“Fiancé” is my new favorite word. It used to be “Lariam,” the drug you have to take to avoid getting malaria (that’s another story for another time), but now it’s definitely “fiancé.”

For those of you with whom I’m not friends on Facebook, A.) I love you for randomly finding my blog and consistently reading it (extra props to you amazing people who private message me to introduce yourselves!!), B.) I’m engaged.

Now that everyone is all caught up, I need to tell the story! So many people have texted or Facebooked (it’s a real verb) Aaron (the fiancé) and me asking for details, so I think the best way to reach the masses is via this blog! Honestly, did you expect me to give the story any other way…?

Grab a drink and a large buttered popcorn, because I don’t plan on being short-winded. I give you fair warning: One of my girlfriends responded after I texted her the story, saying “Reading now, be back in a year.” Obviously none of my friends are sarcastic or dramatic at all.

Even though we haven’t been together long (in case you hadn’t noticed…), this was definitely a “when you know, you know” situation. We met in April, became “official” in June, and by July, we knew we wanted to marry each other and talked at length about what that meant. He is the most loving, committed, and enthusiastic person I’ve ever met, so I wanted to be sure that he didn’t see himself with me forever simply because he was so happy to finally be in an easy, healthy relationship into which he could pour his passion! I had to question myself, too—am I just being crazy?? Is this just the wine talking? Am I compromising in any sort of way? Been there, done that, and no thanks.

However, after discussing every angle of marriage and making sure that we weren’t simply running on high emotions, we both came to the conclusion that this is it. I’ve never believed in soulmates, but for the first time, it feels like someone was handcrafted just for me. From the first night we met, it was clear that we had that “spark,” but on top of that, we both love doing the same things, socialize the same way, have the same philosophies and beliefs, communicate authentically and respectfully, have the same dreams and priorities in life, and are on the same page about seemingly everything. Except for black licorice. It’s gross, and Aaron doesn’t understand that.

Anyhoo, I knew the engagement would happen relatively quickly because we wanted to become family as soon as possible. There’s really no explanation for the progression of things other than that. We just want to be family and united in every way possible! Knowing that it could happen in the next month or two, we told our closest friends so that none of them would be blindsided. Their reactions were SO amazing and SO positive—particularly the ones who have spent a lot of time around us, which only further solidified that Aaron and I are perfect for each other.

I didn’t feel the need to be overly surprised in a conventional fashion, so from talking to him, I thought the proposal would probably happen at the end of August or early September. I didn’t want to know exactly how it would happen or anything, but I did know that he felt strongly about getting the ring from the same tiny mom and pop diamond shop in Brooklyn where my brother got my sister-in-law’s ring, and also where my dad got my bonus mom’s 10 year anniversary ring. Material possessions aren’t really highly valuable to me, so I assured him that anything was fine and he didn’t need to go all the way to Brooklyn, but he insisted that it be special, perfect, and personalized. He’s wonderful. That being said, he went to New York last weekend and I pretty much knew what he was up to…same goes for when he had drinks with my dad last Thursday. 🙂

Even with all of that exciting action going on, I was 100% positive that he wouldn’t propose until after his trip to Scotland. He left yesterday to be over there for two weeks, and the thought never even crossed my mind that anything would happen before the trip. After all, he JUST went to New York, and I knew the ring thing would be a process. It just wasn’t possible for anything to happen for at least a few weeks. Duh.

All of my friends who are engaged or married say they almost ruined the guy’s plan without realizing it…count me in as one of those girls. There I was, thinking I knew the basic timeline, happy as a clam and just enjoying the relationship for where it stood as of that day. As we did our usual morning commute to work with him behind the wheel and me slapping on some makeup, I said, “Babe, you’re not going to like this, but I don’t think we should go to the wine/birthday thing tonight. There’s so much to get done before you leave for Scotland, plus we told ourselves we’d be better with saving money. We just saw all of our friends last night, so I don’t think we’ll be too missed. Also, I want a night with just you since you’ll be gone for two weeks!”

This was Wednesday morning. The day he planned on proposing. At the wine/birthday thing.

Somehow, he didn’t let on to anything and after a few back-and-forth moments, we “compromised” that we could go for just an hour, not drink, and only order an appetizer. I made him promise we would leave by 8 p.m., to which he happily agreed. The poor guy just had to get me there! After work, we had errands to run before the party, and ended up not arriving until 7:30 p.m. (100% because of me). Everyone else had arrived at 6:30, but how was I to know that we were the guests of honor? He’d managed to somehow get me in a nice dress even though I hadn’t showered that day by suavely reminding me that The Cellars was a dressy restaurant, so I hastily pinned back my greasy hair that had been in a braid all day and applied some eye shadow. I kept asking him if I looked like a dog with my hair pulled back on both sides as though I was a cockerspaniel with long, shaggy ears, and he assured me that I looked great, but also said “You can bring a hairbrush in the car and do something else if you don’t feel pretty. You should feel pretty!” This should’ve been my first hint. When does a guy ever suggest that you re-do your hair in the car?

When we arrived, I remember thinking, “Wow! I didn’t know all of our friends were also such good friends with Matt.” (The birthday boy who was totally in on Aaron’s plan.) Still, I was clueless. I suggested to Aaron that we get prosecco or champagne to start (it’d been a long day…I’d changed my mind about drinking), and he said, “Why don’t we do that with dessert?” I did not understand. A) who said anything about dessert, B) I’ll just have prosecco now and you can have wine, mister. I’m in the mood for sparkling! He then said, “Okay, then lets do sparkling now, wine with dinner, and more sparkling after!” He liked fooling with me and dropping hints, knowing I wouldn’t catch on. I just thought he was being picky about what he wanted to drink with dessert since he’s such a sweets guy, and thought, “Um, okay, you sound like a man who knows he wants prosecco with dessert. You do you.”

