I always get asked "How did Dom propose?" and my response is always "Well, it's kind of a long story." It only seems fitting to tell the very long story on the one year anniversary of the day Dom sent me on a scavenger hunt that led to him.
Dom told me our friends were coming to visit from Toronto and that we were going to Atlantic City for the weekend to relax at Harrah's pool, which sounded amazing to me. At the time, I was working a full-time office job and doing photography after office hours, and it had been a busy week. I'd maybe slept a total of 16 hours that whole week, so I was exhausted and my brain was not as sharp as usual. I asked my boss if I could leave work early on Friday and he gave me the ok, as long as I ran a personal errand for him around lunch time. He told me it was the 25th anniversary of the day he took his wife on their first date. He was going to be out of town but knew she was having lunch nearby the office with a friend and wanted me to take her a card and a bouquet of flowers. Being the hopeless romantic that I am, I was in! Besides, I love being part of a surprise!
I left the office with card in hand that had "Michele" written on the outside in my boss's handwriting and made my way over to Starbright Floral Design to pick up a beautiful bouquet I'd ordered earlier in the week. I snapped a photo of the bouquet and sent it to my boss with something along the lines of "she's going to love it!" and walked towards Cookshop, where Michele was having lunch with her friend. As I was about a block away I got my phone ready to take video of her reaction. From a distance I peered at the tables outside, but saw no signs of Michele. I went inside the restaurant and as I started to describe Michele to the hostess, I felt a tap on my shoulder. My immediate thought was "Oh no! She saw me! I ruined the surprise!," but then I turned around.
I was completely shocked to find my sister, Jenny, who lives in Miami, standing in front of me and my sister Melissa emerging from the corner of the restaurant and yelling "Surprise! You're having lunch with us!" Pretty sure my jaw hit the floor. And when I say my brain wasn't sharp, it really wasn't sharp. I shoot there still in shock saying "Bu, bu, but I have to give this card and flowers to Michele." At this point, I was so confused and really had no idea what was going on. As we walked to our table Melissa just laughed and said "text your boss." I texted Greg who responded with "The card and flowers are for you. Enjoy your day with your sisters."
As we ordered cocktails and lunch I said "Wait! Our friends are coming in from Toronto today. We're not going to Atlantic City?" Melissa laughed again and told me to text Dom, who responded saying he had a lot of work to do over the weekend and my sisters really wanted to see me, so Atlantic City was just a cover up so I'd pack a bag, and our friends were actually coming to visit the following week. Again, I was still so confused and wasn't at all catching on to what was happening.
As we settled our tab at the restaurant my sisters told me we were going to get manicures - hallelujah! I needed one so bad, and Dom had talked me out of getting one earlier in the week. He convinced me we'd get manicures together at the spa in Harrah's. He actually said "I've never gotten one before, so why not!" (hahaha!!) I didn't think anything of getting manicures with my sisters, because when we're together we always go for mani-pedis. While the three of us were getting pedicures Jenny says "Oh, I brought you something from Florida!," and started rummaging through her purse. I said something like "What'd you bring me, a key chain? I've been to Florida before!" Then she pulled out a red envelope with my name written on the front. At first I didn't recognize Dom's handwriting, but when I flipped over the card and saw it was sealed with electrical tape in the shape of an 'X' I knew it was from him. This was when I had a feeling something was up, but I didn't want to jump to conclusions and be disappointed. In the card Dom apologized for picking a fight with me earlier in the week (so I wouldn't take a photography job on Friday afternoon) and said he had a surprise for me at the W Hotel in Hoboken and that the room would be in his name. He ended the card with a line from one of our favorite songs by Paola Nutini. I was 99% sure this meant he was going to propose but I couldn't bring myself to say it out loud and watch my sisters' faces drop if I was wrong. Meanwhile, Melissa was texting Dom "Is she stupid?! Does she not know what's going on??" Ha!!
We made our way to Hoboken on the Path train and hopped in a cab to the W. I checked in with the front desk and got my room key, and as I went to open the door, I hesitated and opened it very slowly. I thought maybe Dom would be waiting in the room, but instead there was a bottle of Freixenet on ice, Gerbera Daisies, Ferrero Rocher chocolates and another card with my name on it. This is when I was for sure that Dom was proposing and my heart started racing. The amount of detail and planning that he put into the day up until this point was incredible, little did I know there was so much more to come.
I opened the card as my sisters poured us a glass of bubbly, and became completely overwhelmed with joy and excitement as my stomach turned flips. In the card Dom reflected on the night we first admitted our feelings to each other, then told me "it's time," and to put on my white dress (that I'd packed in my overnight bad, hiding next to the bed in the room) and meet him on the Pier in Hoboken where we spent many summer nights and where we'd gone for a walk just two nights prior when he picked me up after a shoot (again, the planning blew my mind). Like the first card, he ended this one with another line from Candy by Paola Nutini.
I quickly drank a glass of cava to settle my nerves, freshened up and changed clothes. I basically speed walked from the W to the pier, stopping every couples minutes for my sisters to catch up. As I started walking down the pier it felt like it was 10 miles long. I kept my eyes fixed on the corner where Dom said he would be waiting, but I couldn't see him. As I got a little closer I spotted a guy with a guitar, but it wasn't Dom. Then I saw two guys with guitars, and recognized our friends Eric and Sam of Bird Courage. Then there was Dom smiling ear to ear. As I made my way to him and wrapped my arms around him, Eric and Sam started playing Candy.
As we slowly turned in circles and danced I could see people gathering around out of the corner of my eye. I turned to see both of my brothers-in-law and shouted out "Patrick!? Morgan!?," and then spotted Dom's mom, Francesca smiling and holding a bouquet of Gerbera Daisies. It felt like everything was happening in slow motion as one surprise after another hit me like a ton of bricks. After I processed the surprise of our families surrounding us, Francesca brought over the flowers to me and I heard the sound of a camera shutter capturing the moment. There are always a lot of people with cameras on the pier because of the great view of the Manhattan skyline. I remember thinking we needed to stop the photographer and get his information so we could get the photos afterwards. To my surprise, the photographer pulled his camera away from his face to reveal his identity. It my friend Patrick, who I'd tried to get to cover that Friday afternoon photography job for me but he was busy. He simply smiled and said "This is why I couldn't do your shoot" and continued shooting as Dom took my hand and got down on one knee. Everyone always asks "What did Dom say?!" I couldn't even tell you! I don't even remember uttering "yes!" I vividly remember my hands being swollen from the hot, summer day and Dom in a panic saying "It doesn't fit!" as he struggled to get the ring on my finger. So maybe I don't remember saying "yes," but I do remember saying "just shove it on!" and forcing that vintage beauty over my knuckle. Everyone around clapped and cheered as we kissed and passersby greeted us with congratulations.
We took a few photos inside the Lackawanna train station before making our way over to Amanda's for dinner. As soon as we pulled up to the restaurant my friend Alicia ran up to me and gave me a big hug. We made our way downstairs to a private dining room and I was yet again surprised to find more family and friends seated around the table. Seriously y'all, surprises on top of surprises on top of surprises. Dom did more than I could have ever dreamed of to make the day unforgettable. We had an amazing dinner and the largest cake I've ever seen, and finished off the night with drinks on the rooftop of City Bistro. It was the most perfect day ever.
Happy 1 year engagement-iversary my love!