Tuesday, February 3, 2009


I don't remember when I became a wedding fanatic. It was certainly before I turned ten. My favorite game was dressing Barbie in a white gown and veil and inventing a ceremony. When I started doing the grocery shopping for my family, as soon as I turned sixteen, I would buy myself one bridal magazine per market run. Jonda, the nosy cashier at Food Lion, would say, "Who's getting married?!" when she ran the magazine across the scanner, and I'd just bluff it out and say I just liked the pictures. I have every issue of Martha Stewart Weddings since its inception in 1994. In college, I started keeping notes about my (fictional) future wedding in a book called Brides's All New Book of Etiquette. Some of my winner ideas from that time period include "non ruboff lipstick" and "bubble machine for dancing." I watched A Wedding Story obsessively and often planned my career as a wedding planner, which included watching the Jennifer Lopez movie at least once a month.

At some point when I was still very young, I got it in my head that I wanted to be married on May 15, the Ides of May. I apparently thought it was a lucky Irish day, although a quick google search tells me it is no such thing. But I fancied the way it sounded, the Ides of May, and looked far ahead on a perpetual calendar for a time when I was grownup enough to marry and May 15 fell on a Saturday. I decided May 15, 1999, was when I would be wed. I was confident that all minor details, including a groom, would fall into place in plenty of time.

I was 22 when 1999 rolled around, and, it turned out, way too young to get married. May 15 fell on a Saturday again in 2004, only a couple of months after Austin and I started dating, and I don't think I even noticed. Since college I've helped with and coordinated at least a dozen weddings for friends and family, and even one paying customer. Surely one of the happiest times of my life was two summers ago, when both my sisters were married in the same gorgeous, crazy weekend and I had a major hand in overseeing both events. I still collect MSW magazine and I still file away things that I love as being possible features for future wedding events. But realistically, I toned down my own expectations. I'm 31. I don't expect as much romance and passion out of everyday life as I might have when I was fifteen. Of course I had once invented a million fascinating ways in which my betrothed would surprise me with a proposal, but these fantasies, as with many of the other digressions of youth, have faded with maturity.

Five years ago on Friday was Austin's and my first kiss. January 30. It's the day we always celebrate as our anniversary. At lunch on Thursday, a coworker teased me, "Five year anniversary... sounds like proposal time to me..." I efficiently laid out all the reasons why I did not think this was likely. For one thing, Austin and I share finances now, so I would certainly know if he'd bought a ring. For another, he's not much into surprises. Additionally, both of my sisters were engaged on their five year anniversaries, and I didn't think Austin even knew that, but if he did, that was way too much pressure. No, I said, while I do think it's something that will come up soon, I think when it does we'll just talk about it, and maybe go ring shopping. I'm not expecting a grand gesture.

And I wasn't even lying to myself, I swear. These were all reasonable, logical truths, and Austin is a reasonable, logical man. It's certainly one of the things I love most about him. We had planned a sushi date for Friday night at Samurai, and I was just inordinately excited about dynamite and crispy rolls. In the afternoon, Casey asked if we'd want to go out for a drink with them after dinner, and I thought that sounded like a good plan. I picked Austin up after work and we headed to Elliston Place. When we got out of the car I pulled out his anniversary gift (the newest Shepard Fairey book), and he made an embarrassed face like he'd forgotten mine. I didn't think of it again.

We feasted on sushi (Dynamite, Crispy, Sunday Morning, Jane and Sushi Burrito) and Austin opened his gift and really, it was a perfect dinner date. We took a self-portrait while sitting at the sushi bar. The waitress offered to bring our check. Austin turned to me, looked me in the eye, and said, "Will you marry me?" He held out his hand with a ring box, opened to reveal a diamond solitaire on a slender silver band.

I just stared at the ring for a full moment. Wait, what? A diamond? This is happening right now? I looked back at Austin and squealed, "REALLY?!" and burst into tears. I was laughing and crying and kissing him and said, "YES!" The waitress brought our check, looked at me like I was crazy and hustled off. I just kept crying and holding Austin's face. I had this overwhelming feeling like I'd missed something, or that I didn't understand what was happening. The sushi chefs, and then our baffled waitress, congratulated us. Once I calmed down (a bit), Austin explained that he'd told Trent on Thursday, and Trent was scheduled to tell Casey right before we went to dinner, so by then they were both going to be dying to hear from us. I texted Casey and told her we were going to come by, was that ok, and she wrote back, "Yes!"

We drove to South Street and I just kept staring alternately at my hand and then at Austin in a total state of shock and awe. When we got to Casey and Trent's house, they were both overcome with excitement. There was much hugging and tears, and a bottle of champagne. I called Jenny to tell her, and then Mom (more squealing, more tears, etc). The four of us went to Rumours together, and I got to show Shannon the ring (more squealing, some jumping up and down, and free banana cake). I called Dad (Austin had already called him Friday afternoon) and Agnes (again, the squeals) and kept trying to track down Leia. We got sleepy, and were ready to be alone, and headed home to make a list of all the people we needed to tell the next day. Before we went to bed I called Amy and Aunt Paula. I couldn't believe this was finally the time that I could start talking about our own wedding without feeling like I was fooling myself.

But really, I just kept looking at Austin, and thinking, I'm going to marry this man. It's not like any of this (other than the proposal) is a surprise. We bought a home together, we share lives and family, I've never been so sure of anything. Literally. I would marry him tomorrow at the Wildhorse Saloon if that was the requirement to ensure that I get this man, only this one, for the rest of my life.

Already, people started asking if we'd set a date. When I'd begun to think about it, as early as when we bought the house, I'd thought fall of 2010 would be reasonable. That would give us plenty of time to plan and save, and it would be far enough after my sisters' weddings to not be too much of a financial burden, too soon, for my family who traveled here in 2007. Plus we've got an important wedding coming up this summer, which will require all of my creative resources, plus some financial ones as well, so I figured we could cruise on "engaged" until June, and then start making some decisions. But Saturday morning, we talked a bit about when we'd want to have a wedding, and Austin said he didn't want to wait until the fall. He suggested May of next year. I thought, "May? Hmm." And then I said, "I wonder which day of the week the 15th is on next year." And believe it or not, it's a Saturday.

So guess what? We're engaged. And we appear to have set a date.