Ashley and Marlon

IMG_0445How we met, as told by Ashley: Our story is pretty amazing. Marlon and I first met at Crunch Fitness in January 2014 and she was actually the one who picked me up. I had been stood up on a date the night before and OF COURSE I run into the guy who stood me up at the gym while I was running on the treadmill. I decided to avoid him and go to another area of the gym to make some other guy jealous. Marlon was the other guy. He was literally hanging upside down doing an abs workout. I had never seen anyone doing that before (it was kinda cool!) and I went over and started talking to him. Turns out we had a lot in common – both of our families live in South Florida (about 20 minutes apart), he works in public relations and my cousin is a TV producer who he had been pitching story ideas to for years etc. When we introduced our parents, they hit it off so well that they hang out together while we are up here. It’s really incredible.

How we met, as told by Marlon: It was a Saturday morning in January at the gym.  I like to do crossfit style workouts workouts so while I was doing an upside down abs exercise, I noticed these two girls who were hanging out by the pull-up bar. They introduced themselves as  Ashley and her roommate Nicole. I immediately noticed Ashley’s smile (how can you miss it, its beautiful) and we started small talk. She said she grew up in South Florida (Boca Raton) and I told her my parents had moved to Boynton Beach. She mentioned she was going to Tampa for work so I offered to email her a few restaurants that I liked in that area. From there we just started to email and text (both of us were traveling a lot. 6 Months later we ran into each other again outside the gym and we made plans to hang out. We went out for brunch, which turned out to be the best brunch I ever had. We shared  an omelet and these delicious pancakes. I never laughed so hard or smiled so brightly. The pancakes got cold because we couldn’t stop talking -but it didn’t matter. It was one of those “I don’t want to be anywhere else in the entire world right now but right here.” moments.

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How he asked, As told by Marlon: The engagement took 3 months of planning. There were 3 things that were important to me that needed to be part of the engagement; something that could be captured on video (without Ashley knowing about it!), something so unique that no one else could do it, and more importantly something where both our families could be a part of it. I knew if I proposed in Florida she would be expecting it so it had to be in New York. Plus this is where we met!

She had no clue that her parents were even going to be in New York.  I tried to build everything around our parents schedules. My parents were already scheduled to be up here that week (their friends daughter was getting married) the next day and Ashley’s brother Josh was on spring break (he is in dental school) so he had stayed with us the entire week looking at various hospitals for his residency. Josh’s girlfriend Alyssa, flew up here that Friday and Ashley thought the 4 of us would all hang out. She even made an itinerary and reservations etc. What Ashley didn’t know was that her parents also flew up on Friday and actually were staying at the hotel across the street from our apartment! Josh and Alyssa would coordinate over text with her parents when it would be safe for them to go outside so we wouldn’t run into them.

You are probably wondering how I got her to the show. I worked with the producer to craft up an email which was VERY convincing) which I then forwarded onto Ashley. Ashley was SO excited when she heard I was going to be in the segment. Her dream was to always be a producer for TODAY so just being there was exciting for her. She did NOT want to be on camera for the “fan of the day” so I had to work on her for a good hour the day before to convince her.

The TODAY Show staff was unbelievable. They had arranged for cars to pick us up at our apartment the morning of the segment (6:45 am pickup) and a car to pick up our families from the same place at 7:15am.  They even put our families into different green rooms on different floors so Ashley had NO clue. Ashley had called her mom from the greenroom to remind her to put on the TODAY Show and when she got no answer at her parents’ house she called her mom’s call asking where she was. Her mom said she was walking the dog and that her dad was in the shower. Little did Ashley know they were at 30 Rock and in a greenroom 2 floors below us!

I was told I would have 30-40 seconds for the actual proposal and they would then bring our families inside. The expression on her face is priceless. It was truly the most amazing day of my life. March 7, 2015 at 8:36am is captured in both of our hearts and our cameras forever.

