The short answer is: I didn’t.
I think we began discussing the possibility of marriage in 2007 or so, and over time just eventually reached a mutual agreement that we would, in fact, be married at some future point in time. So there was really no traditional “down on one knee moment”.
Once the actual planning started, one of our first goals was to save money wherever possible. Throwing a wedding is expensive, and throwing one five states away is even expensive-er, so anywhere we could shave off a couple hunnerd bucks would be extremely helpful. As luck would have it, we managed to do exactly that with Peanut’s engagement ring, which her grandmother was kind enough to pass down to her. In fact, the ring was actually two rings in one: engagement ring and wedding ring, fused together. She had the rings pried apart and shipped to me so I could pop the question and get things formally underway.
I wanted to give Peanut a memorable proposal story, but seeing as how I’m not the most romantically-minded person who’s ever lived, I was coming up a little short in the ideas department. (Conversely, I was coming up a little short in the funding department any time I had a really great idea.) So I had the ring, and Peanut knew what was coming; I was just waiting for inspiration to strike so the big moment would be as surprising and wonderful as it is in the movies.
That’s how things stayed for a month or two.
Peanut possesses many virtues, but patience is not one of them, and the idea that I had a beautiful ring squirreled away in the apartment was slowly eating away at her. More than anything she just wanted to wear the damned thing, which is understandable I suppose. This led to some rather amusing conversations where she would ask me to ask her to marry me. I took great pleasure in drawing out this particular brand of torture, much in the same way I poke and prod her about gifts every Christmas. It drives her lovably insane, which has become something of a favorite December pasttime.
(Worth noting: I’m talking about my presents here, not hers. As in, she buys me something extravagant and then simply cannot contain her excitement about the moment when I finally open it. If I push exactly the right buttons I can get her to just blurt out what it is she got me — a fun little activity I’ve indulged in going on five years running, now.)
I promise, though, that I’m not a monster. The whole time I kept her waiting I actually was building up to something. I had begun setting money aside for a quirky and memorable evening, perhaps coinciding with some date of dubious historical importance. I wasn’t going to merely content myself with stringing her along forever.
Then she found the ring.
I wasn’t even aware she had been snooping around for it. That was probably naive of me, and if I’d known the deceptions she was likely to sink to I may have very well chosen a more devious hiding spot. (Her Christmas presents, for example, usually live at my mother’s house until a day or so before the big night.)
The “big question”, which was supposed to happen in a fancy restaurant or a stock car rally or something equally momentous, took place at my Pepsi-can-covered computer desk, with me in my underwear.
Her, smugly: “I found my ring. You just asked me to marry you.”
Me, amused: “I did?”
Her, matter-of-factly: “Mmm-hmm! I said yes!”
Me, satisfied: “Well, that’s that, then.”
She wore the engagement ring from then on.
The situation was less than ideal at the time, but in retrospect I think it worked out okay for us. In my quest to create a proposal scene memorable enough for her to keep with her forever, I managed to instead set the stage for one so lame and anticlimactic that it wraps back around and makes for a legitimately entertaining story.
I guess that means I’m a romantic after all. Go me!