Kaila and John
How We Met
I first met John at a BECOME Network (www.becomenetwork.org) pre-launch flannel themed party that I attended with my sister, Jenna, in Fall 2015. Jenna and I baked four dozen caramel apple cider cookies and arrived to the party at the same time as John; John offered to help us unload and carry in the cookies (I noticed how genuinely nice he was!). Throughout the party, John kept approaching me about how delicious the cookies were and was so bold to ask me to make him his own personal batch of cookies (spoiler: John has the biggest sweet tooth)! Also, at this party, I first heard John’s amazing karaoke skills (#voiceofanangel). Over the next couple of weeks, my interaction with John that stands out the most is our participation in the BECOME Network’s inner city mission trip, Underground.
I loved that John communicated with boldness the saving grace of the gospel while we evangelized around Dallas, acted like a superstar singing karaoke during our team bonding, and interacted so lovingly with the homeless at West End Streets church (He also told me that I looked really pretty! Aww!). Thereafter, John invited me to the Shane & Shane/ Phil Wickham Christmas concert. In lieu of payment for my concert ticket, I baked John his own personal batch of caramel apple cider cookies while I was getting ready for a charity gala. John came over to my apartment to pick up the cookies and when I met him outside I definitely had all the feels as he was walking towards me! He’s so handsome! John ate probably a dozen of the cookies as we chatted and joked that he wished he could be my Uber driver to the gala. He texted me all that night and couldn’t wait until the concert to hang out again so we made plans for the following day, my half birthday, for our first official date!
How He Asked
I knew I was going to marry John, it was just a matter of when! I’m the type of person that I love surprises, but I also like to figure it out ahead of time. ( i.e., I try to sneak a peek at Christmas presents beforehand) While we were dating, John casually asked me what I thought were random questions, such as what was my favorite Broadway musical, what was my ideal proposal, what I thought about NYC in the Fall, etc. Right before Thanksgiving, John told me that he wanted to do something special for our one year anniversary and a friend from my community group reached out to me about getting nails done for her upcoming work “holiday party” (I rarely ever go to the nail salon). With all this in mind, I speculated that a proposal was in the near future! I even told my family that I thought John was up to something! Over Thanksgiving, I asked John if he was going to propose on our upcoming anniversary trip and he told me (very convincingly) that he was NOT going to propose.
Side note: we established that he could trick me in order to not spoil a proposal surprise. So our anniversary trip is almost here and I have no idea where we’re going so don’t know what to pack. John gave me a hint that I needed to pack for cold weather. I’m still trying to figure out where we’re going, but I’m speculating that the destination is either Chicago or NYC. The first weekend after I started dating John, I went on a girls’ trip to Chicago and we chatted about going to Chicago together soon. We both love Christmas and NYC is the best during Christmastime with all the decorations. On Thursday before the trip, John tells me we’re going to NYC!!! How romantic especially during the holiday season!
So, now all I know is the destination. We landed in NYC on Friday, December 2nd. We’re staying at the Muse Kimpton hotel just a block away from Times Square! What a great spot to be and I’m already foreseeing that I’m getting the princess treatment all weekend. I’m loving it!! We got into the City around 11 pm and grabbed Ray’s Pizza for din in Times Square! A perfect first night in the city. We also couldn’t wait to exchange our anniversary gifts to each other. John and I gave cards to each other every date-a-versary and love taking photos together. I typed up the cards and created John a photo album with our letters included. He said it was the best gift he’d ever received! John presented me with Phantom of the Opera tickets, my fav Broadway musical! I started screaming with excitement.
John had texted me a semi-vague itinerary for Saturday, December 3rd: -During the times of 8-10:20→ we will wake up and go for a run, get breakfast, shower and change for lunch at Boathouse. -10:30-11:50→ walk around Times Square, make our way to Central Park, walk around Central Park, then make our way to Boathouse for lunch at noon. I have some places I want to show you around Central Park (recommendations from people) -After-lunch-whenever→ ice skating in Central Park -Be back to hotel in time to shower and change for dinner at 4:45, dinner rez at 5. -Dinner until we have to leave for our next adventure that starts at 8. The morning of the 3rd, we went for an amazing run to the NY Public Library, Empire State Building, and Macy’s on 5th! A great way to see the sights and start the morning off right with my boo. On the way back to the hotel from our run, JB picked up donuts for breakfast!
