New Year, New Fiancé: The Best Way To RING In 2020

In case you missed the announcement over on our instagram: Summer and Travis are engaged!!!!

I was so thrilled when Travis asked Joe and I to help plan his proposal to Summer during our New Year’s trip in NYC, so I wanted to share how the day went from my perspective, as well as some of the things that led up to it.

/ Summer here! I’m going to be adding in some of my own thoughts, so you get both sides of this story + a sneak peek into what went through my head during this adventure. /

Ring Design

I have enough to say about helping Travis design Summer’s ring that this topic should get its own post in our wedding blog series—click here for that! I will leave you with this: it’s a custom vintage-style emerald cut from Do Amore.

/ Summer: I am obsessed with engagement rings and could not let go of the reigns, so I’ll be adding in a lot of my own perspective over on that post as well. /

The Plan

Travis approached Joe and I about proposing in NYC a few months ago. The four of us have been planning this trip for almost a year: Joe and I knew we’d be in New Jersey for the holidays, it was an off year for the convention where we spend NYE every other year, and when Summer found out that the AHA was meeting in NYC right after the New Year, it was like the stars aligned for this trip. And later, this proposal: the four of us take lots of weekend trips together (this would be our sixth in 2019!), so getting engaged just before the new year in the big city during one of our couple trips together was perfect.

Travis wanted to propose somewhere gorgeous and romantic, but more private and secluded. Central Park was Joe’s first suggestion, but quickly crossed off the list. Cliché. I thought about Washington, Union, or Madison Square Park, but there was no telling if their greenery would still be lush and beautiful, or if everything would be dead in the middle of winter. And then, Joe and I figured it out: DUBMO.

Last year, I worked in NYC every other week, staying in various hotels in Manhattan or Brooklyn to get tastes of living in different parts of the city. I had always wanted to check out the DUMBO area: it was hip, with cool scenery, and even if the trees were bare, the water, bridges, and Manhattan skyline would always be gorgeous.

I went into the city from New Jersey one night a few days before Summer and Travis got into town to catch up with a friend. The next morning I convinced her to come with me to DUMBO to explore the area, map the route, and scope out the best spot(s) for Travis to pop the question. She and I had brunch and worked from Time Out Market after I sent about a million texts to Joe and Travis about our options.

I came up with the idea to get us to Brooklyn under the guise of a photoshoot for the blog from Noelle Downing‘s proposal. Her bestie Rachel planned it, and used a similar cover story (check out her engagement story highlight here)—a proposal story that Summer and I devoured one day back in November. I told Summer that if Travis tried to plan a proposal with three days notice, I would lose my mind. Summer panicked because all the read was “Travis”, “proposal”, and “three days” … like I would ever warn her. We were already so deep in planning this, and she had no idea.

/ Summer: For a long time, I thought this trip was just going to be another couple’s/work trip (Joe and Kat have tagged along with me to other conferences). I started to get suspicious when Travis asked me three million questions about rings…you’ll read all about that in the ring post, though! However, because Natalia lives in Brooklyn it never crossed my mind that Kat going there was anything other than just a fun day to visit her friend. (P.S. Thanks for your help, Nat!) /

While the blog photoshoot was so planned to make sure Summer was dressed nicely and looking her best, she made my job harder at every turn.

Do My Hair Toss, Check My Nails

Summer made getting her nails done super easy for me, because she was expecting this proposal. She texted me a few weeks before our trip, acting like she had a dilemma about her nails, which led me to suggest getting them done in New Jersey before we went to NYC. I played right into her hand, and didn’t even realize it at first. It wasn’t until minutes later that I thought, “SHE KNOWS.” But I said nothing, of course, and dove headfirst into the distraction that Summer conveniently provided, talking all about Frozen II.

I played right into her hand. So then I tried to distract her by going… into the unknown.

