Lisa and Christopher | The Proposal Told from Both Perspectives

Marriage Proposal on Mount Bonnell (7)

How we met – by Christopher: Lisa and I started talking online (on OkCupid) in early May of 2013. We chatted back and forth for about a week before deciding to meet at one of my favorite (and, as I would later find out, one of Lisa’s least favorite) North Austin restaurants, Chuy’s, on the evening of May 12th (yes, Mother’s Day).

I was pretty nervous as it was my first ever online date (and if I’m being honest, my first date at all in several years), so I wasn’t 100% sure what to expect. Would we have enough in common to keep the conversation going throughout dinner? Would she be the same person she said she was online? I had read so many stories and seen so many shows on television about weird online dating experiences that I have to admit I was a bit nervous.

Sunday afternoon, I went to the store and bought some new clothes for the date as I wanted to make sure I looked nice (can you tell that I hadn’t been on a first date in a while?) and then headed home to get ready.

I got to Chuy’s 15 minutes early (of course… I wasn’t about to be late) and grabbed a table for drinks outside. There was almost an hour wait (remember, it was Mother’s Day) for a table for dinner. Lisa arrived right on time and we started chatting over margaritas. It took a few minutes for the conversation to start flowing, but once it did it hasn’t stopped since.

Shortly after, our table was ready and we headed inside. We spent much of dinner talking about our jobs, our lives outside of work, and growing up in Austin. We covered a number of topics that are typically taboo for a first date (how many kids we each wanted, our finances, past relationships, and more). As I later found out, Lisa was wondering the entire time why I wasn’t eating any chips before or during our meal. I was so focused on our conversation (and a bit nervous) that I completely forgot to eat them.

We wrapped up our first date a couple of hours later, decided we would meet again soon, and after a quick hug in the parking lot both headed home. Little did I know at the time that Lisa would soon become the love of my life!

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How we met – by Lisa: Chris and I started talking online on OkCupid. I had been online dating for a little while, and found Chris’ honest profile refreshing. I sent him a message, and he responded with a series of friendly emails. After a week of back and forth emails, he chose Chuy’s as the location for our first date on Mother’s Day. Little did he know that Chuy’s is one of my least favorite Mexican restaurants.

I wasn’t nervous at all for our date. Honestly, I had been on quite a few Internet dates. Some of the guys were boring, some were completely different from their profile, others were rude, and once the guy had no car and lived with his mother. Needless to say, my expectations for the meet-up were quite low. I headed to the date with a series of excuses ready in case I needed to make a quick exit.

I worked Sunday, so I changed quickly from scrubs to presentable date clothes and headed to Chuy’s. I was happy to find Chris (a normal looking guy, dressed well, matching his profile picture to a tee) in a nicely located table outside. We quickly ordered margaritas to help break the ice. The conversation was tentative at first but we quickly found our rhythm. The time we were waiting for a table flew by as we got acquainted. By the time we were seated we had discussed every taboo first date topic. I found this amazingly refreshing. It was so nice to meet such an honest and obviously smart guy. I was starving when we sat down as I had left straight from work, and I hadn’t eaten a thing all day. I kept eating chips, but noticed almost immediately that Chris hadn’t touched any. I secretly wondered if he had some sort of allergy or was a health nut, but the conversation was going so well I decided not to bring it up.

A few hours later we finished the first date. We has a slightly awkward goodbye hug that I initiated. Chris immediately asked for my schedule for the week, and set up our next date a few days later. At the time I was excited to meet such a sweet person, but had no clue that he would become the person I want to spend the rest of my life with.

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How he asked – by Christopher: One Sunday in early May I asked Lisa what type of engagement ring she wanted. While this is somewhat non-traditional, I knew that I wanted Lisa to fall in love with the ring and that only she would know best how to navigate the myriad of options involved in purchasing a diamond. We decided to visit a couple of jewelers in town and got some great advice to help narrow things down. We spent the next few days looking at options online (and were a bit surprised just how much more you could get shopping at some of the large reputable online stores), and soon had narrowed down the specs. I told Lisa that I appreciated all of her help, and that we’d probably get engaged some time in the next six months to a year.

A few weeks later Lisa and I planned a Friday evening with her friends at a Round Rock Express game. I kept telling her (and even a few of her friends when she was around) that it was going to be a special night and that she should keep her eyes on the scoreboard. In private, she had told me numerous times that she didn’t want a large public engagement, but I think I had her believing it might happen at the game at least a few times.

At our joint birthday party in late March, Lisa’s cousin Tim had mentioned that he was starting a photography business and wanted to take some pictures of us to help build up his portfolio. We hadn’t scheduled anything at the time, but I hadn’t forgotten about Tim’s offer. While I was brainstorming ideas for the engagement the idea hit me: I should reach out to Tim and have him setup the photo shoot we had discussed a couple months earlier. Lisa knew that we had a weekend trip to Boston planned toward the end of June, and if the engagement didn’t happen at the baseball game I figured the next thing she would suspect would be our trip to Boston.