We were both loving spending time together and kept saying what a great start to what’s going to be the BEST DAY (little did I know). Endorphins and my love in the City! Eekk!!! We walk back into the hotel and run into an old friend I knew from Florida, such a small world! Again, it’s been a fantastic day so far and it wasn’t even 10am yet — we’re all smiley! At the hotel, John commented that he got a random missed call from a NY number (this should have been a clue), but plays it off and says it’s about the Broadway show. We get ready for our next adventure, lunch in Central Park at the Boathouse! I looked up the menu the day before and I was really pumped about their brunch options — the eggs benedict sounded delish! As we’re walking from the hotel to Central Park, I kept asking John what he felt like having for lunch and that we should have researched the menu more beforehand! He was casual and said we’d see what to order when we got to the restaurant (Again, totally clueless because I should have seen on the restaurant’s website that you can’t actually book reservations). So, I get a glimpse of the fall trees in Central Park and I gasp!
They are breathtaking and I’m so in love! We have about an hour to walk around the park before lunch. We enter and soak in the moment with the crisp fall air, the runners zooming by, the horse-drawn carriages with tourists, and the fall picturesque colors of the park. We were totally captivated. John has been on-and-off his phone (another clue), but I just assume he’s looking at the map of Central Park to make sure we walk the right way to get to the touristy photo op spots. We take a couple of selfies too. It seems totally casual, an afternoon stroll through the park. I love our walks that we’ve taken together on past dates so I was especially loving this particular walking date. I’m letting John lead and do his thing and I’m just in the present loving every second. We’re almost at Strawberry Fields and we stop for a photo. There was a giant pile of leaves and I throw them up in the air.
Perfect photo and some passersby tourists even say that the pic was too cute. We make it to the “Imagine” sign and get some friendly tourists to get a picture of me and John together — great to mix it up from pics other than selfies! We also spot some Central Park squirrels so we’re laughing about my squirrel-ness. Next is Bethesda Fountain and the way Central Park is laid out, we pass by a great across the lake view of Bow Bridge before we get to the fountain. We’re doing great on time so I ask if we can get a pic in front of Bow Bridge before we get to the fountain. It’s picture perfect. John gets a text from some guy named James while we’re taking the selfie, but I just ignore it (another clue). I’m not trying to speculate, but also noticed that the whole walk John wouldn’t let me walk on his right side — he said left side strong side. Ha! We’re walking to Bethesda Fountain and I’m thinking to myself — this is too perfect, he’s going to propose at the fountain!! I’m freaking out!!
I ask him if I should put my nice camera away in my purse and he’s like oh yeah. I’m thinking it’s coming, it’s coming!! Silent screaming!! Before we descend the steps, I suggest we overlook the fountain from above to get a good lookout view. I’m kinda disappointed when we lookout because the fountain wasn’t on and there were some barricades around the view. Now, I’m second guessing myself, maybe he was truthful over Thanksgiving and he actually isn’t proposing. I’m reminding myself not to set expectations. All this is going through my head so I’m really nervous. I’m so nervous that I kinda stumble down one of the stairs as we are walking towards the fountain. JB is so sweet and asks me to give him a kiss. The stage is set for this proposal, I’m thinking! He’s proposing at the fountain! We descend the stairs and I hear angelic Christmas carols. I gasped! I ask JB if we can listen and he says casually yeah, later. Also, this guy is making giant bubbles by the fountain. I’m freaking. We’re at the fountain. I’m ready for him to pop the question, then he says to me………..Can you put my phone in your purse?
Outwardly, I say of course, but inwardly I’m thinking crap crap he’s not proposing. Agh. I was wrong! I had a bit of an inner fight with myself in those seconds. I pull myself together and we walk to Bow Bridge, our last touristy spot before lunch. We walk and see a bunch of brides and grooms at the fountain and along the way taking photos. I comment that it must be a dream to take wedding pics in Central Park at this time of year — it’s all so beautiful with vibrant fall colors. We’re hand in hand walking across the bridge. This old man is playing depressing accordion music, but we comment aww he’s cute. We are walking slowly across the bridge, hand in hand and totally taking it all in. We stop halfway across the bridge to look out across the lake (and where we previously took the pic). Then, John gets quiet for a couple seconds and turns his body towards me saying, “Baby, I love you…”. Inwardly, I’m REALLY freaking out!!!
HE’S PROPOSING!! I start crying, good crying! It’s all waterworks. I’m so overcome. I’m so in love. It’s all so perfect! JB is still talking to me and I am not really comprehending his words and keep saying “oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh!! I’m crying!!” I barely can see anything at this point because my eyes are so watery. I can’t control the tears when he gets down on one knee. Then, he opens the ring box!!! I can barely see with the tears, but who the heck cares! I notice in my periphery that everyone on the bridge stopped walking and there were bursts of flashes going off. I have no idea how long I’m just crying and happy and (in hindsight, making him wait)! I semi-pull myself together and say “Of course! I love you sooo much!” We kiss. Everyone starts clapping and congratulating us! I’m in complete shock! COMPLETE SHOCK!!
