Fast forward eighteen months: Nate and I are living together, Reese and I are becoming closer, and life just seems to be coming together in so many different ways. We had been looking for our first home for about four months, found the perfect starter and began the wonderful journey of the closing and inspection process. Man, this looks so much better on paper than it was in reality! Goodness, it was stressful. I was working about 55 hours a week and Nate needed my input on everything.
To clear our heads and decompress, we decided to go to the lake house April Fool’s weekend with our friends The Dixons (same friends from the “I love you” weekend) and The Taylors. I had this brilliant idea to play a prank on everyone that April Fools Friday. I posted a positive pregnancy test result on Facebook and shocked my entire group of friends. As we were driving and giggling about the prank, I had realized how gorgeous the weather was….AND April 1 fell on a Saturday in 2017. 11 months ago, he had asked me for my ring size and we were weeks away from closing on our house, so I knew it had better be coming soon!
Me: Babe, this weekend’s weather is going to be gorgeous! Did you know that April 1 falls on a Saturday next year? That means if you ask me to marry you this month, we’ll have almost an entire year to plan an April Fool’s wedding!
Nate: You want to get married on April Fool’s day?
Me: Yeah, why not? We would never forget it!
Over the course of the next couple of weeks- stress increased, tension got high as one regulation after another hit us, and pressure piled up at work. Suffice it to say, we were not prepared for this. The week of April 11th, I had been asked to cover a special project at work and I was ecstatic. It was due first thing April 15th and required quite a bit of prep outside of my normal duties. Fortunately, my trusty colleague and friend, a workhorse much like myself, was assigned to the project with me. Ashley Taylor (same friend from the April Fool’s weekend) is not only a great friend to us, but her training is what resulted in my promotion January 2017. We worked late every night that week, cramming what we could into the little spare time we had, just in time for the stars to be out and dinner to be cold once we got to our homes.
That week, time flew by. Before we knew it, Friday Eve was upon us and our project was due to be recorded and presented in front of hundreds of our customers first thing the following morning. I had hardly slept that week, with my wheels churning and idea light bulbs going off in my head like blinking Christmas lights. The excitement was overwhelming. With that, my home life had suffered some. Nate and I had been arguing more than usual; work had consumed my mind and I just was not able to be as available for him as I should have been. Somehow, when April 14th rolled around, he turned on the charm.
Around noon, I was in the midst of calls from my 1200+ contacts, dealing with over 80 unread emails, and pages of incomplete notes for my exciting new project. I get a page that I need to come to the front desk. Grumbling from the frustration of the interruption, I found a stopping point and headed to reception area. There it was… a ray of floral sunshine-12 long stemmed red roses, an adorable teddy bear filled with hope, and a note from the heart. “I can’t wait to make you Mrs. Vonderau,” it read. My heart skipped a beat, and my palms began to sweat. He never had flowers delivered. He always drops them off at the office or surprises me at home. I thought to myself, ‘No way. He knows how stressed I am. He knows about my project tomorrow morning. He is just buttering me up for when he is ready to propose. There is no way it’s today.’
Thirty minutes later I got a text from him, it was a video message. Another Mission Impossible style video where he asked me out on a date to our beloved island. It had been over a year and a half since the last video and still, I was convinced that there was no way he was proposing to me on that day. We had been arguing like crazy! I was not wearing my perfect engagement outfit (which he knew nothing about anyway). I told him I would have to be late because I needed to finish the project. Two hours later as Ashley and I were working together, our president Dusty Alexander called her into his office. Once she returned, she appeared nervous, almost shaken. She said it was due to the project and because we think alike, I believed her. I joked that Nate wanted me to leave work early to go on a date but that hell would freeze over before I left her alone to work on this. She got a text about 10 minutes later and told me she had to leave early too. We would reconvene bright and early at 6:30 the next morning to tighten all of the project’s loose ends. (Nate had been conspiring with Dusty and Ashley to get me out of work on time.)
I arrived at the island a few minutes late, exhausted, oily, sweaty, and feeling so far from attractive, I almost ran home to change first. There he was, my dashingly handsome man, standing so proud next to his big beautiful truck. He smelled of my favorite cologne, his hair perfectly combed, and he even had on a new shirt. Still, I thought to myself there was no way he would propose to me on a day like this.