I reached out to Tim and told him about my idea. He responded immediately and said he would be interested. We corresponded a few times about the details, which involved him reaching out directly to Lisa and setting up the photo shoot a few weeks later. They would go back and forth on all of the details (scheduling, location, outfits, etc.) and I would just be along for the ride.

A few days later, Lisa let me know that her cousin was interested in shooting some photos of us. I acted surprised, but told her I would go along for the ride. She was excited and had told Tim that we might be getting engaged sometime in the future, so perhaps we could use one of the photos from the shoot for our “save the date”. She also told me that the photos were important for Tim’s portfolio and would really help him out as he started his business. I could tell that she had no idea what our actual plan was.

The week before the engagement, on Saturday morning while Lisa was at work, I met Tim and his wife Kelly for a walk through of our plans. We visited Mayfield Preserve and Mount Bonnell (the locations we’d be shooting photos at a week later) and ultimately decided on the top of Mount Bonnell overlooking downtown Austin as the last place we would shoot pictures and I would propose.

Lisa worked again the following Monday (Memorial Day), which gave me an opportunity to attend a family party at her aunt and uncle’s house (Debbie and Tom). I asked her Mom for permission to ask Lisa to marry me (she said yes!) and gave Tim the ring, a bottle of champagne, and some champagne glasses. Now, all I had to do was wait nervously for the next Sunday to approach.

Sunday, June 1st rolled around and the temperature was in the high 90s. Numerous times throughout the day, Lisa asked me to be on my best behavior for the photo shoot, as she knew I often got grumpy if I get too hot and sweaty. I told her I’d try my best.

Lisa had coordinated with Tim that our first stop would be at Mayfield Preserve. We looked up directions on our GPS (after all, I’d never been there before) and headed off to the first part of our shoot. While we were setting up for some of our first pictures on one of their benches, an older woman came over and sat down on the bench. When Tim asked her if she wouldn’t mind letting us use the bench for a few minutes (he’d already set up his equipment and Lisa and I were standing just a few feet away) she said she wouldn’t have anywhere to eat her crackers and would have to go back to her car. She reluctantly left, and Tim joked with Lisa that we’d likely be telling the story of the “lady with her crackers” for many years to come.

We got some amazing photos at Mayfield Preserve, but the peacocks weren’t very cooperative so we couldn’t take any pictures with them. We left Mayfield and headed to a nearby old bridge to shoot a few more shots before heading to a nearby Burger King to change clothes for the second half of our shoot.

Once we arrived at Mount Bonnell we began making our way up the mountain. We stopped several places along the way to take shots overlooking Lady Bird Lake and the Pennybacker Bridge. Lisa never noticed that Tim had gained an extra “camera” bag for this half of our shoot (I helped him carry it much of the way).

As we approached the top of the mountain, Tim mentioned to Lisa that he had a few props he’d brought with and asked if we would be OK with using some of them in the photos. She didn’t know what he was specifically referring to, but quickly agreed as she knew it was likely important for his portfolio.

We took things slowly at our last couple of stops as Tim was waiting for the sun to be just right. I was starting to get nervous as I knew what was ahead. We finally made our way to the area where we’d be taking our last photos and found another couple shooting some engagement photos. They wrappped up their pictures and moved to another spot relatively quickly and we moved over to the spot where Downtown Austin was in the background.

Tim mentioned the props again and reached in his camera bag to pull out a small box. He told Lisa that it was the box from Kelly’s ring and that he just needed a couple more pictures. He handed the box to me. Lisa looked at me and remarked “this is awkward” and I quickly replied “it sure is”.

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Lisa was taking in the view of downtown while Tim got all of his equipment setup. When she turned back toward me a few seconds later I was down on one knee with the box open and I asked her to marry me. It took her a few seconds to put everything together and realize what was happening but then she quickly said yes. Tim was taking photos the entire time and a small crowd had gathered to watch.

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Marriage Proposal on Mount Bonnell (13)

We wrapped up our photo shoot with a bottle of champagne that Tim just happened to have with him in his extra camera bag. Lisa and I spent the next hour or so watching the sun set and drinking the champagne while I filled her in on the photo shoot story from my perspective. She was completely surprised and convinced that she had planned the shoot with Tim, and that I was doing them both a favor by coming along. She also told me that she suspected our trip to Boston was the most likely time for us to get engaged.

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Marriage Proposal on Mount Bonnell (26)

After we left Mount Bonnell we made some phone calls to family and friends to share our news and enjoyed a delicious dinner at Justine’s (a great spot for dinner at 10:30 PM on a Sunday night). I am so excited to spend the rest of my life with Lisa and am thrilled that we have so many amazing pictures from Tim to capture our special day.

