I said “Absolutely.”

At least, that’s what I think I said. Considering neither of us can actually remember the full dialogue since we were too busy smiling our faces off and blacking out (no Mom, not literally) in a moment of one-part shock and two-parts bliss and every-part magical, this is what I’ve got.

The evening we got engaged was the best day of my life thus far (no surprise there, folks). They say it’ll be surpassed by the day we say “I do,” but I don’t know; there’s something really special about making a promise to marry someone and making all of the choices that lead you to the altar however many weeks/months/years later, before actually having an extra ring and a few certificates.

So in the spirit of my post-Valentine’s Day hangover, fueled largely by an entire box of dark chocolate sea salt caramels which accompanied a 7-hour Breaking Bad Season 6 marathon (seriously though, girls with boyfriends do the same things that single girls do because lesbehonest, it just rocks), I’ll divulge into the details of “The Ask.”

Turns out, “The Ask” had been in the works since pre-Christmas, when the then-boyf began plotting and contacting my family, best friends, acappella group and photog friend to concoct something beyond special.

There was even a map.

upenn locust walk

Fast forward to the Day. It was J’s birthday, and he had been acting a bit strange leading up to it. So for everyone who asked, “Were you surprised?!?!”

…Yes and no.

Before then, there were a few moments that caught me off guard and planted a seed in my mind where I thought, maybe – just maybe – it’d be happening soon. Now there was the whole “12 weeks or less” telltale hint that J wrote on my Christmas card, but I promise I’m more clever. I caught a note over his shoulder one day that had his birthdate – and what was soon to be our engagement date, too – written on it. Why do you have your birthday written down? J got flustered and snipped at me and soon, the note was gone. Interesting…

Next was the call. I called him after he was done with work one day, and he said he was looking at restaurants to potentially hit up on his birthday for a big bash with friends. Going in person to places ahead of time? I mean, that’s what Yelp is for, but you do you birthday boy. On the phone, J suddenly said “I have to go” and hurried off the phone – super weird for him in general, let alone if it’s just in preparation for a little birthday dinner. Interesting…

Then, The Day.

I had just thrown a 4-day Birthday Weekend for J, which was fun and relaxing for us both. I woke up to a note – “REVERSE BIRTHDAY!” J told me that today, instead of his birthday being about him, he wanted it to be about me – something that I felt less than comfortable with, since this was HIS birthday after all! The note went on to say that he would drive up to see me at Penn after work, where we’d grab Starbucks before driving back to a new Italian BYO near him, just the two of us. Interesting, because normally I train to see him to avoid driving through Philadelphia rush hour. But it’s your birthday, so you do you birthday boy…I didn’t even question it. Who would question Starbucks on the boyf? No one, that’s who. You take your macchiato and call it a good day.

This is where the magic starts.

I got dolled up for dinner and met up with J at my gate. He was totally playing it cool, and we had some small talk as we started walking down Penn’s famous Locust Walk towards our destination: Starbucks. Since we first met at Penn, this was why J’s proposal had to be at Penn – nostalgia, people!

As we’re walking down Locust, I notice a blonde girl with a neon pink sign standing in our path down a way, and what looks like two photographers crouching at the ground nearby. Since this was at a place where social movements and other public demonstrations take place, I shook it off to be a sorority display, as rushing was in full swing.

Until I realized it was one of my best friends.

And the sign read, “Erica, are you ready to be a Mrs.?”

cutest proposal

At this point, I catch on and this face ensues:

cutest proposal

Our best friends start to pop out from behind trees with signs, my freshmen from my hall are there grinning wildly and snapping iPhone pics, my kickass acappella crew appears from seemingly out of nowhere, things are clicking and I’m on ecstasy. Counterparts starts singing Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud,” because it’s our song, and J has this bigass grin on his face that I’d seriously pay to see over and over again.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I’ll let Christian’s amazing photography take over…

cutest proposal

cutest proposal guitar


cutest proposal

cutest proposal

cute proposal

cute proposal

cute proposal

cute proposal

cute proposal

counterparts acappella upenn

proposal upenn

proposal upenn

engaged upenn


We proceeded to call my mom on speaker phone to tell her the news. She sounded surprised – which in turn surprised since J had had her in the loop from the getgo. But…

The best part? We DID still go to dinner afterwards. It took us an hour to get there with traffic, and we happily recapped and chattered all the while. We got into the restaurant – they were waiting for our reservation – ran to the restroom and were taken back to a more “private” area. We walk into a room full of familiar faces: my mom and dad (those tricksters were in the car headed up when I called!), my grandparents and aunt and cousins, J’s brother, sister-in-law and nephew, and each of our best friends. I was SOOOOO not expecting that (and I like to think that I can usually sniff out clues), and it ended up being the ideal cherry on top of an already perfectly sweet night. The impromptu engagement party began, the champagne toasts flowed (as did the happy tears), and the mini cheesecake and cannoli platter was out of this world.

J told me afterwards that he had prepared a whole romantic schpeal that he rehearsed a million times in his head before picking me up for the proposal, but in the moment he blacked out, too, and went with the whole “make me the happiest man in the world.” He started apologizing for this, so I had to cut him short – why the HECK would you be apologizing for proposing marriage to me?! I wouldn’t have cared if you rapped the whole thing and called me your forever-bae. Ok I lie, I might’ve minded that. But. So long as my best friend wanted me to stick around and have a family for the rest of forever with me, I was in.

So I said absolutely.

And now I’m #GoingGwynn.

engagement ring


Now, a little note to all. Never, ever, EVER think for a second that you don’t deserve love. You deserve it. And you deserve the most passionate, precious, all-encompassing love there is. You deserve to be loved and cherished and respected and honored until you’re wrinkly and grey, and then you deserve to go get your hair done once a week like my friend Grandma Phyllis, because that’s how you do 92 right.

If you were single this Valentine’s Day and weren’t loving the onslaught of mush and pink, I hope you remember this week and always how many people love you, and what a kickass human being you are. Here’s hoping you feel content and confident in your singlehood so that when the right person comes along, you’re really truly ready to greet love with open arms. If you had a date for VDay 2015, I hope you remember this week and always how many people love you, and what a kickass human being you are. Here’s hoping you feel beyond great with your someone, and that regardless of whether or not they’re “the one,” you always feel special and honored and loved for all that you are.

‘Til Hump Day…