Dawn and Timothy's Proposal at The Greenbrier

How we met: We met like so many others these days: online. Though we started by just hanging out, we quickly moved on to the rollercoaster of love! After a whirlwind courtship that involved a 32hr road trip and moving in together after only a few months, we continued dating for five an a half years before things fell into place for an engagement. Originally we’d had no plans to get married, but things changed over the years and we finally decided getting married on our own terms would be a fun was to share our love with all of our family and friends.

IMG_0988

How he asked: It all began back in mid-July when I decided to start ring shopping. I knew the types of rings and settings that Dawn liked, as well as the stones and colors she preferred as these things inevitably come up in a long relationship. I did a bit of research online for reputable ring shops in the DC area and landed on Market Street Diamonds in Georgetown. I set off there with a bit of deception and began my two month journey to the perfect ring: antique style with excellent filigree, a center set ruby, and black diamond accents.

Once I had the ring I set upon the long journey of how in the hell to propose. It’s quite difficult these days to be unique. Plenty of well-funded proposals make their way online in the form of well choreographed dances, revelations, and the sort but I couldn’t think of anything that was terribly unique. I’m not one for being a total copycat, and I wanted to have a good story to go along with a fun engagement that’s not just another nice meal in a nice restaurant. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just not me or my personality. I always prefer uniqueness and a good story.) After speaking with three of my closest friends and perusing literally hundreds of proposal idea sites/lists/stories it hit me like a brick: Falconry! I recalled she had expressed a large amount of interest in going to take a falconry lesson in the last year. I’d written it down as a “some day” because it wasn’t of much interest to me, except now it very much was.

Dawn’s always had an affinity for animals, and has become enchanted with webcams placed in the nests of birds of prey in the past few years. I’d considered proposing with large signs at one of her favorite osprey webcams that happens to be in my hometown, but it’d have required waiting until spring. So when falconry finally came to mind, I knew I was onto something. A cursory search of the net pulled up a few options in Virginia, including the place I knew was perfect when I saw it: The Greenbrier.

For those not familiar, The Greenbrier is a massive luxury resort on 10,000 acres with all sorts of activities for those who are or want to pretend they’re royalty. It’s also the location of the former Congressional relocation facility in the event of a nuclear attack that was decommissioned in the early 90’s (they have tours!). I knew the falconry was plenty for a weekend, but a bit of history was icing on the cake! So I contacted the hotel and the reservationist was excited to help me make it happen.

Due to numerous factors (temperature, football, work travel, etc.) the weekend of Nov. 1st was the only weekend that would work and thus the deceit had to start ramping up. I got Dawn to take Friday the 31st off work under the guise of a mystery Christmas gift trip that couldn’t happen when it got colder. She was absolutely baffled as to what it could be, but I had one thing working on my side: Years of making her believe it would be completely unexpected when it happened and never on some typical surprise trip. Even as her friends tried to convince her this could be it, she rebuffed them and I laughed it off per usual. As the trip drew near, she was out of her mind trying to figure out where we’d be going, but I knew she’d enjoy not finding out until we arrived (hey, I did at least finally let on that we were driving AND the dress code (yes, this place has a dress code)).

BUT THERE WAS A PROBLEM! The weather forecast went from good to bad to worse only days prior to the weekend arrived. SNOW! Freaking SNOW on the day I wanted to propose! I quickly called the reservationist who agreed to help think up backup plans (the “ Love Clock” from the Bachelorette being one) and had me call the falcon trainer. After hitting him up he reassured me there would be no issue. The weather wouldn’t be near bad enough to keep the falcons inside and he’d make sure it happened. Whew…

The day arrived, the pups were dropped at the doggy daycare, and we were off on a journey to The Greenbrier. Of course, what’s a trip in VA in the fall without a nice jaunt down Skyline Drive? I’d decided to take the first section through the mountains to see the fall colors, and what a gorgeous drive it was. When we did finally make it down I-81 and on to I-64, Dawn was still entirely baffled. No idea whatsoever. However, as we turned off into the small town of White Sulphur Springs…she was still baffled. I mean, this place is so small that it seems like a quaint little community as you drive through when suddenly: BOOM! MASSIVE RESORT!

Just the sight of this place had Dawn excited, but after checking in and walking into our luxurious suite, I finally came clean: We were here for falconry! You’d have thought she has won the lottery, she was THAT excited. No lie. After settling down and settling in we decided to do a bit of exploring, have afternoon tea, and finally a formal dinner in the main dining room. Oh, did I mention also a 1920’s Halloween dance party? Yeah, essentially 3 outfit changes for her in only hours and she was as happy as could be.

Saturday…the big day… I’d been texting three close friends the play-by-play to keep myself from slipping up with Dawn (and I nearly did!) so they were getting pretty excited. I woke early (hotel beds…) and spent the time debating how I’d get the ring to the falconry shop without her knowing. I decided when we walked down to breakfast to have her grab a table while I ran off to confirm our reservation time. When I arrived at the outdoor shop I was promptly informed that…the falconry was run out of another shop about 100 yards down the street. Conflicted I decided to just go for it, and a quarter mile later I was at the shop to drop the ring. The women in the shop were SUPER excited, and told me to call the trainer prior to the lesson. On the hike back I called the trainer that was running our lesson and ran down the way it’d go down: after the lesson we’d say I arranged some extra time and go back out to do the proposal.

FINALLY, I arrived at breakfast to explain my extended absence: I didn’t want to get her hopes up but I’d managed to reserve extra time after the falconry class just for her, but I had to arrange it with the falconry teacher himself because it’d be on his own time. Hook. Line. Sinker.

We arrived at the falconry shop and took the van over to the barn. After a brief introduction we proceeded with the lesson, which was pretty awesome to be honest. Afterward the other people on the lesson took the van back (and we found out later protested our being left, though they were reassured it was ok) while the trainer grabbed another falcon and a new glove. After walking back out to the hillside where we’d been working with the falcon before, he put the glove on her and she…could not take her eyes off the falcon flying around and landing on her hand. She was oblivious to my handing the trainer a camera. Even as I knelt in front of her, she was entirely oblivious only thinking I was taking yet another photo. It wasn’t until I finally called for her attention: “Dawn!…” Immediately she crashed back to reality and began to tear up, which made her completely incapable of seeing the ring attached to the glove. I proposed, she cried, we hugged, and the deal was done. She said yes and we enjoyed the rest of the weekend being congratulated by resort staff (because they add notes to all your reservations!).

IMG_0978

IMG_0979
IMG_0981

IMG_0982

IMG_0985

IMG_0987

IMG_0989

2014-11-01-12.46.34

The Greenbrier Reservations