on one that I felt had the best color and size for the setting.

Looking back, I’m really glad to have gone to Shane Co. with Leah, even though it made it more difficult to make her ring a surprise, because I don’t know that I would have gotten the right one otherwise.

This ring – her ring – really reflects Leah’s personality: dainty, elegant, graceful, unique and beautiful.—Josh