Stephen and Michele's Magical Backyard Proposal
How We Met
Michele and I met when we were kids (she was more like a child since there is a 6 ½ yr age gap). I was friends with her brothers growing up but never even really talked to her during that time. We both grew up in the same church (my soon to be father-in-law is our pastor), and when I graduated high school, I moved to Florida. I moved back to Ohio in 2006 but wasn’t attending church and my life was a mess. When I started coming back to church I noticed Michele on stage singing and was completely taken back. After I had been back in church for a while and was becoming closer friends with her brothers my interest in Michele grew more and more. I had always enjoyed singing so I decided to join our worship team as a way to begin to interact with her. I quickly realized there was something genuine and special about her. I knew I wanted to pursue a relationship with her but wanted to approval of her brothers and more importantly her dad. So I met with all of them separately to make sure (out of respect and because of the age gap) that they were ok with it. So you could say that I asked for her hand in dating (as weird as that sounds haha we joke about it to this day). They were more than ok with it, which made everything a lot easier. We spent the next 7 years dating on and off. I was immature and she went away to school but every time we thought it was over we found our way back to each other. I honestly knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her after our first date but it just wasn’t that easy, as life hardly ever is. That’s basically how we met and how we got to where we are today!
how they asked
This process all started with me wanting to find the perfect ring. Michele and I had been talking about our future for years, and years ago she sent me a picture of 4 different styles that she loved (I obviously saved that). I went down to Thom Duma Fine Jewelers on a Friday. I sat down with one of their awesome salesmen named Jeff and began to learn about the different things to look for when shopping for a diamond. It was overwhelming, but Jeff was insanely helpful. By the end of my time there, I had narrowed the style of the ring and two different diamonds, but I needed the weekend to think it over. The following Monday, I went in and placed my order. Being that it was a custom ring, it took about 6 weeks to come in. For my personality, this was excruciating but just part of the process. Once the ring came in, I set up a time to sit down with Michele’s parents. I already knew I was going to have their blessing, but asking them was very important to me, and I wanted to wait until I had the ring to show them as well.
I had been planning the actual engagement in my head for a while. I knew Michele would want something that was just the two of us, but I wanted some of our close friends and family to be able to share in this moment. My original plan was to have her cousin Ryan, who was also going to be getting engaged, ask us to help him with his engagement as a decoy so that I could have Michele mic’d up the entire day while she “helped Kristen get engaged.” I would have had hidden cameras and a mic on her as she took Kirsten to get her nails and hair done and shop for some nice clothes for a date. Kirsten would have been going on later that night with Ryan etc… There were a lot of moving pieces to that puzzle and I didn’t want to delay Ryan’s engagement any longer, so I told him to just do his whenever he wanted.
Plan B was that I would have Michele’s sister, Deanna, ask her if she wanted to go hang out in Cleveland for the day as this was something they do a lot. Her dad actually wanted to spend the day with both his daughters, so he offered to do that. Michele had a friend’s baby shower earlier in the day, and after that, they were going to head up to Cleveland for dinner and some shopping. I knew the idea I had in my head was well beyond my ability to pull off by myself, so I asked my good friend Matt Wilden to help me. He is a wizard when it comes to building things. I spent the next week testing all the Christmas lights I borrowed, and we went to Home Depot the night before to buy all the supplies we would need. We woke up the next morning, met at Matt’s house, and got an early start building all the structures. We also recruited my friend and Michele’s sister’s boyfriend Cory to help us. About the time we had finished building all the structures, the girls were heading to Cleveland. We moved the structures over to her parents’ house and began to put the rest of the setup together. It was taking a little longer than we expected, so we had to text her dad to delay their arrival a little bit as well as recruit some help from some of our close friends and family to finish hanging the lights. We got done about a half hour before they were expected to arrive home, which allowed me to spend some extra time going over what I wanted to say to her when she walked to me.
When Michele pulled into the driveway, she saw her name in lights and the entrance way lit up. When she walked up to it there was a hand written letter to the right beginning to tell her how much she meant to me and how I felt about her, followed by directions to flip the light switch next to the letter.
When she flipped it on, it would light up the first hallway section of lights. At the end of that, there was another light switch to flip, which led directly to me.
She walked up to me, and I took her hands and picked up where the letter left off. It was an amazing moment, because I wasn’t nervous at all. I felt really calm and at peace. I then got down on one knee, and the rest is history.
She was absolutely blown away and loved everything about it. I think it’s important that when you’re planning your engagement to keep in mind that no matter what you do, it should be all about her and what is perfect for her personality. It doesn’t matter how big or how much money you spend but how unique and special it is for her.
I felt like I was able to do something that was perfect for Michele’s personality, because it really felt like it was just the two of us out there, and we had some close family and friends watching from a distance and then celebrated with everyone!