It’s been two years since Kathryn and Joe got engaged, I can’t believe how quickly time has flown by! In honor of that anniversary, we thought we’d share her engagement story in its entirety. You may have caught bits and pieces of it over in my post about designing her ring, but it there were a lot of moving parts and planning beyond that. If you didn’t already know, I have been friends with Kathryn’s husband for nearly a decade, so when it came time to propose, he asked me for help. Being the control freak that I am (see my own engagement post for some insight into that) I completely took over, and it went like…
/ Kathryn here! As we did with Summer’s engagement story, I’ll be sharing my thoughts with little interjections here and there as the proposee! /
You already know getting Kat out of the way to get the ring designed was a struggle, but sneakily planning over the phone was a lot easier. Kathryn was traveling for work at the time, so Joe and I had weekdays to coordinate with each other and Kat’s other friends and family—this proposal took a village—without her being suspicious. Joe and I found a cute spot in the Dallas arboretum to stage the proposal, obviously got the ring designed, and conference called all our helpers. I exchanged many texts with her mom (a fellow party-planning control freak, hi Donna!) who probably thought I was going incredibly overboard. Joe and I decided a scavenger hunt would be a fun, cute way to lead up to the proposal, but of course I had to make it more complicated… more on that below. Let’s just say I was project managing a lot of people leading up to this engagement. Since it was Memorial Day weekend we managed to get some folks who live far away, including myself, into town without raising suspicions.
Kathryn / Oh, but my suspicions were raised high. Back in February, Summer randomly asked me how I would feel about a scavenger hunt proposal. Because I had given Joe the green light to propose earlier in 2018, I was obviously on high alert hunting for clues. I knew something was coming. When Summer and Travis randomly floated their plan to come drop their pup off with Summer’s grandma in advance of her summer research trip to Scotland, I figured this story was a little too curated to be real, but I went along with it… /
The Morning Of
The morning of the proposal I had our friend Callie come in to town in an effort to stage a brunch/girls day. This was to get Kat out of the house so Joe had a little time to prep, and to give me an excuse to get Kathryn’s nails done. We went to Mockingbird Diner for breakfast, and Kathryn spent half the time in the bathroom with a nervous stomach. I did what I could to maintain secrecy, but she’s no dummy, she knew something was up. She did not, however, consider that that something might be on a strict timetable so she took us to her tailor for a “quick stop” and thus began the complete derailing of our schedule. Not only did our visit to the tailor take forever, our mani/pedi trip went over by about an hour, eating into the two hour gap I had blocked off for getting ready, getting Kat to the proposal venue, and getting myself to the party venue early. This will be very important later on.
Kathryn / You know the ongoing joke about how a girl can just “shorten it and wear it again” re: a bridesmaid’s dress, but no one ever goes through with it? I am that girl: I wanted my tailor to shorten a bridesmaid dress I had worn. They called me needing me to come in and try the dress on again because “the pins had fallen out”, and I figured it would be super quick. Wrong. I waited forever for a try-on room to come available, and waited longer for an employee to re-fit me. Once I had the dress on, I realized the miscommunication: they forgot that I wanted half the length chopped right off. Then they found the pins, still exactly where they’d left them the first time. Oops. I don’t know if I’ve ever told Summer that our trip to the tailor that morning could have been completely avoided if I’d tried to clear up the miscommunication on the phone. Ya girl was wildly nervous, what can I say?!
Another reason we got a late start is that I was adamant about curling my hair before we left for brunch. Summer and Callie tried to get me out the door 20 minutes before I was ready because I had to curl my hair and I didn’t wake up early enough to do it before they were ready to leave. I knew something was up and I didn’t know if I’d have time for it later, so I made them wait. /
As I said earlier, we had a lot of people involved in the scavenger hunt. I thought it would be sweet if I stationed Kathryn’s friends at significant spots around Dallas with clues the led to our next stop. I made a series of clues with a cute design, had a local Dallas friend help get them printed and distributed, and gave everyone a spot to hang out and await Kathryn. Ideally, she would have had time to spend a few minutes with each of these people, but realistically we were running behind so that dream didn’t pan out. Our first stop was the mall, where Kathryn and Joe went on their first date to dinner and a movie. Luckily one of my clue holders worked at this very mall so it was easy to get Kat to stop by and say hi to her, at which point she got her first clue and started crying.
Kathryn / They got us to North Park Mall with a big lie: my friend Mary who works there told me she was having a rough day and wanted to get lunch. Since we were running so late, it was way past lunch time by the time we rolled up. But I knew something was weird when I ran the idea of stopping by the mall we weren’t even planning on shopping at during our girl’s day to see Mary for her 5 minute break and was met with excited “Yes! Let’s go see Mary! We’d love to see Mary!” … when they both hardly knew Mary at the time. /
Off we went to stop #2, the spot where Kathryn first celebrated Joe’s birthday with him. (Also where the engagement after party would end up). We had two friends plus a pint waiting here, unfortunately Kathryn only got a couple sips and we were off again! (Kathryn was driving because neither Callie nor I really knew how to get to any of these locations).
Kathryn / I would have chugged that entire beer and then some in 60 seconds flat except Summer and Callie made me drive. /
Stop #3 was a bit more difficult: it was the place Joe and Kathryn celebrated their first anniversary, but it’s at the top of a Reunion Tower so we couldn’t actually go up. It also happened to be attached to a convention center holding a Game of Thrones convention? So it took a bit of searching but we finally found our next clue holder!