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How he asked – by Lisa: One morning in May, Chris asked me what I had pictured as the perfect engagement ring. I was thrilled when he asked. I had an idea that an engagement would be soon, but this request confirmed by hopeful suspicions. Though asking what I wanted may be a bit non-traditional, if you know Chris it is not surprising at all. He likes to research every big purchase and sweetly he wanted to make sure I was happy with whatever he picked out. We visited a couple of jewelers to see what we both liked, and were able to pick out a style and setting that was beautiful. We looked online and realized that the trustworthy sites were more affordable (I loved this because it meant I would get a bigger diamond). Once we narrowed things down, Chris politely told me that he would take things from there, and to my annoyance that “we will be engaged in the next 6 months to a year.” I was happy we were getting engaged but I had a slightly expedited time frame in mind.

Though the engagement date was hazy, Chris found it hilarious to bring up different types of proposals to gauge my reaction. My least favorite ideas were anything very public involving large crowds or jumbo-trons. A few weeks went by and we had planned a night at a Round Rock Express game with my friends. The entire week leading up to the game Chris kept giving obvious hints that he was planning to propose in a very public way at the game. I suspected he was just messing with me, but a part of me was a bit nervous. I warned him numerous times that though I loved him and wanted to marry him, I would not be happy with a jumbo-tron proposal. Luckily the game came and went (fireworks and all) and there was no proposal. I had an inkling that the proposal was coming, and had convinced myself that Chris would propose on our upcoming trip to Boston.

In March at my birthday party, my cousin Tim told me he was starting a photography business. He had mentioned that he was looking to take photos for his portfolio. I immediately jumped at the chance to get some good photos of Chris and I. I asked Chris if he would pose for a shoot and he reluctantly agreed. Months passed by and I honestly forgot about the conversation.

A few days before the baseball game, my cousin Tim called and asked if we could help out with his portfolio. He stated that he needed couples pictures to add to his already growing collection. I immediately agreed. I was super excited to not only help out my cousin but also to get some professional pictures. I confided in Tim that an engagement was coming in the future and told him I hoped we would get a “save the date” photo out of it all. I told Tim that Chris isn’t a huge fan of taking a lot of pictures but that I would talk him in to it. Tim said he would email me with the time and locations and we set up a date for the next Sunday.

I went home and immediately told Chris about what my cousin and I had discussed. Chris agreed to take the photos. A few days later, Tim sent us the photo shoot itinerary. He had chosen Mayfield Preserve and Mount Bonnell. I had never been to Mayfield Preserve but was excited to show Chris Mount Bonnell as it is an Austin landmark and Chris had never been (or so I thought). Tim also said we should bring two outfits: one casual and one dressy.

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Marriage Proposal on Mount Bonnell (35)

I slightly obsessed over what clothes we should wear for the session. In my mind, I had set up the shoot and I wanted things perfect. I was worried that Chris would be cranky because it was so warm outside. I even offered to wear the dressy clothes first so we could change into lighter wear. Chris turned the idea down immediately stating that it would get cooler as the night went on and at that point he would change into heavier clothing. After repeated warnings to Chris about him being grumpy when he is warm he promised to be on his best behavior.

We got to the Mayfield Preserve on Sunday afternoon a couple hours before sunset and it was beautiful. Despite one woman being upset that she had no place to eat her crackers, we took quite a lot of photos. Tim gave us good direction throughout and we had a good time.

After a little while, Tim told us that he had gotten enough shots and that we should go change, grab something to drink, and meet him at Mount Bonnell. We stopped at a nearby Burger King to quickly change clothes. The cashier informed us that we had to buy something to use the facility so we purchased a surprisingly refreshing frozen lemonade and were on our way.

We arrived at Mount Bonnell just before sunset. There were a lot of people around enjoying the view. We took quite a few pictures overlooking the lake.

Suddenly, Tim seemed to have seemingly endless technical difficulties. He fiddled with his equipment for a good 10-15 minutes and then moved us over to the view overlooking the Austin skyline right around sunset.

We took a few pictures and then Tim asked if we could take a few prop photos for his portfolio. I had hats and scarves in mind but when he produced a ring box that he stated belonged to his wife Kelly I felt a bit awkward. I looked up at Chris and gave a friendly smile. I wanted to do whatever I needed to help Tim with his portfolio, but felt this was a bit much. I also figured that Chris and I can get through anything and if we needed to do a fake proposal for Tim we would do it. I even asked Tim if I should fake a surprised look.

A few seconds later, I looked over at Chris and he was on one knee. He asked me to marry him and opened the ring box to show me a beautiful sparkly diamond ring. Completely surprised, I actually asked Chris if this was “for real”. He said yes, and I immediately told him that yes I would marry him. We kissed, and I accepted the ring. In that moment it seemed like time stood still. I forgot about Tim and also didn’t notice the crowd that had gathered to watch. Tim brought us 2 champagne glasses and an ice-cold bottle of champagne. We toasted and drank, and Tim quickly packed up his stuff and left. A few minutes later I saw Tim in a bush taking a candid photo.

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We spent the next hour watching the sunset over the lake, just enjoying the moment. Chris explained all of the planning that had gone into the surprise engagement and I was amazed and touched. I am truly so lucky to find such a thoughtful person, and am so excited we will have the whole day captured on film forever.

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Photography by Tim Kyle Photography