If the proposal wasn’t enough, he signals some guy (who I later learn is James, the earlier NY missed call) to come over and tells me that we don’t actually have lunch reservations and that this guy has been taking our photo since the fountain and we have an hour photo session with him!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? Blown away. So now starts our giggly, me tearing up, and us making out photo shoot in Central Park!! Absolutely an amazing memory! We took tons of great pics with the fall foliage and with the stunning ring!! It’s a double halo of diamonds!! And so so sparkly! I can’t believe it! It’s more than perfect.
It was the perfect proposal for me!! We had a great time with our photographer James! He was so personable and made us feel like models. Also, the preview pics he showed us looked incredible! So I’m still in shock and putting all the clues together throughout the photo shoot. We can’t stop giggling!! We’re both so giggly! James, an Englishman photographer from Paparazzi Proposals, is hilarious and had some great expressions like “tits up”, “that’ll tickle me all day”, “John, flip your photo when you kiss her”, “Episode 8, season 5 (referring to the Shark Tank episode he’s in)”, etc. We love all the pictures and the whole experience! I’ve stopped crying at this point. I love being engaged so far!! This is fun!!
Our photo sesh is done and James suggests we go to the Plaza for lunch. I realize I haven’t eaten anything and am hungry! I also want to share the news with my family! We have a rest in the Plaza Food Hall after we finally find a place to sit! I’m wearing bootie heels and also realized my feet are killing me after walking across all of Central Park — I really thought we were just having lunch! Lunch reservations will never have the same meaning to me again! We try coordinating with my mom and dad to Facetime and Google Hangout video conference because they weren’t together. I Facetime my mom on my phone and John Google Hangout calls my dad. My mom answers first and I totally give away the news as we’re waiting for my dad to answer. We had been outside all morning so my nose was a little runny. I rub my nose with my left hand….and she sees it! She takes off her sunglasses and keep saying “I saw it when you scratched your nose!” John gets my dad on the phone and it’s all chaotic at the Plaza Food Hall with loud noises and poor phone connection. We tell my parents and my mom reacts with a sweet cry and my dad is all smiles.
John is more so talking to my dad and my dad is joking with JB saying that I have a lot of weight to carry now, good thing I’ve been lifting and good thing I said yes! My mom said I have my “Beast”/”Prince Charming”, referring to the princess counterparts in the Disney movies I love! All the while, we’re trying to order some grilled cheese sandwiches. It’s kinda crazy, but surreal too! The people sitting around us are definitely eavesdropping on our conversations! We hesitated going back to the hotel to decompress what all excitement just happened, but we’re fun and wanted our first adventure as an engaged couple to be super special — which ice skating in Central Park definitely is! We skate hand-in-hand and looking at the beautiful skyline! It’s so romantic!! I’m definitely still having the adrenaline pumping! It’s mid/late afternoon and we have dinner reservations (for real reservations) at John’s (and my sister’s) favorite NYC restaurant, Rosa Mexicano. We have about 15 minutes to get ready for din and for the Phantom of the Opera show right afterwards. We get all dressed up and are go-go-go! We cab to the Rosa Mexicano location in Lincoln Center. We arrive and the host congratulates us! It’s starting to hit me — I have a handsome and very thoughtful fiancé that’s all mine forever and always!! We devour freshly made guac and love the Budin de Pollo that John ordered.
We chat about our day so far and I keep thanking John again and again! He literally thought of everything and it turned out perfectly! Of course, we order dessert. The server brings our tres leches with candles and Shirley Temple mocktails. The manager congratulates us and we’re both glowing and clearly so in love! Next up is Broadway to see my all-time favorite, Phantom of the Opera, at the Majestic Theater! John’s never seen the show so I’m really glad we’ll get to experience this together! Oh, and he got second row tickets!!! Wow!! I’m really getting the princess treatment and he really has thought through the most perfect proposal for me! I’m feeling so known and loved!! I love Phantom and pretty much know all the lyrics. I’ve never cried during the production before, but today, I seem to be in a good crying kinda mood. During the rooftop scene with Raoul and Christine, they sing the “All I Ask of You” duet where Raoul is essentially proposing to Christine. “Love me that’s all I ask of you!!!” I’m a crying mess..thinking I love my John Berger! It was the best show. Loved it! We walk to see the Rockefeller Christmas tree post-show and get some more good ring pics! The day has ended and it was unreal. All I have dreamed about since I was a little girl about how my proposal may/would/could be, but at the same time all the more! I have the best man to love and support forever and always! Overjoyed! Love you John Berger, with all my heart! WE’RE GETTING MARRIED!!!!!!!!! #WelcomeToGoodBerger