Sheil and Rachel
How We Met
Rachel and I met early during college at a student organization fair on campus. Just a couple weeks after moving to Chicago from Wisconsin in August 2011, I attended the organization fair with a friend to learn more about student activities on campus. One of the student groups we came across was a raas (a traditional dance form from Gujarat, India) dance team. Rachel was on the team and happened to be one of the representatives at the fair. I was immediately struck by her bright and welcoming personality. Rachel somehow got me to sign up for the informational meeting for a dance group that I otherwise would never have considered. I never ended up pursuing the dance team, but this particular event marked a spark that began our friendship.
We had a number of mutual friends through our first couple years of college, but we got closer when we took a Hindi language course together in 2013. While we sat at opposite ends of the classroom, we had an instant connection through our passions for Indian culture and languages. During the summer of 2014, we took an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) course together. One of my other friends was also in the class, so the three of us would study together. Rachel and I got even closer during this course, and we began to realize we had quite a bit in common with regard to our interests, passions, families, backgrounds, and professional aspirations. After graduation from college, we continued to stay in touch and made an effort to meet up regularly to catch up. This worked out particularly well because we were both living in the Chicago suburbs after college. As time went on, our friendship grew stronger than ever.
On October 1, 2016, we had our first official date which included visiting a local pumpkin patch and cooking a fall inspired meal together. Since then, our relationship has blossomed so naturally and effortlessly. I slowly but surely began to realize that she was the one!
How He Asked
In November of 2017, Rachel and I started talking more seriously about our timeline and future together. We determined that we would like to get married in the summer of 2019, which meant I would propose sometime in 2018. In December 2017, I began brainstorming ideas for the proposal. I considered numerous options including traveling or visiting a local Chicago landmark or botanical garden. While these are still great options, I thought they would be impersonal. Instead, I wanted to curate an unforgettable experience that conveyed the sentiment of our relationship.
Food has been such an integral aspect of our relationship. There are certain foods that Rachel and I have associated with special dates whether it was meeting my parents, celebrating a birthday, or running our first 5k. From there, I came up with the idea of creating a multi-course meal in which each course would represent an experience or special meal that we’ve shared in the past. About a month before the proposal, I told Rachel that a magazine had reached out regarding a feature on multi-course meals. I had never done anything like that before, so I told her that I was going back and forth between whether or not to move forward with it.
Eventually, I told Rachel that I decided to do it, and I was thrilled that she was so excited and supportive about it. The magazine would also be a good excuse for taking plenty of pictures on the day. I suggested Saturday, February 24, 2018, simply because it worked well with both of our schedules. Since that day was also my birthday (and as far as I could tell), I didn’t think she would suspect the proposal to happen that day. I had also mentioned that my parents would come into town for my birthday that evening, so we invited Rachel’s parents to join us.
Rewinding to December 2017, I began at that time by reflecting on some of our most significant dates and favorite meals. Then, I narrowed down on food themes and elements I wanted to include in the tasting menu. From there, I finalized the dishes and slowly accumulated dish-ware, flatware, etc. The week leading up to the big day, I started getting ingredients and preparing elements of each dish so I would have minimal cooking on the actual day of the meal.
I quickly set up the dining table in the living room of my apartment – a place where we shared so many memories together. That morning, I felt a rush of energy and excitement as if I were about to put on a performance. I had been conserving all of my creative energy for this day, and this was truly the most joyful and exhilarating cooking experience I’ve ever had. I was nervous initially, as there were some courses that I was not able to practice beforehand. As the courses continued, things were falling into place and all of my planning proved to be worthwhile. I was thrilled with the outcome and even happier that Rachel was enjoying the experience.
When I brought out dessert, I explained to Rachel that I made a slideshow describing my inspiration for the meal that I would submit to the magazine. The slideshow included descriptions of each course along with pictures from the date or experience associated with it. After the slideshow concluded, I explained to Rachel that no magazine ever reached out to me for this multi-course meal and that it was all for her. I then got on one knee and asked her to marry me. Without hesitation, she said yes, and that was one of the happiest moments of my life!
After the proposal, Rachel and I made our way over to her parent’s house since my parents had already arrived there. We surprised them by telling them about the proposal and receiving their blessings in person. We then celebrated by enjoying dinner and cake as well as sharing the news with family and friends. More details including the full menu here.