I'm Joelle, an international Lifestyle and Wedding Photographer based in St. Joseph, MI. I'm also an educator and Photo Editor for photographers interested in growing their business and living life more.
Photo by: Nicole Balsamo Photography
For as long as I can remember, I have despised the idea of becoming a stereotype. So you can imagine my displeasure when friends started making jokes about me being that stereotypical girl just waiting for her boyfriend to propose. I pride myself in the progress that I have made towards finding my own voice and standing strong on my own. So the last thing I wanted to be perceived as was a needy woman waiting for a man. Who says I have to wait for him? Chris and I had recently had a conversation (that actually originated from a joke) about what would happen if I proposed and he seemed very receptive to the idea. So, why not?
When the idea actually started to become a reality in my mind, my first overpowering emotion was excitement. I am a wild romantic and had always dreamed of a sentimental engagement. However, Chris isn’t the most romantic man in the world. Hilarious, warm, loving, supportive, and witty? Heck yes. Romantic, not so much. But I asked myself, does he need to be? I love him exactly the way he is, so why should he change to meet my bizarre expectation? I would much rather surprise him than have him surprise me (as I am also a planning fanatic). So if I want it to be wildly romantic, I would get so much more joy out of being the one to do the surprising.
Being one to always get multiple perspectives before making any decision, I reached out to my closest friends and one of my sisters to get their outlook on the idea. Through lots of screeches and squeals, the response was a resounding, “Do it!” My sister acted as a great sounding board, prompting my thought process through my apprehensions. One of my greatest concerns was with my relatively traditional family. All of my brothers-in-law had asked my father for his permission — a practice that had become tradition through my three older sisters. It had become expected that the men would ask my dad (though he claimed it didn’t matter); I don’t know that the thought ever crossed their minds that one of their daughters would ask the question. My sister pointed out a very good fact though: they only wanted me to be happy, no matter what that looks like.
Another concern that I had was how Chris would feel about me potentially “stealing his thunder.” To be fair, that thought was fleeting, as I quickly reminded myself how non-traditional of relationship we have and how we function as a non-competitive team. As he has said, it’s not “who wears the pants” in our relationship because we both hate pants. He is incredibly forthright so he never would have mentioned the concept without being completely on-board with the idea. However, I w as worried about seeming pushy. Chris and I had talked about getting married for awhile but he was apprehensive because we are in the process of getting into better shape. I’m definitely the one who brings it up more often (probably 800,000 times per the 1 time he mentions it), so I didn’t want it to seem like I was asking because I was impatient. I wanted to make sure he knew it was for the right reasons.
I proposed on March 10, 2018 with a themed scavenger hunt, where I guided Chris through the city with landmarks of things that meant something to us (e.g., the place we met, the store where we buy our board games, our record store, our favourite restaurant). Each clue to the next location was in an envelope with a title on the front (including: Our Start, Our Game, Our Hunger). After dinner, I gave him what he thought was the final clue, which directed us home for dessert. I brought him a piece of cherry cheesecake from our favourite bakery with the true final card on the plate. Inscribed inside a card labelled Our Future were the words, “Marry me?” I watched Chris read the last card with tears in my eyes, in disbelief that this was actually happening. When he said yes, I knew I had made the correct decision. We immediately called my sister and friends who had been in on the secret with giant grins on our faces. We haven’t stopped smiling since.
The antiquated perception that men can propose to women but not the reverse is slowly fading away. I hope that one day the question isn’t, “how did he ask?”, but is instead, “who asked who?” If your intentions are rooted in love and devotion, it doesn’t matter who makes the gesture. For the most part, if your friends and family truly have your best interests at heart, they will be overjoyed regardless. It’s important that we continue to break traditions that discourage any displays of love. Because the world can always use more love.
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