When You Don’t Get Your Dream Marriage Proposal – It’s the Other Moments That Matter More


I’ve lately been seeing people post about adorable and very Instagram-worthy ways of asking someone to prom, aka “promposals”. When I see all the creativity that has gone into some of these I can’t help but smile – not just because some of them are cute – but because it reminds me so much of what I’d once hoped and dreamed for in my own marriage proposal.

See, maybe I’m just weird, but as a young woman I didn’t really dream much about the details of my future dream wedding. What I did dream about was an amazing and extravagant marriage proposal though. To me, THAT was the big deal. So I absolutely knew that I wanted my future man to do something special. Really special. I wanted him to go out of his way to plan something big that would show me just how much he wanted me to be his wife. I wanted him to “prove” that my love was worth the effort it took to propose to me properly.

But, yeah….then real life happened. And real life doesn’t always work out as we naively imagine that it will.

In the weeks before the proposal, everything fell into place. We’d been talking about marriage seriously and Kyle was given a family heirloom engagement ring that was just my style and fit exactly. Since I was about to travel out of town for work for a month, I told Kyle I wanted him to plan something special for us before I left. So I knew the when engagement was coming, I just didn’t know exactly how.

At some point in our dating relationship I’m sure I’d told Kyle that I’d had grand and extravagant expectations for my future marriage proposal that he would need to live up to…or maybe I never did and just assumed that he’d know me well enough to know? I’m not sure; it’s hard to remember all the details now in looking back.

But I DO remember all the details of the actual engagement day.

Kyle surprised me with a trip to Disneyland. I like Disneyland and all, but it’d never been a part of our relationship and I was unsure why the location was chosen. But I still went into the day open-minded and optimistic to see what he had up his sleeve. At any given moment, I half-expected Cinderella’s carriage to swoop in and take us on an extra special VIP tour where we’d climb to the top of the castle and he’d pop the question from the tallest tower. Or something awesome like that.

As the day went on, Kyle grew increasingly anxious about the location we’d watch the evening fireworks from. Thinking that he couldn’t possibly JUST NOW be deciding the perfect location to pop the question, I assumed I was all a big ruse to make me think he hadn’t planned anything…when really he had. Because of course he really had, right??

I playfully played along with him, all the while waiting and watching and wondering when the big surprise engagement was going to happen. Maybe the moment the picture snapped at the drop on Splash Mountain? Maybe we’d be swarmed by a sudden orchestrated crowd all singing some fun Disney song in unison, complete with acrobatics and balloons and then Kyle would do some fancy number where he swung down on one knee and pop out the ring in front of a crowd of onlookers. Maybe it’d happen during the parade? Maybe there’d be a pre-arranged private photo op with Mikey and Minnie while a photographer captured the moment?

There had to be something big coming up. Right?

But the day slowly passed and nothing had happened and now it was dusk. But…the fireworks would be starting soon and Kyle HAD been talking about the firework all day long, after all. The proposal had to be right around the corner. It had to be. I was excited to see how it would happen during the fireworks show. I knew it had to be coming. Any minute now…

But Kyle was still trying to figure out where we should stand to watch them from. He ended up taking me over to a decidedly non-romantic spot in the New Orleans Square, next to the now defunct Fast Pass machines for Haunted Mansion. And as I stood there, next to Kyle, way in the back of the crowd away from everyone else, our fireworks view heavily obstructed by the towering tree branches above us… I began to finally let it all sink in:

This proposal was not going to happen the way I’d dreamed it would.

There was not something else coming. There was nothing else planned. I was not going to get the extravagant proposal I’d always imagined.

But I was going to get this proposal. In this moment.

And in that split second, I threw out of my mind any of the previous ideals I’d had in my mind of what my dream proposal should look like – and I chose to instead live in that particular moment. Even if it was not at all happening like I’d always pictured. The picture in my head didn’t matter. What mattered in that moment was the commitment I was going to make to the guy that I already knew I was going to marry, with the ring I already knew he’d propose with, on the day I already knew we’d get engaged.

The exact details of the actual proposal are now fuzzy in my mind. I think we kissed first. Then he got down on one knee and awkwardly fumbled for the ring box in his hoodie pocket. He probably said something sweet, but I don’t remember what he said. I just remember saying yes. I remember putting on the ring. I remember tears. I remember asking a clueless bystander to take an impromptu picture of us.

And I remember all the years that came after that moment.

Ten years later, in March 2015, Kyle and I went back to Disneyland.

We brought the same navy and orange sweaters we’d worn that first trip together and I wore the same heirloom engagement ring . But this time, we also brought with us nine years of a hard-fought marriage and the two wonderful children who’d come of our union.

There was no discussion as to where we’d watch the fireworks. No unrealistic expectations of extravagance surprises. Instead, there was just appreciation. For all the moments we’ve shared our lives together. Neither that very first moment, nor the current moment, nor any of those many, many in-between moments had been exactly as expected or as hoped for…but in the long run, none of that is what mattered.

What matters is that we did all those moments together. Not perfectly-planned, not perfectly-staged, and not always meeting our perfect prior expectations.

Because marriage isn’t about that first moment – it’s about all the other moments that come after. Committed together. Forever.



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