Our Engagement (A Boston Uni. Love Story) - cinemajubilee.com

Behind the Scenes

Our Engagement (A Boston Uni. Love Story)

June 14, 2019

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On December 14th, 2018, we got engaged! Six months later, we’re finally sharing how it all went down! We thought we’d do a fun little blog to share both sides of the story.

Anywhere you see normal text (like this) it’s Abraham speaking.

And anywhere you see italicized text like this it’s Daniella’s comments!

A newly engaged couple kiss on the Green line T tracks on Comm Ave with the Prudential Tower in the background.
Photo by Lauren Dobish Photography

The Time Has Come

For anyone who knows me well, you probably know I can be pretty spontaneous, with a hint of planning mixed into my personality too (others would say I’m a procrastinator LOL)…Well, I like to call it “spontaneous planning!!” Anyway, I recently used part of my “spontaneous planning” traits to man up and get down on one knee to propose to my angel, Daniella. Thank God, she said “YES!”

After knowing each other for six years, and being together for five, this was really something that I felt God had put in my heart, and the timing was just right for both of us. As the days started getting shorter and 2018 began dwindling, I realized I needed to take our relationship to the next level.

I Can See Clearly Now

In late October/early November, I began imagining us as an engaged couple someday soon. But at that time, I didn’t have any inkling of a tangible “plan.” Or a coherent “timetable” for when or how this might happen…

However, after we went to Pennsylvania to see my family for the Thanksgiving holiday (it had been a couple years since we visited), things started falling into place once.

Despite a busy holidays editing schedule for our clients when we returned home to Georgia, all of my creative energy suddenly got ramped up to a new level. I saw with clarity how I would be able to successfully and memorably pop the question.

It Has to be Boston

Deep down, I knew I wanted to make it happen in Boston, where we first met and where we’d spent most of our time together as a couple. Boston is, in our humble opinion, the greatest city ever. We actually began dating there right before Christmas five years ago, and we’d recently visited New England back in July to be with my family for my birthday.

As we were waiting in Logan Airport to fly back to Georgia at the end of our July 2018 trip, Daniella was on the Southwest app. She saw really good deals for December flights. Thinking it would be nice to return during the winter for old times sake, we bought our plane tickets on the spot (while sipping Dunkin). I honestly don’t think either of us pictured a proposal happening in five months time…

A Southwest plane wing with the sunset in the background
Headed there…

So, with our 15-day trip to Rhode Island/Boston fast approaching, silly, spontaneous me, with only a couple weeks to iron out the proposal details before going to New England, had to execute everything without Daniella realizing what I was up to…

D: I’d known that Abraham had wanted to propose for a while, but I wasn’t exactly sure when. As we’d began dating in Boston during the wintertime, I, of course, had visions of it happening there and then.

Knowing that we had a two week trip to New England coming up, I did dream about it but can’t say I 100% knew he’d propose then. Leading up to it, I definitely had my suspicions. And yet there were also plenty of what I call “non-suspicions,” or things that would suggest there was no way it was going to happen…

Secrets, secrets, secrets!

Some more personal info about me: I’m the kind of guy who likes to use his iPhone only when necessary. Although I do find myself on social media late at night when I really should just be sleeping… For me to all of a sudden be spending HOURS on my phone in THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY, and then putting my phone SCREEN-DOWN, was definitely suspicious… At one point, Daniella said to me, “Who are you talking to?” I told her it was Twitter.

Getting to the City

To make things interesting, and for her to be generally less suspicious, I told her I’d gotten us tickets to see a BU Men’s Hockey game during the time we’d be up there. Somehow, we’d never gone to a hockey game together. I told her that was about to change—I picked the game that was happening on December 14.

Right there was the pretext I needed to get us to spend the day in the city. I told her ahead of time, for our lunch that day, we should eat at the restaurant we used to frequent. The restaurant where we ate the night of our first kiss: Sunset Cantina.

So, besides lunch and the hockey game, and maybe some casual walking around, Daniella knew nothing else about that day’s itinerary. Ironically, she’s the one with a Bullet Journal, the one who usually makes the plans.

Asking For Their Blessing

Getting permission from Daniella’s family members was super important to me. This involved having to coordinate private conversations WITHOUT making it obvious I was up to something. I kept telling her I had to “go to the gym.” Instead, and for example, I actually got food with her mom during her lunch break.

Then I randomly went to the grocery store with her dad while we were visiting him after church the weekend before we left for Boston. And finally, I “had to give tea candles” to her sister after she came over for chicken piccata one evening.

