Saturday, October 16, 2004

We're Engaged!

As you know, Will actually unofficially proposed to me back in June when we were in Hawaii. However, we decided to not tell anyone until a later time when we had done it "right", with the ring, etc.

The "official" proposal was AMAZING! And being that Will was the mastermind behind it all, I wanted to quote his own words about our proposal, and then I will take you step-by-step through the proposal DAY. (Yes it took ALL day).

In Will's Own Words:

After returning from Hawaii, we continued our relationship with renewed determination to prepare us for the transition into marriage. We spent countless hours in sweet conversations getting to understand one another better. We developed goals and habits to help guide us along the path of righteousness. We learned to read and ponder the scriptures daily, we choose to conclude each day with prayers of thanksgiving to our Father in Heaven. All in all we choose to make the main focus of our relationship around the Gospel of Jesus Christ as taught by the Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints. We felt the blessings pour into our lives as we did so and our love for one another grew stronger each passing day.

The months following Hawaii where joyous ones.

We traveled throughout the rest of the summer visiting friends and family and seeing new places. Each journey and adventure always brought us closer together. All this time we continued asking Heavenly Father that He would let us know when the appropriate timing would be to enter into an official engagement.

This process heightened with much supplication and fasting during the weeks prior to October General Conference of the church. It was during the priesthood meeting of that conference that I finally received the answer I so longed for. I was listening to a talk by Pres. Monson (which I later found out was titled, “Anxiously Engaged” but has nothing to do with wedding engagements).

He used most of his time to tell stories that help portray his message, as he is an excellent storyteller. He had told one story that I recalled hearing before. As he was starting into the next and last story I again knew I had heard this story, but this time it was different. I knew I had heard not just these stories before, but his whole talk I had heard before somewhere.

I felt the Spirit touch me lightly, I stopped listening to the talk and started pondering on this. Why had I heard this before? What was the Spirit trying to tell me? I thought of Jenni and my desire to marry her for eternity. Then my mind exploded with excitement. Was this it? Was this the answer to all my prayers?

I bowed my head and said a silent prayer asking Heavenly Father that if he would answer my prayers and give me the privilege of marrying His precious daughter that I would do all in my power to lead the life that He desired for me. I promised Him that I would always continue to treat Jenni with the respect she deserved. As I concluded my prayer, the Spirit washed over my entire body leaving me no doubt in my mind of the answer to my prayer. A smile hit my face, I said a silent prayer of Thanks and lifted my head from prayer a new man.

That night I related this experience to Jenni. Her face beamed with excitement as she had patiently awaited this confirmation from me.

The Proposal:

I knew over the following months Jenni would have the majority of the say in how all the wedding events would take place. I knew the engagement was my one time to solely act by myself.

My time to shine was here.

A few things I knew:

1.) Jenni loves surprises, even if it’s just a night out on the town, dinner and a movie. Jenni loves to be held in suspense. I knew the proposal had to be the biggest surprise ever. I had to keep her in suspense as long as possible. She knew it would be coming but she didn’t know how, when, or where.

2.) Jenni had mentioned a few times that she always wanted to be kidnapped by her friends for yet again some type of surprise.

3.) Jenni had never been to a day spa. I wanted her to feel loved, pampered, and taken care of on the day of her proposal. I wanted her to feel beautiful. I wanted her to be able to look back and always remember her proposal day as a day of bliss.

4.) Jenni loves Italian food. I had to find a place that could measure up as having the best romantic setting with the highest quality Italian food.

5.) I wanted to be able to capture the proposal on film, so that she would always have something to look back and remember her special day with.

6.) The ring, we had gone ring shopping a month or so prior to the engagement so that I could get some ideas of what she liked and disliked. Out of the 50 plus rings she tried on there was one that stood out. When she put it on I knew it was the one for her. I had to find it again and purchase it before someone else did as it was very unique and being liquidated.

The rest, Jenni will tell you...

In Jenni's Words:

Yes, Will played out one of the best proposals I'd ever heard of, and that the majority of my friends had heard of. He definitely got a LOT of kudos for a job well done.

Since his proposal was a sting operation of sorts, that is how I will give you the details. Let the Mission Impossible music begin...

