Saturday, February 5, 2011

Engagement: The Proposal

Consider yourself warned... this is the LONG version of Chris' marriage proposal. For a shorter version see here.

As described previously, Chris had me completely convinced that, although we had discussed a wedding for summer 2011, he would not be asking my parents for permission to marry me until Christmas 2010, and not proposing any before January or February 2011; that being said, he and I had looked at some styles of engagement rings but nothing had been determined. So when people ask me if the proposal was a surprise, the truth is, YES, it was. Not that we hadn’t talked about joining our lives in marriage, but that I was COMPLETELY CONVINCED that Chris had not talked to my parents yet and WOULD NOT propose until 2011.

During mid-December (2010), Chris started asking me some specifics about Riva Ridge, a black diamond ski run on Vail Mountain where my dad proposed to my mom nearly 30 years earlier. He said he had read an article in a skier’s magazine about Riva Ridge and the article said it was one of the top ski runs in the nation. Chris said he definitely wanted to ski Riva Ridge the next time we skied in Vail.

He and I planned on skiing Vail Mountain on our way out of town on Saturday, December 18 on our way to see his parents to celebrate Christmas in St. Louis and then proceeding to Michigan to celebrate Christmas with my parents. December 18th would also mark 1 year from our first date. I commented to my mom around December 14th that Chris had really emphasized that he wanted to ski Riva on December 18th, and if I didn’t know better, I would think he was maybe going to propose. My mom just scoffed at that suggestion. Little did I know, as soon as I told Mom my suspicion, although she scoffed hoping to deter me, she promptly hung up the phone and ran to my dad saying, “He’s going to propose on Saturday on Riva Ridge!”

On Thursday, December 16, I had a similar conversation with my roommate, Maggie, where I confessed that I was worried about how much I suspected that Chris was going to propose because I REALLY DIDN’T THINK he was going to, but I was afraid that I actually was suspecting it and I was going to end up disappointed that he didn’t propose when I had NO REASON to expect him to do so. I told her that he had been so honest with me that he wasn’t going to propose before January and I just had to GET THIS THOUGHT OUT OF MY MIND. She, having no idea that Chris was planning to propose, had an amazing, God-Planted (if you ask me) idea – she said, “I bet he is thinking about proposing on Riva, but

he wants to ski it first with you sort of as a dry run to get a feel for it. Then, maybe he will propose there in January or February. Since he has never skied Riva before, this will be a way for him to learn about the run to see if it is really an option for proposing.” I told Maggie she was brilliant and her idea made so much sense! Chris had not skied Riva Ridge before, and maybe he was considering Riva as a place to propose in January so OF COURSE he would want to ski it first to try it out. My suspicious were completely gone once Maggie planted this idea in my head.

Now on the subject of maybe Chris will propose – someday – on Riva, I confessed to Maggie how worried I was that he might pull out an engagement ring on the ski slope. I told her how many belongings I have seen get lost in the snow on the slopes – I’ve seen entire SKIES get buried in powder and they are GONE. How could he, in his right mind pull out a small, valuable engagement ring on a ski run in the middle of a snowy mountain? Maggie said she could understand my fears and if Chris ever broached the subject of proposing to me with her, she would relay my concerns about losing the engagement ring in the snow.

On Friday, December 17, one day after our conversation and my new conviction that Chris would be skiing Riva the next day as a “test run” for a possible later proposal, Chris caught Maggie when I was out of the room and told her he was going to propose on Riva Ridge the next day. He showed her the ring and told her to please keep it a secret. Good to her word, Maggie told him how concerned I was about a ring getting lost in the snow. Chris assured her, he would not drop the ring.

Chris and I packed up the car Saturday morning, December 18 to head “home” for Christmas – his home then my home. It was snowing very hard between Eagle and Vail with no signs of letting up, so I told Chris that we didn’t have to ski in Vail as originally planned. If he thought it would be better to just stay on the road and save skiing for another day, that was okay with me. He later told me that he really wanted to get me on the mountain and get me on Riva Ridge – but he wanted everything we did that day to be my idea so I wouldn’t be suspicious of anything.

We got to Vail and I told him that skiing that day was up to him. He said that I had sounded like I really wanted to ski, and neither of us had skied on Vail Mountain yet that season, so he thought we should take a couple of runs. So, we bundled up and headed out.

First we skied Northwoods, which is always one of the first runs I ski each season. My sister died of cancer in 2002 and her ashes are spread in the woods on Northwoods and a very small Vail charm is nailed to a tree, which marks the spot where her ashes lie. Each year, I look forward to visiting that spot of Northwoods. Chris knows what a special spot this is for me, and so we both skied Northwoods as our first run. It was a PERFECT day on the mountain – a perfect mix of snow and sun! It was snowing and the snow was accumulating so we were skiing in inches of powder, but it was not a blizzard that the snowfall affected visibility or temperatures on the mountain – a rare combination when it comes to Vail snowfall.

