Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Tale of Two Chapels

Just in time for V-Day, my story of how JB proposed actually won a contest! Allison over at On My Bookshelf ran a contest for best date story and the prize was two YA books I've been wanting to read: Confessions of a Triple Shot Betty and its sequel, Triple Shot Bettys in Love, both by Jody Gehrman. Definitely check out On My Bookshelf; it's a fab site.

Because it's been fun going back through some old photos, I'll post a non-engagement story involving a chapel and then our actual (award-winning!) engagement story, which also involves a chapel.

First the non-engagement story:

Soon after JB and I started dating, we went on a ski trip to Gatlinburg, TN, with our church youth group. He was already liked by my friends (always a good sign), and we all walked around together on the day alotted to sightsee in downtown Gatlinburg, which is possibly the cheesiest place on the planet.

For those of you not from around these parts (or who are not rednecks), Gatlinburg is kind of like a sedate, backwoods Vegas in that it's chock full of wedding chapels and places to get married. We passed one while we were all out walking, and my friends convinced JB and I to get our picture taken in front of it. The idea was that we'd get back home and all of us would pretend JB and I gotten secretly married on the trip. Genius, I know.

So here's the picture. I think I'd just turned 16 and JB was 17. (note his awesome gel-spiked hair and cool hemp necklace.)

BTW, no, it was NOT Christmas; it was mid-January. But Gatlinburg, in all its awesomeness, does not see the need to take down its tacky-yet-extensive Christmas decorations before Valentine's Day.

Needless to say, not one single adult believed us. But a tradition was born and we posed for a picture again the next year, which was JB's last year to go on the trip before he graduated high school.

I think we're looking a bit better there. Our last year in college, we went back to Gatlinburg with our college church group. We were engaged this time, and had the picture taken again, for old time's sake.

(We were allowed to kiss on church trips by then.)

So that's the story of how we were not really engaged. On to the engagement story. I have no pictures of it, unfortunately!

It was senior year of college. It was also September 11, 2004 (he did not pick this day to propose because of any significance other than it was a Saturday around the time he wanted to propose...)

JB met me at the little house where I lived with roommates near downtown Auburn. The plan was that we would walk downtown to Mellow Mushroom for pizza. So we walked. We got to the corner where downtown starts, and JB pulled me up short.

He started talking about how beautiful the sunset was, setting over Samford Hall and the campus. This was weird, because JB is an engineer and does not normally talk about things like that. I was perplexed, but admitted it was pretty. Then he kept going on about it. And on and on.

What I didn't know is that he'd seen my sister and my roommates nearby, still decorating the place where he would propose! It hadn't taken us as long to walk downtown as he'd planned. A few seconds before, my sister's friend Abby happened to be driving past and saw us walking, and frantically called my sister to tell her we were almost there! This apparently caused much freaking out.

Jeff had his arm around me as he talked about the sunset, and I found out later that if I'd turned my head even a fraction, I'd have seen my sister and roomies dashing away, arms full of decorating stuff. Finally, he stopped talking, almost abruptly, and we started walking again. But instead of continuing to Mellow Mushroom, he led me into the courtyard of the Auburn Chapel, the oldest structure on campus. It's also the same place my dad proposed to my mom almost 30 years earlier.

The little brick courtyard was decorated with candles and rose petals, and soft music was playing in the background. It was nearly dusk, my favorite time of day. JB said some lovely things, most of which I unfortunately can't remember because I was so excited. He got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. Of course I said yes.

We went out to dinner at a lovely restaurant that evening, but before that we went back to my place so I could change. My roomies had laid out at least 10 bridal magazines on my bed, and my sister had gotten me a gorgeous pair of earrings to wear to dinner.

After dinner, we met everyone back at my house and laughed about the whole thing. It was the best night.


beth said...

This is so sweet! I love that you posted this--and the pics are precious!

Michelle said...

What fantastic stories! The proposal sounds so romantic :)

Anita said...

Very sweet!

Casey said...

awesome story - love the gatlinburg pics too!

Crimogenic said...

"he led me into the courtyard of the Auburn Chapel, the oldest structure on campus. It's also the same place my dad proposed to my mom almost 30 years earlier."

oh gosh, this is too sweet. sounds like a dream proposal. :)

Ashley said...

This is so sweet! I've been to Gatlinburg lots of times--I live near Memphis, TN and so it's one of those vacation regulars for a lot of us Memphians. I'm pretty sure I've seen that chapel (or several just like it) and I think it's awesome you have a collection of pictures by it to keep and cherish forever.