Liftoff [The Proposal]

Dara’s Version

Daniel told me that a co-worker of his told him about an air show in Lynchburg, VA and that he was thinking he’d like to go. So I said okay in passing and didn’t think much more about it. About the beginning of May, Daniel started really talking about this air show and I realize it’s our anniversary, so I was a little bummed that we’d be spending our four year anniversary at the air show. I asked Daniel if he realized that it was our anniversary and if that was how he wanted to celebrate it, hoping that he’d change his mind. He responded, “Oh, it’ll be fun. It’s something new so let’s try it.” Although I was not enthused, I reluctantly agreed.

So off we went to the Lynchburg Air Show, I brought along a lawn chair, sunscreen, my Kindle, and all the different things I thought I’d need for a day outdoors. Upon arriving at the hotel (which was an adorable boutique hotel that used to be a shoe factory – I love shoes), we checked in and hung out for the rest of the night. Daniel told me he had to meet this guy to get tickets to the air show the next morning at 6am because the guy was in the air show so we had to meet him before it started. We woke up super early to go meet this guy, and I discover that we’re really meeting a guy for a hot air balloon ride! I still had no clue at this point! I just thought Daniel had decided to surprise me for our anniversary.

About halfway through the balloon ride, the pilot took the camera and said he wanted to take a picture of us in front of the mountains, so he held Daniel’s camera and I’m smiling thinking he’s taking a picture (he’s really videoing). After a few seconds, Daniel drops down on his knee and just sits there while my mouth drops open. So I say, “YES!” Then he asks me to marry him! Daniel later told me had an entire speech prepared but forgot it at that moment so I received my “formal engagement speech” later that evening.

It was one of the best moments of my life. After the balloon ride, Daniel told me he’d made reservations at a restaurant overlooking the mountains. So we went back to the hotel and relaxed for a little while as I began making phone calls to my family and friends. Daniel told me he’d made a reservation but in the excitement (or so I thought) we ended up leaving later than expected for our reservation. On the car ride up the mountain, I talked nonstop about how surprised I was and how great my two surprises were in one day. I told Daniel I didn’t think I could take ANY more surprises.

When we arrived to the restaurant, Daniel said he was going in to make sure we were at the right place and I waited patiently in the car. When we got inside and were seated by the window overlooking the lake and mountains, I again asked Daniel, “No more surprises right?” To which he replied, “No, I can’t give you anything else, I don’t have any more money!” As soon as he said it, I laughed and turned to look at my menu and noticed movement. I turned and walked in was my parents, aunt, first cousins, best friend from Kindergarten (Erika) and her hubby (Terence), and Daniel’s best friend (Frank) who also happens to be a childhood friend of mine and his girlfriend (now fiancée, Jessica). At this point, I lost it and started screaming and crying. I was in complete shock that everyone had driven hours to come celebrate with us AND that Daniel had planned ALL OF THIS OUT! I couldn’t believe Daniel had gone through so much effort to coordinate with other people and plan out the proposal. I always thought it would be something that was intimate with just the two of us, but I wouldn’t change a thing about it and it made me fall even more in love with him!

I must also note that my Mom arrived with a binder that contained printed emails from Daniel and everyone else coordinating the proposal. It also included a special note from my best friend Tammie, who wasn’t able to make it, that brought me to tears. Frank had served as the point-of-contact to coordinate everyone and make sure they all had each other’s phone numbers, met in the same place, and didn’t spoil the surprise. Also in tow with my Mom were balloons and bridal magazines (I’m sure Adrienne and Rochelle had something to do with that). It was really one of the best days of my life and I’ll never forget how special and loved I felt. Thank you to everyone who made that day possible, I love you all.

Daniel’s Version

[Deeeeeep ‘Ace Ventura’ breath] LOL

Originally I had this vision in my mind to propose to Dara while skydiving kinda like how you see in the movies. We’d jump out of a plane and halfway down I would hold up a “Will you marry me?” sign. Then when we landed all of our friends and family would be there and I’d drop down on one knee and do the traditional proposal. Around the time of Dara’s 29th birthday in March she had the idea of doing a “Toodles to the Twenties Tour” where she’d do something that she’d never done before on her monthly birthday (the 23rd). I thought this would be a perfect disguise for my skydiving proposal. After researching and finding the skydiving places they told me that I had to pay in full up front and there were no refunds if we she chickened out so I had to make sure Dara would be down for it. I asked her several times and each time she responded “No way Jose”

Back to the drawing board….So with my elaborate movie style skydiving proposal out the window I had to think of something else. After maybe a week of brainstorming it finally clicked. If I couldn’t jump out of an airplane and propose I’d do the next best thing….book a hot air balloon ride and propose during our flight. PERFECT. After I researched and got all the information I knew it would be awesome. I didn’t want to tell Dara I had booked the ride though because she pays VERY close attention to details and would definitely put everything together and know that I would be proposing. Our ride was leaving from Lynchburg, VA which is about 3 hours away from where we live in Fairfax, VA. How was I going to convince her to travel 3 hours away and not tell her where we were going?? I couldn’t say it was a surprise where we were going because again she would put it together. I found out that the only thing going on in Lynchburg that weekend was a Blue Angels Air Show (yawn). I decided to use this as the disguise. I knew Dara wouldn’t be excited to go (I wouldn’t be either lol); especially on our anniversary weekend so I asked her in passing if she would like to go. She said yeah that would be ok in passing as well and I didn’t say anything else about it until a few weeks later when I booked our hotel room. She was a little upset that I didn’t talk to her again about it and went ahead and booked. Leading up to the weekend she asked “Are you sure our anniversary weekend in Lynchburg at an Air Show??” I said “Yeah It should be fun.”

The day of: So we had to meet our pilot at 7AM. I told Dara that I got a hook-up for the tickets through a co-worker but we had to meet with the guy early because he was in the show. When we went to “meet the guy for the tickets” we had to get in a van with 4 or 5 other people that was pulling the air balloon basket. Dara was looking like what the heck are we doing and what’s going on lol. It was then that I told her that we weren’t going to the air show…We were IN the air show. She was excited, but I don’t think it registered to her that I might be proposing….PERFECT.

I told our pilot beforehand that I’d be proposing on the ride and could he hold my camera for me so that I could get some footage. He said certainly! When we got to the most scenic part of the ride our pilot asked if we wanted him to get a picture of us….This was my signal that it was GO TIME! (Side note: I was ready to propose, but the way he asked me out of the blue kinda threw me off. I was hoping for some kind of 5 min warning or something. lol). I gave him my camera, pulled the ring out of my pocket and dropped down on one knee….there was just one problem, I forgot my speech. All I could get out was a nervous “uuuuhhh….I have a question for you…” Dara was super exited and said YES before I got my question out. After that I did finally get my question out and she said yes again and gave me the biggest hug.

Following our ride Dara was just elated; she said “I got two awesome surprises in one day”. Little did she know there was one more. I arranged with her parents and our closest friends to meet with us for brunch at a restaurant in Lynchburg. We both value our family and friends so I knew she would want to share the occasion with them. Her parents have always been present for all the major milestones in her life so I thought it would be fitting to have them there for this one as well.

As we sat down at our table Dara said “I don’t know if I can take any more surprises. You don’t have any more surprises right?” I said “I don’t have any more money so ‘no’.” Just as I was finishing everyone walked up to the table smiling with balloons and gifts. She immediately burst out crying. I guess all of it was just too much for her. It was great! Special thanks to Frank for being the point-man on the other side coordinating with everyone and making sure they made it to the restaurant.