My Love Story~Chapter 28: Our Engagement

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{It’s our wedding anniversary today, so I knew I HAD to share the story of our engagement, I LOVE hearing feedback from all of you, so many sweet notes on my last chapter (click on over if you missed it). If you are new to my love story, you can start from the beginning. It’s filled with lots of emotional twists and turns, right from the beginning!}

Though we weren’t officially engaged, we started moving forward to make plans. I was researching receptions halls and we were discussing places to go on our Honeymoon. It felt odd to me to make plans without anything “official” and we were keeping everything quiet, waiting for all of that. It stressed me out! I was looking around town for a cute spot to hold the reception, and felt guilty that I didn’t want to just use the FREE church building, because I’d always had a thing about despising the basketball lines on the floor of the gymnasium. I wanted something more for my wedding day. Though I wished it wasn’t the case, aesthetics were important to me.  I felt materialistic, and was annoyed with myself. I felt secure enough in my relationship now, that I was ok to admit this stuff, and not worry about what he might think of me, and that felt oh so good. It’s amazing to get to a place where you have no walls up, nothing hidden, open and honest. We had fun researching Honeymoon spots, and the idea of never leaving each others sides felt so good, and just sounded so fun to me! To be with my best friend, all the time, felt like heaven.

Friday, September 24, 1999 was a day I’ll never forget. In the morning, he told me we were going out somewhere special at 5, and to wear something nice. This was it! I just knew it…he couldn’t be vague with me and think I wouldn’t figure him out…I was onto him.  My friend Emily (high school bestie) helped me plan my outfit.  She and I were giddily scheming about wearing the perfect outfit, for my probable engagement. We settled on a black dress with her sister Abby’s red cardigan. I felt a bit too dressy, but she assured me I looked “elegant.”

As I got ready for the evening, my cute roommates confessed that they were onto me…I’d kept mum about our plans, waiting to be official, but they were excitedly buzzing about the apartment as I primped my hair for the night. I’ll admit, I loved the excitement that was in the air. Matthew came right at 5pm, and we snapped a few pictures outside of my apartment complex. There was no way I wasn’t going to document this. He was wearing his black vest, which I’d mentioned once how much I liked it, and a non-white shirt, which I also liked the variety (he wore white all the time to church), and he proudly told me he remembered that. What he didn’t quite know, is that I didn’t necessarily care for the combo of the two, and I jokingly thought to myself, “I wish I could have dressed HIM for the night, too!” But alas, all of that didn’t matter, what mattered is the two of us, and the adventure ahead, I was excited to see what he had planned for us.

engagement night

Living just below the foothills of Mt. Timpanogus in Utah, we had easy access to the Sundance Ski Resort for dinner.

It was a nice spot, looking out the window at the beautiful scenery, and I remember we had the most delicious rolls with some type of granola inside of them, and dried white grapes. I can’t quite remember, but it was unique and delicious. We had a lovely dinner conversation, and neither of us mentioned the elephant in the room of WHEN IS THIS OFFICIAL ENGAGEMENT THING GOING TO HAPPEN ANYWAY???  Oh no, I just pretended like I wasn’t waiting for anything…just chatted. I had pork and he had duck, and I was SO happy when he whipped out a coupon at the end because our food was $25 a plate!  I felt uncomfortable spending so much, so that coupon truly settled my mind. Looking back, it’s funny how happy I was for the coupon, some might be annoyed that on an engagement dinner a coupon is used, but I was quite relieved and glad about it.

After dinner, we hopped in the car, and drove up Heber Canyon. As we drove the windy roads, I started to get a bit nauseated at the Estee Lauder perfume lotion I was wearing, and from the ball of nerves rattling around in my stomach. Perfume has never been my thing, but felt I had to this night! I rolled down the window, and let the cool mountain breeze blow through my face. Through many more winding roads, we found ourselves at a cabin in the woods, owned by an extended family member of his. I sorta thought we were going there. Though I had never been, I knew his great Uncle was in charge of if, and I also knew he went to visit said uncle recently. Can’t pull the wool over these eyes, Mr. Duke.

As we approached the cabin nestled in the woods, we jumped out, and he grabbed a backpack he had stashed in the car. Curious. Once inside, I saw a bouquet of long stemmed red roses in a vase, just waiting there for me. How did they get there? Did he come all the way up here earlier?  I later found out that his brother Sam and girlfriend Jen came up before us and made the special delivery.

