Sara and Dane
How We Met
Dane: I was on my final wits end with dating. Every morning I’d go through my morning routine and fling through girls on OkCupid because I realized it was a numbers game. The more girls I scrolled yes to, the more exposure I’d get on the website and the more opportunities for dates would happen.
I was playing Golf at Auburn Golf Course one afternoon by myself and was contemplating shutting down all my dating profiles and saying screw love / dating / relationships and to just enjoy the single life full time. I had no desire to go out on first dates, to continue spending money on possibilities that would eventually go nowhere, and to keep realizing that the dating pool just sucks. And then Sara messaged me. “Hi, I’m Sara :)”
I totally ignored the message – I actually ignored it for 3 days. I was busy playing golf, if I recall I was having a pretty decent round, and, well, I just didn’t care enough to respond back to her right then and there. It was a short and clearly copied and pasted message, and it didn’t excite me. Upon further reading of her profile, one line changed my thinking about her immediately.
“I’m a huge Excel nerd”
God, I love Excel. Marry me woman. I decided to message her back – we started chatting and the spark was evident. We scheduled our first date – mid-day lunch at Red Robin in Bellevue Square. I wasn’t hungry but kept trying to feed her, but apparently white women don’t like to eat in front of potential boyfriend materials on the first date. How weird is that?
We left Red Robin and I didn’t want this first date to end so I suggested we hop on the ferry over to Bainbridge and apparently that’s creepy to get on a boat with a guy you just met so we settled on playing Mini Golf at Newcastle Golf Course. I let her beat me because she didn’t slap me when I grabbed her butt and we made out a bunch – I was totally kicking ass at this first date thing. Afterwards, I dropped her off at her car – we kissed goodbye and the rest is history.
Sara: For anyone that doesn’t already know, dating sucks – online dating REALLY sucks! It can work – Dane and I are proof – but the process is brutal. It’s all about quantity. You have to message hundreds of guys to get twenty to respond. You then have to attempt to weed out the crazies from that twenty to get the five you’re willing to go meet for coffee. MAYBE one of those five coffee dates is worth a second date where food/alcohol is consumed and activities are enjoyed. And that’s a big maybe. Dane broke that cycle.
He came across my OKCupid feed as someone who had liked me. He was cute. He was a photographer. He liked golf. He could dance. He was brutally honest about what he was looking for and what he wanted out of a relationship. And he had this contagious smile that I couldn’t stop staring at… Fingers were crossed as I sent my generic first attempt message of “Hi, I’m Sara J.” I sent that exact message countless times before, but I wanted this outcome to be different. And then I sat, and waited. For three days.
When he finally responded our conversation was amazing – we were completely compatible. I could talk to him for hours on the phone, or spend all day texting back and forth. The chemistry was there – I HAD to meet him! And then we hit a wall… This crazy creeper potential axe murder wanted our first date to be a trip on the Kingston-Edmonds ferry to walk around and explore and go to some bakery with mini cheesecakes. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some cheesecake! But I needed our first date to be in a contained, controlled environment where I had the exits already mapped out and I could park my car anonymously so he couldn’t follow me home. *insert Dateline theme music here*
He refused to have our first date be my usual coffee date, so we agreed to Red Robin. Something about “I’m Filipino, let me feed you” – at least I’d get some delicious food out of it. I made sure to get there a couple minutes late so I could check him out while he was sitting there waiting for me – he matched the pictures on his profile *sigh of relief*. He had an order of cheese sticks waiting for me – WITH RANCH! I was falling for him. I didn’t want the date to end, and neither did he. The chemistry was real. He convinced me to go to Newcastle Golf Club for some putt-putt after I turned down another attempt to take a ferry somewhere. What was it with this guy and boats?! I was breaking all of my first date rules. I immediately texted my friends telling them the color/make/model of his car and where we were going – just in case.
He’s going to try and say he “let me win” that game. Don’t let him fool you, I kicked his butt! Of course I pulled the whole damsel in distress “how do I hold the golf club” act, making him think he had this one in the bag. And then I unleashed the competitive, ruthless, real me…even managing a hole-in-one, just to rub it in a little more. I felt a little bad for bruising his ego though, so I broke another one of my first date rules and kissed him. Best decision I’ve ever made!
how he asked
Sara and I have had many dates, dinners, outings at Newcastle Golf Club and I have been a regular visitor / patron of the club for years. Our very first date happened there playing mini golf where she got a hole in one on hole number 14. I came to the realization earlier this year while wine tasting that she was the woman I wanted to spend the rest of my life with and my quest to find the perfect diamond began. I went through idea after idea on how to propose from creating a surprise music video, or renting out a winery and having an immediate surprise engagement party with friends and family right afterwards. After hours, days, weeks of ca-hooting with her two best friends, it was settled that I needed to keep it simple and low key to make sure that Ms Know-It-All (Sara) didn’t get a clue.
