How We Met
Way back in 2011, before the era of dating apps, Vanessa and I were working in Washington D.C. At the time, I was living in Silver Spring, MD, while Vanessa was living in a tiny one-bedroom apartment in the heart of D.C. In true millennial fashion, we were introduced virtually by a colleague, who was also a mutual friend from Johns Hopkins, on Accenture’s internal messaging system, which was intended for work purposes. Our mutual friend would later say that the reason for introducing us was because we were the chattiest people she knew and that we might be able to entertain each other instead of bothering her at work.
Over the next few weeks, Vanessa would occasionally message me, while I usually always messaged Vanessa, when work was slow. We chatted about our day or talked about work with no intention of meeting in person until one fateful day.
On January 6, 2012, Accenture held a winter formal at the American History museum. I, being a habitual procrastinator, had not signed up in time to get a ticket to the formal, despite all the reminders and emails that were sent out prior. Vanessa, on the other hand, had of course promptly signed up and received two tickets. She was planning on bringing a close girlfriend, however, on the day of the event, Vanessa’s girlfriend decided to skip attending the formal. I just happened to message Vanessa on their internal messaging system that day to ask whether she had an extra ticket and Vanessa graciously offered up her extra plus one ticket!
That night, I got ready to take the train from Silver Spring to meet Vanessa for the first time. After a 30 minute commute and a shot of liquid courage, I walked into the American History museum. Neither of us really knew what the other looked like other than from our Facebook pictures, but we quickly found each other at the entrance of the museum. We proceeded to walk in and explore the museum together while eating all the yummy foods of course.
Depending on who you ask, Vanessa still fondly remembers me being a true gentleman by holding her coat and getting her food despite the long lines of people throughout the night. I will recall Vanessa indulging his childish goal of exploring the museum exhibits and re-enacting an episode from How I Met Your Mother (from S6E8), where Barney and Robin were dared to touch all the exhibits. However, neither of us could have guessed that fateful night would become the first of many adventures and lead to us traveling to over 20+ countries together over the past 8 years!
Many months later, I eventually mustered enough courage (and finally wore Vanessa down with countless previous attempts) to ask her to be my girlfriend in Aruba over dinner and a bottle of our favorite Veuve Clicquot!
How They Asked
I had known for a few years that I would propose to Vanessa, but it’s hard to pin down the exact date when I knew Vanessa was “The One”. Maybe it was the countless trips to Tiffany’s to “casually look at rings” or the constant “little” reminders from her and her friends about the exact cut and minimum size requirements she had. Or, perhaps it was when I realized I had enough patience to let her finish taking endless pictures of our food before we could finally eat or being labeled the best “Instagram” boyfriend for taking photos of her and her girlfriends at all the possible angles to get one picture that would make them all look the “best “.
Whenever that moment was, I knew the proposal would have to meet Vanessa’s high expectations. However, one key factor that genuinely had me worried was whether I could pull off the proposal as a “big surprise” to her. If anyone knows Vanessa, she is extremely difficult to surprise. She not only asks tons of questions and is stalking social media nonstop, but she can read me like a book when I’m planning to surprise her (for her birthday, our anniversary, holidays, etc.).
However, despite past failed attempts to surprise Vanessa, I set things into motion by telling her that I was dying to go back to Japan. I hoped she wouldn’t think much of this because 1) she was finishing her summer internship in Seattle and might want a mini-vacation before going back to Philly and 2) she knows I love Japan and had been wanting to go back to explore. Luckily, she agreed!
Next, I had spent the prior 6 months thinking about where and how to propose to Vanessa. Eventually, I honed in on one of Vanessa’s favorite activities – eating! One of Vanessa’s favorite cuisines is sushi and her all-time favorite sushi menu item is sea urchin. Since sea urchins from Hokkaido are known around the world for their freshness and high quality, I started doing some research about the region and learned about a famous lavender and wildflower field that blooms at the end of summer. I knew it would be difficult to time the proposal exactly when the flowers would bloom but my master plan was to propose with the ring of her dreams in a field of wildflowers in full bloom. My plan for the proposal also included a short homemade video with the help of Vanessa’s friends and family so we could share the moment after the proposal with them since we would be traveling internationally without them physically being there.
So, on August 28th, we began a 15-hour cross country drive across Hokkaido. Little did Vanessa know, about 5 hours into the drive, I “spontaneously” went off route to “check out” a nice looking flower field that looked promising for some nice Instagram pics. This immediately led her to ask “Don’t we have to drive like 15 hours? Why are we stopping here when we have so much farther to drive!?”. My initial response to her was “Uhhhhhh….”, however, I quickly recomposed and said “well I have to use the bathroom now and because this is going to be a long drive. I don’t want to have to stop again in an hour. We may as well check this flower field out while we’re here!” Phew! Vanessa bought my little white lie and I avoided a potential misstep.
As we walked into the flower field, I handed Vanessa the GoPro to take videos of the scenery. Despite going through the proposal in my head months/weeks/days in advance, my mind went practically blank at the moment when we walked into the wildflower field in full bloom. I couldn’t remember anything that I planned to do and, to this day, I don’t know what exactly happened or what I said to Vanessa. All I remember was seeing her tear up, as I got down on one knee, brought out the ring, and asked whether she would marry me.
I’m happy to this day that Vanessa said ‘Yes’ despite my lack of composure or eloquent speech that I had prepared months in advance.
As soon as I stood back up to hug Vanessa, the Japanese photographer, who I had hired months before but had never met, came out of hiding and began taking pictures of us. Lucky for us, he got some decent pictures of the proposal. We then proceeded to have a 3-hour private photo shoot that resulted in some Instagram-worthy poses, which Vanessa posted not more than 5 minutes after photoshoot ended!