Rachael and Michael

How We Met

Although true love had been right under our noses in middle school, we didn’t get to know each other until 11th grade at Niceville High School. We were both in Mrs. Mullins AP Psychology class, and neither one of us had any business being there! I don’t remember much from that year, but I know we were both dating other people and even though he made the whole class laugh a lot, he also shaved his head completely bald for a dare..it was not a good look. The next year everything changed. Not only did we end up having three classes together, but we were also both single, and with graduation less than one year away, our friend groups had started to intertwine. At the beginning of the year I became the Niceville mascot (Screech the Eagle), and Michael was Niceville football’s number #1 fan. We grew closer as fall turned into spring and after various dates, and me proudly attending his baseball games, I really wanted him to ask me to prom. Sadly he didn’t….and that’s something I have made him remember for the last seven years. Despite that we remained close friends, and we finally dated for a short two weeks before graduation. It’s hard to believe that short relationship transformed into my future husband, and all these years later, I now to get to spend the rest of my life with my best friend.

Where to Propose in Ritz Carlton Orlando

Marriage Proposal Ideas in Ritz Carlton Orlando

Go Eagles!

How He Asked

Fast forward to 2017. We are happily dating again, and have even lived together for the past two years. I work in Orlando as High School track and cross country coach, and Saturday was our first meet of the year. Aside from the 5:15 AM alarm clock, everything seemed like a usual day, my kids ran well and Michael and I had plans to go to Universal Studios that evening after I took one of my world famous post-meet naps. When I got home around noon I arrived to a very eager Michael standing at the top of our steps, which is something he has never done before. He told me that we were going somewhere, and I figured it was just to breakfast, lucky for him I was starving, because I am not one to let anything come between me and my naps. After he bid me permission to quickly enter the apartment for the restroom and to change my wet sneakers, I was back on the road for his little surprise adventure. I became mildly confused after we were driving for 20 minutes, and confusion rapidly involved into annoyance once I realized I wasn’t getting food. When we pulled in to the fabulous Grande Lakes resort I was even more confused, doesn’t he realize we have my cousin Jenny’s wedding in two weeks? I did not see the need for the random lavioush expense, but Michael ensured me that he had a gotten a super deal. As I started to connect the dots I became hopeful and asked him multiple times if he was going to propose, he kept his composure and I totally bought it, so after a shower, nice lunch and a couple drinks I really started to believe that we were just having a fun relaxing weekend. Fire up a couple laps in the lazy river and a few more daquris we started talking about our plans for the evening. Michael said that he had booked us dinner reservations at a restaurant on the property, but I told him we didn’t need to go and we should still go to Universal as we had planned all week. He played into this really well and even agreed that we should scrap the fancy dinner plans for a fun night at Disney or Universal. Once we finished with the pool, we headed back to the room. To Michael’s luck it started to rain, which was the perfect excuse to ditch the parks, and hang around for dinner. We had a few hours before dinner, and not even thirty minutes after returning to our room the phone rang. Apparently had an “amenity” on the way, and Michael pretended this was part of the deal that he had gotten through his connections. Well the amenity ended up being chocolate covered strawberries and a bottle of champagne…..HMMMM. You might think this would have been a huge red flag, but he was doing such a good job acting normal, I somehow continued to doubt it would actually happen. I took a picture for my snapchat story and told him everyone is going to be expecting a proposal, but again he denied it, emphasizing that we should enjoy the day without any expectations. I got ready for dinner with the options that Michael had packed for me, and believe it or not he actually did a really good job! Once we were ready we headed off to the Ritz Carlton for our 7:00 PM reservation at Normans. Upon arrival they told us we were an hour and a half early, so we had no choice but to head to the bar.

Once there we ordered drinks and after a few sips Michael excused himself to the restroom. After 10 minutes passed I started to become a little aware of how odd this was…after 15 minutes I thought about texting my mom…and finally after 20 minutes I text Michael to no response. With the awareness skyrocketing I text my best friend Jessie to inform her that I think I might be getting engaged, at this point my heart rate was beyond insane and I started to finish my drink quickly. Moments later a man walked up to me and asked if I was Rachael. I said yes and he informed me that “my boyfriend had been taken and I needed to follow him”.

At this point I was certain as to what was happening so I followed this random stranger through a parking lot in the rain to an unknown destination. When I finally saw Michael standing on an outside walkway, I immediately started to cry. I dropped my purse to the ground and listened as the man of my dreams told me much he loved me and how much he always will.

Finally the moment I had been waiting for as he dropped down on one knee and asked me to marry him. As the photographer snapped away we both cried & embraced each other in one of the most emotional moments of my life. The photographer then gave us a second to collect ourselves, before we took more pictures, as the one you see below was completely staged after our tear filled original session. After that it was a flurry of phone calls, texts, Facebook posts, tears, champagne, a really good dinner, and rose petals in the shape of a heart on our bed to end the evening. It was the most perfect and romantic day of my life.

Special Thanks

Gary Blake | 
Photographer
JW Marriot Orlando Grande Lakes
Accommodations/Amenities