Rachelle and Charles

Palace Garden

How We Met

Charles and I met while I was a Senior in High School at an Applebee’s and casually exchanged hello’s. He asked his mutual friend to get my number to hang out that night, but it never happened.  A few months later that same mutual friend and my parents got to talking and exchanged numbers for us.  Although I was set to hang out with Charles friend, we met at my now fiance’s house, and we took a liking to each other immediately.  Charles gave me HIS number (yes ladies, I totally called him), and we have been together ever since!  We hit it off right away, we both love the Lord, and we adore our families.

How He Asked: One thing I love about Charles is how much not only his own family means to him, but how much my family means to him. Charles had planned a backpacking trip through Europe for 3 weeks and I was to meet him at the end of his trip in France.  Prior to his departure, he took my parents and my sister to The Cheesecake Factory where we had our first date.  There he asked my parents for my hand in marriage, and asked my sister as well!  Because let’s be honest, it’s not a done deal unless the whole family agrees.

He flew to Europe where he backpacked as planned and I met him in Paris.  The only thing I knew about the trip was that I was going to France for a week with the person I love the most in this world. I recently moved to Chicago after I accepted a job as the TV Host of CelebTV, and we have lived apart all year long; so a week together sounded wonderful!  When I arrived he picked me up and off on a train we went to Versailles…which again, was a total surprise because I thought we were staying in Paris!

We arrived to our hotel, The Trianon Waldorf Astoria, which happened to be on Palace Grounds.  I was instantly in awe, and still had NO idea what was to come, although I admit I really hoped he would ask me sometime in France.  The next day, my fearless prince was nervous and fumbling!  It was adorable but odd.  He took photos of our hotel, getting ready, walking around, you name it!  We walked around the Petite Palace, Marie Antoinette’s Garden, and through the small palace grounds.

Although his original plan was to ask me here, it was foiled by the fact there were just too many tourists around, so in his mind, he switched to his “plan b”.  We headed back to the hotel and ate a romantic dinner then he took me to the main palace for a fireworks and light show.  We strolled through the moonlight gardens which boasted beautiful music, various light displays, and a serene setting.  We chatted about the beautiful setting and how amazing the palace looked at night.

We found a spot and watched a magnificent firework show which lit up the sky and the water of the palace.  At the end of the show I asked him if he was ready to go, to which he replied, “I don’t know yet”.  As security for the palace began to clear the gardens we made our to leave, and he pulled me to a place with a perfect view of the garden and lit palace, with not a single soul in sight.  He knelt to one knee, and I began tear up.

After an unforgettable moment and words that filled my soul to remember forever, Charles said,”Rachelle McCray, will you honor me by becoming my wife?  Will you marry me?”

GeorgeV bridge

He placed the ring on my finger and tearfully and joyfully said yes.  As we hugged, the line of security at the palace had gathered at the back of the garden and cheered and clapped.  We took time to honor the moment, then totally tried to take a selfie (which didn’t work because it was dark out), and headed to the front of the Palace.  Palace staff congratulated us as we left, and we headed back to the hotel to call our families.  That night we spent time chatting and announcing our engagement with people we love and he told me all about the plans he had been making for FIVE months, how he asked my parents and how pretty much everyone knew, but me.

We went back to the exact spot where Charles asked me, and asked a couple passing by to take a photo or two.  After we told them we were engaged there last night, the woman exclaimed, “Will you get on one knee and ask her again?!”.  He did, and this time we have it on camera!  I may be the only woman to get engaged in the same place twice, in 24 hours, by the same man.  It was just another fabulous moment to add to list.

Ring 2

The surprises did not end there however, as Charles had set up our engagement photoshoot for later that week in Paris, my parents had gifted us a night at the Waldorf Astoria, and his mom had gifted us with dinner the night of our engagement shoot on the 58th floor of the Eiffel Tower.  Our engagement was not only about us, but included our families throughout every detail.  It was one of the most magical weeks of my entire life, and I am so thankful God made this man for me.

Special Thanks