A follower of mine, Philip Aaron (Twitter: @philip_b_aaron) recently reached out to me with the wonderful news that he and his boyfriend are now engaged. He shared the following story with me about how it all went down:
On Labor Day, my lovely boyfriend, Derreck, and I were enjoying the day off from our heavenly corporate lives. Nothing was out of the ordinary — we woke up and made our staple eggs sunny-side up, crispy bacon and cheese sandwich, and laid around catching up on KUWTK (guilty pleasure). We decided to go see a movie, followed with some chicken & waffles, and then he wanted to go to Central Park really bad. After arguing which end of the park we were going to, I budged and let him have his way for us to walk to the Central Park Mall with the big beautiful fountain, as long as we could take a nap in Sheep’s Meadow afterwards. As we walked up to the fountain, a friend of ours noticed me and started motioning for us to come over (little did I know Derreck had already planned for her to be here). We sat and talked to her for a while until Derreck asked, “Do you have a penny for us to throw in the fountain and make a wish?” I responded, “No, when do I ever have change?” still clueless as ever. Our friend gave us both a penny — his original plan was for us to close our eyes and when I opened mine he was going to be on his knee to pop the question. Instead, I quickly flicked the penny in the fountain in the middle of our conversation, putting an end to that plan. He then asked our friend to take our picture by the fountain. I was still very confused because we had taken pictures in front of the fountain so many times before, but he was very eager for us to get another. Lastly, he had us turn towards the fountain to take a picture, then pointed to something at the Boathouse restaurant. When I turned around, he was on one knee — the love of my life — on his knee asking me to spend the rest of my life together with him. I did not have to think a millisecond about it, I was a little embarrassed and shocked and surprised and so happy — so many emotions all at once. He took the ring out and slowly put it on my finger, and then I finally came to, hearing everyone around us cheering and clapping for this awesome moment in our life. The onlookers came to congratulate us and we walked off to Sheep’s Meadow for the nap he promised me, except I couldn’t sleep. It was such a spontaneous and beautiful proposal and I would never have wanted it to be any different.
After sharing his beautiful story, he asked me a ton of questions about engagement etiquette, and the only resource I have is Peggy Post’s classic book titled Etiquette, which of course says zero about gay proposals. Here are my own personal responses to his questions:
Question #1: OK, so he proposed to me — so now do I go out and find a ring for him and propose back?
Answer: Nope. He took the lead in this one; there is no need to reciprocate the gesture unless you are absolutely dying to.
Question #2: How did your engagement go with your husband?
Answer: It was actually pretty obvious and practically staged. We both chose rings we liked and then went to Paris for a trip. He asked me during a dinner and didn’t get on one knee, so you’re very lucky. After I put my ring on, he started wearing his.
Question #3: How did you do your wedding party and planning, etc. and who paid for what?
Answer: Not to disappoint you, but our wedding was so low-key. It was just the two of us on our terrace with a justice of the peace. We had just moved to Connecticut and didn’t have any close friends here yet, so we kept it just the two of us. We exchanged vows, and that was it. No party. Unfortunately. Keep in mind, we had been together for 10 years prior to this, so we essentially felt married already.
Question #4: I just don’t know what to do from here — who do we invite, how do we involve our parents, what happens next, etc. etc.?
Answer: First of all, calm down and breathe. It’s great to be excited, but people get married all the time. The best way to approach this is with communication. Set a date with your fiancé, and ahead of time, say that all you want to talk about is the wedding. This way you can hammer out the details and eliminate all of your lingering questions. Start forming a vision as to what both of you want. There are no formal rules for gay weddings (yet) so you are essentially pioneers. What this means is, you get to do it your way. Find what works best for both of you. Get your families involved. It doesn’t hurt to ask your parents if they would help pay for anything. Keep it classy and smart and well put-together and you can’t go wrong. In the meantime, you might want to just casually ask him if he wants to wear a ring as well. That could be a fun weekend activity to go pick one out for him! Major congratulations and please send me pictures of the actual wedding!!
P.S. No more bacon and chicken and waffles. You have a wedding coming up.