gettin' betrothed: how it happened.

We took a few engagement photos at our hotel...just for kicks.

There are two standard questions that I love to ask married couples: how did you meet, and how did he propose? They tell so much about a couple. Some are simple, not tied-up with romance, yet still laced with sweetness. Others are over-the-top and romantic, like a heart-thumping snippet from a favorite novel. A few are immensely personal, involving scheming, special places, people or experiences.

Gabriel's proposal was a pinch of sweetness, a handful of scheming...and heavy on the romance. Here's how it happened...

I awoke on June 9th in my coziest sweats, wondering just how long I could stay in my blanket cocoon. My eyesight was fuzzy, and I was unusually tired...after a few sundrenched moments I remembered why: I was in Paris, still recovering from jet lag. Eager to get started on the day, I skipped the shower, and Gabriel and I went for a breakfast of cafe au laits, buttery croissants and apricot jam. We spent the rest of the morning checking into a beautiful hotel, the Shangri-La, which Gabe had kept as a big surprise until we arrived. It was a breathtaking building from the 1800's, formerly the home of Napoleon Bonaparte's grand nephew...or something equally stunning. Most notably, it smelled like I imagine heaven does. The hotel had its own bottled scent, I tell you.

After taking a tour of the historic hotel and getting an eyeful of our rooftop terrace with an unobstructed view of the Eiffel Tower, we walked through the Jardin des Tuileries, past the Louvre and across the Seine River to the Musee d'Orsay. That afternoon, I cried while gazing at vivid Van Goghs and dreamy Degas ballet canvases. Gabriel was considerably less moved by the artwork, but enjoyed it none-the-less. After maxing out on art history, we started on our hand-in-hand walk back to the hotel, taking the long way up the Champs-Élysées, pausing to ogle the Arc de Triomphe and Ladurée, whose line was too long to even consider sneaking in for a macaron.

It was evening by the time we rounded the corner of Avenue D'Ilena, our hotel's black iron gates lay just up the block ready to welcome our weary, well-traveled souls. By this time, we'd conquered a 6-mile walk and several hours in a museum. Gabriel had gotten quiet and for the last mile had developed a habit of checking the time every few steps...but my feet were too tired and I was too sweaty to ask why. Our hotel was steps away, so surely this newly-acquired habit would stop soon.

"Bonsoir, Monsieur. Madame," the doorman grinned at us, tipping his black top hat and holding the door open for us as we padded up the white marble steps.

"Bonsoir! Merci!" Even when I was tired, I was always too chipper to be Parisian. We rode the elevator up to our floor, where I hopped onto the computer immediately and began uploading the photos from that day.

"Let's go check out the terrace...it's kind of hot in here," Gabe was looking at the time again.

"Hmm. Okay." I shrugged, kicking off my shoes. 

I trudged up the carpeted stairs, paused at the landing and turned the handle of our terrace door. I could already see the Eiffel Tower through the glass...but upon opening the door fully I lost any ability to speak. Our rooftop terrace had been transformed into some crazy-romance-movie set. It was covered in roses. Literally hundreds of roses...and countless candles. A bottle of champagne and two flutes sat on the glass tabletop. 

My speechlessness subsided, and suddenly my mouth couldn't stop: "Who did this? Did you order this? Where did all these come from? My birthday was yesterday!" Questions kept spilling out. I was flabbergasted.

Gabe laughed and casually lifted the champagne bottle from its ice bucket. As he worked to uncork the bottle, I continued to flit from rose-display to rose display, stopping to gaze out at our perfect view of the Eiffel Tower. I couldn't believe it all--the view, the roses, the romance...everything. But, in my stunned state I still hadn't added it all up to equal proposal.

"Come here," he smiled, handing me a champagne flute. He rested his free hand on my hip and pulled me in close. "I would just like to toast to the girl who makes me happier than anything in the world, and who I love more than I could ever have imagined. To someone who is so kind, so creative. To a girl who makes me laugh...."

"Well, I would like to toast back...to the guy--"

He cut me off. "You can't toast...just wait." 

"I don't get to toast?! What? What is this, 1940?" I spouted, giving him a spunky grin. Clearly, I was not grasping what was going on.

"No, you don't. Just wait. I want to toast to the girl who makes life better by just being around. And to the girl I want to love and spend forever with. So, Bethany Eileen...will you marry me?"

He pulled a sparkler-of-a-ring out of his shirt pocket and I do believe my jaw dropped. And then I said it. That thing I probably shouldn't have said, but did anyway:

"So, are you going to get down on one knee for this thing, or what?"

