So as some of you know, I got engaged at the end of April. My beautiful fiance, Mackenzie Streit, was completely surprised, which is what she wanted to have happen. Some people have been asking how this happend, so I decided to put it into a post that will be cross listed here and on our wedding website. It will be a bit long, so be prepared.
To start off, I had known for a long time that I was going to marry her. I had been planning and saving up money for a little while, and had planned on doing it towards the end of 2011. We had talked about it, I knew what kind of ring she wanted, but I had actually planned to propose in June when she was here for a long time. I decided to go out ring shopping, and ended up finding the perfect ring for the right price, which moved my timeline up by a few months. Ok, I had my date, April 30th, now I needed a plan.
For those of you that don’t know, I work at Texas A&M, and am the Community Director for an all-male and an all-female building. I had mentioned that I was getting engaged to my female residents, and they had jokingly said they wanted to help. Originally, I wrote it off as nothing, but then I started thinking about it. It could work. The plan was starting to form. I started off by writing an e-mail to the woman who was taking the lead in helping me plan, Katie Sivils, who throughout this whole process was a savior. I decided I was going to invent a tradition, which A&M has plenty of, and I didn’t think Mac would figure it out. So I wrote this e-mail and had Sivils send it to me when I was at Mac’s house for Easter the week before I planned on proposing:
So you were talking to us about how you and your GF have been dating for almost a year. We want to put you through one of the A&M traditions that is for people that have been dating for a year. It is called Rudder’s Roses. The tradition is that General Rudder, when he had been dating Margaret Rudder for a year, set up something for her near their year anniversary of dating. We want to be a part of it, so you won’t be able to do it on your actual year anniversary. The story is that he set up 12 of his cadets around academic plaza and military walk, and each one had a little piece about their time dating and a rose. Several years later, they were engaged and then married, but Margaret always remembers that time as the moment she really fell in love with him.
The Legett Ladies love this tradition, and we wanted to know if we could do it for you and your GF. If you are, I would need some information from you and then we were thinking doing it April 30th at some point. They don’t know what date General Rudder actually did the first one, but they are pretty sure it was in April, and I know you said she would be here on that day.
It would be super fun, so please let us do it.
Totally made that up. Sounds like a real thing, doesn’t it? Well, it sounded like it to Mac as well, and she totally bought it. I decided that through this I was going to play it off like I didn’t want to do this, and that I was being forced by the students. Kept saying things like “I don’t wanna go”, “This is stupid”, ” I will just tell them no”. Mac, being a Student Affairs Professional as well, thought that it would mean a lot to the residents, so she encouraged me to keep doing it. I “reluctantly” agreed, and we said fine.
That same weekend I was with her, I took her Dad out for a beer. I think he knew what was happening, but he played along well. Once we got there, I told him that I loved his daughter very much, and wanted nothing more than to spend my life with her, and asked for his permission to marry her. I had already talked to her brother, who is stationed overseas, and he said yes. Thankfully, her Dad felt the same way, and he said he would be happy for us, and gave me his blessing. I showed him the ring, and he loved it.
Ok, crunch time. Had the permission, had the ring, had the plan. Time to work out the details, which many of you realize is the most difficult part for me. I switched into Super Type-A personality, setting up timelines, sending multiple e-mails, printing a map with where the ladies could be set u, and having meetings all the way through. That whole week, I didn’t sleep much because I was so nervous. Finally, the day came and she was flying in. I called anyone I could think of on my drive there, trying to get some confidence and calm myself down. I picked her up, and we small talked until 6 PM that night. Right before, I started complaining about doing this again, telling her I was just going to text the girls and tell them I was sick, then saying we should practice being surprised since they are excited about this. She kept saying we needed to go, so I said, ugh fine, and we left.
The ladies were set up around academic plaza, dressed up, and ready to go. We went to each lady, and they each read one of the below memories:
I remember the first time I remember noticing you. We were in the waiting room at Visiting Days, and you were sitting at the cool-kids doctoral student table. All the Master’s students were nervous, and you were helping me calm down and talk about my experiences better during interviews. And I thought you were really cute.
