If you ask my girlfriend, well, now fiancée, how we met, she’ll tell you, “Oh, I just came home one day and he was right there.” It sounds like a joke but it is the honest truth. You see, her younger brother is a close friend of mine, and we and some of our pals often hang out at their house. So, we really did meet when she came home one evening while my friends and I were knocking back a few beers on the patio. You’ll have to ask her what she saw in my half-drunk self, but we started texting soon after, and four years later, I asked her to be my wife.
About six months into our relationship, her parents threw a New Year’s party, and halfway through the night, their friends ambushed me and demanded to know why I was dating her. I didn’t pause to think. I told them, “She’s the smartest person I know, she’s hilarious, and she’s pretty.” It’s one of the many instances that confirmed what I’d suspected soon after we started dating: I wanted to marry this girl.
I never really gave much thought to how I’d propose, so when it finally came down to planning the deed, I was stumped. I’m at the age where many – and I mean many – of my friends are getting engaged and married. I’ve thus seen my fair share of elaborate proposals and engagement announcements. I’m not a big gesture kind of guy, so I knew I wanted it to be intimate. No friends holding candles, no rose petals in the sand spelling “Will you marry me?”, and certainly no secret camera crew. I was certain she didn’t want any of that either.
I also didn’t want to pop the question lackadaisically, so I thought long and hard, and of course the solution was right in front of me. Quite literally. Some time ago I’d received a Retroviewer (like the one in the picture above), in a goodie bag and as I stared at it, sitting on my desk in plain sight, it occurred to me that I could use it as a tool for the proposal. So, I got a custom reel made. It was filled with pictures of us over the years, and the final slide was a beautiful drawing my friend did to help me pop the question. Yes, it was cheesy, it was dorky but, heck, it was me.
We’d planned for a trip to Melbourne, our favourite city, and I’d decided I was going to propose while we were somewhere out along the Great Ocean Road. We’d booked a nice little lodge, which I thought would make the perfect setting. We could have drinks out on the deck under the stars, I’d hand her the Retroviewer, and by the time she was done clicking, I’d be on my knee, with the ring out.
As luck would have it, nothing went according to plan. It was still winter. The skies were overcast with not a single star in sight. The winds were blowing so hard, I could barely feel my face. So my plan for an outdoor proposal quickly bit the dust.
But I wasn’t about to let the rogue weather ruin it. We found a convenience store with a surprisingly well-stocked Asian foods section, so we decided we’d have an Indomie feast back at the lodge. As we settled in on the couch, gorging on Asian comfort food, watching Miss Congeniality on Netflix, it occurred to me that there couldn’t be a more perfect time to propose. So, I did. I was so nervous, the whole scene is just a blur to me now. I only remember the most important thing: she said “yes”.
If you’re thinking about proposing to the love of your life, and still don’t know how, here are a couple of things I learnt during this episode. First, don’t overthink it. A lot of the time, the answer is staring you in the face. Second, be yourself. Chances are, your partner loves your idiosyncratic ways. There’s no need to adhere to society’s expectations of a “perfect proposal”. Finally, get ready to roll with the punches. Things rarely ever go the way you plan them, but hey, c’est la vie. Good luck.
A version of this article was published in the October ’17 issue of AUGUSTMAN.