Aside from basking in engagement bliss, I’ve also been waiting to re-cap our NYC trip until Alex could write his side of the proposal, just because I thought it would be fun to see his thought process along the way.
So without further ado, I present my first guest blogger – Alex – with the tale of planning the perfect proposal:
About a year ago, I started kicking around the idea of proposing to Liz. I know lots of people wondered why it hadn’t happened yet. Honestly, I wanted to feel ready for it, and I just didn’t feel ready for marriage. I KNEW I wanted to marry Liz some day, but I just wasn’t ready yet.
I don’t know if there was a single incident that didn’t make me feel that way, but I just remember waking up one morning thinking, Liz is it. The thought of marriage was not so daunting, and so I started to rack the ol’ noggin’ for ideas.
I knew that I wanted to surprise Liz as much as I could, since she knew that a proposal was coming some time in the future, even if she didn’t know exactly when. I tried, a little over five years ago to surprise her with a trip to New York City for our one year anniversary, so that seemed a good place to start.
I then happened to read about someone using some sort of app, or at least something similar to propose, and then I knew that I had to do something nerdy like that. I mean, I am a big nerd after all. So I start thinking about how I could incorporate an app in proposing. One small hurdle here is that I have no experience doing iOS app development, but how hard can it be?
Fast forward a month, and I’m talking with our friend, “Hot Dave.” He was in the middle of a job transition and was working on a lot of iPhone apps. My idea seemed fairly straight forward, I needed an app that would track your current position, and you would have to find a specific gps coordinate before you could move on to the next step in the scavenger hunt.
Initially I tried to be sneaky and describe the app as generically as possible, and Dave loved the idea! And so, after a late night gchat exchange and several simple mockups, Geoventure was born. Dave and I would go back and forth with ideas and thoughts on how the app should work, eventually hammering out a simple prototype.
After about maybe three weeks or so, with Dave working on this in his spare time, things came to a stand-still with a few features that I wanted still not quite there. Its not because Dave got lazy, he just got his full time job at Google, which took up most of his time.
Now it was just around thanks giving, and I had already pinged greenkarat to see about getting some custom work done. After a month of back and forth, I finally decided on a blue man made diamond and they said they could do the custom band that I wanted to do. Time to completion: three weeks.
Since I pulled the trigger on the ring, I decided I should also finally set a date for when this was all going down. This was tricky, since the app still wasn’t done, and I had no idea how I would get to finish it in time. Nothing motivates to get things done like booking flights though!
I opted to pick a three day weekend in February that was at least a few days after Valentines Day. I detest the idea of proposing on a day like Valentines Day – way too cliche. So, the day was set, the ring was paid for, and the App was… kinda there.
I decided to talk to Dave, and reveal my real intentions for the App, in the hopes that I could glean a little more polish on the App from him. His response was priceless: “I knew it!” But alas, he really didn’t have the bandwidth, which was fine. Instead he gave me the source code for the App.
So it was now January, with the date quickly approaching. As if the universe could sense the urgency, the ring arrived at my office. It was actually really nice, I didn’t feel nervous or apprehensive, just excited. Since I had no idea where to start on the App code, I asked my co worker who made our original iPhone app to help me out. Rob was more than happy to oblige.
After a few “late nights” in the office (yay for having good excuses to stay late without raising suspicions), he was able to add the last feature I wanted – adding pictures to each step. Things were looking good, but I still had to figure out a way to make the final scavenger hunt on my phone and have it show up on Liz’s phone!
We were now at one week until the proposal, and I finally finished creating the scavenger hunt. Five locations, each with clues and hints. Rob was able to bust out an awesome last minute change to the app on Wednesday night so that I could preload the finished scavenger hunt to the App. He also got the app up and running on TestFlight so that I could easily install the app on any “test” phone so long as I could log in with my own account on that phone.
I was at defcon 4 by this point, hoping that everything would work out logistically. I needed to have some way to let Liz know she needed to be packed up and clocked out on Friday when the town car arrived to pick her up, so I decided to go with some flowers with a cryptic but informative message.
Thursday night. Liz was gone to hang out with a friend, so I packed up her stuff as best I could, without taking away anything she might need that night or the next day. That task is harder than it might seem. No toothbrushes, no toiletries… and what the heck would Liz wear when its really cold? I hid the bag in the extra bedroom closet, and then waited.
Liz finally came home, and under the guise of me working on an App that I wanted to test with her phone, I took her phone and installed Geoventure. A quick boot-up and things looked good. Everything was in place, even the last-minute Kindle that I got her as a surprise for the flight. I hid that along with the ticket in her backpack that she takes to work every day, hoping she wouldn’t look in the laptop sleeve. I went to bed, but I think I only slept about 4 hours.
Friday morning. I had to get the last few things packed, grab the bag, and slip out the door without Liz realizing that I wasn’t picking her up from work that night for a fancy dinner (that was my working alibi). I did come up with the brilliant idea to sneak the bag out through our bedroom door to the outside hallway. We never use that door, and that way Liz wouldn’t see me walking down the stairs with a large stuffed bag that I obviously didn’t need for work.
I gave Liz a kiss goodbye, then headed off to “work.” I snagged the bag from upstairs, then hustled to Bart. The trip to the airport and onto the plane passed quickly enough, with Liz non-the-wiser that I was east coast bound.
It wasn’t until I was on the plane that I realized Liz would have no idea that she had to use Geoventure once she got to NYC. Luckily the flight had wifi and I drafted up an email telling her that I wouldn’t pick her up at 5PM like I had promised, but that instead she was going to be traveling somewhere and would have to use the App to then find me once she landed. I sent off the email at 1PM, apparently perfectly timed since the flowers arrived at 12:45.
The hardest part about this whole plan was the waiting once I got to NYC. I got to the hotel room and it seemed like time would not move. I occupied myself by going to buy toothbrushes and toothpaste, and just kinda wandering around times square.
From the moment Liz called to say she was in the hotel, to when I passed out at 3AM, everything was a blur. I was happy though, and content. Everything worked out as it should have, and she loves her ring.
Knowing how much thought and effort went into this just blows me away. I know I have a lifetime of surprises and adventures ahead of me with this one!