My NYC Engagement Story: From Dream to Reality!
I’ve never been one to want “just something simple.” I live for all things extra and of course love all things weddings, so my engagement story was always something that was important to me. I’ll go into detail about how my husband pulled it off (and how I dropped hints to help him) in another post soon– be sure to subscribe to my email list and never miss a post!
I have a few favorite places in the world, but New York City holds a place in my heart in a way that I can’t quite put into words myself. I think the following quote by Tom Wolfe sums it up perfectly:
“One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.”
After I graduated college in 2017, I took a year-long job which required full-time travel. We got two breaks during that year, and my boyfriend Christian and I decided to meet in New York City during my time off in March. We were talking about engagement at this point in our relationship and I knew I wanted to get engaged in New York, specifically in Central Park. I also knew it would happen on this trip. What I didn’t know was when or how.
I had been to New York City on three occasions before this trip. As a hospitality & tourism major and lover of planning, I’m usually always the go-to person to plan any type of trip. But to keep the element of surprise, Christian had to plan it all on his own, having never stepped foot in the city. I came up with a list of things I hadn’t done before but wanted to, and along with the help of my mom, he planned a week-long itinerary all by himself!
In the first couple days, we had gone to a Broadway show and taken a tour of Radio City Music Hall. Then on the third day of our trip, I was really thinking this was the day he was going to propose! He instructed me to wear my *second* fanciest dress, but this didn’t throw me off because I assumed he knew I wanted to save my favorite dress I packed for the engagement photos I requested that would follow. Christian was in a rush to get to our activity that day, so we got on a train and we exited at the corner of 5th and 59th. I knew we were right where the Central Park carriage rides started, but followed his lead to our destination anyway. Once we got into our reserved horse-drawn carriage, the driver started asking us questions: “Where are you from? Have you ever been to the city before?” I assumed she was in on the proposal, and I was so confused why she was asking us these questions. We pulled up to the Cherry Hill Fountain and got out to take pictures. I thought at any moment Christian would drop to one knee, but he didn’t. Afterwards, we rode back to the drop-off point and I was utterly stumped. He then told me our next stop was the Natural History Museum. While glad to go because this was the one museum I hadn’t been to before that I really wanted to see, I knew there was no way we were getting engaged there. (That’s right, he totally fooled me!)
The next day, we went to the New York Public Library, another attraction I hadn’t visited before but always wanted to. We wandered downstairs into the section with census records and I found my maternal grandfather’s family records in Columbus, Ohio dating back to the 1800’s. I am super interested in genealogy and family lineage, but Christian couldn’t seem to care less. We made our way into the historic Rose Main Reading Room, quickly walked through, then went back out into the hall. Christian started checking his phone saying there was a book one of his old law professors said he had to look for if he came here. I suggested we look it up in the library catalogue, but he insisted he’ll know where it is. If you aren’t familiar with the NYPL and the Rose Main Reading room, there are over fifty-two thousand books in this one area alone. I was super annoyed that we were walking around aimlessly in a gigantic room of books and insisted we go back to look it up, but he refused. This was the moment I knew something was up. He finally stops at a bookcase and pulls out a large, black scrapbook and says, “I wonder what this is?"***
When I opened the cover I saw it was a scrapbook about us, but Christian stopped me and asked if we should read it at Bethesda Terrace, my favorite place in Central Park. As we took the subway uptown, I clutched the scrapbook close to me and took inventory of my emotions. I’m normally a very emotional person, and I was surprised that I didn’t feel like I was going to cry. I only felt nervous! I had no idea what was going to come, which made me feel a bit uneasy since I usually like to be prepared at all times.
It was a very cold day in March in the mid-thirties. While I was freezing in my carefully curated engagement outfit, it made for a perfect scene at Bethesda Terrace. It was virtually empty! We sat at the edge of the fountain and could hear a local a cappella group singing “All of Me” by John Legend from under the arcade. When I opened the scrapbook, it was filled with mementos and a timeline of our relationship, with the last page left blank. At this point, I finally was filled with emotion and began to tear up, and he proposed!
After finally seeing the ring for the first time, the photographer that suddenly appeared from the bushes, and photos that followed– I couldn’t believe how much thought and effort Christian had put into this. To top it all off, we then went for afternoon tea at the Plaza Hotel (something I had always dreamed of) then took more photos at the Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center.
I had never felt more cold in my life, but it was completely worth it because I had also never felt more special and loved! I had given guidelines of what I wanted in a proposal (it’s the planner in me), but what he accomplished was beyond my wildest dreams! I may be biased, but it’s definitely one of the best proposals anyone could ever have. 😉 There's still so much to share, so be sure to stay tuned for more stories and tips about proposals and engagement rings!
***Side note: What was really happening in these moments at the library is that Christian was texting with our photographer (who he had never met) about where the scrapbook was planted. He had mailed it to her and it was his plan for her to hide it in the library! After we made the first lap around the room and he couldn’t find her, we went back out into the hall so he could text her again. He was also annoyed that I kept saying we needed to check the catalogue because he knew this book didn’t exist! Of course I was oblivious to all of this and didn’t even notice the photographer there.
Sarah Soldau is a Southern California based wedding coordinator, specializing in wedding management (also known as day-of coordination). Her goal is to educate and empower couples to be confident and in control of planning their own dream wedding day, and then actually enjoy it! As a “bridal cheerleader,” she is her couples’ biggest advocate on their wedding day and leaves no detail unnoticed. By sharing her own experiences in wedding planning, as well as her love of makeup and fashion on The Blushing Blog, she hopes to leave the world with a little more love and beauty. Head to the Contact page to learn more about services and pricing.