When it came time to actually get our nails done, Summer and I kept up this ruse that “she had no idea”. Our conversation at the nail salon went something like this:

Kat: “what color are you getting?”
Summer: “I don’t know, maybe something with sparkles”
K: [trying to be inconspicuous] “yes, go for sparkles! In honor of New Year’s!”
S: “they have this white iridescent sparkle polish that I love, but I don’t want these historians to judge me for having gaudy nails” [knowing full well she didn’t actually care about what the historians thought about her nails]
K: “it’s New Year’s, just go for it, they will understand! That white iridescent is gorgeous!”
S: Maybe I’ll do white nails instead, and use the iridescent sparkles as an accent nail
K: What a great idea!!!!!!!

My exclamation point usage in the above depiction is severely intentional, because I was being The Most Encouraging Friend (which is not necessarily different than my normal every day encouragement, but I feel like I was being so obvious).

Summer getting our nails done. The salon wouldn’t let us sit together, which actually proved to be great because I could take this picture that she didn’t have a clue about.

When she arrived in New Jersey, Summer hadn’t washed her hair in a few days (normal), and she told me she was planning on washing it on NYE day. New year, clean hair, and all that jazz. Great, I thought, that’s perfect, she’ll wash her hair in the morning before we head to NYC, so I just have to make sure we allocate time for that in our plan of the day.

The night before NYE, we did laundry at my in-law’s beach house and talked about our plans for the next day. I kept being excited about our “Brooklyn photo shoot,” and Summer and I started planning our outfits. She had a mock neck white shirt, and I had a mock neck black shirt. She had white booties that I urged her to pack, because I thought I was ordering matching white booties on amazon, but as it turns out I actually ordered them to my own home in Dallas like a fool. I had black booties, so I suggested she wear white top/booties while I wear black. The white booties hurt her feet though, so she didn’t want to wear them for a lot of walking. Ok fine, I said, wear your comfy booties and just keep the mock neck white top, while I wear black. She half-heartedly agreed and we dropped it for a while.

We revisited the “what to wear” topic later, once we started to pack, and Summer goes “why do I have to wear white? We should just match, I have a black turtleneck.” Oh, I had so much fun trying to come up with an answer to that one. “Well, I thought it would be cute to match our booties and our tops. But, since you don’t want to wear your booties….. well, we should be coordinating but not matching!” Summer asked why. “Um….. because my coat! It’s lighter, and your coat is darker, so I’ll wear a dark shirt and you wear a lighter shirt! Also, your black top is a turtle neck, but mine’s a mock neck! So it won’t exactly match anyway! So might as well go full opposite matching!” (Let me point out that I did not even know the difference between mock neck vs. turtleneck until a week prior.)

I tried so hard to convince her to wear white, but eventually she won out, and I gave up. Black turtlenecks and over the knee boots it is.

Summer’s white booties and mock neck eventually came out for a day at the AHA conference.

But, back to the hair. I decided I also wanted to wash my hair, even though it wasn’t supposed to be my hair wash day, because mine was looking more oily than usual. I asked Summer what time she wanted to shower/hair wash in the morning, since there was only one bathroom. “Oh, I’m not going to wash my hair until tomorrow night, while we’re getting ready to go out.” Oh…. what? Summer’s hair didn’t look bad, but we all know that the last day before wash day is where your hair generally looks the roughest. I proceeded with my own hair wash plan and prayed that the dry shampoo gods would work in her favor the next day (spoiler: they definitely did!)

/ Summer: I was 100% convinced I was getting proposed to the night of NYE. So I didn’t care about these Brooklyn outfits and I definitely didn’t want my hair to get grimy from the city beforehand. Add to that the fact that I was sick and no one could get me to do anything. I just wanted to take a nap before my big night and I didn’t understand why I was being dragged out to Brooklyn but whatever, I went. /

Proposal Day

Okay, so there are only 4 days of my life in recent memory where I have woken up with nerves where I am so on edge that I can barely eat, and I’m coughing so much that event the most simple thing like brushing my teeth leads me to gag so hard I almost vomit (sorry for that mental image but it’s true). Those days are, in order of occurrence:

  1. My own engagement day (I spent about 30 minutes in the bathroom while at brunch with Summer trying to keep my cool)
  2. My bridal shower
  3. My wedding day
  4. THIS DAY!!!!

