Joanna and James
How We Met
James and I met while we were in college. On our first date he convinced me to try sushi for the first time and I’ve been a fan ever since (of both the sushi and him).
How He Asked
“The moments of happiness we enjoy take us by surprise. It is not that we seize them, but that they seize us” – Ashley Montagu
James and I had been planning a Eurotrip with my brother for months. Our first stop was Poland, which is a country so special to me. I was born in Poland and moved to the U.S. as a young girl, but grew up spending my summers there visiting my family. It only seemed natural that I would be slightly suspicious of being proposed to there, so my boyfriend assured me before leaving that he had been busy with work and had not been able to prepare a proposal on our trip. Therefore, I would only get a smaller, “consolation prize”. Naturally, I believed him and I am glad I did, because little did I know that I was about to experience the biggest surprise of my life.
During our trip, we visited the city of Krakow, my favorite place in the world. It is a truly magical place where history comes to life. Stepping onto the cobblestones near the Wawel Castle, one can reminisce stories of the kings who came before us. The Main Market Square is also astonishing as it is one of the largest medieval squares in Europe.
My boyfriend and I spent that June afternoon sightseeing with my cousins and brother. In the evening, we were getting ready to leave for dinner and James told me that it was time for my “consolation prize”. The two of us began walking to the town square when he filled me in: we were going to take a horse carriage ride through the city, which is something he knew I always wanted to do.
We arrived on the square and James tried to find the carriage he booked, but he was unable to. We decided to take a different one. To me, this was perfect enough: here I was with the guy I loved, enjoying breath-taking views of the city I love. That’s when James took out a book titled “100 Reasons Why I Love You” and told me he had illustrated it himself online. Each page held a unique, quirky reason for why he loved me with an adorable animation. I didn’t know where to look, at the sites or at the sweet book! I flipped through some more pages and then it was time to leave the carriage.
As I stepped down from the carriage in front of St. Mary’s Cathedral, I noticed my brother and cousins waiting there for me. Suddenly, I heard an acoustic version of the wedding march played by a violinist and guitarist. I thought they were street performers! I was so confused when they began to serenade me. James retrieved the book from me, flipped to the last page, and that’s when I saw it. It said: “Will You Marry Me?”. I was in complete shock and that’s when my tears started flowing. I couldn’t believe it was real until he took out a tiny silver box and got down on one knee.
I realized it was the ring we had seen together a few months ago! I felt so emotional that I dropped to my own knees and embraced him. Once he placed the ring on my finger, he gave me the most perfect red rose bouquet.
The musicians continued to play some of our favorite romantic songs when I noticed that we had drawn quite a crowd. I also realized that someone was taking photos of us. I thought it was a photographer who happened to walk by, but James told me that everything was planned and that she (Slawa Walczak) would take photos of us afterwards around the city. After the emotions finally subsided, we went on our photoshoot with Slawa – she was AMAZING, so professional and talented. It turned out that James had made an arrangement with an owner of a specific carriage, but that owner had accidentally taken another couple thinking it was us. Apologetically, he offered us a free ride around the square for pictures. The small mistake turned into a great opportunity for photos.
Afterwards, we stepped into a sushi restaurant where my brother and cousins awaited, which was one of the most special gifts of all! James had planned a sushi dinner after the proposal because that’s what we had on our first date in New Jersey 5 years ago.
It turned out James had pre-arranged everything months before we arrived. He hired a Polish photographer living in London who happened to be in Krakow at that time, he hired the musicians because he knew I love violin and acoustic music, he asked my parents before we left for their blessing, he told my best friends days before, he custom-designed my ring with a family heirloom, and ensured my brother and cousins would be there for the occasion. Although many elements of the proposal were spectacular and well-thought out, I was most grateful that he had chosen a place so close to my heart for our proposal story. I’ll never forget how I felt. Kocham Ciebie James! (I love you in Polish)
Thank you to everyone who was involved in making this evening as magical as it was!