Since July, I’ve lived in Atlanta with Morgan. To cut costs, we figured we’d skip the trip up north for Thanksgiving. It was a pretty tough decision for me, but I think it worked out. Instead, we made our way down to Disney where I finally popped the question.
Table of Contents
Learning About Commitment
For those of you that don’t know, I’ve been with Morgan for nearly 8 years now. If you’re doing the math, that dates our relationship back to 2010 when I was 16. In other words, we’ve been together our entire adult lives. In fact, we spent about five of those years away from each other at separate colleges. Hell, six of those months we spent on separate continents. With that kind of track record, I figured I better put a ring on it.
Jeremy Ruins Everything
That said, that doesn’t mean I’ve always been in love with the prospect of marriage. In fact, I hate societal norms. I can’t stand how society pressures us to conform to what is “right.” As far as I see it, as long as you don’t hurt anybody, you should be free to live your life as you see fit. Unfortunately, that’s not really the world we live in. Regardless, I still find myself a bit skeptical about even the most basic societal norms like going to school, getting a job, having kids, and of course, getting married.
As a natural skeptic, I find myself enjoying the Adam Ruins Everything series. I love when the truth about societal norms like engagement rings, the healthcare industry, and electric cars are displayed in comedic fashion. After all, you have to laugh when you realize you’ve conformed to a broken system.
While we’re on the topic of skepticism, what’s with marriage anyway? I always found the institution to be so bizarre. Why is the government involved? Why is religion involved? What’s the point of an engagement ring? How did it become such an important milestone in people’s lives?
If those questions don’t point out the absurdity of marriage, maybe Aziz will:
I love this bit.
A Change of Heart
Skepticism wasn’t the only thing stopping me from popping the question. Honestly, I just never thought about it.
When I graduated from college, I became pretty self-absorbed. Unfortunately, that was just the result of some rough circumstances in my life at the time. I was living alone which quickly turned home into solitary confinement. At the same time, I was working a job that I absolutely hated, so I was doing everything I could to get some happiness back in my life.
About a year of these circumstances had converted me from a passionate youngster to a jaded adult. Fortunately, that was right around the same time Morgan graduated college and moved back in with me. I can’t stress how nice it was to have human contact outside of work again.
After about a month of living together, Morgan straight up asked me when we were getting married. Wow, we’d been together seven years, and I just hadn’t thought about it. So, I took the opportunity to probe a bit. I wanted to know why she wanted to get married so bad. In my eyes, nothing changes once you get married. Well, except you end up a few thousand dollars poorer.
Her answer: “I want to be able to call you my husband.”
The Difference Between Dating and Marriage
There’s a slight difference between calling someone you “girlfriend” and calling them your “wife.” It’s subtle, but the perspective of the person you’re speaking to shifts based on the term you use.
If you use the term “girlfriend,” “boyfriend,” “partner,” etc., the person you’re speaking to immediately devalues your relationship. I suppose it makes sense as those terms tend to imply a situation that is most often fleeting.
Whenever I’m caught in this situation, I usually have to provide some background to ensure the other person takes our relationship more seriously. Of course, this person’s next move is to make over a dozen assumptions about our situation because seven years is “took you long enough” territory. See why I hate societal norms?
So, I totally understood where Morgan was coming from. We both knew our relationship was more than just dating, but we didn’t have the ring to prove it to society. That’s when I decided to take the prospect of marriage more seriously.
Planning a Proposal
At that point, all I needed to do was seal the deal with a ring. Fortunately, Morgan already had a “future plans” Pinterest board, so I got an idea of the types of rings she liked. Regardless, we’re pretty open people, so I ended up talking to her about it anyway.
When it was all said and done, we decided to keep things on the cheap end. I opted for a rather small diamond while prioritizing cut, color, and clarity. I figured a small perfect diamond for a low price was better than a hunk of carbon and a depleted savings. It’s amazing how much size effects cost.
Regardless, I’m sure society would say otherwise. After all, society tells us that the strength of our relationship directly correlates with how much I am willing to sacrifice on a piece of jewelry. At the end of the day, all I cared about was getting the ring that Morgan wanted.
The Happiest Place on Earth
Since we were trying to limit cost, I figured I’d at least go the extra mile in terms of the proposal. Of course, I had absolutely no idea where to start, so I took to the internet for some inspiration.
The scavenger hunt proposal was the first thing that really caught my eye. I was thinking about all the places we had been in the last seven years and which ones meant the most to us. Unfortunately, I was getting stuck on the details.
That’s when something pretty special happened. Morgan’s grandparents invited us to come on a trip to the Happiest Place on Earth. Perfect. Morgan loves Disney, and I knew immediately where I would propose to her.
You see, Morgan and I had already been to Disney once before. I think one of the most special times I had ever had with her was during the Illuminations show at Epcot. Afterwards, we went to get desserts in the French section of the park. The atmosphere is really special at night. It just seems so quiet and intimate after such a big fireworks show.
