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Our Wedding Date: June 27, 2015

Our Engagement

  • The Engagement Story

    ...as told by Nick

    Maddie and I had been together for a little over 4.5 years when I asked her to marry me. I’m rather vague about how long we had been together because neither of us really knows exactly the day we started dating and it hasn’t ever bothered either of us.

    Many things about being together has been a lot easier than it may have been for other couples our age; we both grew up in the same city, swam on the same teams, and went to the same college. One thing has possibly made it harder and that’s being younger. Being 3.5 years younger than Maddie has always had its challenges. First, she didn’t want to date me because I was a freshman and she was a senior. Second, she wanted to date me but she was going to only be in school for half a year more and had no idea what she would do for the remaining half of the year. Third, once she was out of undergrad at Stanford and starting her first year at the Colorado School of Medicine, she was in Colorado while I finished my undergraduate degree at Stanford. This final one proved to be possibly the toughest as we were going to have to do long-distance.

    The summer before my last quarter at Stanford, Maddie and I moved in together to a place in Denver. Living together was amazing but moving out to school became a real shock to both of us as we had grown accustom to always being around each other. When I got out to school, I wanted to give something to Maddie so she would know I was thinking about her every day. My first thought was to send her something small every day but I quickly realized that snail-mail has its name for a reason. After an exhaustive search, I had come up with 1 idea so I decided to pursue it: I would make a box for every week-day that I would be gone so that she could open one box a day. All the boxes would be shipped in one shipment at the start. She would have to show self-restraint and only open the box on its designated day. This was similar to a giant advent calendar where each box was separated from all the others but none contained chocolate. Each box held a note with a small message in it. Occasionally the box would include some money and the note would read “go buy a bouquet of flowers from me today”. As would be expected with Maddie, she was good and only opened the boxes on their specific day (at least as far as I know).

    At the end of my time out at Stanford, I moved back to Colorado and back into our Apartment. Fortunately (yes, I do mean fortunately), at this point I had no job even though I spent a lot of time looking for one. With my spare time (all of my time not taken up with skiing) I could easily escape while Maddie was in school to figure out the ring I wanted to get for her. I talked to one of Maddie’s family friends (Theresa Pytell) who is a jeweler and began to sneak off routinely to design the ring. When I first met Theresa and told her of my plan to propose to Maddie, I had to swear her to secrecy not to tell anyone as I knew she was very good friends with Maddie’s mom, Lucy.

    The first attempts at designing a ring were complete failures. My explanation of what I was looking for, and Theresa’s understanding of what she thought I wanted, just never came out very well in either of our drawings. Finally, one night, I was sitting in Maddie and my office when the idea came to me of exactly how I wanted it and how I would draw it. Immediately, I kicked Maddie out and locked the door even though she was studying. There were other rooms to study but I had important work to do. Over the next hour, I sketched the ring as it would be seen from multiple directions including an almost to-scale (tracing my hand) drawing of how it would look on a finger. The next day I brought my “artwork” to Theresa and she took it to refine the drawings. Several weeks later, she sent me computerized drawings of what the ring would look like and a plastic replica was made. I got a job around this time and it was a good thing; I finally was winding down the ring design so I could fit a job into my not-so-busy schedule.

    At this point I knew I had to hold myself to asking Maddie’s sister, mom and dad for permission so I went through asking each at different times. This was something I had been nervous about for a while but it’s a bit like anything you get super nervous about; it’s only bad in the build-up and then not so bad looking back on it. Through talking to each one, it was amazing how it felt to hear from each of them that they would love to welcome me into the family and to truly feel the love from everyone.

    Immediately after seeing the plastic replica, I called Maddie’s sister Liz (a.k.a. Bits) and was so excited about it I could hardly contain myself. I’m pretty sure I was driving back, talking to Bits and grinning like an idiot while I sat in rush-hour traffic.

    Several weeks later, I had the ring and then faced the terrible task of hiding it. Where do you hide something like that when you live with the person who you’re hiding it from? I thought about putting it in my computer, in my sock drawer, on the top of the kitchen cabinets but for some reason each of those had the worry of “what if she cleans there!?” or “what if I have to get to it without her noticing!?”. Finally, I ended up hiding the ring in our closet under a pile of old shirts.

    When the time came to finally propose to Maddie I, once again, was super nervous. For over a year I had been thinking about what I wanted to say and the wait for the right time seemed to last forever. My plan was to give Maddie one more box similar to what she had gotten while I was away and then propose immediately after.

    On June 29, 2013 Maddie and I woke up at my parents’ house in Fraser, Colorado. I told Maddie she had to get dressed like she was going hiking but that she had to look nice as well. This was a tough request and she let me know it, but I told her I wouldn’t let her out of the room until she had done it.Then I added to the suspense in saying that she couldn’t go downstairs without me. After much complaining, we went downstairs together and on the dining room table was a box. I told her to open it and I stood to the side as she opened the box and read the note inside. After she read the note, she saw that the box had a secret door that was hidden under the note and she opened it. On the bottom of that compartment I had written “Turn Around” which she immediately did. At this point, I was down on one knee with the ring out and a totally blank mind; I was looking up at the love of my life and I couldn’t think of anything I had planned to say! After a slight pause, I managed to get the words out “Will you marry me? I love you more than anything and I want to spend my life with you”.

    She said yes.

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