A tall reflective glass building on a cloudy day
Abraham visiting Daniella’s mom’s work

D: Before we left for New England, I definitely noticed that Abraham was on his phone way more often than usual. I honestly figured it was a recent Twitter obsession, which Abraham’s been known to do. He could go weeks without reading a single Tweet but then be hooked for several days straight. So I really thought it was just that. Little did I know he was planning an amazing day!

He also was frequenting the gym, but that was not suspicious at all because he loves working out.

One evening my dad invited us to eat at his house when all of a sudden my dad realized he didn’t have any lettuce. Daddy pointed at Abraham and said, “Do you want to come?” which I definitely felt came out of nowhere! I thought it was nice my dad wanted the company and they came back pretty quickly, but it did make me wonder.

I’ll also say that the part of me that was suspicious was very aware that I didn’t want to confirm nor deny these suspicions. If that makes sense. If something was really happening, I wanted to give Abraham the space to make it happen. I have a tendency of bombarding Abraham with questions. I do recall deciding not to do that, just in case.

It Had to be a Melanie Casey Ring

Besides obtaining permission, my next greatest concern, more than securing our amazing photographer, was actually having the ring ready in time (duh). She needed the symbol of the engagement after all!! As I quickly found out during my ring shopping, not all jewelers can make short deadlines. Especially around the holidays when SO MANY are planning proposals. But Melanie Casey really took care of me!

More Sneaking Around

On November 29, while Dany and I were at Lake Lanier creating video content, I suddenly “had to use the bathroom.” In the bathroom, I sent Melanie Casey an email asking if they’d be able to allow in-person pickup for the day before, December 13. They traditionally mail out their jewelry to clients. And I was worried because I’d kept seeing on their website/social media to place your orders early due to the increased holiday volume.

I had no backup jeweler. It had to be Melanie Casey. Based on what I knew about Dany’s tastes and the fact that we’d literally discussed the quality of Melanie Casey rings for months leading up to this moment, there could be no substitutes.

Luckily, within minutes, they replied back and said they could totally do the in-person pickup for me. I was beyond ecstatic as I stood in that stinky public bathroom because it meant this all was becoming REAL!

Secret Video Updates

Throughout the different stages of planning the proposal, I was recording video updates on my phone, usually in the car on the way to or back from the gym.

Ironically, I worked out more during that last week before heading to New England. I joked in one of the videos I should propose to her more often, I’d be in better shape!!

For example, there was an update after each one of her family members gave their blessing/permission. After I got the ring. After I spoke with my parents and grandma about my plans. After I reached out to several photographers for quotes (her sister even helped me do that). And then a video update in New England when I had to come up with a valid excuse to go get her ring on my own. An excuse that would allow me to physically pick up the ring from Melanie Casey’s old location in North Andover.

D: Abraham knew that I wanted yellow gold and something simple. I’m not a fan of chunky jewelry and prefer delicate pieces. My ring is perfect! Melanie Casey does such beautiful work and their customer service is top notch! My ring was slightly loose (by a half size) so I had to send it back to be resized. But they did it so quickly. It fits my finger and my style so well 🙂 Also the fact that it’s called the “Snow Owl” is so meaningful as our first kiss was in the snow!

Melanie Casey ring with a newly engaged couple kissing
Photo by Lauren Dobish Photography, Ring by Melanie Casey!

The Auction?

The excuse came about by suggestion of my grandma. She said maybe it could be something relating to helping my dad with business. Some sort of errand Daniella wouldn’t be interested in participating in.

So, I came up with going to the car auction with my dad, which was all the more perfect because the auction happens weekly every Thursday. December 13, the day before I proposed, was this very Thursday! Did I mention how spontaneous I am??

In full transparency, I was shocked at how easily she bought my “headed to the auction” excuse. But what I didn’t anticipate were the questions after I returned from it. “How was your dad?” she asked me. “Was it busy? Did you buy a lot of cars?” As I sat there and sold her more white lies, I kept praying to God that He’d forgive me for my temporary misdirection!  

D: On Thursday, the day before he proposed, he planned on going to the car auction with his dad. His dad sells cars and I knew that the auction only happened on Thursdays. I honestly thought it was so nice he was spending time with his dad! Both of his parents even had reactions to this “auction visit”, with his mom asking how it was and his dad commenting on some of the people there. In front of us both. ZERO SUSPICION PEOPLE.

A Walk Down Memory Lane

A couple days before picking it up, though, the other last minute detail was that I needed to start finalizing the old pictures I would show her at strategic spots along the Boston University campus. These spots would be where the photos themselves were taken back in the day.

