Our engagement story starts several months before the actual engagement. After a few stops at local jewelry stores in May of 2013, I had soon realized that this engagement thing was a little harder than I originally had thought. Even though Jody knew the features of a ring that she wanted, she still could not find the ring she was looking for. This wasn’t a result of pickiness; I was even having trouble finding anything that I wanted to give to her. These facts led me to Addison Taylor, a custom ring maker in Scottsdale. Unbeknown to Jody, I began working with the custom ring maker throughout the summer and had a beautiful ring in my possession by August. To throw Jody off, we kept looking at rings online and I played the typical “indecisive boyfriend” and kept telling her I wasn’t sure what to buy or even what she wanted. So we kept looking. I thought the hard part was over, until I realized that I actually had to ask her. I wanted to do something special and unexpected. This thought process was never ending and I asked everyone I knew for any ideas or thoughts on engagement ideas. I even Googled the word “engagement” and looked at pictures and articles to get any ideas. Nothing seemed to click. Then, of all people, Jody gave me the idea.
Now, before we go any further, I must describe to you a very important attribute of this wonderful lady, which led me to the rest of my proposal decisions. Jody knew I was going to ask her, she just didn’t know when. So, her very inquisitive nature made her to be very vocally suspicious of anything that I or any of my friends would plan. So I knew that the only way to surprise her is for Jody to think that she was planning the event and that I had nothing to do with it. If she figured it out, it might be ruined.
The perfect scenario happened to be the weekend of October 25. This weekend was just after Jody’s birthday and so she planned to invite all her best friends and their spouses to a cabin in the heart of Sedona. She even had friends flying in. She did all the planning, as I sat aside and acted very disinterested in the event. As the event came nearer, it was my time to act. Two weeks before the engagement, I told Jody, my best friend was having girlfriend issues, was pretty upset, and he needed to just got out and have a few drinks. This night was set up by several falsified conversations of my friend’s girl issues that we allowed Jody to overhear. She was having a girl’s night, so it wasn’t a big deal that I couldn’t come see her that night. My friend and I drove the two hours up to Sedona from Phoenix and went hotel shopping. We went to ten different hotels, perused their restaurant and bars, looking for the ideal proposal background and environment. As we talked to staff at each hotel, it became obvious that the best place was the Amara Resort. The next morning I discussed with the managers of the Amara Resort and restaurant my plan and both were extremely happy to make this work. Over the next week, I worked with a Sedona Florist, cake maker, professional photographer, and the manager of the Amara resort.
Just to add to the disguise of the situation, I worked with the ring maker and sent him a fake email chain like I had never met him before. I told him that I was finally ready to go with a custom ring. Jody was of course forwarded all of our responses just days before the engagement, so that she thought she was going ring making the Monday we got back from Sedona.
The final piece was getting Jody to go to the resort. So, I had my best friend, Josh, group text both Jody and I about wanting to take us out to a nice dinner because he valued us as friends so much. Josh told us that his favorite place was the Amara Resort (although he had never been there) and would love to take everyone to eat at 5:15, Friday. Jody didn’t think twice and said she would love to go.
Finally, the big weekend was here. All things were in place and not one of Jody’s friends or family knew. I called Jody’s parents and asked their permission to marry their daughter. They obliged. On October 25th, I drove up to Sedona separate of Jody because I had worked the night before. I purposely worked the night before so that I could drive separately, fully knowing that Jody would want to leave early in the morning and that she would not want to wait for me to sleep a few hours. As two of my friends and I approached Sedona, We stopped, picked up the cake and then drove over to the Amara Resort. The set up was perfect. I went over the plan with the photographer as well as both managers of the resort.
Amazingly, our group arrived on time to the restaurant at 1715. The sun was going to set at 1740 on the beautiful rocks behind the restaurant (how lucky). As we walked up to the restaurant to be seated, the manager warmly welcomed us. As Josh relayed who we were, the manager became apologetic, for our group would not be able to be seated because there was a malfunction with the grill and no food would be available. To make it up to us, the manager asked if we would enjoy some free wine and then invited us to go outback of the restaurant because they were having a promotional photo shoot. Of course each of us grabbed a glass of wine and then meandered out back. Behind the restaurant, there were two photographers taking pictures of random couples in front of a white round table, fountain, and the red rocks of Sedona. On the table were the florist’s handy work, multiple candles, and a “Lover’s cake.” Right before I noticed the photographer coming over to our group, I leaned over to Jody’s best friend and told her that she has to make Jody take some pictures.
This was the first hint to any of Jody’s friends that something was going on. As the photographer came over, she asked if there were any couples that would like to take some photos for the restaurant. Right away Jody’s best friend jumped up and volunteered. She then turned to Jody and told her she has to take some photos. I begrudgingly got pulled up by Jody. The first couple went up and took a few photos and then sat back down. The second couple in our group went up and then the photographer added a wrinkle at the end of the shoot. She asked the girl to pull one of the ribbons that was buried inside the cake. The photographer explained that this was a lover’s cake and that normally there would be a little trinket at the end of each ribbon that was significant to them and their relationship. Obviously, this was a random cake, so the photographer asked the couple to act really surprised. The couple obliged and gave some pretty awesome looks to the photographer.
Finally, it was Jody and my turn. We took several photos and then, like the previous couple, the photographer explained what the cake meant and what to do. Jody obliged with the photographer and as I leaned in, Jody pulled the tab closest to her.
As the tab came out, she quickly realized this was not a normal trinket. Out popped a shiny, clean engagement ring and down came the tears and disbelief. I swiftly bent to one knee, gave a fifteen second speech, and then became a happily engagement man.
Within a minute there were several Champaign bottles popped, cheers from all the onlookers, who finally realized why this photo shoot was happening, and congratulations from all of Jody’s friends. I just sat back in my chair, drank my champagne and soaked in the moment. Job well done.