The Kidnapping : Jenni's Apartment, Tualatin, Oregon, 07:55 hours

While peacefully sleeping a little before 8 AM on Saturday, October 16th, the victim is awaken by her bedroom door being opened by four giggling wide-eyed girls. First came Elizabeth (Will's younger sister), then Sandy (Will's mom), then Dalynn (Will's sister-in-law), and then Tessha (Will's older sister). The victim screams as each one enters the room. She is informed that she is being kidnapped and has 3 minutes to get dressed and get whatever supplies she needed. Confused but obedient, Jenni Southworth scurried around to find clothing.

Soon after getting dressed, Jenni is brought downstairs, immediately blindfolded, and put inside the getaway car. The 4 accomplices proceed to confuse Jenni by leading her to believe that they are taking her up windy mountain roads where there are dangerous conditions. Tessha makes a 5-point turn in the middle of a parking lot while the other girls throw out cautions to stop backing up any further to avoid going off of a cliff. The accomplices succeed in their deception. The victim has became a little nervous at this point, thinking that they really are on some windy mountain road.

Operation Mountain State Park : Portland LDS Temple, 08:30 hours

Finally, the car stops. Jenni is led outside to what sounds like birds chirping and a waterfall. The victim has actually been taken to the Portland Oregon LDS Temple.

Jenni is asked to sit down, on what she believed to be a park bench in the middle of a mountain scenic park. "It's so peaceful and serene," she thinks to herself. She is asked to hold a piece of posterboard and smile. She wonders if the poster says, "I'm a huge dork." Again, confused, and wondering when all this was going to end with a "Surprise, we just wanted to kidnap you and take you out to breakfast," Jenni continues to unquestionably obey her kidnappers every request.

Meanwhile, outside of Jenni's blindfolded world, the sting operation mastermind, Will Thomas, stands silently coordinating his group of accomplices.

Elizabeth videotapes the entire operation, while Dalynn takes digital photos. Sandy and Tessha act as Jenni's guides as they lead her around and help her know where the mastermind wants her to sit.

Daniel is a helpful onlooker as Will situates himself ever so carefully in the pictures next to Jenni. She misses the clues as some of the girls "ooo" and "awww" while she holds the posters.

Soon, Jenni was loaded into the car once again with the 4 accomplices. She sits in her blindfold for another 20 minutes as she starts to recognize noises of seagulls and water. Then she hears people and street cars. The car stops and she is lead out and into what she thought was the lobby of a hotel. She is taken down a flight of stairs and hears the words, "Okay, we can take her blindfold off now..."

The Day Spa : Lobby of Spa Sasse, Downtown Portland, 09:00 hours

The girls remove the blindfold from Jenni and she struggles through day-old mascara to open her eyes that have been held shut for the past hour. She notices a fireplace, a rack full of hair products, candles, and nail polish. She also sees manicure/pedicure stations and wonders where she is. The girls all blurt out, "Congratulations! You're spending the day at the spa!" The woman at the front counter then proceeds to list off every treatment Jenni would receive that day, starting with a hydrotherapy bath, a full body massage, a facial, lunch, then a pedicure/manicure, spray-on tan, haircut & highlights, and makeup. "You'll be here all day and then someone will be back to pick you up at 5:00 PM," says Sandy. "Someone?" asks Jenni. "One of us," says Dalynn.

Jenni is not that gullible. She has started to figure out (but wondered during most of the kidnapping) that Will had something to do with all of this and wonders if it all has to do with a marriage proposal. She thinks back to the night before when Will had wittingly convinced her to pack a dress with all of her "getting-ready things" for the next day so that she could go over to his sister's house to get ready for a friend's wedding later that night.Jenni giggled and smiled for the rest of the day as she sat in whatever room having whatever treatment done to her. She truly felt like the luckiest girl in the world as she thought how Will had done this all for her.

What was Will doing all this time you ask? He was running around like a headless chicken trying to get ready for his final sting operation. You'll see in a minute.

As it drew closer to 5 o'clock, Jenni was nervous. The girls at the spa all excitedly waited around because they too wanted to know what all the fuss was about. Will showed up in his suit and tie and looked as handsome as ever, and Jenni came out all dressed up in her dress, while feeling like the most pampered girl in the world. The two greeted each other with amazement (and tears) in their eyes and then left to attend the wedding reception of their friends, Melissa and Mark.