After Northwoods, Chris said we should probably head down the mountain so we could hit the road. He asked me what I wanted to ski down the mountain. It should be stated here, that Chris had kind of been complaining on Northwoods… his boots were giving him trouble, he wasn’t accustomed to skiing in powder, his goggles were fogging up, etc, etc. I told him that we didn’t have to ski Riva Ridge today because the last thing a skier should do is ignore what your body is telling you, ski too hard on your first day, and then injure yourself unnecessarily for the rest of the season.

When it was time to head down, Chris told me I could choose what we would ski down. I told him that if he thought he could handle it, I would really like to ski Riva Ridge home. Riva Ridge is one of the few runs on Vail Mountain that lets you ski from the very top of the mountain to the base of the mountain in one LONG shot. Riva Ridge merges with another run about halfway (Tourist Trap) and those two runs combined (Riva Ridge and Tourist Trap) enable skiers to ski from the very top of the mountain to the absolute base.

The story I have heard for 27 years is this: After spending a few years teaching my mom, at the top of Riva Ridge, my dad looked at my mom and said, “You have turned into a pretty good skier, Chrissy. If you ski behind me for this entire run – top to bottom, without falling, then I’ll marry you.” She skied behind him the entire way – top of the mountain to base – and he married her a month later.

Chris agreed to take Riva Ridge down the mountain and he told me later that if I had suggested we take a different route down the mountain, he would have come up with some way to convince me that we should take Riva Ridge instead.

So, at my request, we headed down Riva Ridge – none too quickly because it is a difficult run (black diamond) and it was snowing and it was our last run of the day so I was in no hurry. As we skied down the mountain, Chris and I took some video footage of each other skiing – what I did not know was during one of the times Chris was taping me skiing toward him, he added the commentary that this was our year anniversary and he was completely in love with me and that, “she has no idea, but I’m about to propose to her here in a minute or two.” Then I ski up and wave and wish him a Merry Christmas – having no idea what he has just told the camera.

About mid-way down the mountain, Chris said that his boots were really bothering him and he needed to get out of his skies to stretch. I was mildly suspicious that he might propose at this point, but it would really be like Chris to get out of his skies, say something romantic to make me think that maybe a proposal is coming – and then get back into his skies and speed down the mountain.

So, with mild skepticism, I paid attention as Chris got out of his skies and started reflecting on our past year together. Chris commented on how great this year had been and how much we had learned about each other and how he considers me the best thing that has ever happened to him and how after this year, he really believed that we could get through anything together. And again, at this point in the speech I was pretty much expecting him to hop back in his skies and ski away. Then he said the phrase which I’ll never forget, “I am really excited to marry you, Brooke. And when I asked your parents if I could marry you, they were really excited too.”

That’s when I realized what was happening – and at the same time, I couldn’t believe what was happening. As I let it sink in that he had ALREADY spoken to my parents, Chris knelt in the snow and unzipped his coat and pulled out a box – and I immediately said “DON’T DROP IT!!!!!!!” He assured me that he would not drop it, and he pulled out a GORGEOUS ring and asked me to marry him.

I think I was still in shock as I said “YES!” and he pulled my hand out of my ski mitten so he could put the engagement ring on. We hugged – I in my skies, and he in his ski boots and then he yelled “SHE SAID YES!!!!!” for all on the mountain to hear.

I immediately had a million questions about when and how he spoke to my parents, how he had a ring, was he really sure he wanted to marry me… all of those questions, and he was so excited to tell me all the details -- -- -- and then we realized that we were still in the middle of a ski slope and would have a 10 hour car ride ahead of us when we could talk through all of those details and maybe we should ski down the mountain. We stopped a couple of skiers and asked them to take our picture and then we skied the rest of the run on cloud 9.

At the bottom of the mountain, we put our skies and polls away and headed for the showers at the spa associated with my parent’s Vail condo. We ran into many of the condo’s staff members (who I have known for many years) and they were the first people to whom we told the BIG NEWS.

Then we each enjoyed showers, dry hair, clean clothes, etc in the spa and we hit the road for Missouri. We called my parents from I-70 near Vail Pass and they admitted that they had been living on Colorado time the entire day as they had been sure since my conversation earlier that week with Mom that this was the day and time when Chris would pop the question. They were also thrilled to share with us their part of the story – how Chris has asked their permission over Thanksgiving and how they had kept it secret for nearly a month.

I don’t know how Chris and I made the drive from Vail to St. Louis safely because we were both starring at my beautiful, sparkly engagement ring – and at each other - the entire drive. We were in an absolutely love-bubble. To be honest, we still are.

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  1. This is SUCH an adorable story. I love that you were able capture some of it on video--I can't even imagine how cute it must have been to see Chris talking about proposing and then watching you ski up with no idea what he just said. You are going to LOVE having that video to watch on anniversaries and other special days, and your kids are going to love watching that video someday too. Heck, even I want to see it now! Post it to YouTube! :)

    Anyway, I'm so happy for you and Chris, and I love that you're sharing your happiness on here with us. Keep posting all your engagement stories and news!

    -- Lisa

  2. What a sweet and beautiful proposal! I love how special it was for both of you! Congratulations again Brooke!


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