Ettie and Luke
How We Met
Ettie and I first met at a game night at a mutual friend’s house. I had already heard of her because of her musical exploits but hadn’t realized that she had moved to Philly. A group of us played Steal Scrabble, a game in which you make words with Scrabble tiles and try to steal your opponents’ words by making new words with their tiles. During the game, I came up with what I thought was an ironclad word that no one would be able to steal, but just a few turns later, Ettie managed to steal it. That’s when I knew that I had met my match (in more ways than one).
One week later, Ettie posted an Instastory of herself brewing pour over coffee with a Chemex. Coffee being a favorite hobby of mine, I seized the opportunity to “slide into her DMs” (pickup line: “Ooo metal coffee filter! Nice!”) and strike up a conversation with her. We instantly hit it off and DMed back and forth into the night, talking about anything and everything including coffee, Scrabble, music, and her design business. We continued chatting through Instagram for a few more days until I finally got her phone number. I was out of state at the time, so I asked her out on a date the morning after I got back. Naturally, I chose a coffee shop for our meeting.
The date nearly fell through, however. I was supposed to land in New York the night before and catch a train back to Philly, but my flight was so delayed that when I arrived there were no more trains for the rest of the night. I was going to be stuck in New York! Fortunately, my aunt who lives nearby housed me for the night, and I caught the first bus back to Philly before the sun came up. I was not going to miss this date, and I’m glad I didn’t!
How He Asked
I began scheming in early May, about a month before the proposal. Knowing Ettie’s aesthetic, I definitely wanted a beautiful backdrop, and I definitely wanted to incorporate things she loves into the proposal: Scrabble, coffee, and flowers/greenery. I could use Scrabble tiles for the table display, but I also had the idea of making giant Scrabble tiles that could be used as signs. I reached out to Peddler Coffee, the site of our first date, to rent out the space for a few hours. I had chosen that location as our first date because I knew that I could be back there someday to propose! Lastly, I sourced all kinds of greenery to use on the backdrop, the ceiling, the table display – really anywhere I could put it!
Other ideas came to me as planning progressed. I definitely wanted to hang photos we had taken over the course of our relationship. I learned to braid twine and vines that would hang from the ceiling so I could clip the photos to them.
When we first started talking, we asked each other what we would name our coffee shop if we ever opened one. I said I’d want to name mine Sanctum, and Ettie, being the creative that she is, created a faux business card for Sanctum that I still keep in my wallet to this day. I used that card to create a sign that would be taped to the front door of Peddler as she walked up.
I also recreated the mailbox from Pixar’s “Up” for the proposal. Ettie loves this movie so much that her ringtone is the opening scene track. It worked out perfectly since the name “Ettie” is almost identical to “Ellie,” the protagonist’s wife. I tried to stay true to the original design of the mailbox, and ahead of the proposal, I stamped my handprint on the mailbox. I left some space for the other handprint for later.
Recruiting accomplices: Two weeks before proposal day, I reached out to her closest friends in Philly and out of state, so they could be a part of the proposal. I’ve never seen so many ecstatic email replies! My sister flew in the night before with custom-made cookies, and I recruited Ettie’s brother and a few of my other friends to come earlier to help with setup.
The week before the proposal, I asked Ettie if she was free to take over my co-resident’s dinner reservation to mislead her into thinking we were going to have a casual date night. Unbeknownst to her, the screenshot that I had sent of the text exchange with my co-resident was completely doctored; I had actually been talking to myself from my work phone.
The Proposal: I asked Ettie’s sister to distract her before the proposal so that I would have time to set up. Once everything was set up, I texted Ettie that I had finished work and had come home. I notified her sister to start walking with Ettie over to “my place.”
As Ettie approached Peddler, she noticed the decorations and remarked that the coffee shop seemed to be having an event. When she got close enough to see the “Sanctum Coffee Roasters” sign that she had made me for me long ago, she realized, with tears in her eyes, what was going on.
I hid in the back and gave her some time to walk in and take in the decorations. As our song “Is This Love” played in the background, I walked out to meet her. I told her how I had been planning this for a few weeks, but technically I had been planning this since our first date because I knew this is where I wanted to propose to her. I told her she was the miracle that God sent me, and that whatever the future had in store for us, I wanted to face it with her. I opened the mailbox where I had stashed the ring, got down on one knee, and asked her to marry me. Thankfully she said yes!
Afterwards, her friends and family snuck out from around the corner, holding up giant Scrabble tiles that spelled out “SHE SAID YES!” One last deed: Ettie stamped her right handprint to complete the mailbox, and, the proposal!