It was a big debate whether I should print them out beforehand. Or just have an album saved on my phone to show her digitally. Through the advice of one of our really good friends, Lauren, I opted for showing them on my phone.

Part of the reasoning with the phone option was it would be less obvious that I was about to propose, as I’d established for several weeks now that I was on my phone a lot. For all she knew I was just being extra nostalgic or something.

D: Soon after arriving in New England, we met up with our dear friend Lauren for dinner. We went to Punjab Palace, an old favorite of ours. We were all so happy to see each other. It was just like any other dinner we’d gotten with her before. This consists of a lot of catching up, telling stories, and just a jolly time.

I COULD NOT believe when I found out after the fact, that she knew the whole time! She knew Abraham was going to propose just a few days later. Is it bad I didn’t expect my friend to be such a good secret-keeper?! Apparently, Abraham had been texting her, asking for advice and updating her on the process. Learning that meant so much to me, as Lauren is such a sweet friend of mine!

A couple about to cut into a carrot cake at Sunset Cantina
Daniella’s 22nd Birthday at Sunset

So Many Memories

The goal of the throwback photos was to overwhelm her in the best way possible. And in some ways, literally, recreate those memories for us. For example, after our amazingly delicious lunch at Sunset, which culminated with shots of whiskey (we did shots of whiskey five years ago, the same night we made snow angels as newly minted lovebirds), we headed to the George Sherman Union “to warm up a bit” and possibly buy some BU swag for the hockey game that evening.

Once inside the GSU, I started playing a song on my phone. A song we always seemed to hear while grabbing drinks and snacks from the City Convenience under Warren Towers: John Legend’s “All of Me.” Not to be confused with Drake’s “All Me.” Maybe I should have played that instead to throw her off…

At first, Daniella didn’t hear the song too well, as there were many students eating lunch and studying for finals in the GSU. But once she did start to hear it inside the City Convenience, she teared up and was like, “Why are you playing that? You better stop.” I was like “What?” Once the song finished I made sure she got herself a hot tea and that I got myself a Bai 5. Both drinks that we were holding in the next old photo I wanted to show her.

Two college students holding drinks at the George Sherman Union
circa Feb. 2014

As we were sitting and sipping, I showed her this photo. More tears flowed down. I hugged her, put the phone away, and we started people watching. But I think, silently, she was wondering what was coming next; namely, HOW I would propose. Yet trying to rationalize. Telling herself there’s no way it’s happening TODAY. Personally, I just didn’t want her to be too cold because the final stages would all transpire outdoors!

D: Every time we visit New England, we inevitably end up on the BU campus. We love walking around and reminiscing and it’s also just a good place to park the car if we venture on the T or just want to walk around the city.

The day was such a blur! The whole time we were in New England, it was cloudy and cold. But on this day the sun came out and it was slightly warmer. We drove into Boston and parked where we usually park, on Bay State Rd. The same road where we had our first kiss and first lived together.

Getting out of the car, Abraham said, “Oh look at the ivy wall, it’s all brown.” In the summertime, this brick wall is full of thick green ivy and the benches in front of it are some of the best to sit on on campus. Even when the leaves have died in winter, I’ve always loved it because I could always count on them growing back again in the Springtime.

We started walking and had to make a quick stop in the College of Arts and Sciences to use the restroom. While I was in the restroom, Abraham texted me to meet him in front of Tsai Auditorium, which was the main area on the first floor. This is where the day began to get blurry because I could tell something was off! I thought this was strange…

We set off walking to Sunset Cantina and every block or so, Abraham would pull out his phone and show me a picture of us/a memory from that spot. It was literally a walk down memory lane! Needless to say, it was very emotional and after three or so pictures, I just started re-crying each time he’d take his phone out again.

After a nice lunch at Sunset which included whiskey shots, just like the night we first kissed, we walked back up Comm Ave. Since it was cold, we had to stopp at the GSU. As we walked into CityCo, next thing I know, Abraham is playing John Legend’s “All of Me” from his phone and the tears start coming again! The story behind this memory is that when we first started dating, we’d always stop at Warren CityCo for snacks and this song was always on! At this point, I knew there was no way it wasn’t happening today.

Our Spot by the River

The next stop along memory lane was heading to the Charles River Esplanade, which we would typically access from the Silber Way footbridge, right off Bay State Road. All the while, I’m texting our photographer, letting her know where/how we are doing in terms of the schedule. Because I wanted to pop the question around 3 pm. I had to keep in mind the sun would really start to set around 4pm. So I needed to be romantic AND efficient. And yet, despite all the old photos I kept showing Daniella, she never saw a single text message from the photographer, Lauren, flash on the screen.