I don’t know why, but I was legit SO nervous that we were going to be late and run out of sunlight, or that it wasn’t going to be absolutely perfect. Travis was also pretty nervous, which is to be expected, so I bet Summer thought we were both being extra crazy for no reason. But there was a reason!

/ Summer: I was very chill this day, even though I thought I was getting proposed to that night. I was actually way more nervous on Kathryn’s proposal day, trying to make sure everything was happening on schedule (spoiler, it didn’t). Thinking I had a lot of time before the proposal probably took the edge off. /

We packed all our stuff and left the beach house, got breakfast in the Dunkin drive through, switched out some of my clothes for other clothes back at my in-law’s, and then my MIL dropped us off at the train station to head to the city. We were only running 30 minutes behind, which wasn’t too bad because we were originally set to get there around 2:30, when the sun starts to set around 4:30. So we were fine on time.

My MIL dropping us off at the train station.

Luckily our hotel had a room ready for us early, so we got to have some get changed/fix our hair/try to relax for a hot minute time before heading to Brooklyn. We left the hotel around 2:30 and headed to the F train, which was conveniently right outside our hotel.

Summer was grumpy. She didn’t feel good, and wanted to nap. I don’t blame her. But we had more important things to do!

We exit the train in Brooklyn and have to walk a bit to get to the scenic areas. After an 8 minute walk, we make it to the spot on Washington St that overlooks the Manhattan Bridge with red brick on either side. A classic insta location, I’m sure you’ve seen other bloggers at it before. We ask Travis to take our picture from down low, to try not to get other people in the photo (the street was a madhouse). What does he do? He gets down ON ONE KNEE and Summer is like “don’t do that! you don’t need to do that!” (Later he told us he did that because he wanted to practice, hah)

After the bridge pictures, I suggested we walk along the water and go look at the Manhattan skyline and take pictures there, and then pop into the food hall next to it for snacks and a drink. Once we get to the water’s edge, Joe practically runs ahead to “scope it out” (even though I did that days ago… does he even listen to me?) and we start to follow him until we hear an exclamation from Travis. Summer and I turn back… to see Travis looking shocked with his hand near his head. “A bird shit on my head!” What? “Check to see if I have bird poop on my head!”

Friends, he did. Right there, in the middle of his head, all in his hair. Summer checked, and offered him some purse napkins to at least clean his hands. At this point, I am DYING laughing. This will be one of my favorite stories to tell all our kids one day. In between my laughs, I’m trying to tell Travis it’s good luck for a bird to shit on your head—what even are the odds?! Minuscule! Meanwhile, Joe is giving me eyes to cut it out and stop talking about luck (why would Travis need luck, anyway? It was a “totally normal day”)

Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos of the a-bird-shit-on-Travis’s-head incident. Luckily for me, my friend snapped this picture in my days earlier in the EXACT SPOT it happened!

By this point, we had been outside for about 20 minutes, and Summer was OVER. IT. She was like “We need to take this picture so we can get out of the cold, stat. Let’s get this over with so we can go inside.” So she and I took some photos along the water’s edge, on the steps. As we are walking back up, Travis asks to take some couple pictures. He starts to hand his phone to me, That’s my cue. Joe was on a bench far away because he hates pictures, and I guess was trying to be his Most Authentic Self to throw Summer off the trail. I call him over to “take a couple picture with me next” and immediately hand him my phone with the video camera set up for him to record.

Meanwhile, Travis is fiddling with his jacket pocket. Summer is trying to lead him down another step or two so that they are closer to the water, asking him what is he even DOING with his jacket. I am turning around back from Joe, trying to find Travis’s camera app and open it so I could take pictures. And then, Travis is down on one knee! Summer is like “WHAT? No!” and then “Yes!” and then “We were supposed to be on this lower step!” and then he’s putting the ring on her finger, they’re kissing, she pauses. “A bird shit on your head!!!!” Laughter. More kissing. Me, on the same step as them, running around them at every possible angle to get every picture I can. I didn’t anticipate it, but being on the same step as them was perfect because it led to close up pictures that are gorgeous!

