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One Time, One Night

Steve and I got engaged on August 24, 2006, one year ago yesterday. It was a magical night that I’ve wanted to capture in writing for awhile, that is, in a more permanent way than the emails I sent to friends in the following days. I thought that one year later I would be able to remember every moment of my engagement night, but I realized that certain details were already slipping away when Steve was retelling the story to V, his close friend from high school with whom we had a lovely evening last week when he was in town for work. Perhaps a few too many rum punches for a Thursday night, but I digress.

Anyway, since I recognized that I was starting to lose details, I decided to go back to an email I sent to my closest friends from college a week after our engagement. I knew I kept all my sent mail for a reason! Haha. But anyway, here is the story of our romantic engagement night, told in part from my perspective soon after the fact…

First of all, I was completely surprised by the proposal, but it turned out that Steve had been planning it for months, and everyone knew except me – most of our friends, our families, and even some of my coworkers! I thought it was so perfect, because he proposed at the spot where we first met – Ravinia Park before a Los Lobos concert – and the fact that it was linked to live music, which means so much to both of us, was so appropriate. For anyone who is unfamiliar with Ravinia, it’s a beautiful park in the north suburbs of Chicago where they have an outdoor music festival every summer – everything from symphony concerts to world music to jazz greats to rock groups. The first time Steve and I met was in a group of mutual friends at Ravinia in 2001 when Los Lobos played. We didn't actually get together until 2002, but each of us made an impression on the other that night. Fast forward four years, when we learned that Los Lobos would be returning to Ravinia in August, and we got tickets because they are one of my favorite bands, and Steve always liked them too but became a real fan after we got together. Steve’s boss is on the Ravinia board, so she ordered pavilion seats for us when they went on sale. We usually sit on the lawn at Ravinia, but the way it's set up you really can't see the band from the lawn, and I wanted to be up close so that we could actually see the guys in Los Lobos. A few weeks before the concert, Steve told me that his boss also got us a reservation at Mirabelle, the fancy restaurant at Ravinia, although I later found out he made that up – he made the reservation himself because he was planning to propose over dinner! I should have been suspicious then, because going to Ravinia is all about the picnic on the lawn – but I guess since we had pavilion seats we wouldn’t have brought a picnic anyway.

We left work early the day of the concert, which was a Thursday, and we took the Metra out to Ravinia. Steve met me at the train station with three lovely dark pink calla lilies – again, I should have been suspicious, and I was a little confused, like where was I going to put these while I was dancing during the concert? But I didn’t think about it for very long. When we got to Ravinia, we stopped at a little bench surrounded by trees not far from the train tracks so that I could change from flip-flops into restaurant-appropriate shoes: my favorite pink ballet flats with little bows on the toes. We had a little time before our reservation, so we were just sitting on the bench, enjoying being outside in a more natural environment than downtown Chicago and as we were getting ready to walk down the path to the restaurant for dinner, Steve told me to wait a minute, he had something to give me, and then all of a sudden he was down on one knee with a ring in his hand asking me to marry him! Honestly, I was so surprised, my first reaction was almost shock, and I froze for a second – is this really happening?! – but then I smiled and said, “of course”, because really I had been waiting for this from Steve for awhile, but I was so surprised that it happened right then! But it was wonderful. The ring he gave me was his mom's engagement ring, which I think is so sweet and personal – apparently a couple of months before when he was home, his mom and dad sat him down and told him they wanted him to have the ring to give to me, which I found really touching. I know nothing about diamonds, but I have since learned that it’s a marquis cut, and it has an unusual band – I’ve always been a little different, so I like that it doesn’t look like anything I’ve seen on other girls.

So then we went to dinner at Mirabelle, and it was funny because Steve had originally planned to propose in the restaurant, and he had told them that and asked for a private table near a window – so then the waitstaff were all expecting it to happen there and when I went to the bathroom between courses our waiter asked my new fiance, “Have you done it yet?” and he explained that we had already "done it". He really didn't like the idea of proposing in a public setting like that anyway, especially the going down on one knee part – and I liked the private setting better too.

I thought we were going to the concert on our own, but it turned out that Steve had invited many of our friends to join us on the lawn to celebrate! So after dinner we walked into the lawn and there were our closest friends, clapping and pouring champagne, and it was awesome. Here are a few pictures:

Oh my gosh, we're engaged!