A selfie of a couple on the Silber Way Footbridge looking over Storrow Drive with the Hancock tower in the background
Silber Way Footbridge Selfie Summer! 2015

The spot on the Esplanade that I wanted us to go as our final throwback memory, was a very specific bench that has an awesome view of the Hyatt Regency across the Charles River over in Cambridge. The problem was, there was a young man sitting in that very bench already! I wasn’t just going to go up to him and kick him out.

So we had to settle for another bench, and it kind of cut our time on the Esplanade short, forcing me to improvise more than I’d have liked. She kept laughing at me in a playful way, saying she couldn’t believe what I was doing. “But what am I doing?” I’d reply…

Meanwhile, we reminisced about all the time we’d spent there during our years in Boston–enjoying the juxtaposition of the frozen river and bare trees with the distinct Boston/Cambridge architecture in the background.

D: Next we decided to walk to the Esplanade to this bench we always return to right next to the water. As we approached “our” bench, we realized there was some guy sitting there! Abraham insisted on waiting. I definitely wondered if that was supposed to be the spot!

The guy didn’t seem to be in a hurry to leave and the river wind made it extra cold out so we decided to head back. I think Abraham suggested we could sit at the benches near the ivy wall.

Back to Bay State Road

Sensing that I’d better get the show on the road, I had to cut the reminiscing short (the wind on the Esplanade in the winter can be fierce too). I advised that we walk back up Bay State Road to warm up a bit in our car, which was parked at the end of Bay State Road from when we first arrived prior to lunchtime. But I looked at the clock and it was about 2:40pm. So I had to surreptitiously confirm that Lauren was ready because we were about 20 minutes ahead of schedule. She was ready, she said!

An Instagram screen shot of a man holding a tray of freshly baked cookies on Bay State Road
Mustached cookie master

As we began walking back, I told Daniella to walk a bit ahead of me on the Silver Way footbridge. I needed to turn on the hidden microphones I’d attached to my person underneath my sweater. She didn’t notice me flipping them on. The rest is a blur.

Basically, once we got to the end of Bay State Road, by the ivy wall, I wasn’t sure how to proceed. I had kept her ring hidden in my drone travel bag. Luckily, Daniella got it in her mind that she wanted to throw away her empty water bottle. As she walked away from me, I realized this was my chance to pull out the ring. Across the street, I spotted Lauren preparing to launch into action with her long zoom lens.

By the time Daniella had turned back around from throwing out her bottle, I had the final photo I wanted to show her waiting on my phone. A photo of me from the day prior, holding the box that contained her Melanie Casey engagement ring.

A man in a blue jacket kneeling down with a ring in his hand.
The Drone Pic Abraham Took The Day Prior!

I’d taken this photo with my drone at the Southern New England Trunkline Trail. “Hold my phone for a second.” I told her. I knew it was the perfect mix of ambiguity and randomness, this sudden request. Like a hieroglyph, she’d tried to decipher what the heck I was holding in my hand in the drone photo. As she was trying to understand why she was looking at this weird photo of me down on one knee, I suddenly disappeared from her sight. And I fell to one knee in real life.

Instinctually, she tucked my phone in her pocket. As we looked at each other, I said, “Daniella, as you know, we’ve been together for five years now. And here we are today, where we first met, and where we’d spent so much of our time together. I do have one question though. It’s a question I haven’t asked you all day. That question is, will you marry me?”

Abraham proposes to Daniella on Bay State Road
Photo by Lauren Dobish Photography

Which finger is it again?

With tears in her eyes and both hands covering her face she nodded yes, and I was like “Awesome, I love you! Which finger is it again?” (This was a running joke leading up to our engagement, that I’d forget which hand/finger to put it on). With that, I gladly slid the ring on her finger. I stood up, hugged her, kissed her, laughed a lot. Laughing is an expression of my love language. Meanwhile, Lauren captured the roller coaster of emotions that ensued throughout the proposal itself.

After Daniella had a moment to process what had just happened, she was more than fair game for some cute newly ENGAGED photos!! Sidebar: I hadn’t paid Lauren yet because I wanted to give her cash in-person. Imagine handing over cash right after you propose! It was actually kind of funny to whip out money and pay our photographer in the middle of such a special moment…

D: Once we got to that area, I walked ahead to throw away something. When I turned around, Abraham handed me his phone again. But it wasn’t a picture I recognized and while I was trying to look at it better, I realized behind his phone that he was bending down on one knee! I went back and forth so many times between looking at the phone and back at him in-person. Then saw the picture on his phone was of him, also on one knee holding a ring!