My plan was to relive that experience except this time with a ring.
The Photo Challenge
Of course, I didn’t just want to pop the question out of nowhere. There needed to be some sort of buildup, so I went back on the scavenger hunt idea. That’s when I had the idea for a photo challenge.
The idea was pretty simple. I created two sets of photo challenges – one for each park we planned to attend. These photo challenges were printed onto little Disney tickets which could be exchanged for prizes. Each ticket featured an image of a site at that particular park. The goal was to take a photo at that site and redeem the ticket for a prize.
The sites didn’t really matter. Well, except for one – the fireworks. This was clearly the only ticket that couldn’t be achieved during the day. As a result, we would be forced to wait until the fireworks to redeem it. This constraint created the perfect situation to pull off a little trickery.
Prizes were simply a set of cards placed in a bag. Each card served to add some variety to our day.
Since the prizes were essentially random, there wouldn’t be any way for her to suspect a surprise. Of course, that’s when the real Disney magic happens. Throughout the day, I would maintain a prize pool such that by the end of the day we would only have a single prize left. At that point, I’d just swap that decoy prize bag for the main prize bag.
As you can probably imagine, the main prize bag contained a final prize of a marriage proposal. When she would pull the card out, I would let her read it before getting down on one knee.
What About Day Two?
Now you might be wondering why I even bothered with the second set of photo challenges since I would have already popped the question. Well, part of me thought it would serve as a nice distraction as the cliché is to propose at Magic Kingdom. If she ever caught on, she’d be expecting the ring on day two. Likewise, I thought it would be cool to take a bunch of photos in Magic Kingdom with the ring. It would serve as a cute before and after bit.
Sealing the Deal
Now that you know why I decided to propose and how I planned to do it, let’s talk about how it actually went down.
Before I could even think about proposing, I had to get the two of us down to Orlando for Thanksgiving. After about a seven-hour drive, we rolled up on location ready to eat. That’s sort of when things turned a little sour. Almost immediately we found out that Morgan’s grandparents were away at the hospital. As it turns out, Morgan’s grandfather had been admitted to the hospital for some chest pain.
Fortunately, everything turned out okay, and we were able to have a nice little dinner. Shortly after, we made our way to our hotel, unpacked, and relaxed for a bit. That was when I told Morgan about the photo challenge, and I basically had her convinced that everything she could win was food related. Before she could even question the rules, we hopped on a bus to Disney Springs where we spent the remainder of Thanksgiving.
Black Friday & Security
Finally, we came to the big day which coincidentally was also Black Friday. Needless to say, some of my friends made jokes about getting a Black Friday deal on a ring – *cough* Matt *cough*. I’ll have you know that I bought the ring back in October!
At this point, I had not told anybody about the proposal. It was my little secret, and I figured it was best to keep it that way. The problem was I forgot about one small detail: security. I had thought enough to keep the ring hidden from Morgan, but I didn’t think about how I was going to get the ring through a metal detector. To make matters worse, I had the ring hidden in a pair of socks in Morgan’s bag, so my chances of getting through security were basically zero.
Let’s just say I went into a bit of a panic as we lined up to get our bags searched. By the time we were ready, I grabbed the bag from Morgan and slid it to the security guard. At that point, everything was out of my control. However, I did try to minimize the security guard’s contact with the bag by clearing out most of the contents for him. Finally, I handed the bag over with only a handful of larger items remaining. With horror, I watched as the security rummaged through every pocket of the bag until her overturned the t-shirt. And then like that, he returned the bag and told us to have a nice day.
I have no idea how I got so lucky.
Epcot & Food
From that point forward, life was pretty easy. I let Morgan carry the ring all day while we took selfies at each location. Here’s just a few of those selfies for reference:
If you took the time to count the images above, you’ll notice that there are only 18 images. The last two images were taken at night (one being the proposal). With every two pictures, I rewarded Morgan with a prize ticket which we would use as an excuse to eat desserts. Needless to say, we ate plenty of sugar that day.
In addition to the desserts, we also had quite a bit of honest meals. I had a few photos, but they didn’t really look that great. So, I’ll just say we ate a lot. We had everything from tacos to noodles, and we didn’t stop until we ate everything.
When we got tired of eating, we had a couple of drinks. I think my favorite drink was the blood orange Kakigōri with sake. Basically, it was just shaved ice mixed with alcohol, and it was glorious. I think Morgan’s favorite drink was a mango slushie (+ Tequila, of course). Meanwhile, I was on the hunt for some mezcal, but we only found the non-smoky kind. Who wants that?!
By the end of the night, we were both getting really tired. Eventually, we decided to relax by the choir before meeting up with Morgan’s sister and friend for fireworks. This is where things got kind of sticky. See, I didn’t tell anyone about the proposal, and I was basically banking on Morgan’s sister being there to take pictures. Of course, that’s when the two of them bailed on us to go ride something instead of seeing the fireworks.
