Jenny's perspective:John asked me to take St. Patrick's Day off of work so we could go to the parade. I just thought it was 'cause he was a crazy Irishman. But I did it anyway (with encouragement from Rachel) to make him happy. We arrived about a half hour early to stand around for awhile with his family and a few of our friends. The parade started at noon, and it was pretty normal: a bunch of people dressed in green walking down the street; tall boys of Guinness; and bagpipes blaring. Fun to be had by all!
After about 30 minutes of the parade, the St. Paul City Council group passed by. John got in front of me and went down on one knee. I thought he was taking a picture. Then suddenly a sign from the city council group was coming towards us. I thought the parade was coming was coming at us--I was so confused! Then I saw the sign and it said "Jenny, John has a question for you". I looked down and John was holding a box and opened it to a diamond ring. He asked "Jenny, will you marry me?" I screamed/exhaled/laughed and said "yes!". He got up and slipped the ring on my finger. I hugged him and buried my smile in his shoulder.
I looked around and everyone was smiling and saying "Congratulations!" and cheering. I saw a banner being held up behind me that said "She said yes!". To add to the excitement, a large camera appeared next to us. The news heard what was happening and came over to interview us (it didn't end up airing). Crazy! I can't believe I could put together a coherent sentence (well maybe I didn't). I must have been bright red!
My friends, Germaine and Rachel, appeared out of nowhere and John's friend, Jeff. They were across the street waiting. Is this happening!!? Well we definitely couldn't watch anymore parade after that. We headed down to the pub to start celebrating!
I am completely honored and humbled that so many people would go to such lengths to make our day possible. I know John is a wonderful, caring, supportive person. And it shows in the company he keeps. I am so blessed to have him in my life. I've said it before, but I'll put it down on "paper": the universe pulled me to Minneapolis for a reason.
John's perspective:I first came up with the idea to propose on Saint Patrick's Day (now sometimes known as John Ward Day) back in July of last year. The first people I told were my coworkers Stacey and Kelley. They thought it was a good idea. My original thought for the place to propose was at Merlin's Rest (a bar in Minneapolis) where we met back in September 2012. I was going to do it in front of the whole bar. But late last year my sister Jessica suggested I use the Saint Paul Saint Patrick's Day parade. Since we would probably know several people in the parade she also suggested we put them to use.
So over the months we formulated a plan. We would make a sign that would alert Jenny to the proposal happening. The next step was to figure out who would carry that sign in the parade. I immediately thought of my friend Nicole who works for city council member Chris Tolbert. I asked her to see if he would be interested in carrying the sign for me. Then I also enlisted another city council member Amy Brendmoen to be the other person to hold the sign. They both quickly agreed and we were off to the races!
Slowly the plan began to take shape. About a month ago Jessica and I went to Joann Fabrics and Home Depot to get supplies to make the banner. We spent probably about an hour at Joann Fabrics alone. The most difficult part was choosing what fabric to work with. Finally I decided a simple white fabric that had shamrocks in the pattern. It fit perfectly with the theme of the day. Next up we chose a few decorations to go on the fabric. Lastly, we stopped at Home Depot to buy paint to make the sign come alive with color.
Some of my family got together a few days later to put the signs together. I say signs because we collectively decided to make a second sign that I will explain a bit later. So on a cold Saturday morning my mother, father, sisters, nieces, brother-in-law, and aunt got together to make the signs. After a little back and forth we decided the first sign would say: "Jenny, John has a question for you". The second sign would say "SHE SAID YES!!". So over about 6 hours we traced, cut, played with Mircosoft Word, glued, and painted. Now when I say "we" I don't mean myself. I know my limitations and got together a crack staff of crafters. The signs came together beautifully! (Oh and special thanks to Dave Zaffrann for being my excuse for being gone all that day. We were "watching soccer" at a bar downtown.) After the sign took longer than we thought I had to tell a lie (which I hated doing) and tell Jenny that my sister's car broke down and that I had to go help her. Sigh...
Now over the past month I was able to enlist a lot of help with various tasks that I needed on Saint Patrick's Day. My friend Alex agreed to take care of all communications (texts, emails, phone calls) for the day so that I could concentrate. Nicole took care of communicating where the city council group was and let Alex know so that I could be ready when they arrived. Two of Jenny's best friends, Germaine and Rachel, were lurking in the crowd (out of sight) so that they could take pictures and then surprise Jenny afterward. My friend Jeff came down from Fargo and took pictures and also hung out with me the night before to help me remain calm. Lastly, Alex's wife Erica agreed to be my official videographer of the proposal. This was a team that had my back.
The day of the parade my father drove us down to the parade. I was worried about not getting down there on time so I had set a very firm time for us to be there. We ended up being at the designated spot at 11:30 (on time!). Some of family and Alex/Erica were already there. They had staked a terrific upfront spot at the corner of 5th and Market in downtown Saint Paul. The parade began at noon and of course I was incredibly antsy. The excitement and nervousness were both coming to the forefront but overall I was able to maintain my composure.
Nicole let Alex know throughout the parade where they were in relation to the designated spot. I was ready. The signs were ready. The City Council group made it to our spot around 12:25. I waved the group over to us as they came nearer. Then Jenny saw the sign. I've never seen a bigger look of confusion in my entire life. As she realized what was happening I got down to one knee. I struggled to get out the words that I wanted to but eventually settled on "Will you marry me?" I suppose those are the words that matter the most! SHE SAID YES! Above her Jessica and my friend Tammy unrolled the sign "SHE SAID YES" sign! It was perfect timing. All around me I could hear whooping and cheering from the entire crowd as they figured out what happened. I slipped the ring on Jenny's left ring finger. Now this was no ordinary ring. Jessica had allowed me to our Grandma Keldsen's engagement ring. She had been given it by my mother and aunt years ago. Jessica knew it was a special day and allowed this additional special thing to happen. I can't thank her enough.
After the proposal was finished we were surrounded and engulfed by people. So many friends and family members congratulating and hugging us. It was amazing. I've never felt so loved or cared about. But the thing I couldn't get over was how both Jenny and I could not stop smiling. We both seem to know that this was right and that we had both found our special someone. Her and I took a moment after the parade to just look at each other and be happy. It was one of those moments I will never forget. She's the one for me and there was no doubt about it.
But all of that was the easy part. Now we have to plan a wedding and life. That's going to make all my planning look like child's play.