Then he said some stuff. But I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT HE SAID! All I remember are tears and him saying something like “I have one more thing to ask you…” or SOMETHING like that! Then I heard camera clicks and realized we were being photographed! He got up and I still couldn’t stop crying!! It was amazing! I truly didn’t know I’d turn around and it would happen right there.

Even if I did have suspicions that it would happen, nothing could have prepared me for the magic of that day! From him getting down on one knee to the hours we spent afterward talking about how it all came to be, it was incredible.

He told me how he asked my parents and sister for their permission and blessing. I sat there in shock, having some of my suspicions confirmed, but then wondering how I could miss other such obvious clues!

He took me through the whole planning process. He said that the vision came to him when we were visiting his family in Pennsylvania for Thanksgiving. He walked me through ordering the ring from Melanie Casey and picking it up on the day before when he said he was going to the auction! I couldn’t believe it!

Man smiles next to his happy fiancee who just agreed to marry him on Bay State Road
Photo by Lauren Dobish Photography

Lauren Dobish Photography

What an awesome mini-session it was. Lauren Dobish was so wonderful to work with! She put us at ease really fast, and switched up gears seamlessly from the fly-on-the-wall approach of documenting the proposal moments, to the more deliberate posing afterward!!

She was super willing to accommodate our photo requests too, as well as talk shop about the wedding industry there in Boston from her photography perspective. We’re hopeful our paths will cross again soon. She was truly amazing and such a kind human being who delivered everything back at blazing speed, WITHIN A FEW DAYS! Sidenote: my phone had acted weird, but a month later, I was checking my text messages. And saw on iMessage, she’d gotten us a Sneak Peek within HOURS of our engagement. AMAZING!!

D: Lauren is the sweetest! When she introduced herself I immediately recognized her as the photographer who took our friends Lauren and Aaron’s engagement photos. Right after saying ‘yes’ and hugging and kissing Abraham, I looked over to say hi and thank her. Even she was crying! So, so sweet!

A newly engaged couple kiss at Boston University
Photo by Lauren Dobish Photography

We’re Engaged!

The rest of the day consisted of me breaking down in a non-linear and barely coherent manner, how I’d planned and executed on all these now real things. I showed her the video updates I’d recorded on my phone, which she loved!

I told her I’d recorded the audio with hidden microphones because even I knew I’d have a hard time remembering everything I said in exact detail. We chatted for another couple hours, in the car and in the College of Arts and Sciences, just processing it all together. We laughed, we cried, we hugged, we stared at the ring—it was all so lovely.

A newly engaged couple kiss at the BU castle
Photo by Lauren Dobish Photography

Go Terriers!

By the time the hockey game rolled around, we were nervous because my phone battery was running dangerously low (red battery status). I was supposed to have the tickets on my Ticketmaster app. But for whatever reason, I could not, for the life of me, pull them up. This was the final detail, and I simply did not recall my login password.

In the meantime, we’d worked up quite an appetite walking at least four miles, if not more, throughout that day. We went to one of our old stomping grounds, Roast Beast. Here, we split an epic-tasting Sam Five sandwich. Boy, did that hit the spot! While we were now happily full, we still didn’t have our tickets, though!! I reasoned that maybe if I showed my ID they would pull up our info and let us in.

At the ticket counter of Agganis Arena, the young lady was super helpful. Indeed, my ID was all she needed to print us our tickets. Crisis averted! As we began to find our seats, I plopped down and realized how exhausted I was from weeks of planning that had FINALLY come together in what felt like THE BLINK OF AN EYE.

Daniella commented that I looked so tired, and she kept wanting me to get a beer to celebrate. I said “If I get a beer, I’ll fall asleep.” Old-man status achieved! Thankfully, the hockey game proved to be the perfect activity to unwind post-proposal.

The intensity of the back and forth action was so entertaining and capped off the night in a fun, almost transcendent fashion. The aesthetics, the sounds of a live college hockey experience was entertaining enough for us to quietly soak in all that had just occurred. We’re the type of people who never really stop thinking about new memories.

Of course, we were lucky enough to witness a Terrier win, so that certainly was a great sign too! Speaking of which, we actually can’t wait to go back next season, but as a MARRIED COUPLE, to shout “GO TERRIERS!!!”

D: I felt so bad that Abraham was so tired! I could tell it was the result of so many weeks of quiet planning and coordinating to pull the whole thing off. But he did it amazingly like he always does. I couldn’t have a better fiancé!

A newly engage couple on Commonwealth Avenue at BU
Comm Ave’s Newest Engaged Couple

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