With a couple of my girls: Stacey, Jess and April. (And five-month Malia in Stacey's tummy!)

Steve with best friends and former roomates Bruce (left) and Travis (right)

Steve with Coco (Bruce's wife) and Hannah (Travis's girlfriend)

We never went down to our pavilion seats, but just hung out with our friends and enjoyed the night. It had been pouring for most of the day but it cleared up in time for the show and it was a really beautiful night at Ravinia – and it was especially enjoyable because we hadn't been out there all summer.

After Ravinia we went to Black Rock, one of our regular bars, and celebrated some more with another group of friends. As you can see, everyone was having a good old time!

One of my favorite pictures of us

With our friend Claire

With our good buddy and best man, Bruce

With Bruce and Coco (who just recently had a beautiful baby boy, Graham!)

People are getting silly...

Luckily Steve had thought of everything, and called my manager in advance to get me the next day off so I didn't have to go into work after staying out late on my engagement night. I also found out that he had called my father in advance to ask his permission, and for some reason my dear dad didn’t quite understand why Steve was asking him – he said something like, “Well it’s really Sarah’s decision, isn’t it?” which I think rattled Steve a bit. Of course, it is my decision, but I still think it was really sweet that he asked my dad’s permission!

I'm pleased to report that I actually made it home with my calla lilies, which lasted a really long time in a vase, but unfortunately I also lost a couple of things that night: my favorite pink ballet flats, because I had changed back into flip-flops on the lawn and my flats must have fallen out of my bag - and I also lost a cute pink umbrella from LL Bean that Steve had just given me for my birthday a few weeks before! I felt terrible about that, and a few weeks later we started getting a lot of rain, so I just ordered an identical replacement. I may have lost a few personal items, but that was minor in the overall scheme of things, since I gained a fiance!

The title of this post is taken from one of my favorite Los Lobos songs, which I had assumed would be one of the songs we play at the wedding – oh yes, the music spreadsheet was started soon after spreadsheet with the first draft of the invitation list – until I was listening to it earlier today and realized that the lyrics related to marriage aren’t all that positive! I’ve been thinking about this question lately anyway – does every song we play at the wedding have to be wedding-related or at least happy, or can we play some songs just because we like them or because they make people dance? The more I think about it, the more I suspect that no one will pay as much attention to the “messages” of the songs as I will. Also, I think this question falls under a certain rule I’m trying to follow, and that is, “it's our wedding, it only happens once and we should do it the way we want to as much as possible without worrying about the way other people would like us to do things” – and I think that means we get to play the songs we want to play. Within reason, of course, and we are trying to create certain moods at certain times – like during the cocktail hour, we’d like things to feel classy and classic with music by Sinatra, jazz standards, swing tunes, etc. When the dancing starts after dinner, we’ll start with music that appeals to a wider age range, and then really start rocking a little later in the evening, when we’ll also provide coffee out in the lobby of the Newberry for anyone who finds the music too loud.

Anyway, that’s the story of our wonderful engagement night. I was so impressed with the way that Steve had planned everything in advance and kept it all a secret from me! And the setting of the proposal was just perfectly appropriate for us and our relationship. I will treasure the memory forever, and if I need to remind myself of the details…they will be here.

A quiet voice is singing something to me
An age old song about the home of the brave
In this land here of the free
One time one night in America

- "One Time, One Night", Los Lobos


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 27th, 2007 04:33 pm (UTC)
I certainly don't think that the songs have to be all happy and love related...my playlist was all about songs that were fun to dance to, as have been most of the weddings that I have ever been to. And don't forget how many people have chosen "Every Breath You Take" as their first dance, something that even Sting cringes about - don't people get what that song is about? Anyway, Ry and I had "The Luckiest" by Ben Folds as our song, but hell, I played "White Wedding" by Billy Idol and no one minded. Have fun with it!
Jan. 19th, 2008 06:43 pm (UTC)
Daphne Bridesmaid's dress
Hi Sarah,

This is going to sound like strange request, but I noticed that some of your bridesmaid's wore the daphne meadow green dress. I'm trying to find one, but Ann Taylor is all sold out. Did either of your bridesmaid's wear a size 4 or 6? Do you think they would sell it to me? If so, please contact me at Jennifer.drapkin@gmail.com?


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


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