Fortunately, they returned and my proposal was saved, mostly. Basically, we took one photo with the fireworks, and I handed over the last ticket. On the ticket was a picture of the exact ring I got her and a quote from an old Disney song: “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes.”
That’s when she started to tear up a bit, and I got down on one knee and popped the question. After a quick “YES,” we hugged then awkwardly smiled and giggled for a bit. It was as good as I had hoped, and I think she really loved it.
Perhaps the funniest part about the whole thing was Morgan’s sister forgot to start recording, so we don’t actually have any proof that I popped the question. Oh well! 🙂
After I popped the question, we went back to our hotel. Between then and the next morning, Morgan and I reached out to our families to share the news. I’m not sure how spreading the news went for her, but I was really happy about the reactions from my family. I didn’t tell anyone the first night because my parents usually go to bed around ten or so. Instead, I waited until the morning when my dad called. I don’t think I’ve ever had a conversation over the phone with him that long in my life. He just kept saying “I’m going to be a in-law!” It was really special.
Apparently, he went in and told my mom and my sister. Then, my mom went and called my grandma, and the news started to spread like wildfire. By the time we made a formal post about the engagement, I think most people already knew.
So, I told you about how I popped the question, but that was only half the fun! We also spent a day at Magic Kingdom where we took advantage of our “Just Engaged” buttons to try to get some free stuff. It took most of the day, but we finally got a free slushie with our Tex Mex at Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe.
Beyond that, we sort of just got complements from workers all day. It was pretty cool to get recognized for something, and now we have all sorts of selfies to show off. I would definitely do it all again if I could. The entire weekend was about as magical as you could expect from Disney.
As expected, we’ve received several queries about the wedding. Now that I’ve popped the question, I suppose it’s time to talk about our wedding plans.
When I first wrote this article, we had no concrete plans. We were eyeing up early June 2018 with the wedding at one of our favorite places to go camping. However, the cost was prohibitive, and it was on the low-end. I never understood why people blow so much money on a single day. As Kate says below (19:40), “that’s like a lifetime of holidays.”
As we were making plans, we were noticing that we don’t do well with social norms. For example:
- Why the hell do we need a registry? We don’t need a bunch of “things.” We’d be better off getting money, so we can start paying off our student loans. Ugh, I hate debt.
- What is the point of inviting people you don’t know? I can’t seem to understand why anyone would invite people they’ve never met.
- Why do we need a massive cake? It seems a little irresponsible to spend hundreds of dollars on a single dessert. We were looking to do a doughnut tower instead.
As you can probably imagine from my complaints, we were receiving a lot of external pressure to have the “perfect” wedding. Perfect for who? I thought the event was for us. Heaven forbid we have a modest wedding.
A Private Ceremony
After stressing over the wedding for a few weeks, we decided to scrap the original idea and downsize quite a bit. For instance, we changed the date to officially line up with our 8th dating anniversary: March 18th. We also moved the location from the campground to a nice restaurant in Pittsburgh. In addition, we decided to limit the attendees to 11 people: us, my parents and sister, Morgan’s parents and sister, our photographer, and our two videographers.
The major advantage to this ceremony was cost. We were able to cut over $10,000 from our original budget, so we’re pretty happy about that. In addition, we opened up time to spend with our original wedding party as well as each other. Prior to the ceremony, Morgan and I will be separated into two hotel rooms where we’ll hang out with our friends. Following the ceremony, we’ll be having a nice dinner then running off to Dave & Busters to play some games.
In June, we’ll be heading back up to host a large pot luck style party for our families. We’re pretty excited for this party because we’ll be sending recipe cards out with the invitations. Guests will hopefully bring them back, so we can put together a nice recipe book.
After all that, we’re hoping to use the money we saved to go on a nice European honeymoon. Of course, the details aren’t planned out just yet for that.
Changing Our Last Names
When we ran home over the holidays to spread the news, everyone seemed ecstatic about everything except one little detail: we plan to change our last names. Basically, we want to take our two names and merge them into one. In particular, we want to take the “Grif” of my last name and merge it with the “ski” or Morgan’s last name. Sound crazy? It shouldn’t. Take a look at all these couples who have done it:
- My Husband and I Made Up a New Last Name When We Got Married Despite His Family’s Disapproval
- Married Couples Who Made Up Their Own Last Name And Are Better Off For It
- More Couples Are Combining Their Last Names and Creating New Family Identities
Believe it or not, it was my idea. It was also my idea to elope, but we decided to make some compromises there. Anyway, my reason for wanting to make this change is primarily because I thought it was weird Morgan would have to make the sacrifice and I wouldn’t. That’s never been how our relationship has worked, so I couldn’t fathom why we would kick off marriage on such an uncharacteristic note.
Regardless, I’m pretty excited to spend the rest of my life with Morgan. She’s be so supportive of me, and I really enjoy being there for her. Relationships are great when the two people know how to take care of each other. It’s the little things. 🙂
Poetry was life changing for me as a Python developer. You really ought to try it.
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