Ah, yes. I said that. The thing our children will likely laugh about someday and say, "That is so mom." But he obliged, laughing all the way, even dropping to both knees to repeat that question we girls wait decades to hear.

"Yes! Absolutely, yes!" I squealed as he slipped the shimmering ring on my finger. 

By this time I'd begun crying happy, happy tears. Then there was kissing, and I'll leave all that out for the sake of my family...cause...gross. (But really, if you're not my parents...I will confirm that there was definitely kissing.) Then I begged to know how this was all set up. Gabriel explained that he'd been in cahoots with the hotel for months, scheming with the staff to set up everything on our terrace while we were out sightseeing, then be out of the scene by 7pm. He even requested that they forgo any orange roses since they kind of skeeve me.

Just a few minutes after the question was popped!

Within minutes I exclaimed that I had to call my best friend...and my mother...and my father...and my sister...and my grandma...and the list went on and on. We stayed up on the terrace, calling our family, drinking champagne and watching night fall on Paris. Gabe defended his fourth glass of champagne by saying that although he'd been shot at while in the military, this was still the most nervous day of his life...so he deserved every drop of booze he drank. 

We ordered a second bottle. And room service, which we enjoyed while still on the terrace.

When the Eiffel Tower began sparkling every hour on the hour, as it does at sundown, we knew we'd spent no less than three hours calling our nearest and dearest...and it was time to slip away from the phone and enjoy the last few moments of our engagement night. We strolled to the Eiffel Tower, buzzing with excitement the entire way. It was late, nearly midnight, so we'd missed the cut-off for purchasing tickets to ride up, but were content to sit on a bench and snuggle. I stared at my ring through our interlocked fingers and let it all sink in. How much I was loved. How much I loved.

Sitting here, almost a week later and thousands of miles away, I still get misty-eyed and swear that night could have gone on and on...and I'd have not objected. I was overwhelmed...and it wasn't about Paris, or roses or a big ol' diamond...although those things certainly make for a great story. It was how very much Gabriel loved me that had left me overwhelmed. All the time, effort and thought that had gone into the evening. How well he knew just what would delight me.

While sitting beneath the Eiffel Tower, we pinky swore not to touch "wedding planning" until we hit U.S. soil. No talk of locations or dates. Or dresses. Or diets. Or bridal parties. Nothing. Just us. And Paris. And my ol' sparkly ring.

But I'll have you know, the second our return flight wheels hit the ground for a Chicago layover, I turned to Gabriel and said in my most ominous voice, "Let's...plan...a wedding..."

I've never seen a more frightened man. :)


Thank you so, so much for all your congratulations! We've had so much fun reading them over the past few days...and I'm amazed at the way women I don't even know in real life can be so continually supportive of our love.

And also, to answer a few questions, YES! That is my ring! Isn't it lovely? Gabriel could not have pegged my taste any better...although it sounds like it certainly wasn't easy. He claims he was more nervous about the ring than about the actual proposal. :)


  1. I am literally sitting here with goosebumps! And I'm on the verge of tears too. What a gorgeously told story. I am so so so happy for you. You deserve nothing less than the magic Gabe created for you. And major kudos to Gabe for being awesome. The trip, the plans, the ring, everything. You do realize that you live a movie-life, right??

  2. This is seriously one of the most beautiful stories ever. You are a great writer! You gave me goosebumps!

    Congratulations again :)

  3. YESSSS. I literally have a grin from ear-to-ear here at 10:30 at night reading your own personal romance novel! What a MAN.

    Tell Gabe he did a fantastic job and all the women in blogland are in love with him through you. Hahah!

    The planning he must have put into that night is incredible and I'm so happy for you two! I was telling Noah about you again tonight (because I brought up the Philadelphia meet up) and he said "She's the one who was proposed to in Paris right?". Haha! I think he feels shown up. You know how guys can be.

    I can't wait to hear about your wedding plans because I can't imagine someone having a more beautiful wedding than you (that's me speaking as an engaged gal too).

    You two sound like a perfect fit for one another!

  4. Oh my gosh, that is absolutely amazing! It sounds like a beautiful night and proposal. And I'm so happy for you two! Congratulations again, and have fun with planning the wedding!!
    <3 Kiersten

  5. I'm not a super romantic person, but I love this. I love that it is infused with your personality - "What is this, 1940?"

    So, so happy for you two. Absolutely adorable.

  6. what a beautiful story! so very happy for you!

  7. beautiful! i love how you tell a story!