This clue sent us home where the plan was that Kathryn would have some time to relax and get ready. The final clue, waiting for us at home, directed her to the proposal spot. Although in the clue I tell her she has two hours, I had to break the news to her that she actually had about 20 minutes. This is where it goes south.
Kathryn / I was so glad I curled my hair. /
Ideally we would have had plenty of time to get ready, make sure Kathryn got to the right spot, the party was set up, etc. But this is real life, so we hit some snags and I tried to make lemonade out of lemons. I had Joe’s brothers escort her to the arboretum where Joe, a sneaky friend hiding in some bushes, another friend who helpfully brought a twelve pack, and all the parents were waiting. I instructed them to leave her at the entrance where her parents were waiting to walk her to Joe’s spot. Well, the arboretum has multiple entrances and Joe’s brothers are from New Jersey; they didn’t know which entrance to drop her at so they went with their best guess. And Kathryn went wandering through the arboretum while her parents waited patiently in the heat to escort their only daughter to her proposal. She ended up finding Joe, and he proposed, and they missed the whole thing.
I am completely fine with everything that went wrong this day except for this. It was really no one’s fault, but it still makes me very sad that Kathryn and her parents missed this experience and I feel like my lack of planning is to blame. Joe and Kathryn re-enacted the proposal, but it isn’t the same. I chose not to go to the proposal itself because I didn’t want it to be about my event going well, I wanted it to be about Joe and Kat getting engaged and I was worried that if I were there I would be so concerned with everything going right it would overshadow the real reason for the whole day!
Kathryn / I don’t blame Summer’s planning one bit for the mishap that occurred. While I wish my parents had been able to see the actual proposal, the proposal re-do resulted in my favorite proposal picture ever. Plus, it’s the best story to tell for years to come. We’re at the point where we can absolutely laugh about it now.
If anything, I probably should have called Summer to tell her I had no clue what to do next, and she would have pieced it together. Instead, I decided to be a little stubborn and a little clever because I thought this was where the real scavenger hunt began. I pulled out my Find My Friends app to look for Joe’s location. But a few months back, I had told Mary that I spotted Joe at my parent’s house without me; I guessed it was to ask for their blessing, and I was right. Mary was having none of it and told Joe to hide his location from me. What Mary didn’t ask, however, was for her then-fiancé-now-husband Clay (the one who brought the 12-pack) to hide his location, and lucky for me, Clay once rescued Joe and I from a flat tire incident and had thus started sharing his location with me. What are the odds that he was also at the arboretum that day?! I felt a little bit like an evil genius following his location to their exact spot, and I almost walked straight past a man wearing a full suit and jacket pacing back and forth, until I realized that was my sweet, nervous now-husband. /
I arrive at the party spot blissfully unaware that anything is going wrong besides getting off schedule. We had enlisted Joe and Kathryn’s freighbors (friend + neighbors) to set up the party room and I expected to have to do some last minute tweaks so I arrived early, because, you know, control freak. I wanted to hang photos of Joe and Kathryn throughout their relationship from balloons and have them floating around the room. (Sound familiar? I had a very similar engagement set up!) However, they executed my vision beautifully and I had nothing to do besides sit and wait. Kathryn, of course, had no idea we had assembled even more people for this party—though I’m sure she had her suspicions—so it was a surprise!
Once Joe and Kathryn arrived everyone congratulated the newly engaged couple, took photos, ate some dinner, and then we got another curve ball. We hadn’t hit the minimum spend for the private room. We spent a little time panicking about how to fix this as guests trickled out and it was resolved by moving the rest of our party outside and purchasing a LOT of wine. This is another situation that could have gone very badly but, in my opinion, was the best part of the day. We took a bunch of cute photos outside, sipped wine on the lawn, and then live music came out for us to dance to. We told them about Joe and Kathryn’s engagement and the band gave them a shoutout and played them a song. It was such a blissfully wine-drunk, totally chill party that grew organically out of this mistake. That evening reminds me that no matter what goes wrong with your plan, everything can end up going so, so right.
Kathryn / One time, very casually, driving home from one of our many trips to the Dallas Arboretum (we have season passes) I had mentioned that the restaurant across the street would be a great place to host a party after an arboretum engagement. When we showed up at the restaurant right across the street, it was clear that Joe had really heard me and made it happen. It was the best night, and it meant so much to me that Joe and Summer had made such meticulous plans to really make our engagement and after-party special. /
After our wine party we headed back over to Truck Yard (scavenger hunt stop #2!) for a snack and one last drink. Kathryn nearly fell asleep (totally common for her) so we sent them on their way back to Kathryn’s apartment—Joe and Kathryn weren’t living together at this point. Joe and I had asked Kathryn’s childhood neighbor turned adulthood friend (the original freighbor) to help us get the apartment set up. She snuck in during our whirlwind of a day and spread rose petals, set up a little sign and left a bottle of champagne.
And Good Morning!
Okay, I’m starting to realize how extra I really was now that we’re moving to THE NEXT FREAKING DAY, but like, I couldn’t help it. A small group of us met up the next morning for brunch at the restaurant where Joe and Kathryn had their first date. We sat in this really cool cloistered booth and chatted about wedding plans—two of our friends were already engaged at this point so they had a lot to say—and it was super cozy and lovely. Joe and Kathryn got to take a photo together (their last one since the restaurant is now closed!). Then, since it was Memorial Day weekend, we headed for the pool, where I tried to convince Kathryn to have a New Year’s Eve wedding to ring in 2020 and that’s where the wedding planning begins; read the next installment here!
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!