Eric and Gretchen

How We Met

Eric and I are from two small towns that join together for schooling from 6th grade through high school. The towns are small enough that class sizes are not big, so everyone knows everyone. I knew of Eric during middle school, but did not have any interactions with him until sophomore year of high school. Due to our common “W” last names, we were alphabetically seated together at a lab table of three in Biology class with a “W-e” last name in-between us. Throughout our biology class, Eric would try to flirt and tease with me. He was not the most “studious” so he began grabbing my attention by copying off my paper and trying to get answers during group work between the lab tables. He progressed to teasing me along with his friends in the class, making comments while I would be at the board writing down an answer or throwing pieces of paper at me while we were doing our individual work. He worked up the courage to then try and ask me out, but I still thought he was just joking. Every other class from that point forward he would ask me, “Gretchen, want to be my girlfriend?”, and I would respond with, “Eric, why don’t you ask me out on a date first?”. And that’s where it would end.

He was nervous and goofy and did not know how to properly ask me out and I was too stubborn to be the one who asks the guy out on the date first. I liked the attention he was giving me, but I also started to realize I really liked him as well. He is very athletic and played on our high school tennis team. I loved to watch him play. He was definitely the “Class Clown” of our class and that goofy aspect of his personality was definitely a turn on. And he was a bit of a bad boy, causing a ruckus in his classes and goofing off with his friends, which also turned out to be turn on. So towards the end of our sophomore year, I decided to take control and ask him out on a date. We would go see Prom Night in theaters and my mom would drive us. I get a call a couple of hours before we were to pick him up.

Eric is on the phone and tells me he has been grounded by his parents because he mouthed off to his tennis coach and he was not allowed to go to the movie. I was upset, but figured we would just go another time (and, again, I secretly loved that bad boy part of him). But at that point, ball was in his court to be the one to ask me out. And before I knew it, the year ended, another date was never rescheduled and we started out our junior year with Eric having a new girlfriend. We stayed friends through high school, but I always wanted it to be more. But it had looked like he had moved on. We go our separate ways for college, me going to Quinnipiac University for Nursing and he going down to West Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm, Florida to play tennis. We infrequently kept in touch through Facebook, but had our separate lives. I never truly found someone I ever wanted to start a relationship with and saw through social media Eric with girlfriends through the first part of college. But the summer before our junior year of college something changed. I was communicating more with Eric, this time through text, when one night Eric finally asked me out on that date I had been waiting for for four years. On July 11th, 2012 we decided to start a relationship we knew would be long distance for the last two years of college, but that turned out to be the best decision of my life.

How He Asked

I was suspicious from the beginning. Being the hopeless romantic I am, Eric and I discussed the future many times, and that included the proposal, engagement, marriage and children. I liked to share my favorite proposal stories on Instagram from the How He Asked page and he would sometimes ask questions about what I would want for my own proposal. I never truly had any specific requirements except maybe a photographer present to capture the moment and my nails painted to show off the ring. A couple of weeks before that Friday my mom wanted to have a Mother-Daughter day, including manis and pedis and some local errands. She requested we have our day that Friday, April 28th, my next day off from work. I love getting my nails done, but had never gone with my mom because she does not particularly like her nails painted. I was a little suspicious, but she insured me she was interested in getting more comfortable with it. Around that same time, Eric asked me if I wanted to go on a walk with him at a park he had found online. He told me it had a waterfall and was called Kent Falls State Park in Kent, CT. It was not out of the ordinary for him to find new parks for us to explore. We both love to do that together.

He also requested we go on that Friday after my Mother-Daughter day to see the waterfall at sunset. I put two and two together and became suspecting of the coincidence of the two events on this same day. I was so nosy I even asked Eric if he was planning anything “big” for that day. I almost ruined it for myself! That Friday comes and I have a wonderful day with my mom. She even goes as far as taking me to TJ Maxx to buy me new summer dresses, one to wear on my walk later with Eric. We end our day at the nail salon, both getting pedicures and my mom insisting on me also getting a French manicure. I thought it was excessive, but my mom insisted because it was our special Mother-Daughter day. There is a miscommunication with the manicurist and I end up with a clear coat on my nails with no sign of the white French tip of a French manicure. I notice as I’m under the drier and my mom knows enough about nails to see that it is not right as well. As I try to convince her I am perfectly fine with it, she tells the owner that my nails need to be redone to be a French manicure. All of the polish is taken off and my French manicure is done. I was embarrassed, but now I know why she was so insistent. Eric picks me up later that afternoon as I have on my new dress and my fresh French manicure. We were both dressed pretty nicely for just a walk in the park, but I didn’t want to assume anything.

So in my mind I thought, “Maybe he just wants to surprise me with a nice dinner afterwards.”. The whole ride to the park I am telling him of my day as he listens. He tells me in the end that is what saved him from showing how nervous he was. We pulled up to the park and from the car we can see the gorgeous waterfall in the distance. As we walk along the path towards the waterfall, Eric is squeezing my hand a little tighter than usual and scanning the area in front of and away from the waterfall. He writes it off as he is just looking around. We get closer to the waterfall and I spy three women talking among themselves at the start of the path up to the top. Eric turns us first towards the base of the waterfall where on this lovely stone patio there are shallow steps down to the pool of the bottom of the waterfall.

He hugs me closer to him as we both relish in the beauty of the serene waterfall as the sun begins to set behind us. He mentions venturing up the path to the top and I agree. He turns and leads me up the steps, but instead of walking towards the path up to the top, he loops around me and takes my hands. He is down on one knee before I can react and taking out a gorgeous blue box. Tears well up in my eyes as I hear the snap of photos being taken by a photographer that was hidden among the women who were talking at the start of the path up top.

I of course say “Yes” and Eric and I have our own photo-shoot in the empty park at sunset. Afterwards, he takes me to a gorgeous restaurant where Prosecco and a bouquet of flowers were waiting on the table. Two weeks later and I am still on Cloud 9!

Where to Propose in Kent Falls State Park in Kent, Connecticut

Special Thanks

Constance Schiano
Photographer