We were all in the private room in the back with gorgeous brick walls since the restaurant is actually a wine cellar (the perfect place for me to get engaged, obviously), so we all ate dinner around little high top round tables. We managed to squeeze five or six of us around our table, but as the food was clearing, I noticed that all of our dinner companions had left Aaron and I alone at our table. I figured that they were just bored with us since we were doing the thing we always do when we talk two inches from each other’s faces because we’re, you know, in love and—as our friends say—shmoopy. I actually did call attention to one of our friends who ditched us, because she had not even finished eating and straight up brought her plate to a different table. As she was eating at the other table, I said something like, “Gee, thanks, Alisha…guess we really know how to clear a table.”

Not thirty seconds later, the server brought out the “cake” for Matt. We all started singing “Happy Birthday,” and I was in full out music mode thinking, “Wow, nobody was even CLOSE to choosing the same key…” when the server started putting the “cake” in front of me. I didn’t look at it, but instead said “No, no, no! It’s not for me! The birthday boy is over there!” Meanwhile, the birthday singing was tapering off…and Aaron stood up…and I looked at the plate. On the plate was “Will you marry me?” written in chocolate, along with a gorgeous wooden ring box, flowers, and ice cream. (I still have no idea what happened to the ice cream. Did anyone eat it? Was it good? Someone let me know.)**

I was so confused.

The first words out of my mouth after I stared at it for a second and then looked at him was, “What are you doing??” Of course, I don’t remember saying that, but there is video evidence. He then grabbed my hand and started talking in a low voice as though no one else was in the room. He didn’t care if anyone heard but me (which I love), and it was like we were in some time warp where everything else around us froze. I only remember him saying the words “adventure” and “energy,” and that’s about it. I do remember him getting on one knee with the box and saying “Shannon Marie Oliver, this is only temporary…” and that’s when the room came back into focus because everyone started cracking up. “Ahhh! No! Not the engagement! Just the ring!!” Aaron exclaimed. He then said some other words that I will need to watch the video to remember…I seriously blacked out when this was happening…and then said, “Will you marry me?” I cried. And when I cry, I cover my face. But I kept telling myself I had to say “yes” because so many of my friends had warned me that they had forgotten to answer the poor guy during their engagements. With my hands over my face, I said “yes,” but in that split second also realized I should say it while he could actually see me, so I said it a few times as I removed my hands, just to make sure the bases were covered and I’d said it the appropriate way.

I think I was even shocked that I was so shocked. We’d talked about it, after all. But as my dad had explained to Aaron when they spoke, there is “tactical surprise” and “strategic surprise.” The strategic surprise is long term, so Aaron would really have to hit me with a strong tactical surprise. He nailed it.

You’re probably wondering about the ring. Or maybe you’re not, but I’m going to explain it anyway. It’s AMAZING. We’ve already been instructed to not tell the wives of some of his friends because they’ll be too jealous and then his friends will be in trouble. I hope they don’t read this.

Aaron knew that if he waited for the diamond ring from New York to be completed after his trip to Scotland, I wouldn’t be as surprised when he proposed. So Aaron, being a romantic renaissance man, decided to MAKE me a ring as a stand-in until the diamond ring arrives. As in, he ordered materials and instruction books and created a welding station at his desk at work and HAND MADE a gorgeous silver ring. Not just any silver ring. It is the sailor’s love knot, which represents unity between two strands—a historical tradition of nineteenth century sailors to give their sweethearts when they went out to sea. Often times couples include a knot-tying ceremony in their weddings, and the ring’s knot is the same that is tied during weddings to signify unbreakable unity. Aaron is an officer in the Coast Guard, giving the sailor’s love knot on the ring that much more meaning. I still can’t believe he made it…I mean, that is some next level stuff, as I’m constantly reminded by girls who look at it with stars in their eyes and guys who comment about having to step up their game when they hear the story. His hands did not escape unscathed by acid burns and scrapes…apparently making fine jewelry is quite a process. (Thanks to the amazing friends in his office who helped him knot the silver strands and find the box!)

Speaking of the box, it, too is incredibly personal and special. It is a wooden box with an anchor on the top (Coast Guard!), and was originally holding a shot glass (HAH!), so he had to create the cushion. He cut out the back of a spare shirt he wears with his uniform, and rolled two pieces into cushions for the ring. I LOVE that his uniform is part of it! Just so special. Okay, fine, I’ll show you the picture…

ring

When the diamond ring comes in, I’ll switch this ring to wear on my right hand for the rest of my life, and he’ll put the diamond on my left. We plan on doing a special dinner when that happens…yet one more thing to look forward to!

So, when is the date? I’m not saying here, but I will say that my last name will be Leyko by 2016. <3

Thanks to EVERYONE who has reached out with such love and excitement! We are beyond excited and feel completely overwhelmed in the best way by the support we’ve received. Words really don’t do our happiness justice. God has put so much joy in our lives and we don’t take it for granted for a second! I can only imagine my mom beaming. She would love him, as will all of you who have not yet had the pleasure of meeting him!

Aaron and I absolutely can’t wait for the wedding day, so get ready to #PartyLeykoRockstar!

**Update 8/7/15: The birthday boy ate the ice cream. And it wasn’t ice cream, it was chocolate mousse.

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The facial sequence during the proposal:

7

What’s happening.

6

What are you doing.

4

Full on black out.

3

The moment he asked!

2

Yes!

5

I have to sit back down.

9

Did that just happen.

aaron 1

We had champagne at the end of the night, just like he wanted!

8

The display minus the ring box. Hope someone enjoyed that ice cream…