Operation Reception and Dinner : Mark and Melissa's reception, Gresham, Oregon, approximately 18:00 hours

Will and Jenni arrive to the reception safely and beautifully (according to the accomplices).

Apparently Jenni's results from the day spa were a hit with all the ladies. And apparently pretty much everyone at the reception knew Will was going to propose that night except Jenni! They did a very good job of keeping it from her. Even Jenni's roommate, Jessica, after realizing that she had told about five or six people, had to retrace her steps and go back and tell those people not to say anything yet (realizing that Will wasn't going to propose until AFTER the reception).

After the reception, Will takes Jenni to a very nice Italian restaurant, Jenni's favorite. They dine on Italian steak and pasta with a chocolate mousse dessert.

After dinner, Will starts to say that he is getting tired (the truth, since he hasn't gone to sleep for 48 hours due to all night preparations for Operation Proposal). He suggests that they just call it a night and go home. Jenni fully expecting more than that out of it all, says, "Hey I'm not tired yet," but Will actually does start driving them home.

Almost home, they pass the Portland LDS Temple on the freeway. Jenni looks over and says, "Oh look how pretty the temple looks all lit up at night." Will then says, "Do you want to go over there and talk?" Jenni says "Yes!"

The Proposal: Portland Oregon LDS Temple, approximately 22:10 hours

The temple had been drenched with a heavy rainstorm that Will had prayed desperately would stop. As Jenni put on her jacket, Will reaches into the back seat to grab an umbrella when he find Jenni's roll of film he had previously developed for her two weeks ago. "Oh! I picked up your roll of film. Do you want to look at it?" asks Will. "Ya, that would be great!" says Jenni.

Will and Jenni walk up and into the temple grounds, but cannot find anywhere to sit because of the wet ground. Will tells Jenni that he will go back to the car and bring back something to sit on. During this time, Will tries his hardest to find a temple security guard because he knows that the temple grounds will soon be closing and he doesn't want to get kicked out in the middle of his proposal. As he comes back to the gate, he finds a security guard and Jenni sees him stopping to talk to him. A few moments later, Will returns to Jenni with padding for the wet cement benches.

Jenni proceeds to get the pictures out and go through them. For a roll of 12 (and of which half were taken by her 3 year old niece), there was a pretty hefty stack of photos in the pile. "I got doubles," says Will. The first 12 pictures or so were of a kayaking/picnicking trip that they had taken earlier in the summer. Upon reaching the last photo, Jenni finds a sticky with the word "STOP" on it.

Will explains that he had also decided to print off some other pictures, and the next bunch were all the pictures they had taken from their very first date together up until their last picture a couple of weeks ago. The two reminisced as they looked through all of the memories they shared from the past year of their courtship. Upon reaching the last picture, Jenni finds another sticky that says, "STOP."

Will then explained that when Jenni had mentioned to him a couple of Sundays ago that she had never heard him bear his testimony, he decided that he would share it with her. He touched her heart as he sincerely and genuinely expressed to her his feelings about Jesus Christ and His plan for God's children. He then told her "Now, these next pictures are very special and you might recognize them."

Jenni turned to the next picture to find that it was a photo of her earlier that morning being kidnapped with a blindfold on. She laughed out loud in half-embarassment and half-excitement. The next photo was of her sitting on what she had previously thought was a park bench in a mountain park, but instead she was at the temple grounds. Next to her was sitting Will. She screamed and said, "You were there???!!" You were there the entire time and I didn't even know it!" The posterboard that she held in her hands said "JENNI" and then the next 4 consecutive pictures each spelled out...

Jenni read the words out loud and then looked at Will to find him getting down on one knee in front of her just like the photo, and in the exact same spot where they were earlier that morning.

Will then professed a bunch of lovey dovey stuff to Jenni (something about how much he loved her and wanted to be with her, etc.) and then asked her if she would marry him.

She said "Yes!!" and instantly hugged him.

"You didn't even look at the ring yet!" Will said through Jenni's giggles.

She looked down at the ring and said, "It's the one!" and he said "You wanted this one too?" Little did they know after a ring-shopping experience a couple of months prior, that after having tried on that particular ring they both silently knew that it was the one.

Above: Main diamond was a little over 1 karat, other 27 diamonds around band were 1 karat. Total weight was 2.2 karats, band is white gold

Here are a few photos that were taken the next day

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