He grabbed the backpack and started pulling out ingredients to make Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cupcakes. He had everything all measured out ahead of time, it was adorable. He started a fire, as I mixed up the ingredients. As we waited for the cupcakes to bake, we cuddled on the couch, with only the sound of the crackle of the fireplace, and it’s gorgeous glow. We went outside to the deck, and did some stargazing, and then danced in the quaint little kitchen to our song, “From this Moment” (the version with Shania Twain AND Bryan White)  That song really goes with our relationship. I see “our moment” as when I came home from my study abroad, and he visited me in Houston. From THAT moment on….we had it figured out. There was no turning back, no questions, no concerns, just solid from both of us.  I also like the line, “You’re the reason I believe in love” because for me, I had loved before in a different way, but it wasn’t until Matthew that I truly meant what it was to love someone, and I think it took his early on uncertainty for ME to know that I loved him.

After our dance, he asked me if I noticed how many roses were in the vase. I assumed a dozen, but I hadn’t really looked closely. There were 7. That was my favorite number, and I didn’t realize I’d mentioned that to him before. He said I hadn’t, but there was another reason there were 7 roses. He said that the number 7 is symbolic of eternity. He said he didn’t want to get just the standard dozen. How thoughtful.

Our cupcakes were finished, and after we ate them on the couch, he told me to close my eyes. He pulled out a paper, and told me he wrote a poem he wanted to share with me, getting emotional as he read. Without sharing TOO much personal from him, I’ll share just a tidbit after the poem.

Kristen, everything won’t always be easy or perfect, but I promise to cherish you, to honor and respect you, to believe in you, to listen, to put your needs ahead of mine, and to hold you close through everything, and to love you, always.

He told me how I inspire him, that he’s never been able to express himself like he does with me, and that I’ve brought something out in him that wasn’t there before.

My eyes were glossy, my emotion flowing, and then he got down on his knee, placed the ring on my finger, and asked me to marry him.

I threw my arms around his neck, and said, “Yes, of course I will!”

We looked at the sparkly of the ring together, laughed, kissed, and he said, “it looks so beautiful on you.”

We are official!!!

We discussed the secret plans we had been making, and that we need to go straightway to shout it from the rooftops to our friends. Though most of them already knew…I told him that I had practiced writing “Kristen Duke” in class that day with Alayna and Emily looking on.

We set up the camera to take some pictures (I can’t seem to locate those pictures at the cabin, so I’m inserting one we took earlier in the night)

love story engagement

After that, we cleaned up our baking mess, and headed out.

It was nearly midnight, but we stopped by my brother Ryan’s house, and told him and Alayna first. I got all embarrassed to tell the details of the story, and Matthew seemed to think that was pretty cute. We then went to his home, where his roommates Jed, Joel, and C.J. were hanging out, and the guys all wanted to see the ring, and they shouted, “you’re engaged!”  I think in everyone’s minds, that makes it official, official.

Our last stop was to visit Sam, Jen, Laurie, and Chris. They were all together at L/C’s house, and all knew what was going down that night. I love those 4 so much, it’s so great to see them together, that the 3 of us couples were all coming together. Laurie and Chris recently married, we just got engaged, and Sam and Jen getting pretty close to that point. The 6 of us chatted, then the guys left, and us 3 girls squealed with excitement!  They were so excited for me, and that made me so happy. I told both of them how grateful I was for their husbands, who were in my life, and helped guide me through my relationship with Matthew, even before I knew the gals. Those 2 boys really have a special place in my heart. Something that I’ll be forever grateful.

Jen shared with me something that Sam said about his brother a while ago, “whoever Matthew marries is one lucky girl, he’s got everything.” He mentioned to her the night before that he thought Matthew and I are good for each other, because I am outgoing and bring out his reserved nature, and he’s “manly” which is something I need. I thought that was funny! And so true…

We left their home at 2am (I was so proud of my Matthew staying up so late) and our friends yelled “congratulations!” once again, as we departed.

As Matthew dropped me off at my apartment, I thanked him for making the night so special.  It had become much easier to verbalize “I love you” to each other, and I slipped into my dark apartment just after 3am, going straight to my journal to record all the details of the night.

I’m so happy!

I’m so grateful!

I’m so blessed!

I love my ring…I love being engaged…I love Matthew!

I thank my Heavenly Father for all of this.

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