How he asked, as told by Ashley: I really had NO idea when we would get engaged. We had been talking about it and then suddenly stopped. We had gone ring shopping but I knew Marlon wanted to save more money because the ring we both loved was a little out of his price range. For the next few weeks, I would send him different photos of rings that I saw and loved but Marlon did a nice job of distracting me. First he sent me a calendar invite and told me he made some appointments with some jewelers. He then booked a trip for us to go to Charleston and Savannah for a long weekend and we would spend time planning what we would do. What I now know is that he intentionally booked it to celebrate our engagement!

The week of the engagement, my brother came to visit us. He is in dental school and was looking at a variety of different hospitals to apply to. During the week Marlon, Josh and I hung out and his girlfriend Alyssa was coming in to visit us on Friday. I was really excited for the 4 of us to be together.  I made all these plans for us to go to brunch, dinner and a dueling piano bar.  Then Thursday afternoon Marlon forwards me an email from a producer at the TODAY Show. The show was planning a surprise baby shower for one of his friends, Jenna Wolfe, who is a correspondent on the show and used to be on the Weekend Show. The producer said that the party would take place after the show but that she would be producing a fitness segment and wanted Marlon to participate in the segment as he is really into fitness. It sounded really cool and I was excited to go along with him. He then forwards me another email which asks if we wanted to be the “fans of the day” – where we would be in the Orange Room and would read off the teleprompter leading the show into a commercial break. It sounded perfect for Marlon to do but I really didn’t want to be on camera. After about 40 minutes, I gave in and told him I would do it.

On our way to the TODAY Show, I was thinking “this is REALLY cool, they sent a car for us” but of course I couldn’t say a word to Marlon. When we arrived, Joelle (the producer) greeted us and was so sweet. She said that the fitness segment was going to be a post-tape and she would have apparel for Marlon to change into following us being the “fans of the day.” Joelle then asked me if I wanted hair and make-up (no chance I would say no to that!) and then brought us back into the green room (which was AWESOME by the way) to wait before the segment. I always was into production and love seeing things behind-the-scenes so I was having a great time. Finally, Joelle brings us some scripts for the show and we practice. She leads us into the Orange Room and Sheinelle Jones kicks off the segment. I read my portion and turned to Marlon to watch him (he looks so handsome in his glasses) read his. He turns to me, says “Ash” and my heart just drops. The next few seconds were a complete blur and I see Marlon down on one knee and open the ring box. I don’t think I can describe in word’s how incredible of a feeling it was. I think I said “are you serious?” about 8 times in a row. Forget the fact that the ring was beyond gorgeous, my best friend in the entire world, the guy who makes me laugh and smile like no other, just asked me to marry him! I was on cloud 9.

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Suddenly Joelle hands me a glass of champagne and I see my mom and dad coming towards me, then Marlon’s parents and my brother and Alyssa. He arranged for everyone to be there. It was SO perfect, SO incredible and SO special. I am STILL IN SHOCK!! I didn’t know if this was a dream or real life. Never in a million years did I think we would get engaged on national TV!!!! If you knew Marlon, you would know he likes to do things BIG and he definetly outdid himself. This was the MOST AMAZING PROPOSAL!! We probably have watched it 100 times since!!  but it was also EVERYTHING else Marlon had planned throughout the day that made it so special. Following the proposal, the TODAY Show let us take photos on the set, we then met up with a friend of Marlon’s (Mike Lebrecht of Michael Lebrecht Photography) outside NBC where he took a bunch of photos for us.

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From there we went to the Empire State Building where Marlon had arranged for us to have special passes and access to the top (102nd floor) without having to wait in any lines. Then we went to brunch at Cibo, the home of our first date, where Marlon had arranged a private area of the restaurant and a special message on the cover of each of our menus. Afterwards we went to the hotel across from our apartment where our parents had decorated their room for us with all sorts of balloons and signs and confetti and they surprised us with all these special engagement presents. A little while later, Marlon arranged for two cars to pick us up and take us to dinner at a restaurant called American Cut in Tribeca.

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He had worked with them on a special menu and access to their private room – which was BEAUTIFUL. Dinner was delicious but more importantly, we were ALL together as one big family.

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