How I Proposed – Why You Should Always Stick to the Plan
Can you remember the last time you were really nervous?
I’m not talking about a few butterflies. I’m talking about ‘I might need a toilet within a few feet’ type of nervous.
Most marriage proposals seem to involve a flash mob, a ring hidden inside an Oyster shell, or a show stopper outside the Trevi Fountains in Rome.
My proposal covered exactly zero of these experiences.
When I first thought about proposing to Jemma I knew I wanted to do it on holiday. We were going to Mexico to an all-inclusive hotel and the scenery is stunning.
We had visited the hotel two years before. I knew the layout of the complex and the potential locations of where the proposal could take place.
Did I tell you we had been together for almost a decade at this point?
Most women would not put up with this. I’m grateful Jemma did. You have to be sure about who you are going to be proposing to, right?
Respect the Security
We decided to stay in a hotel, the night before the flight.
From memory we were getting up early and it made sense to stay in the hotel.
We arrived at the hotel, checked in and headed down to the hotel bar at around 2pm.
I had a couple of drinks and this was my first mistake.
Jemma was talking to me about the hotel in Mexico and how excited she was.
All I could think about was airport security, convinced the airport scanners would detect the ring.
I became more nervous, not just at the thought of the ring being found but also of the proposal itself.
I was confident she would say yes, but there is always a nagging doubt at the back of your mind.
Convinced that the ring would be found, alarms would scream out and I would be in my own version of a Dr. Pepper advert, I decided to take drastic action.
Fuelled by gin I decided on one thing.
Mexico and the backdrop of waves crashing against rocks and lapping on a sandy shore is not the place to propose.
Oh no. definitely not. What Jemma needs is a proposal at Manchester airport.
Blessings and Pies
Let’s jump back a couple of months.
Jemma’s Dad is an avid Peterborough United fan. I know, poor guy. I would go to five or six a games a season, some of them away from home.
I’m not sure if it was Accrington, Mansfield or Morcambe. Regardless, the pies were awful in each of the grounds.
The quality of the pie is unimportant I guess. It was important that I asked for his blessing to the proposal in Mexico (Yes, it was meant to be Mexico).
The match allowed for several opportunities to ask him the question.
I’m ashamed to say we left the ground and I did not ask him the question or his blessing. Nerves, again, got the better of me.
He would not be that bothered, right?
He has never mentioned it and he never would. He is a person full of integrity and he would not want to embarrass either of us by bringing it up.
Yet, as a Father myself, I know I would be hurt if I had not been asked. Paul, if you are reading this, I’m sorry.
What Does He Want?
Let’s get back to the hotel.
We leave the bar and head back to the room.
I’m convinced security in the airport has been briefed on my audacious attempt to smuggle the ring through security.
I have to do it now. The proposal has to be now. I can’t risk the FBI, CIA and Interpol intercepting the ring.
We walk into the room and Jemma splits off into the bathroom to take off her make up.
I dig into the suitcase and find the box containing the engagement ring.
I jump onto the bed and lay on my front, diagonally across the mattress, trying to look aloof.
I have the engagement ring box clasped in the my hands and my hands are drawn in to my chest to hide the box.
Jemma comes out the bathroom and my heart leaps into my mouth. This is it, this is going to be the moment.
I’m sure she is going to say yes, but what if this is her moment of revenge? What if she has been planning this all along and has lured me into her trap?
As she comes out the bathroom I stare at her like some crazed loon.
She spots the unusual look I’m giving her (keeping in mind I’m spread across the bed) and she is thinking only one thing.
‘We’ve only been back in the room a few minutes, neither of us has showered and we have not done anything like that since 2004.’
To clarify, she did not say this out aloud.
If only my intention were that simple.
Rockerfeller, Rome or Runway?
At this point it would be worth describing the backdrop to my proposed proposal.
A friend I used to work with has just got engaged tonight.
Her future husband proposed in front of the Trevi Fountains in Rome.
Google the image and you will see how beautiful it is.
We had paid for a room with a view, but this view was of the runway, with planes coming landing and taking off.
Keep this image in mind as we move on to the next stage of the proposal.
So, Jemma thought I wanted to go back to 2004 and have a trip down memory lane.
I leapt off the bed and produced the ring box.
Jemma started to shake and tears welled up in her eyes.
I got down on one knee and..
By the way, do you know where I should have proposed to Jemma?
A year or so earlier we had taken a trip to New York.
It became my favourite city and I’m itching to get back.
We took a trip to the Rockerfeller Cente and visited the ‘Top of the Rock.’
I hated following the crowd and although the Empire State building is the more iconic I wanted to go to the top of Rockerfeller.
I’m not sure what spirit took over my body at this point but I turned to Jemma, Central Park stretching out before us, saying ‘This would be the perfect place for a proposal.’
I’m sure you’ve all had those moments when you have spoken your thoughts out aloud and then regretted it.
She Said What?!
Back to the small, hot, room in Manchester.
Balanced on one knee, asking Jemma to Marry me, our backdrop could not be more different.
This was not the Trevi fountains, oh no, this was Manchester Airport runway four.
Imagine a man in a high visibility jacket.
Imagine a mine in a high visibility jacket with massive orange glo sticks in his hand.
Imagine a man in a high visibility jacket, with massive orange glo sticks in his hand, waving a jumbo jet into a parking space.
This was the backdrop I chose to ask the question.
Not New York.
No blessing from her Father.
In the end none of this mattered because she said yes.
She also made me propose twice. I think it was part shock and also punishment for making her wait so long.
Jemma, if you are reading this it should have been New York.
At the very least it should have been a sandy beach in Mexico.
Saying that it may have changed the timeline of the wedding, the plans we had for the future and we would not have the beautiful Daughter we are so proud of.
I would not have had it any other way.