  8. Congratulations Beth, I'm so happy for the both of you. Your proposal story is so romantic and beautifully written. Have fun planning your wedding! :)

  9. LOVE. IT. It's like a movie proposal, seriously.

    And btw, we have the same middle name. Same spelling and everything!

  10. This is such a beautiful story, I have little tears in my eyes it is just the right amount of romance and scheming and lots and lots of love. So HAPPY for you!! Your ring is just stunning.

  11. Such a wonderful story to share for years and years to come. I love it. Totally made me teary!

    Congratulations again, you two... And now, yes! Let's hear some wedding plans!

  12. such a beautiful (and beautifully written) story! tears welled up in my eyes, for reals!! I am so happy for you Bethany. you deserve every bit of that scheming and sweetness and romance because you are such an incredible, amazing woman. Gabe is so lucky to have you, and I know you feel the same about him. Cheers to your love and your future together! can't wait to hear more details on the wedding planning :) knowing you, it is going to be breathtaking!

  13. Bethany you are truly a wonderful storyteller. I was completely swept away by your proposal story. I'm really soo ecstatic for you guys. This was so romantic. I can't wait to hear about all the wedding plans. x

  14. this is the perfect ending/beginning to your endlessly romantic love story...LOVE IT!! high fives, gabe. you both had me in tears. i can't even imagine a more picture-perfect straight-out-of-hollywood sort of proposal. now we are all soooooooooo excited to hear about the wedding bells!

  15. I am so happy for you! I even teared up reading your engagement story - it was so magical and romantic, just the way a girl dreams it will be.

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  17. This gave me chills! What a beautiful story. Congratulations again and happy planning!

  18. Dammit, Bethany! Here I am, at work, trying to catch up on blogs, I mean work, and now I am all a teary mess! What a beautiful story. Congrats again, and seriously, that is quite a fantastic story.

  19. What a beautiful proposal - well done, Gabe! So romantic, and in such a romantic city - what a story.

    Can't wait to see all the wedding planning posts!

  20. What a great story - thanks for filling us in. It will be a delight to follow you through the planning...

  21. Does he have a brother? Haha! Great story! So jealous!

  22. Such a beautiful engagement story! Congrats!!! Can't wait to hear what you have planned for the wedding!

  23. This is SUCH a beautiful and romantic story! To think of all the planning your man had to do secretly makes it even more romantic! Congratulations to the two of you :)

  24. Oh my GOD, Bethany!! That is the MOST romantic proposal EVER!! Congratulations!!

  25. Most. romantic. proposal. ever.

    SO excited for you! :)

  26. Awww, what a great, romantic story! I'm so happy for you!

  27. i think this is the first time i have literally cried a little when reading a blog! soo sweet. and like you say, it's not just that the proposal was perfect, it's the love that pours from your words. a love like yours doesn't come everyday :)

    and what a stunning photo. you are both just too adorable. CONGRATS!!!!

  28. I just read this story between calls at work and I melted! I love the details and the photos and the look of pure love and happiness on your faces! Congrats :) That's an amazing story to be able to tell you kids one day!

  29. Love it! It is definitely right out of a movie! =)

  30. Very happy for you. I pray God's blessings upon your new life together. It's like a movie, only better because it's real life!

  31. what an adventure your life has turned out to be! Congratulations! Can't wait to hear more.

  32. Oh congratulations! The story is so dreamy. I had a feeling something big would happen in Paris! Your ring is so pretty! I just love it. I love romantic over the top proposals, I think it's the only way to go. So cute that you asked him to get on one knee! I remember the night we got engaged, such a fun feeling! Enjoy this fun time of life!

    When is the book coming :)

  33. After following your blog for quiet some time, I have to say its absolutely wonderful to read every post and how things have come together for you. This is a beautiful love story & this proposal is beyond amazing! Congratulations to you & Gabe. Cannot wait to start hearing about the wedding planning!

  34. Bethany!! I got goosebumps reading this (and I don't seem to be the only one)! It is completely clear to see the love you have for each other, which is absolutely inspiring. I am living vicariously through you and your fabulous life. Good things come to good people, and you are a prime example of that!

  35. You're going to think I'm a blog stalker, but I've just been sucked in! From one bridesmaid box post and I'm all the way back to the proposal. STUNNING, romantic, perfect. Beautiful couple you two make. Love reading your blog.

  36. Ok, seriously, I feel like your blog is twenty times better than any Nicholas Sparks novel I've ever read. I had chills and practically tears reading this it was so cute!

  37. OMG you really made me laugh out loud ! At least you got him down on one knee Eddy was to embarrassed out on the beach he didn't want the attention from strangers ! How do you write so beautifully you are so gifted ! xx


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