I posted on Facebook a week before the proposal looking for a couple to be guinea pigs for my photographer friend Virginia who was “looking to practice her posing skills on non-models”. While it was true that Virginia wanted to work on posing for new couples, she was actually there to be the main photographer for the proposal. My buddy Jack who’s also a photographer decided to tag along as “Virginia’s Assistant” (They’ve never met) so that he could also get a 2nd angle of pictures of the proposal. Since I was doing the proposal at sunset, I wanted to capture a time lapse video of the proposal and the sunset at the golf course (it’s absolutely beautiful), and on top of that 3rd angle, I had a hidden video camera in the bushes to capture her reaction as well. Four cameras, four angles, I wasn’t going to miss a thing.
The couple that I “chose” was already pre-planned far before ever posting on Facebook looking for a couple. I chose to use Sara’s 2 college best friends Megan and Heather who recently announced their relationship together and are so madly in love with each other. They wanted professional photos of themselves, and this was the perfect cover up to not only 1) be at the golf club for pictures, but 2) have multiple photographers in one place all at the same time. Once Heather & Meagan were “picked” the ball started rolling and we began to convince Sara that she needed to show up to the golf club so that 1) she could get in a picture so the 3 of them could have a picture with each other, and 2) have dinner afterwards.
The next day after Megan and Heather were chosen, I ran up to the golf club to work with the General Manager in making this entire plan happen. I met the secretary to the General Manager and she couldn’t have been more happy to help me make sure that this proposal would go off without a hitch. I rented the entire 18 hole Mini Golf Course (Rusty Putter for those that ever want to play there!) for Wednesday the 7th to make sure that nobody would be on the course and possibly ruin the proposal. Oh my, this is all starting to get real at this point.
A few days later, I texted Sara’s other college best friend Marissa and asked her to do me a favor that weekend. I knew that Sara wanted to make sure her nails were perfect for when she were to be proposed to and so I needed to figure out a way to make sure that she got her nails done without her being tipped off that something was about to go down. Marissa admitted that she had a horrible poker face so I refrained from telling her that I was planning on proposing. I asked Marissa to text Sara that her (Marissa’s) sister bailed on their nail date and that she didn’t want the appointment to go to waste. On the day of the nail appointment, Sara and I were already at the mall running errands and Marissa met up with us where I slipped $100 into her purse to make sure that she covered the spa day for the two of them – and to make sure that Sara’s nails were extra pretty. Sara still had no clue what was about to happen at this point. A couple days later, I finally told Marissa the plan and the whole just got more real by that much more.
I knew that I was going to make the video – what I didn’t know was what song I was going to use at the soundtrack. I knew that I wanted to use a cover of the song that I dedicated to Sara when we first started dating (Justin Timberlake’s Not a Bad Thing) but I didn’t know which cover I wanted to use. I called a buddy from High School (Sam) and asked for a favor. 48 hours later, he produced the song on the video and I cried the first time listening to it because it couldn’t have been more perfect.
The plan was for Virginia (my main photographer) to conduct the photoshoot for Megan and Heather as I stood in the background mentoring her on what to do if she had questions. I was wearing my camera bag the entire time where I had the ring to prevent it being a noticeable bulge in my pockets and as soon as Sara arrived promptly at 7:30 when the sun was setting, I would hang out with her for a few minutes while Virginia continued to take pictures and then I’d ask Virginia to take a picture of Sara and I against the sunset. I would then realize that I was still wearing my camera bag and would take it off which would the signal for everything to start. As soon as Sara got there, we snapped a picture, I realized my camera bag was on and went to go put it down which is when I got the ring and turned around to show her.
All of this happened on hole number 14 where Sara got her hole in one, and also because 2014 was the year that we met. Watch the video to see how the rest of it played out!
On top of Virginia, Jack, Megan & Heather already being there, I invited my best friend Lindsay who was very much a part in the whole planning process, along with Sara’s childhood best friend James and his girlfriend Carmen, along with one of my closest friends Shannon, her boyfriend Dale and Shannon’s daughter Tylee, and last but not least, Marissa. I had made dinner reservations for 8 at the restaurant so that Sara and I were able to celebrate with our close group of friends before heading home to start the next chapter of my life with Sara as my fiance.