I can’t put an exact date on when this was decided, but the idea of getting married wasn’t one that took a long time to come around. The plans started and lots of decisions had to be made. The aim was to see Jennifer happy and create a day that would forever be in her memory.
My first thoughts were drawn toward New York. It’s a city I knew she adored and taking her to Central Park to ask her hand in marriage would be a dream come true. I investigated lots of avenues with this idea. I contacted a photographer, pondered on locations and ran the order of events over in my head on how the day would go.
This was all until a day I was driving my car and I had an idea. It just popped into my head and it was as clear as day.
‘Take Jennifer to Hume to propose, back to the place we first met.’
It was a God moment. I’ve only had a few moments like this in my life. It was from that point all the plans changed.
I needed to choose a date for this proposal to happen. I had flights already booked for a visit in September, so this was the perfect opportunity.
I knew Ryan’s anniversary was September 21st and the days leading up to this are difficult days for Jennifer and the kids. With this in mind September 22nd was the date to make this happen.
It was a day of hope after the anniversary of tragedy.
So now that I had a date, the car rental was next on the agenda! Jennifer had mentioned a car she rented in the past and I noticed the excitement in her voice as she talked of that experience.
The Chevy Camaro was the car that caught her attention, so the type of car was easily decided. But, finding one wasn’t as easy! I found one about thirty minutes from Jenn’s hometown, and I quickly reserved it…but I had no idea how much I’d love it!
The next task was finding a ring. This was a tricky one!
I needed help and this is where Jenn’s “camp sisters,” (cousin Katie and Rachelle) came to the rescue. The girls got together after camp and they were asking Jenn which kind of engagement ring she’d want should she ever get engaged…hypothetically, of course.
Little did Jenn know in those moments she would be choosing her engagement ring.
I selected a ring that resembled a flower from the selection Jenn unknowingly chose herself. The jeweler is located in New York – how perfect since we both love the city!
With the ring setting decided, I had the agonizing process of choosing a diamond.
I was focused on detail. I wanted the ring to be more than just a ring.
So, I decided the weight of the diamond by the date we first met. I first met Jennifer on 28th March 2019, so I decided I wanted the weight of her center stone to be 1.28 carats because we became one on that day.
Wanting to take detail to the next level, I asked for the ring to be engraved with a scripture: “The Lord is so Good” (Psalm 100:5). Jennifer took a picture of a sign in Hume with this scripture on it and when I think of Hume, I think of her photo and those words.
With the ring and the venue decided I now needed to ask permission.
I knew I had to speak to Jennifer’s dad and all the kids before September 22nd but how do I make this happen? I seized the opportunity whilst I was there in June.
I first got the chance to chat to Amanda and Brandon. I spoke to them individually and I was so happy when they gave their blessing to ask their mom to be my wife.
I next needed to chat to Jennifer’s dad. I had thought it would have been good to leave this until September but I got an unexpected opportunity on July 4th, so I went for it.
I was happy to receive his blessing!
I spoke with my own girls when I got home and was relieved when everyone was on board!
The next couple of months consisted of lots of planning!
I finalized the car rental, ordered the ring and put all the detail together. I had fun leading up to my next visit.
The best part was that we all knew what was happening apart from Jennifer!
I told her to keep September 22nd free as I wanted to take her away for the day. I tried to throw her thoughts by telling her all she would need is her passport and a bathing suit. She was super confused, so the request worked!
Sunday morning came and the big day had arrived!
Because Jennifer has a tendency to be a little late at times, I arrived at Jennifer’s house at 7am with strict instruction we were leaving at 8.30am sharp.
I gave her a card with a picture of Hume Lake on the front. I’ll always remember the priceless expression on her face as she opened it!
I asked Jennifer for her phone so the plan wouldn’t be revealed and off we went!
I had organised cousin Katie, a couple of our friends who were at camp and the kids to follow behind us. Jennifer thought it was just the two of us but I had other plans…
We made our way to Hume and when we arrived I parked the car in a remote dirt filled car park. We changed our shoes and started our walk around the lake.
I had organized for ‘my crew’ to drive to the other side of the lake and setup a picnic area on a rock Jennifer had posted a photo of on Instagram during her visit in March.
As we walked I would stop her for a photo and a hug. Really, I was stopping because I was trying to look over the other side of the lake.
I was trying to see if the others had made it. At one point I spotted people on what I thought was the rock so I was happy we were all set to go. There is zero phone signal at Hume so this was all a guess of timing.
At one point, I stopped on a bridge on the way round and reached into my shoe as if I was trying to find a ring. I was having fun fooling Jennifer into a false sense that this may be the moment.
As we got closer, we were talking about Jenn’s dog. I kept her slightly behind me as we came around the corner; I didn’t want her to see anything.
The plan was for cousin Katie to meet us as we approached the rock, and I had arranged for Katie to be our photographer.
As we walked I couldn’t see any sign of Katie, but I did notice a few people up on the road that runs parallel with the lake. We walked a few more steps when I realized one of those was Amanda!!
She stood there with two pillows under her arms and a bag of food in her hand. She spotted me and realized it was us! In panic she turned to go back up the hill but with her hands full she slipped and let out a loud yelp!
I immediately turned and stood in front of Jenn to block her view. In my own panic I asked her the most ridiculous question “what does Lily (her dog) do all day??”
She looked at me as if I had two heads: “what?”
I had no time, so I picked her up and marched us in the opposite direction. “We need to go back to the bridge,” I didn’t know what else to say! I was thinking on my feet whilst laughing so hard at what has just happened.
Jenn was asking me lots of questions. “what are we doing,” “what just happened,” “what about lunch,” “don’t you need a drink,” “where are we going?”
I was laughing so hard at this point. I told her we needed to go back and she couldn’t ask anymore questions. This moment was priceless!
We backtracked and I decided we would go sit on a tree stump by the lake. It became a precious moment.
I took my phone out and recorded it as we sat overlooking the water. We read some scripture and prayed together.
I was keeping an eye on time and after 15 minutes I decided we would go for it. We made our way back up onto the path.
I had asked cousin Katie if it was possible to buy an air horn and sound it when she was ready, but it was a last minute thought and she didn’t have the time. She said she would make a sound and if I heard it then I’d know she was ready.
As we approached the area again I heard the sound. I knew this was it and I was super excited.
We walked around the corner and out stepped Katie with the camera. Jenn was so taken back and started to cry.
Jenn immediately asked “who has my kids?” as cousin Katie was meant to be looking after them for the day. I loved to see them embrace each other and I took the camera from Katie to capture the moment.
We walked toward the rock and I could see the picnic area through the trees. I was excited and nervous. The months of planning had come to this moment. I got the opportunity to watch my beautiful girl as she took it all in.
I got down on one knee, took the ring from my pocket and asked her the big question.
After placing the ring on Jenn’s finger the kids came out from behind a rock and the moment was breathtaking. This family have been through so much together and to see Jennifer embrace Amanda and Brandon with tears of joy in their eyes was breathtaking.
It was a perfect moment.