Matt & Jessie

Why I Chose to Propose at Sunrise

If you’re reading this blog, chances are you’ve already heard how I proposed to Jessie, but in case you’re still in the dark on the details, read “The Proposal” on the Our" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">//">Our Story page to get up to speed. This post isn’t so much about how it happened but rather why I decided to propose the way I did.

Anyone who knows me knows that I rarely do things spontaneously just because. Whether it’s the cover of a Matt’s Mix CD I’ve designed, lines of poetry I’ve written, or even the rationale for why I like a particular sports team, my decisions are usually intentional, with layers of meaning that go beyond the surface. It’s the English major in me. So when it came time to plan a proposal, you better believe I crafted my plan carefully.

Jessie and I dated for more than five years before getting engaged. We began talking about engagement as a possibility in 2009, and the issue became more real when we hit the summer of 2010 and began shopping for the ring together. (I’ll save the details of that experience for Jessie to share.) She had a sense that a proposal was coming sometime soon, but I was still in charge of figuring out the exact when, where and why of the proposal and making sure it lived up to everything she (and I) dreamed it could be.

After purchasing the ring, I eventually settled on the details and decided to propose at sunrise on Saturday, July 3, at Presque Isle Beach 10 in Erie. Here are five reasons why:

  1. Aesthetics
    If there’s something in nature more beautiful than a sunrise, I haven’t seen it. When I was unemployed last summer, I was living in an apartment that was just minutes from Presque Isle. I took advantage of my situation and made the short drive down to the beach on more than one occasion to witness the sunrise. If you haven’t seen one, please add it to your bucket list today. It’s a breathtaking view and a fantastic way to start any day—let alone the first day of the rest of your life together with that special someone.

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  2. Symbolism
    The most popular question I was asked after re-telling the proposal story to family and friends was, “Why the sunRISE?”

    My response? I definitely wanted this proposal to mean something special. And don’t get me wrong; I’ve got nothing against sunsets. Sunsets are awesome. But there’s something extra special about a sunrise.

    Anyone can decide on a whim on a nice summer day to head down to the beach after dinner and catch a sunset, but if you’re going to see the sunrise, it takes real commitment—like the commitment we’ll be making to each other in marriage. So when Jessie agreed to allow me to wake her up at 4:45 a.m. on a Saturday in order to witness this together, that was a little sign of her faith and trust in me. The fact that she was willing to do that with me—and even be a pleasant companion at that hour of day—says a lot about her and her commitment to us.

    In addition to the commitment metaphor, I also really liked the idea of having the sunrise as a natural symbol of the new beginning of our relationship as we embark on this period of engagement.
  3. Memorability
    Many people see certain things that remind them of past memories. Some people have scent-triggered memories. For me, sound—specifically music—often plays the role of the memory jogger. Certain songs take me back to specific days, events, and moments in time, especially memories related to my relationship with Jessie.

    With that in mind, I crafted a playlist on my iPod Touch the night before the proposal, which included event-appropriate songs like “Here Comes the Sun” by the Beatles, “Sunrise” by Norah Jones, and “She’s Only Happy in the Sun” by Ben Harper as well as mood-setters like “#41” by Dave Matthews Band, “Peng 33” by Iron & Wine, “Question” by Rhett Miller, and “Lullaby” by the Dixie Chicks, the song that was playing when I finally got down on my knee to propose. That song features the line, “How long do you wanna be loved? Is forever enough, is forever enough?” which seemed as appropriate a line as any I could think of to capture my mindset in that moment.

    With that self-made soundtrack playing behind that gorgeous backdrop of the sunrise, I don’t think either of us will ever forget that morning.
  4. Simplicity
    Jessie pushed for this idea, but I didn’t have any objections. I wanted the proposal to reflect the essence of our relationship. Though we have more fans and supporters of our relationship than I could count (and we love them dearly), this was an intimate moment that I wanted to be shared by just she and I. We have endured and grown as a couple because of the internal strength of our relationship, rooted in inter-personal communication and the power of God’s love.

    So, in the end, I decided to pass on the ideas of proposing on the JumboTron at a big game or at a concert in front of screaming fans as well as in front of loved ones in Kentucky or at a Cursillo closing so that our engagement moment could be private, personal, simple, and surrounded by the grace of God as evidenced in the beautiful sunrise over Lake Erie. Peaceful and as perfect as possible.
  5. Timing
    The practical side of me thought that this was the perfect time for us. By proposing so early in the day, we were able to spend the rest of the morning and afternoon spreading the good news to our family and friends—many of them in person! As much as I wanted that proposal moment to be private and personal, I wanted the engagement news to be public and communal because both Jessie and I have been shaped by so many wonderful people in our lives. You know who you are, and we cannot thank you all (or y’all, as Jessie would say) enough!

    By choosing July 3, I also knew that we’d have the rest of the Fourth of July weekend to celebrate and mingle with extended family, which is exactly what we did as we picnic-hopped between families all day Sunday. It was such a rewarding experience to revel in the many, varied reactions of our friends and family. No two people responded the same, but they were all excited, happy, and supportive.

When you factor all of those reasons into the equation, it just made so much sense to propose the way I did. Especially since she said YES!


Two things...
1. Isn't Matt's intentionality so endearing? The ring I wear symbolizes all these things we believe in that Matt so eloquently captures here!
2. I'm so glad Matt valued simplicity as much as I did. But, don't let him fool you-he used to sound so disappointed when I begged him to stay away from the JumboTron at local minor-league games!

What do the rest of you think? Did you realize there was so much behind this decision?

Knowing Matt, I knew that there was much thought behind this proposal. After this explanation, I don't think it could have been done in a better way! Such a beautiful story! =)

Your writing is such a gift. I've always known you for your thoughtful consideration in all that you do but I know it more fully in these eloquent posts

Thanks for the kind words, Dad. I'm glad you like what you've read so far. There's much more where that came from!

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