Alexandra and Ryan

How We Met

Depending on who you ask, you’ll get a few different stories explaining exactly how we initially met. If you ask me and Ryan, we’ll tell you how our paths first crossed while living in Fort Myers, FL through an online dating app. I was going to school at Florida Gulf Coast University and Ryan was stationed in Fort Myers with the Coast Guard. After connecting online, we quickly set our ‘first’ in-person date, which took place on December 10th, 2015. Ryan planned to take me to his favorite karaoke bar that was also an Italian Restaurant. But when we arrived it was closed for a private event. We drove around aimlessly looking for anywhere to eat, we finally found a quiet little Italian restaurant, Rosati’s where we talked for hours before calling it a night. Not long after our first date, we decided to make things official and here we are today.

Marriage Proposal Ideas in Naples Botanical Gardens, Naples, FL

Now, if you ask my sister Erin and my Sister in Law Amanda they will tell you that Ryan and I actually met several years before at my older brother Danny and Amanda’s wedding. The week of the wedding Danny and Amanda had Ryan over while I was in town for a cookout and dinner. Erin and Amanda made sure Ryan and I were left alone so we could get to know each other, but their attempt failed and fate kicked in three years later.

How He Asked

At the beginning of 2018, Ryan knew that it was time to ask me to become his wife. He knew it was going to be hard but he had no idea what kind of journey he was in for.

It was a Comedy of Errors from the start. First Ryan had to save the money and buy the ring without me becoming suspicious. That in and of itself was a momentous task. I had an impeccable “proposal radar,” which thwarted Ryan’s efforts many times. With the help of one of my closest friends Deborah, he was able to convince me that he didn’t have the money yet and it would be months before he would. That was enough to throw me off the trail, for now.

The second was picking out the ring, which turned out to be the easiest part. My friend Rachel took me to look at rings and had me send Ryan pictures of the ones I liked. When sending those pictures I may have “accidentally” sent one picture three times. Luckily Ryan was smart enough to pick up on the “hint” and chose that one.

The third step was actually obtaining the ring. They had a display model of the one I chose, but it was three sizes too small, but the store assured Ryan that the ring could be resized with no issue. That turned out to be wrong. Just a few weeks before the proposal date the store informed Ryan the ring could only be resized two sizes up leaving it still one size too small. Ryan was left with two options, wait months for a new ring to be made, or take a chance and use the ring that was one size too small. The former wasn’t really an option because Deborah was gracious enough to pull some strings and reserve the whole front room of the Naples Princess for an after engagement party on March 1st, the only day it was available. So Ryan was forced to take the latter option and use the smaller ring, affectionately dubbed as “The Stunt Ring” which was to be used until a time when the correct size ring could be obtained.

Next in line was the time-honored tradition of asking my father for permission to marry his daughter. Ryan new that step was important to me, Ryan agreed to partake in the tradition with one addition, he would ask my mother as well. While my parents were in town for vacation, they were nice enough to allow Ryan and I to stay with them at their resort. So on the last day of their stay, even after Ryan’s beloved Steelers suffered a gut-wrenching loss which knocked them out of the playoffs, he was able to pull himself together long enough to ask the important question. Again with the help of my friend Rachel who was able to distract me long enough so Ryan could slip away and ask the important question. Ryan was more nervous about this part than when he asked me, but he had no reason to be nervous. My parents very quickly said yes and expressed their joy about our bright future.

Next was planning of the proposal. Originally Ryan and Deborah came up with the idea of a scavenger hunt. But, on February 14th, I was at work when my boss suggested the scavenger hunt idea with all of the managers. My “proposal radar” was at an all-time high, and I was immediately suspicious. At dinner that night I jokingly told him how my boss suggested this and how I thought it was part of his plan to propose, but that I was probably just being paranoid. Ryan while maintaining an excellent poker face had to agree with me, telling me how silly that would be and he would come up with something much more clever… After dinner, Ryan scrambled to text Deborah to tell her that their cover was blown and they needed to come up with a whole new plan.

So after some intense brainstorming, Deborah came up with the idea of having the proposal at the beautiful Naples Botanical Garden, who happened to be having a spectacular dinosaur exhibit at the time. There were two obstacles in their way. The first was getting me there without me being suspicious which at that point was an almost impossible task as Ryan thought for sure I had figured everything out. The second was getting me to put on nice clothes which again might tip me off to something. This was challenging because I would be coming from work in my work clothes. The first problem was solved by Ryan telling Alex he had to spend the night in St. Pete for “Coast Guard business”. This seemed to be an effective countermeasure. The second problem solved by Deborah again coming in the clutch and telling me that we were having dinner at one of Deborah’s friend’s house afterword and that it was going to be a nice dinner. After that everything was set. Ryan left the night before for his “Coast Guard business”. After he left though, he realized he had left the ring at my apartment. He quickly came up with a terrible plan to come back and told me he needed to grab beach towels because there would be some time to kill in St. Pete and they were going to the beach. Somehow he managed to escape the apartment with the ring, he thought for sure their cover was again blown but somehow I was none the wiser. Ryan then spent the night on the boat to make his cover story plausible,

Fast forward to the next morning March 1st, 2018, Deborah called me to see if I wanted to go with her and her sons to see the Dinosaur Exhibit at Naples Botanical Gardens, then to dinner at a friends house. I, of course, said yes, I wouldn’t miss a chance to hang out with two of my favorite kids.

Ryan was able to leave work early but not as early as he would have liked. As a result, he had to speed all the way to Naples, turning a 45-minute drive into about a 20-minute one. Upon arrival, Ryan gets to the gate and realized he’d left his wallet on the boat. Realizing there was no time to go back, Ryan told his sob story to the nice lady working the ticket counter and even showed her “The Stunt Ring” to prove his story. Ryan was ready to sell his soul to the devil himself or even cry to get into the park. Luckily none of that was necessary as the lady was extremely kind and understanding and let him into the park with the promise he’d pay on the way out. Once into the park, Ryan proceeded very stealthily to the primary location he had picked out. Ryan and Deborah who were in contact the entire time via text message had a primary and secondary location picked out in case of emergency. After taking many detours and hiding in a few bushes, Ryan was able to make it to the primary location undetected.

Alexandra and Ryan's Engagement in Naples Botanical Gardens, Naples, FL

Meanwhile, as we walked through the gardens I noticed that Deborah was kind of quiet but didn’t think anything of it, until we turned a corner and sitting on a bench was Ryan. I knew right away what was about to happen, with tears of joy in my eyes I walked up to Ryan where he got down on one knee and asked the most important question of his life. Of course, I said yes! And much to Ryan’s surprise “The Stunt Ring” fit perfectly.

After a few pictures, we left Naples Botanical Gardens but not before Ryan had to explain to his new fiance that he had forgotten his wallet and needed to borrow $10. Ryan never did find his wallet. Finally, Deborah informed me there was no fancy dinner and we were instead in for a night of surprise celebration on a sunset boat ride on the Naples Princess with our friends and families surrounding us who had flown in from all over the country to share in this most joyous occasion. The boat ride couldn’t have been more perfect. We were able to see most of the beautiful Naples and were lucky enough to have seen a beautiful sunset followed by an equally breathtaking moon rise. Ryan even joked that he had arranged that ahead of time. We returned to the dock to begin the next phase of our wonderful life together.

Special Thanks

Elizabeth
Photographer