The day of the proposal arrives and Leah and I pick up the flowers. Cheryl and Leah grab the cake after work. A flurry of emails and calls confirm that everyone is ready.
It is time.
Monique and I meet at IHOP for dinner as is frequently our custom before dancing. The wait staff at this particular IHOP is not the fastest restaurant crew I've ever met, so I make sure the waitress knows we need to get out of there by 7:05. I remind Monique that I promised Cassie I would show up early . . . she was a first-timer and was a bit nervous so she wanted us there. Monique thought it was odd but went along with it. The waitress delivers and we get over to the bar before 7:15.
We see Monique's friend Teri has arrived so we stand by the door and chat with her. Bill and El show up, as does Cassie. Mellissa walks up with the video camera and tripod, studiously ignoring everyone - we are pretending we don't know her. I have to chuckle. Monique is surrounded by people who are there for the proposal and she has no idea.
7:25 rolls around and the manager opens early, as promised. We go in and find a table, Teri and Monique chattering away with Bill and Eleanor - thank god for them, I'm a basket case but Monique doesn't notice. I take the opportunity to go to the restroom so I can send out a text - the coast is clear for the surprise guests to enter the bar and wait by the front entrance. Mellissa sets up the video camera. The stage is set for the lesson to begin.
I remember nothing of the lesson other than I was having a terrible time focusing on dancing. I couldn't think.
The moment comes when the instructor is supposed to give me the cue to speak . . . he doesn't. There is silence in the bar . . . the DJ doesn't know what to do. I'm trying to motion to the other instructor and she can't see me. Monique thinks I'm having a seizure on the dance floor.
They play a song, the wrong one, and everyone dances. I'm panicked, because that was the cue for the people in hiding to come out . . . if they came out now it would blow the surprise! Fortunately, I had discussed the plans with Cheryl and Leah so much that they realized something was wrong, and they kept everyone out of sight.
The song ends and the instructor keeps talking. I try to butt in even but he doesn't catch it.
FINALLY he gives me the cue . . . I started to talk so everyone could hear, probably 50 people on the dance floor - get a lot of curious looks at first. Then people start to understand what is happening and I see smiles.
As I talked, I started to choke up. The ONE thing I hadn't considered that evening was me going all verklempt. LOL I managed to get through what I wanted to say.
I pulled Monique into the center of the dance floor. When I went down on one knee everyone on the dance floor said awwww. LOL but I propose, she said yes and everyone started clapping.
At this point Monique sees Cheryl, Leah, Debbie, Sue, Carl and her mother are there. You see the photo of her laughing and pointing to your right? That's when she saw everyone was on-hand. Teri admits that she was in on it and I point to Mellissa to explain her role. Then the DJ plays Anne Murray's song and everyone dances the waltz.
After the song, the dance lesson was finished for the evening, at least for us. We grab some tables and several people go out to bring in all the stuff. We had a really nice party with cake and all. I suddenly realized I hadn't given Monique the ring on the dance floor . . . I quickly remedy that oversight and everyone admired her ring under the lights of a nearby pool table. Monique enjoyed the teddy bears and the flowers and I think she was shocked when I showed her the autographed photo.
Leah shot some Terific photos that evening which have graced this page - you can see all the shots by clicking here. I plan to put the video Mellissa shot on here as well - she did a great job too.
So that's the story of the proposal. I achieved my objective of doing something memorable and surprising her. It got a little out of hand but I had a lot of help from everyone and it all worked out.
By the end of the evening I was spent from all the stress and adrenaline. You can see in the photo to the right that my shirt was soaked with sweat when all was said and done . . . I've done parties and other fun surprises before, but nothing on this scale.
You may think I was nuts for going to these lengths. Some flowers, a bottle of wine, a nice dinner . . . that would be a nice evening, especially for a proposal that is just a formality, right?
But this is what happens when you challenge a creative person who is also a hopeless romantic to do something memorable. I wanted to give Monique a moment she would remember for the rest of her life, something to make it very clear how incredibly special this was for me as well.
Just look at the pictures of Monique's face from that evening - I think I did it just about right.
Copyright 2013 Jeff and Monique