Charisma and Stephane
How We Met
Every year at The Pennsylvania State University, a committee of students plan a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service on MLK Day. That’s how Stephane and I met – we both volunteered to be team leaders for a group of service volunteers. I did not know Stephane at all before meeting in January of 2013 at our final MLK team leader meeting. As team leaders, we had to attend meetings leading up to the day of service. At the final meeting, on January 10th, we were told who we’d be paired with, and this is when I first met Stephane. I thought he was quiet and shy, as he hardly said anything during the meeting (I was lowkey bothered by this because how was I supposed to lead a group of volunteers with a quiet co-team leader?!). As team leaders, we were required to exchange phone numbers.
A few days after this first meeting, Stephane texted me. We casually chatted via text message and eventually made plans to get dinner at one of the dining commons on campus. We established that this meeting was to plan activities for the day of service, so I did not think anything of it (I was never good at picking up on signs from guys). I even came to the dinner with the booklet of ice breakers that we got at the meeting! While at dinner, Stephane and I hardly planned for the day of service. We ended up spending over two hours talking about our lives, interests, goals, and childhoods. He was so easy to talk to and was not as quiet as I initially thought. Many of our values aligned and I could tell he was a good-hearted person. By the time the day of service arrived a week later, we had been texting, having random lunches, and talking on the phone non-stop.
My friends quickly picked up on this “thing” between us and were quick to tease us about it. Fast forward a few months, in March, Stephane finally asked me to be his girlfriend in the most romantic way! He set up a surprise dinner in his dorm room. He adorned the room with candles, and ordered all of our favorite foods. He even remembered to include my favorite breakfast food at the time, oatmeal, as dessert! At the end of dinner, he gifted me with a necklace. The necklace had a cross with a small heart in the center. As he presented the necklace, he said the cross was because he thanked God for putting me in his life and the heart was because he loved me. HOW SWEET! Somehow, four years later, he managed to top his girlfriend proposal when he asked me to be his wife!
Shortly after we started dating in March, 2013.
How He Asked
Stephane and I were in a long distance relationship for much of our relationship. He graduated from Penn State in May of 2014 and moved to Houston, TX for work. I graduated a year later and moved to Cleveland, OH to teach. I lived in Cleveland for two years, while Stephane moved to various cities for work. As the end of my two-year teaching commitment neared, Stephane was adamant about me moving to Louisiana, but I insisted that I wanted to be engaged before making such a serious life change. Stephane and I had talked about marriage often (and even shopped for rings together), so it was no surprise that engagement would be our next step. The question was WHEN!? I was on edge as the end of my school year neared, thinking any and every moment might be THE moment.
He kept telling me he was not going to propose for another 10 years! My birthday was on May 24th. A few weeks before my birthday, I made plans to hang out with my best friends from elementary school the Friday after my birthday. Stephane arrived in New York City on my birthday and we made plans to go to dinner that night. I just wanted to go to dinner with Stephane, my parents, and my brother – super lowkey! BUT, my brother went to a Yankees game and my mom was sick, so Stephane and I went to dinner alone. I was in a super sour mood during dinner because I felt like they weren’t making me feel special on my birthday. Never mind that Stephane said he “accidentally” shipped my birthday gift to Cleveland, and I was somewhat convinced that he might try to propose ON my birthday. But when my family didn’t come to dinner, I knew the proposal wasn’t going to happen (one of my engagement “rules” was that both of our families HAD to be there to witness it).
Fast forward to Friday. Stephane told me he was going to Pennsylvania to help his family prepare for a party. I was skeptical because there were some clues I had picked up on prior to that hinted that something special was happening on Friday (i.e. his friend texted him on Thursday asking if he was “ready for tomorrow?” or my mom acting weird when my brother mentioned making an appointment on Friday at 2:30 pm). But, I went along with it. I didn’t want to over-hype myself and then be devastated if a proposal didn’t happen. I went to meet my friends, as planned, and they would not tell me where we were going or any of the plans for the evening. As they put it, we were going to a “baller dinner” lol. We got in a cab and rode to Brooklyn. Once we got to the restaurant, I was confused because 1) we NEVER hung out in Brooklyn and 2) the restaurant was playing African music. I would have never imagine that we’d go to an African restaurant. We go inside and people yell SURPRISE!
I see some of my family members, my other best friend from elementary school, and some friends from college. I am SO confused. I started asking where Stephane was and his two line brothers kept saying he was in Pennsylvania, but wanted to throw me a birthday party and that he sent my gifts. I didn’t believe them. Next thing I know, Stephane’s mom, grandma, and other relatives walk up with a wrapped box. I was SHOCKED! His mom said Stephane was sorry he couldn’t be at the party but sent his gifts. I love his mom, but totally didn’t believe her. I KNEW what was about to happen. I opened the box, which had a note inside and another, smaller box. I opened the smaller box, which had rose petals inside. His line brother, Gary, told me to take a handful of rose petals, throw them in the air, and spin around. I did it and… nothing! Stephane didn’t appear or anything.
Then, Gary directs my attention to the TVs in the restaurant and a video Stephane made plays. There were pictures of us from our relationship as Stephane wrote me a letter expressing his love for me. It was so sweet! As the video is playing, I am shaking and could hardly breathe. THIS WAS IT! Once the video ended, Gary gave me more rose petals and told me to throw them in the air again and spin around. I did it, and this time, Stephane was right there on one knee. I could hardly speak and kept shaking. We had dinner with our closest family and friends to celebrate our engagement. His proposal was beyond anything I could have ever imagined! I am so excited to marry my best friend and am so blessed to call this romantic guy mine!