The Story of How He Proposed

Have I ever told you the story of how my fiancé proposed?

One morning, Jake leaned over my side of the bed and told me he had a surprise for me. I could not contain my excitement. What was the surprise? Did he buy those vegan donuts I love for breakfast? Did he find a home for our foster dog? Did he plan a trip for us? With Jake, it could have been anything. But little did I know it was none of those things and somehow all of them combined. And let me tell you this surprise, it did not disappoint.

You see, similar to nearly every bride in 2020, Jake had to postpone a big event when the pandemic hit, the proposal. Apparently, the original plan was to take me to a luxury wellness hotel for a summer weekend getaway. There a romantic picnic would be set up and waiting for us. And after enjoying our food and wine, Jake would propose at sunset. Obviously, that didn’t happen. What happen instead was a little less grand, but somehow romantic nonetheless.

We stayed in. We canceled our vacation to Tulum, Mexico (and while I didn’t know it at the time, our vacation to a wellness resort in Austin as well). We played cards and solved thousand-piece puzzles. We watched movies and drank a little too much. We got COVID-19 and nursed each other back to health. And while it wasn’t the most fun year of our lives, it was us—it was our real life.

But what also happened was the onslaught of questions—from everyone and their second cousin twice removed: “Why aren’t you engaged yet?” and “When will you two get married?” and “What are you waiting for?” You see by 2021, Jake and I had been together for seven years and I’d been getting those questions for about three of those years. The past year especially had become an endless discussion with all of our family and friends as to why we hadn’t tied the knot yet. So I decided to take the heat off the stove and matters into my own hands. (Little did I know that the proposal plan had been postponed—twice—by that point.)

I planned a romantic summer weekend away at a luxury hotel in Austin. I packed our schedule full of activities including hiking, kayaking, and drinking lots of good beer at local breweries. After a weekend full of fun activities, we ordered pizza, sat on our big bed in our fluffy hotel robes, and watched the fireworks explode over Lady Bird Lake with our dogs. When it felt like the weekend could not possibly get any better, I reached into my robe and pulled out a ring (oversized, I’ll admit), and asked Jake to marry me. Almost simultaneously, Jake pulled out a ring he had been carrying in his pocket for more than a year—that took him three months to design—and asked me to marry him. We laughed and said yes to each other.

The next day, Jake bought roses and a bottle of wine. He showered the bed with rose petals where we drank wine, took photos, and let it all sink in—we were engaged! We visited our favorite winery to celebrate (and take more photos of course). We soaked up every moment of our first days engaged before announcing it to the whole world. It may not have been a conventional he-proposed-to-her moment, but it was us. And I wouldn’t change a thing.

Showing off my beautiful engagement ring, a 2-carat Alexandrite stone flanked by 0.5-carat diamonds: one stone for our past, one stone (the color-changing Alexandrite) for our present, and one stone for our future.

But like many 2020 brides who had two weddings, I got two proposals…

Celebrating our (first) proposal at Eden Hill Winery & Vineyard.

You see seven months later, on a sunny January Sunday, Jake leaned over me in bed and told me he had a surprise for me. And since I am not a patient person, I pestered him endlessly until he finally told me that he had scheduled for us to go on a private hot air balloon ride that evening, just before sunset. I could hardly contain my excitement the whole day. Flying in a hot air balloon was something I had wanted to do for years, ever since my dad took me to a hot air balloon festival when I was little. Attending the International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, only grew my desire to fly in a hot air balloon. I couldn’t believe I was finally going to ride in a hot air balloon! I was almost as excited to come home and write about the experience as I was to actually experience it. You see, I thought I’d come home and write about our magnificent experience getting to help fill the balloon with air before take off and share photos of our first hot air balloon flight. But instead, this post became something entirely different.

Taking off on our first hot air balloon flight.

On this hot air balloon, our first one, thousands of feet above Dallas, Jake told me he loved me and that there was no one else he’d rather go through this crazy life with, and then he took my hand in his and proposed. After I said yes and he put my beautiful ring back on my finger, he pointed to an empty field save for four words: Will you marry me? My cheeks hurt from smiling. When we got back down to Earth, Champagne and strawberries were waiting for us. We toasted to our first safe flight and to many more to come. It was grand. It was romantic. It was us. But more than anything it was a reminder that I am in for a whole lifetime of surprises. Because whether it’s vegan donuts for breakfast, news that one of our fosters has found their forever home, or a trip for two, my fiancé is just about the most romantic, sweep-you-off-your-feet surprising person I’ve ever met and I can’t wait to marry him.

Thank you Rohr Balloons for capturing this special moment we will never forget.

Thank you to Rohr Balloons for making our first hot air balloon ride an unforgettable experience. Thank you for taking candid photos and videos the whole time. And thank you for being a part of our special moment. I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

The Will You Marry Me? sign.

Until next time,

Leah Pinkus

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