I went up to Philadelphia for my grandparent’s wedding anniversary. I had mentioned at a HESA meeting that I was going, and you started talking about how much you loved soft pretzels. When I was in the airport on the way back, I walked by a pretzel stand. I walked by a few more times questioning if it would be creepy to bring them back to you. I finally decided to, and it ended up being a great decision. I took them to you, got to sit and talk to you, and you ended up texting me later saying you ate them for dinner. I fell asleep with a smile on my face
After a late class, I wanted to walk you to your car, to make sure you were safe. We talked about nothing, and you thanked me for walking you out. I wanted so badly to ask you out for dinner, but I knew you would say no. I am glad I waited.
During the time where I was most nervous about finding a job, you took the time to walk around Chicago with me and helping me talk through my experiences and what would be best for me. Then we got to walk around looking for hot dogs, and ended up back in the convention center with that weird guy that we adopted.
Finally I get to call you my girlfriend. I couldn’t wait to get to your house. The last few hours were the worst yet. I stopped on the way into town to get you roses, because I know you love them so much. When I got there, all I wanted to do was hug you, and we both started crying. I knew then that I would Love you always. We had our first real date on those few days, going to Harry’s, my favorite place in Tallahassee (outside of your house).
You get to see where I live now. You flew in on a Thursday, and I drove so fast to get there to get you. You felt the need to look cute when I picked you up, so you traveled the whole way in that beautiful red dress, because you know red is my favorite color. As soon as I saw you, we had one of those running airport reunions that you only see in the movies or crappy soap operas, but it just felt perfect in the moment.
I got to come see you now, and everyone gets to see us be together. We were both so excited to be seen as a couple, not only by the people we went to school with, but others as well. I get to meet your brother and your parents, outside of Facebook. I hoped then that they all liked me, and I know now that they did. Your brother worked an angle, like he always does, and got us great seats for the FSU football game, and you got to be embarrassed by me in the stands screaming my head off.
Our first “grown-up” mini-vacation in Houston. I tried to surprise you, but you are a tad impatient when it comes to waiting for surprises. We stayed at a fancy hotel, drank champagne, went to Dave and Busters and I got to laugh at you playing SkeeBall, which you got very excited for. I felt the need to hide my excitement at winning enough points to get something good from the ticket exchange.
Now we finally get to play domestic couple for over a week. I knew my first thanksgiving away from home was going to be hard, and you made it so much easier. We explored all over College Station, found the Asian Market, little shops, new places to try. We cooked two thanksgiving dinners, and one of them we cooked so well, it was finished about 3 hours early. You actually dragged me out of bed early enough to go Black Friday shopping, even though the alarm that went off at 3:15 almost ended our relationship right there.
- December 2010/January 2011
Now it was time for you to meet my family. You drove up, which I know was a labor of love since you do so well on long car rides. After spending a few nights with my family (and you beating my entire neighborhood in bowling), we headed down to the beach house and were able to spend time with just you, me, and my brother. We played house and cooked for Jim, and he loved your Buffalo Chicken Calzones almost as much as your own brother does. We went down to the beach and watched the last sunset of 2010, and I knew that this would be the last first kiss at midnight I ever had.
Well, if we survived the road trip together, we can make it for the long haul. Our room for NASPA turned into job search counseling and social central. I got to meet most of your friends from your Drexel days, and spend some time with Megan as well. After that, it was extended family time and traveling all over the mid-Atlantic. We had an amazing trip, and saying bye was much harder when we were actually sitting next to each other at the gate. I got to sit around and mope all afternoon until my flight was called.
At each memory, she got a rose, and I did my best to small talk during the walk from person to person. When we got to the last one, Sivils said the date was April 2011 and the memory was “This One”. At this point, Mac finally realized what was going on (she claims that she was completely in the dark up to that point, and just thought it was a nice thing my residents were doing for me). I said something very nice, that neither of us remember, got down on one knee, and asked her to be my wife.
She instantly said yes, then pulled me up to give her a hug. She didn’t even let me put the ring on her finger before she was pulling me up to hug her. She was so surprised, she was shaking, and it took a while for her to actually realize what was going on. I started to explain the whole process, and she started calling me a liar, since I was so convincing during the whole thing. I had put a few of my colleagues around where we got engaged to get pics and some videos. The whole thing went off without a hitch, and I get a fiance out of the deal.
All in all, it was a great day, and the start to a great life. I am very thankful to all of the people that helped me out, including Katie Sivils, Kim Breaux, Jennifer Hernandez, Lori Bumguardner, Kalee Bumguardner, Christie McKinney, Brian LeDuc, Heather Correa, and Susanna Knouse.