Every bride remembers the moment the love of her life got down on one knee and proposed — she might not recall exactly what he said or what she was wearing, but that second in time will stay with her forever. But what she doesn't know about are the weeks, months, or even years leading up to that proposal from the other side: her groom's perspective. Here, in a new BRIDES series, our very own groom-to-be, Aaron (name change for obvious reasons), is sharing his story about the (real life!) proposal he is planning very soon for his fiancé-to-be. For his first BRIDES column, Aaron takes us through how he met the love of his life and when, exactly, he knew she was the one.
There are plenty of things in all of our lives that we all look back on and cringe. For me, one of those is the first message I sent to a girl on the dating site OKCupid. A girl who turned out to be the love of my life.
I was a few months out of college, adapting to adult life and just had my heart broken. It seemed like a good idea to try online dating, especially after a couple of friends had reported positive experiences on OKCupid. And, okay, I'll admit it — I was pretty bored.
The site told me that I was a 99% match with a gorgeous girl named Rachel (another name change for more obvious reasons). Her profile showed she was super attractive, went to the same college I did, was in a doctorate program, loved Frank's Hot Sauce and good whiskey, and was a major grammar stickler. These are the qualities I looked for in a mate.
We traded some messages, including the reveal of my deepest secret; that I hadn't actually watched the first season of Mad Men. Rachel eventually gave me her number, but because I was 23 and stupid, I never reached out to her.
Fast-forward 10 months, I was still single and after a long hiatus, back on the dating site. It kept suggesting Rachel to me and since I don't argue with the Internet, I finally reached out, apologized and asked her out to get a drink. I don't know why she said yes, but she did.
Our first meeting was nothing special. We had good conversation over some beers, but I didn't think Rachel was interested in me. She didn't seem to understand my sarcasm (boy, was I wrong), and I was very confused after she came right out and asked me if I was Jewish.
Thus, I was shocked when she invited me to a concert the next day. At a female friend's behest, I decided not to explicitly say "I can't because I'm watching a soccer game on TV," (yes, those were my unbreakable plans) but I did set a date for dinner a couple of days later.
It turned out to be the perfect date, during which I almost said "I love you" when she ordered a buffalo chicken sandwich and an IPA. I settled for a kiss later instead, which did not disappoint.
We fell fast. Apparently that's what happens when you meet your soulmate. Within months we had conquered all the other new relationship stuff. I told her I loved her the same day she taught me the phrase is actually "for all intents and purposes," not "for all-intensive purposes."
The first time Rachel met my parents, she nearly set my apartment on fire making cinnamon rolls. They were just minutes away from arriving and I couldn't help but laugh at the scene unfolding before me. It was that moment — hugging Rachel as she freaked out about about a first impression — that I knew for sure this was the girl I wanted to marry.
After about a year of dating, Rachel flew across the country to do her one-year residency. I'll never forget the morning I drove Rachel and her parents to the airport. After dropping them off, I went back to the house and their dog sat on my lap, staring up at me with the kind of sad puppy eyes that encapsulated just how I was feeling.
It was tough not being together, but we made visits happen and, honestly, it went as smoothly as a long-distance relationship possibly could go — plenty of cross-country flights, one of us regularly falling asleep on FaceTime, and of course, a handful of fights and heated disagreements. Still, putting our relationship to the test like that, well, it made me love Rachel that much more.
Talking about getting engaged is nothing new for Rachel and me. We've been open about our intention since we started dating nearly three years ago, but wanted to put it on the backburner until she was done with school and semi-settled into her professional life. Now that she is, we've both expressed that this spring might be a good time to take that next step.
So that's what I'm doing here, with my grandmother's ring hidden in our apartment.
The next few months promise to be full of terrible proposal ideas, misadventures and awkward family conversations. I hope you'll follow along on my journey.