This is a special engagement story I’m sharing today, that of my dear friends Kelley and Carie, who have been together an entire decade! I am honored to share their adorable proposal story with you, the planning of which I was privy to. I can also tell you as an insider that they are a couple that loves food. They love to prepare it, to present it, and to enjoy it with the people they love. In this way Kelley’s proposal is perfectly them.
As told by Kelley: May 25th 2013
New York City
I hadn’t intended on proposing, but I accidentally fell in love with a ring while simultaneously having this crazy clarity about our relationship while shopping on my friend’s bachelorette weekend when we got rained in at an adorable SoHo boutique. So now I had this ring.
Proposal planning started with setting a date. I chose May 25th since I always bring up the fact that we are both 25th babies (Carie born March 25th and myself born December 25th). It also happened to be Memorial Day weekend and seemed like a not so bad way to kick off the holiday.
The night earlier we went out to dinner with friends who were inconspicuously two engaged lady couples. Carie was feeling especially celebratory for the three-day weekend. My girlfriends did me a solid in keeping to wine in efforts to deter Carie from hitting the hard stuff. Not one to conform, she ordered a dirty martini and I followed suit as not to over-think and try to control the outcome of the next day’s events. She is unfortunately infamous for her all-day hangovers. For better or for worse, the night ended early-ish.
Saturday morning rolled around just as quickly as expected and I woke up earlier than my almost-fiancée, also as expected. It’s an unspoken tradition that I make breakfast every Saturday for this very reason. It’s sacred for us. I left the customary Post-It love note on the pillow to let her know that I was grabbing coffee for her from Stumptown around the corner in case she woke up before I returned.
It was a crisp rainy day and I thought somehow that was good luck. On my “coffee run” I picked up incredible peonies—which Carie had recently become obsessed with-from our neighborhood florist, Casey’s Flower Studio. I was feeling confident that the flowers alone would seal the deal and I was at peace for the first time that morning as butterflies settled and excitement kicked in. Having a dramatic moment I closed my umbrella to feel the raindrops on my skin, picked up a few more things for an extra special breakfast, and headed back to our apartment.
Carie started to wake up to the sounds of me unlocking the door as I entered our 6th floor walk up and got an estimate on her hangover meter. It was in the positive so we were good to go. I walked over to the bedside and dropped down the peonies and coffee next to my Post-It that lay untouched. She replied with the customary, “Why are you up so early?” before embracing the peonies and becoming giddy, possibly still drunk, which was also playing into my favor. I retreated to the kitchen, 2 feet away, as she settled back into bed with her coffee. I put on a playlist of our songs that I had been affectionately listening to and curating for weeks. It included songs like, “Big Jet Plane,” ”Islands,” “Love Song” (the Adele version), “I Could Be the One,” etc. Again, this is not unusual in the Benjanetta household, just another Saturday.
I prepared all of our standard breakfast fare: eggs over medium, avocado toast, side salad, and grapefruit brulée (I purchased a blow torch the day prior with a barely believable story about how a co-worker gave it to me). I assembled breakfast and extra peonies in a mason jar on the tray and switched to the next song on the playlist, “Stay.” Show time.
I went into our coat closet where I had hidden the antique engraved spoon that read, “Carie, Will you marry me?” custom made by Sycamore Hill in the front zipper of my keyboard case and the ring. This is when the nerves set in. I could barely remove the ring from the bag because my hands were shaking. Any plans I had after this were out the window. I slid the ring into my jean pocket deciding last minute not to just lay it on the tray, arranged the spoon with the fork and knife and just went for it. I picked up the tray with my hands still shaking and walked into the bedroom. I placed the tray down on the bed and knelt with both knees next to this woman, the love of my life.
Ideally, she would have scanned over the most beautiful breakfast tray she had ever seen and noticed the spoon. Panties drop, game over, next stop altar. By this time, my nerves were overwhelming me. I’m super emotional and a not-so-great verbal communicator, which I seemed to have forgotten. As soon as I placed the tray down I burst into tears barely getting out, “I love you so much. I want to spend the rest of my life with you.” Carie looked horrified as I attempted to push the breakfast tray towards her. She kept pleading, “What’s wrong? Talk to me.” Going nowhere fast, I took the ring from my pocket and proposed, “Carie, I just love you so much. Will you marry me?” Her response, “Of course, I’ll marry you. Are you joking? I thought you were dying.” All the time I’m barely managing to slide the ring on her finger. It took a few minutes to register and get over the initial shock of my nervous breakdown.
Once she finally noticed the spoon the reality of what happened became clear and the following hours before our brunch with friends was so humbling and sincere, even with Carie being adorably agitated that I, alongside close friends, had been keeping this secret from her for the past three weeks. She also kept saying, “I never knew you loved me that much.” It just reminded me of how human we are and the vulnerability we can exhibit even when we are secure in our relationships, in the same way that I thought there was a 50% chance she would say “No.” Even though the proposal didn’t quite go to plan it meant everything going into the next days together, having this little piece of symbolism as a daily reminder that it was okay to be loved completely.
Our friends were on standby anxiously awaiting any Instagram activity when @cariesfork went to the modern presses. I think it’s the only time we actually didn’t eat breakfast. The tray left mostly untouched. My only regret is not having it bronzed.
Before brunch, which we had planned weeks earlier, Carie raced to get a manicure, now knowing that this wasn’t any Memorial Day weekend gathering. There were a few surprise appearances from friends from out of town at L’Apicio that made the day even more memorable. We celebrated the rest of the afternoon with too much champagne.
This one intimate gesture, in the place we called home, over a simple Saturday ritual, accompanied by a question we’d half-kiddingly been asking each other for years was just so us.
Breakfast looks delicious, and there’s a special added touch.
The ring rests atop Carie’s favorite, peonies.
The untouched tray on the bed. She said “Yes!”
Aspen looks on, why waste this delicious food?
Celebrating with friends in the East Village.