Seven years with Nicola and the time had come! Everyone we knew had given up on the idea of it happening, especially the family!
I decided to “pop the question” on Nic’s 35 Birthday. I had always said that I would never propose on a special date as it was too obvious but this was a double bluff as I love giving surprises!
I went to her parents house on Tuesday ahead of the big day on Friday that week. I stopped by and made small talk until the time came to ask permission from the parents. I just came out with it. “We have been together for seven years as you know and I have come to ask your permission for me to marry Nicola”.
They were happy – in fact excited and overcome with surprise as I think they had given up on the idea of it ever happening! Her Dad shook my hand and said yes, definitely, her mum stood up, came across the room and kissed me and said yes, welcome to the family! What a relief ‐ one big question down, one to go ! (the really big one).
So, leading up to the question popping big day, I was out at the shops buying presents, a cuddly elephant and a special I Love You card. I also bought her a “substitute” ring and not the real thing for the proposal to allow her to choose exactly what she wanted after the proposal. I also created a special CD with our very own special songs on it, the main one, track one, Leanne Rimes, How Do I Live. I booked the restaurant, a corner table at our favourite Chinese, Little China, a few miles down the road.
The big day arrived, Friday 3 June, 2005. The day went as normal, we both had the day off from work so I made sure I gave her presents at intervals through the day. At the end of the day, she went upstairs to get ready and I made my excuses to pop out. I drove to the restaurant and spoke to the staff, dropping them twenty pounds to make sure they would after us. Most importantly I had arranged that later in the evening at the point when I asked for coffee, they would start playing the CD I was leaving with them so they would play “our song”.
We arrived at the restaurant at 8.30 and we were shown to a corner table, the one I had selected earlier. When we got to the table, I made sure she sat so that I could easily get to her left hand side later that evening!
As we ordered and ate, I had also brought some presents with me to give to her throughout the evening, so that at the end of the evening when I gave her the “main one”, she wouldn’t immediately realise what was about to happen as she would think it was just the last of a number of nice but normal surprise birthday presents. It all went to plan and we got near to the end of the evening. Just one close call; after the final course I thought I’d compose myself before I proposed so I stood up and said I was popping to the toilet. As I walked away, she said “shall I order coffee”!! Oh dear, think quick, can’t let her do that it would ruin all my plans, so I turned round, very calmly and said, “no, not at the moment, I’m not ready, can we wait a bit longer?” With that I walked on to the toilets hoping she didn’t just ignore what I had said and gone ahead. Fortunately, she didn’t!
I returned and I knew the moment was getting close. What was I actually going to say when the moment came? Would it come out right, would all the planning work out? The present, the music, the proposal! The time had come…the waiters were already looking across as it was now after 11, the restaurant was a lot quieter than it could have been which was a relief! I nodded to the waiter and asked for coffee!
They must have been just stood there tapping their fingers and waiting for this moment, as within a couple of seconds, the music was on and the coffee was on the table.
Time for action. I pulled from my bag the final present from beside me, a gold coloured presentation box with a small gift ribbon attached.
She looked at the box whilst at the same time moving her drinks glass from the table to allow the coffee to be placed down. As she went to open the box, she looked up at me, with no clue as to the relevance and said, “oh guess what, it’s our song playing”. The waiters had delivered the coffee and the music in perfect unison. Perhaps they had done this before for many couples, after all, I guess proposing in a restaurant isn’t exactly novel!
Anyway, back to it – she had the gift and the coffee in front of her, she decided to pour the milk and then complain that the cream made the top of the coffee look like it had seen better days. I was now worried that by the time she opened the present and we got to the proposal, the song would have finished, so I asked her not to worry about the coffee but to please open up the box.
She did, and inside was a soft, cuddly grey elephant with a pouch sewn on the front in silver with hearts across it. I asked her to open the pouch and look at the card inside (the music was still playing our song in the background).
As she pulled the card out from the pouch, it was one of those romantic cards you buy from the card shop with meaningful words on the front and space on the back to write your name or your own special message.
She read it aloud.
On the front, the pre‐printed card said:
It’s time for me to say,
When we’re together
thinking of you,
you have my thoughts,
my love, my heart
At the end of reading it she said how nice the words were and then she turned the card over.
It read “Dear Nic” at the top and at the bottom, “Love Mark” and the space in the middle for the message was covered with a white label, I had specifically put it there so that she wouldn’t immediately be able to read the message until I had the chance to position myself.
So this was it, three seconds away from the question…..I asked her to peel back the label, and as she did she read the message I had written in large black capital letters:
“WILL YOU MARRY ME?”
At the very moment she read this, I moved away from my side of the table, went to my right (to be alongside her left and left hand). I went down on one knee, opened the ring box to show her the “substitute” ring and said “I love you so much, will you marry me”? I had always intended to say more, I had planned it loads of times, not exactly what I would say, but roughly some of the words, I however, was overcome with emotion, as was she from just having read those four very special words.
She was tearful, she was overcome with emotion, completely taken by surprise, she actually told me after that it felt like a dream. She still hadn’t answered me though, with the tears and the surprise, she forgot to answer, so I prompted her again, “so is that a yes then” I asked. “Of course it is, yes, yes, definitely” came the reply.
I had done it and it went perfectly. What a night. I stood up and looked around at the other tables and there were two overly busy tables across and down from us but slightly around the corner so I am not even sure if they knew what had just happened but I wasn’t to care.
The waiter then came round and took a photo with his own camera of the two of us. I had brought our digital camera and we asked one of the waiters to take a photo.
The wedding is planned for next year, somewhere hot on a sun soaked beach with all of our closest family and friends around us and then back home to a reception for the rest of the family and friends.
I just need to worry about the Stag weekend now!