How He Proposed

Published on Thursday, May 19th, 2005 at 9:38 pm by Justin

Ok, I’ve finally broken down and decided to write this down, complete with links for all of you “letterWHATing?!?” folks.

I realized that when it was time to propose, a couple of things needed to happen:

1) It needed to be in a memorable place that would never go away
2) I wasn’t going to go for the crowded room scenario, but I didn’t mind being seen
3) It needed to be a surprise and very fun

Given that, here’s the story.

Michelle and I often do a fun activity called letterboxing, which basically involves outdoor scavenger hunts trying to find something left by someone else. They often involve a tie-in to local history, a bit of mystery, and a fair amount of walking.

I decided I’d make my own letterbox, plant the “find” and make a fake copy of the letterboxing website that would only work on our computers. That would eliminate the possibility of anyone else finding the route but ensure that we would find it.

The find was Michelle’s grandmother’s engagement ring, which I obtained after asking her grandmother for it and getting her dad to bring it down in a recent visit. Michelle had mentioned before that she would be 100% happy with the family heirloom as opposed to a purchased ring, and once I saw it, I agreed that it was perfect and that I myself liked it very much. Her grandmother was more than happy to give it to me, too. Of course she didn’t know what was coming…

Letterboxes are listed by city and state, so under Culpeper, VA on the fake website I made a page detailing the hunt. Compared to most, it was kind of odd, but plausible. The idea was that you would visit a series of locations in town and take a letter from the name of each and write it down. At the last spot, one person would unscramble the letters to spell something and the other would open the find at the end and both would be revealed to the other person simultaneously and, purportedly, then make some sense.

Still with me?

On a Friday afternoon in December during my lunch break while working from home, I went into town and hid the ring in a film canister under some bushes beneath the old Civil War monument. You’d have to see the spot; there are many outdoor summer concerts here, really, it’s not as cheesy as it might sound. It’s actually very picturesque and quaint and it meets conditions #1 and #2 from above perfectly. I can fully expect to go back there in 50 years and it will look exactly the same.

Later that afternoon once Michelle got home from work, I subtly tried to convince her that we should do something outdoors, but had no success. I figured that things would be alright until the morning, but then, I discovered that she instead wanted to do a ton of Christmas Shopping. Try as I might to get her to relax and do “something” outdoors that morning, we ended up going to Fredericksburg for the day to finish our shopping. The entire time, I was sweating and nervous that things would go horribly awry and that I would end up losing her family heirloom the week before heading to Connecticut to spend the holidays with said family.

So then came Sunday. I didn’t sleep very well the night before.

Without hitting her over the head with it, I finally convinced Michelle that we should do something outdoors as it was a nice day. She suggested letterboxing and went to the website to check it out. She was very excited that there was finally one in Culpeper and assumed that a co-worker who had been talking about placing a box had put this one in town. We headed out to the starting point and pulled out the directions.

The search sent us around town with a set of rhyming clues and each place we picked up a new letter. These included the movie theater, the coffee shop, the diner, the train depot, and the National Cemetery. Finally, we ended up outside the town hall plaza and Civil War monument. I had been the one collecting the letters on a piece of paper and I had her find the film canister. I got down on one knee in front of the bench she was sitting on and pretended to unscramble the clues (of course already knowing what they should spell) and when I was done, I told her to open the canister. She seemed for a second puzzled, then realized that it was her grandmother’s ring, but was still confused. When she looked up, I was holding the unscrambled letters which spelled their clue: MARRY ME.

She of course said yes, and on December 19, 2004, we were officially engaged.

Post Script: Both her grandmother and her father now know about the fact that I hid the ring under some bushes in the middle of town for what ended up being about two days. In the end, the fact that it was not found by anyone but us, combined with the fact that I finally proposed, have probably evened things out a bit. But I don’t expect to pull such a stunt again with any other family heirlooms if I can help it.

8 Responses to “How He Proposed”

  1. cyn Says:

    Visit cyn

    dude! I’m still eagerly awaiting the story! :D

  2. cyn Says:

    Visit cyn

    I think this is such a fantastic story! I’ve heard you and Michelle tell it a couple times, and every time, I just think it’s so wonderful that you found something truly unique to your relationship and to each other for getting engaged. yay! thanx for posting it ;)

  3. Shannon O’Neill Says:

    Visit Shannon O’Neill

    What a story, as wedding professional it’s not to often that I hear of a new or original proposal. But this one does it.
    -Shannon M. O’Neill, WPICC
    Certified Wedding Consultant & Coordinator

  4. Ellen Braunstein Says:

    Visit Ellen Braunstein

    I liked your anagram proposal. I did know a guy who proposed to a woman during a scrabble game by cheating with some extra letters that spelled “marry me.” Whoops two words…

    At Courtship-Stories dot com, we write, design and print couples’ love stories as a wedding favor or keepsake for their guests. It’s a lovely meaningful experience at a wedding to have guests read our booklets. Please come over and read our couples’ stories in 3 dimension.

    Ellen Braunstein
    Courtship Stories Favors and Keepsakes

  5. Debby Says:

    Visit Debby

    What a creative proposal story! I love to hear different engagement stories. I sell wedding invitations and with all the conversations I have with brides, I think I have heard it all. I have heard just about everything from the mundane to extremely creative. Your story definitely borders on the unique. You will enjoy some day sharing this great story with your grandchildren.

  6. Andrew Says:

    Visit Andrew

    Was it a silver ring? Because if it was a silver ring I hope you protected it against oxidation before burying it … well, never mind, it’s my passion as I’m a collector of antique silver jewelery … I think it’s fantastic you decided to propose to her with her grandmother’s antique ring. Good luck in your marriage!

  7. Shannon Brown Says:

    Visit Shannon Brown

    You really have got a good one! Many girls dream of a unforgettable proposal but very few actually get one.

  8. Stan Brower Says:

    Visit Stan Brower

    Wow, that was such a beautiful story. I loved the idea, very unique.Lets hope I come up with something as such too when the time comes, too bad we never go “letterboxing”.Really awesome , surely a very good read.Thanks for posting!