Nate has always treated me with respect and with chivalry, but this time as he took my hand it felt extra proper. It was not fun and lively like our first trek to the island; it was awkward conversation with a hint of romance. As we made small talk, I could not help but notice how sweaty his palms were getting and how distant he seemed.
As we got to our spot he pointed out that across the water, we could see the swings from where we had our first date. Just as I looked, he dropped down to one knee and started pouring his heart out. I freaked out.
“NO! What are you doing?! Do you have any idea what kind of project I have due in the morning?!”
I looked around. Where was my family? I looked down at myself. Where was my perfect engagement outfit?
“NO!! This wasn’t on my list!!”
The list I was referring to is something I gave to him when he first started talking to me about marriage. For the majority of my dating life I had been one to run from the idea of marriage or become so destructive my serious relationships could not survive. I had been terrified of marriage for a good part of my life. If we were going to talk seriously about this, then he had to accept me for the nut that I was and meet these requirements in order for me to say yes:
1.Ask and receive my dad’s permission for my hand in marriage.
2.Involve my family and my best friends in the proposal.
3.Get the ring approved by the women closest to me. You will design the ring; I will show you the styles that I like. Get creative and have fun with the process.
4.Make me cry tears of joy.
Back to the proposal… I heard a clicking sound and I remember thinking it sounded like some new breed of bird. As I was looking around and saying no, he grabs my head, points my eyes to his, and says:
“Will you shut up and listen to me?! I have an amazing evening planned, it’s perfect for us. You just need to trust me!”
Fuming on the inside, I decided to behave myself and listen to what he had to say. After what felt like an hour but was really closer to a minute, I finally said yes and put that perfect ruby ring on my finger.
He stood up and said, “OK you can come out now!” Elated, I thought he had all of my family there hiding in the bushes (of love).
Out popped Laura, his brother’s girlfriend from Austin who is a professional photographer. That clicking sound I had heard was her camera! He tells me that he has an amazing romantic dinner planned, but first we will have a private photo session for the next thirty minutes. I was so annoyed at this point. I was hungry, exhausted, and looked worn out. He looked like a million bucks, so of course he wanted to take a ton of pictures! I decided to suck it up and make the most out of it. This was truly a thoughtful gesture and I needed to stop letting my exhaustion get the best of me. The entire time we were taking our photos, I kept thinking how rude it was not to invite Laura to dinner.
After the session, she let us know she would have the photos to us in a couple of weeks and we said our goodbyes.
When we got to the Hubbel and Hudson parking garage, I was still wishing we had gone home first so I could change. Thankful for the dinner we were about to have, I used what emergency toiletries I had in my purse to refresh and make me feel somewhat attractive. As we got out of the car, I saw Tracey my future sister-in-law all dolled up and very obviously trying to hide from us.
“What’s Tracey doi— BABE!!!!! No way! My family’s here?!?” My doe-y eyes looked up at him and filled with tears.
This was it. Anyone who knows me knows that family is everything to me. My brother is my best friend, my sister is my role model, and my parents hold my heart. I could not imagine having such a special day without them being a part of it. My heart filled and I felt complete.
“It’s alright Tracey, she already saw you and she knows.”
Tracey, emerged from the shadows completely bummed, “DANG IT!!”
I could see relief on her face once she realized how ecstatic I was. As we walked and talked, I got to show off my beautiful ring. Giddy and beaming from ear to ear, at this point I was just so excited to see my family.
We walked into Hubbel and Hudson and before we could even ask for a table they escorted us to the private dining room. I entered to see a handful of our best friends, as many family members as he could pull together and our fathers meeting for the first time and laughing with each other. Not only had he included my family and best friends, he had included his as well. He had made what was important to me important to him. It was in that moment it became my perfect proposal and I burst into tears. He was exactly the man his father promised me he was. I looked up at him and said, “OK, now I really say yes!”
For those of you wondering, yes, Laura was at that dinner 🙂
Next stop: Mrs. Vonderau est. 4.1.17