Summer, to Travis: “do you feel better now?” He did. I did too. After months of planning, my best friends were engaged and Summer was so happy, which was all I wanted.

/ Summer: I thought this bird shitting on Travis’s head was so funny and I said “it’s fine, you can just wash it back in the room!” because, again, I thought we still had hours to get ready. We head over to the steps and I take a few photos with Kathryn for the blog, then Travis asks to take a couple photo. I am so annoyed at this request because I’m cold, I’m sick, I want to go inside, so I say “fine, let’s take one right quick.” I’m headed back down the steps and he’s fiddling with his pocket and I’m like “what are you doing?!” because I’m just trying to take the photo and leave. He tells me not to worry about it, I had an epiphany and you guys I literally said “no, don’t” because I could not actually comprehend that he was going to propose at a time I wasn’t prepared for and I thought he was doing it wrong. (Here’s some free insight into what an actual control freak I am, I was convinced that Travis is getting his own proposal wrong). Half a second later he’s on one knee with a ring box in his hand and I stare at him for what felt like about three minutes but according to the video was about one second before saying “yes” in the most “duh, do you even have to ask” tone ever.

I wanted to be surprised by my proposal but I did everything possible to foil my own desires. Thankfully my friends and fiancé outwitted me and actually did manage to surprise me. I am so so grateful that he didn’t follow the plan I had in my head because I was actually surprised (honestly, shocked), I wasn’t nervous at all because I didn’t know it was about to happen, and it ended up being way better than I’d imagined. It was really just about us getting engaged and not putting on a New Year’s show for a bar full of strangers. /

The finally got to take that original couple picture that Travis asked for.

They’re Engaged!

After I took a million photos of them, Summer got her wish, and we went inside to Time Out Market. The food hall itself was packed, so instead we went to the bar at Sugarcane. Joe and I bought a round of celebratory sangria, we toasted to the happy couple, and debriefed with each other. Joe convinced the bartender to throw a few free drinks our way in honor of their engagement. I learned Summer was expecting a proposal that day, but not until the night. I learned how things were from her perspective of the planning process, and shared my experience. It was so relieving to not have this big secret I was keeping from her anymore… but I did have one more up my (ballooned, sequin) sleeve.

/ Summer: The bartender at Sugarcane gave me my favorite drink to congratulate me—a gin and homemade lemonade (the homemade part is very important here because it makes a fizz on top). This ends up looking kind of white and Travis got a dark drink which looked bride and groom-esque to me and I was just tickled about it (read: buzzed and happy). /

After Sugarcane, we took the F train back to Manhattan (after stopping for the best picture with a “YES!” mural right outside the train stop) and started getting ready. Travis finally washed the bird shit out of his hair, and while he did that, I gave Summer the present I had been carrying around all weekend “to give to my friend in NYC”… the friend was Summer, just after the proposal.


Back in November, when Summer and I were picking out our NYE outfits, her original dream was this white sequin dress from Choosy, but it was pretty pricey, and she didn’t want to splurge. Once I learned Travis’s plan to propose on NYE day, I decided I would splurge on her, so I secretly bought her the white dream dress!

/ Summer: For the record, I had a great back up dress that will probably become my doctorette dress when I finish my degree (read: like a bachelorette party but for a PhD graduate). But the dress Kat got me had giant sleeves (my favorite), sewn beads and sequins (so none of that sequin shedding, you know what I mean), and felt like a cozy velvet robe. It’s going to become my go-to for all bridal events. I even found a black version that I’m definitely making Kathryn buy if they make it in her size! (Hey Choosy, please make this dream come true!) /

We got ready, Summer did my makeup, I did her hair, and then we were off to our NYE party at the Ainsworth, where we were happy to ring in the New Year together: enjoying the open bar, sharing “awwww”-worthy moments, making 4-person pinky promises, and toasting to the year we had and the year to come. Cheers to wedding planning!

Click here to read all about designing Summer’s ring!

Looking for more wedding planning? Check out Something Old, Something New, our blog series about wedding planning from the perspectives of a bride who’s just been through it, and a bride just starting the process!

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