This is how we got engaged…

Colleen showing off her ring at our engagement shoot

This was originally published on, the website for my wife and I to share our lives with family and friends. After four years of neglect, we decided not to renew the domain. I’m saving this engagement story here for posterity.

While a great deal of planning went on before the weekend of their engagement, the story truly begins on Friday, October 26, 2012. Andrew rushed home from work with a big surprise for Colleen. “Someone at work was selling tickets to a Broadway show on Sunday, so I bought them for us. We’re going to see the Lion King!” A surprise date on Sunday in New York City; Colleen was excited.

thumbnail photo of Colleen

Eeek! I love Broadway.

After a Halloween party on Saturday, they were both glued to the news. Hurricane Sandy was looming. The forecast was bad and it was headed straight for New York City. They discussed times and severity, and even thought about canceling their impromptu date into the city. But, Andrew was convinced, “We have to go, I bought the tickets, it will be fine.” And Colleen gladly accepted his decision. Who would want to cancel an adventure in New York City with a handsome boyfriend?

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I was on a mission. We had to go.

Every engagement story starts by waiting for the train, right?

Waiting for the train.

On Sunday, October 28th, they set off for the Trenton Train Station. After parking, and running to the train station to purchase the tickets, they safely make it onto the train. The weather seemed fine, both were in good spirits, and they had nothing to worry about until they arrived in New York.

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I caught him texting my mom. #Suspicious

wall of M&M's

Wall of M&M’s

Though the weather forecast was dismal, the city was still bustling as they arrived in Penn Station. They reached their destination with about an hour to spare, so they spent their time walking through Times Square and M&M World, being tourists while they waited for the Lion King to begin. The skies grew a bit darker, and a light wind blew about them, but it wasn’t enough to worry them now! They headed toward the theater, found their wonderful seats, and waited for the show to begin.

After the first act, they both decided to check their phones, which were politely silenced during the show. Colleen received two voice mails during the first act, both of which announced that school would be cancelled on Monday. “Man, this storm must be pretty bad if they’ve already canceled school,” Colleen commented.

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Andrew checked his phone and left to make a few calls of his own. He returned to say, “The trains might be shut down today. But I’m not sure when.” Their show would be finished around 3:30pm. There was nothing they could do about it now, except to sit back and watch the second act!

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When he got back, he was nervous about something. But I decided to ignore it.

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With the big moment quickly approaching, my stomach was filled with butterflies. #CantSitStill

Sitting through the second act was interesting. Colleen was enthralled, but Andrew clearly had something else on his mind. Chalking it up to being worried about getting home, Colleen decided to watch and enjoy. When the play let out, everyone was talking about the hurricane and getting home quickly, but Colleen and Andrew remained in the lobby. Andrew kept walking away to make private phone calls by himself.

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I couldn’t figure out why he kept leaving me. What’s the secret?

outside the theater

Outside the theater, standing in front of the sign for The Lion King.

At 3:45pm, he came over to tell her the truth. “Public transportation is being phased out beginning at 4:00pm. We should probably cancel our dinner plans, but maybe we can walk to Central Park before we head back to the train station.” Unfortunately, with Central Park being in the opposite direction they decided against it. Andrew’s second option was another quick walk around Times Square before hurrying back to catch a train.

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I really wanted to walk to Central Park. #StupidSandy

They walked hand-in-hand to Times Square, which was still remarkably busy for all of the natural disaster news coverage. They stopped on the bleachers and admired a statue, got caught in the middle of a protesting mob, and managed to get themselves to the very center of the Square.

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I was stalling. Still too nervous to make my move.

Andrew held Colleen tightly and began to confess that he had been misleading her all along. And that, in fact, today was going to be a very special day for them both. Colleen realized he was going to propose, but all she could see were the thousands of strangers surrounding her. She was immediately filled with embarrassed panic. “Please, not here,” she whispered. “Can we go to that alley over there?”

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You’ve got to be kidding me!

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“No we can’t go to that alley!” Andrew insisted.

“I’m sorry, I’m ruining it… I’m so embarrassed.” Colleen gripped the sides of Andrew’s coat forbidding him to get down on one knee in the sea of strangers. So, very carefully and simply, he opened his coat and extracted a box. Colleen, still holding on for dear life, held his coat open, creating a barrier to the outside world. Andrew opened the box, revealing a beautiful ring.

Colleen looked up, smiling, waiting. “Are you going to ask me something?”

“I’m getting there!” he teased. “Will you marry me?”


He pulled her in for a kiss and secretly slid the ring on her finger. As they were smiling at each other, the sea of strangers continued to move around them. Andrew, who had wanted to propose in front of everyone, was a bit disappointed that no one saw what had happened. Fortunately, there was one observant passerby who said, with a distinctive Caribbean accent, “Congratulations!” and smiled as he walked away.

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That guy made Andrew’s day!

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He made a great day better.

With the wind picking up and the threat of missing their ride home increasing, they walked quickly to the train station. During their walk, Andrew shared the rest of his plans that the storm had thwarted. A photographer that couldn’t make it into the city was supposed to secretly capture their time together and especially the proposal. Both sets of parents were then to surprise them at dinner in Midtown.

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I thought of everything. I just didn’t have control of the weather.

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You really did think of everything. 😉

During his private phone calls earlier, Andrew was unable to reach Colleen’s parents in time to deter them from boarding the train to New York. So they met the newly engaged couple at the train station, grabbed an Auntie Anne’s pretzel to hold them over, then headed back to Pennsylvania. They celebrated over a fabulous meal which Andrew’s mom prepared.

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Her dad said, “I can’t believe I came to NYC for a pretzel!”