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 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:
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.
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.
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
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.
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!