On December 19th, 2013, one Andrew Clayton Butler (herein referred to as Drew), proposed marriage to one Lesley Lauren Key (herein referred to as Lauren), at the Lefrak Center in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, New York, USA. After an awkward, stuttered, popped question, and a few moments of disbelief, Lauren said yes.

Yes, I know, this notice is a tad bit late, but better late than never.

I proposed to Lauren while we were ice skating at the then new Lakeside ice arena in Prospect Park. I had planned on doing this for quite some time, but never could really figure out exactly the right way to do it. I knew only three things: 1) that I needed to have a ring; 2) I wanted to do it somewhere out in the world; and 3) she shouldn’t know it was coming.

The Ring

For Thanksgiving the month before we decided to do our own thing and go to Boston for an extended weekend. While the trip was cold and the food was far pricier than we had anticipated, I had something else on my mind. For at least several weeks before I had been thinking about the question of, how does one shop to find a ring, without the other person knowing? There are so many considerations.

On the obvious side, there is ring size. I had been sort of looking at some of her other rings, looking at how they fit on my pinky, but none of them were really accurately sized rings, nor was this an accurate way to measure. Then there was the question of taste. Did she even like diamonds? Lauren never really talked about them. She always talked about things that sound more anti-establishment, so how would she feel about a more conventional diamond ring?

So, while we were walking the streets of Boston, toward Boston Commons, we passed a jewelry store, and in an effort to do a little fact finding. So I popped the question, “what are your thoughts about fancy jewelry? Ya know, like diamond earrings and such?” Real smooth, I know. Lucky for me though, she didn’t suspect a thing and it started a good conversation about brands she likes and confirms the fact, that she did indeed like diamonds. What a fool I am, of course she does. Who doesn’t?

Over the next few weeks, I made a couple trips out to a local Tiffany, which she indicated was a favorite, while on my lunch break. I knew the ring I wanted to get her within 5 minutes of walking into the store the first time, but it took a few more visits for me to really pull the trigger. Part of me felt I should be shopping around a bit, checking for better prices, being a more responsible consumer overall. The other part of me knew the ring was right and I didn’t want to mess that up by going against my gut.

So I pulled the trigger. One Friday afternoon, I left work for a couple hours, went to Tiffany, spent some time with a nice gentleman, who helped me figure out exactly which Cut/Clarity/Carat/Color to buy. The only thing was, no one else knew. I didn’t tell my parents, friends, coworkers. I told no one. The reason being, I didn’t want to risk anyone letting anything slip, and in someways, I wanted to get the surprise reaction after she said yes (assuming of course she did). 

The Tiffany Classic Setting. She loved it.
The Tiffany Classic Setting. She loved it.

Somewhere Out In The World

I knew our 2-year anniversary was coming up on December 15th. I also knew that Lauren’s parents were going to be in town up until that day. I had at first thought about proposing while they were in town, but I wasn’t exactly sure how I wanted to do it. All I really knew was that I wanted it to be on or around our anniversary and out in the world, in a place where we could always remember, “this is where we got engaged.” 

Just 2 weeks before Lauren told me about an event the Prospect Park Alliance was holding for members, to celebrate the opening of the new Lefrak Center at the new Lakeside, with a few ice skating night. It was a couple days after our actual anniversary, but I knew that it was the right setting, because for the last 2-years we had been watching this new part of the park that we love get built, running by the construction site. To get to be a part of its unveiling would be great on its own. To use this as the stage for an engagement, even better.

All that was left was to even get in. 

So I joined the Prospect Park Alliance, I signed up for the event, and heard nothing back…

So I contacted them. Response: event is full. Signup closed weeks ago.

Not cool. Lauren seemed a bit disappointed, but not knowing what I was planning was a little more ready to give up on the idea than I was. I knew however that we had to go that night, so I started contacting people and asking to get added to the list. Best I could do was get added to a waiting list, so I said, “yes! Please!” And I waited.

Getting toward the deadline. Lauren was getting more and more excited about just going to see the new Whole Foods in Brooklyn (true story), but I was pushing for us to just go there and see if we could sneak in. That’s just sort of my style. Try it the right way, if that doesn’t work, sneak in the side entrance and enjoy anyway. Lucky for us though, the day before I got an email from the Alliance and we were added to the list! We were in! Yay!

She Shouldn’t Know It Is Coming

She has no idea what I'm about to do.
She has no idea what I’m about to do.

As I’ve mentioned, I wanted her to have no idea what was coming. Up until this point, we had talked about everything else, from buying and house, to traveling the world, all the way to having kids. However, we never really talked about marriage, beyond the basic, neither of us was into big weddings. In fact, the most I knew was that marriage wasn’t really anything that she ever gave much thought.

I knew that she doesn’t like to be a big center of attention, so I wanted to make sure that what I did wasn’t some big scene. Not only would that make me really uncomfortable, but I knew she might not like it very much. But this left a lot of questions, like how do you really ask a question like this. Do you steer the conversation? Do you force the moment? I was so very nervous.

We skated around for quite a while. My skates were the wrong size and my feet hurt. She was fairing a tad better than I. Overall, we were having a lot of fun, but I was having a hard time figuring out how to start the conversation and ask the question.

As the night went on, I must have seemed very strange, as I was constantly looking for moments to start the conversation, but never really finding it, until we started talking about leaving. I knew it was “now or never”, so I pulled us off to the side, and in my usual smooth way, I said, “So I’ve been thinking about this a lot and I was wondering if you wanted to marry me? I’ve got a ring!” Okay, smooth isn’t really right. Not only was what I said not the most well thought out, imagine that there was a slow, stuttered, shy tone to the whole thing. No matter how much I thought about what I was going to say, in that moment, I lost it all and just jumped.

Lucky for me, I think she was shocked enough about the whole thing, that she just said yes. I’m still waiting to see this was just a mistake caused by pure shock, or if she really meant it. Either way, I’m still pretending she meant to say it.

What’s Next

We talked about it a lot, and neither of us really wanted a big wedding. While we want to include people as much as possible, neither of us is really into the whole ceremony and reception thing. Instead, we’ve decided to somewhat elope. While we’re still going to do a city hall type ceremony in Texas with a few family members in attendance, we’ve decided to simply focus our time on focus on one of our bigger priorities which is travel. 

So, on July 25th we’re headed to Thailand to begin our whirlwind tour of southeast Asia, including Thailand, Myanmar, Bali, Singapore, and Malaysia. We’ll be doing a small private ceremony on the beaches of Ko Phi Phi, August 4th, where we will exchange rings. We’ll then be returning to the US and legalizing our marriage with a judge in Galveston, Texas on August 15th.

Thanks so much to everyone who has helped plan everything up until now and for all the help that I know is to come. We’re both very excited to open this next chapter of our lives together. We hope in the next year we’ll be able to do smaller trips where we can meet with and celebrate with our other friends, who we want to include in some way, because of how much they mean to us both.

 

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