I first met Brian and Amber in 2009, when they were participants in the (then) RSB Young Business Leaders' program. At this point, I feel like I should mention that Brian won the program that year - his major fundraising event simply blew the judges away.
When I saw some of their proposal photos show up on Facebook (and as kindly shared in this blog post by Vintage Bliss Photography), I just had to know the story behind it.
This is Amber and Brian's special night, in Brian's own words..
"The proposal night was about 8 months in the making; finding the only Saturday night the venue was free, getting the ring designed and made, asking for permission from Amber's father and coordinating all our friends and family to be in the right place at the right time took some serious planning.
The idea came about by thinking a little about what I know makes Amber happy and then making it a bit more epic! I know Amber is a bit introverted - so proposing on a billboard was not for her. But I also know that Amber loves candles, so I was trying to integrate a grand gesture with candles and still make it intimate. I worked out how many days we had been together and thought that it would be really nice if I lit a candle for every day.
It was really important that it be a surprise and I thought one of the best ways to throw her off the scent was to pretend I was interstate. For 6 weeks leading up to the night, I talked about my favourite bike only being available in Melbourne and how much I really wanted to get it. I went online and went through every step of the flight booking (except for paying) and sent Amber a screenshot of the flight details and told her I was going to check out the bike. So with two weeks to go, I had the perfect alibi. At that stage, I was meeting up with Amber's best friend, Lynn, almost daily to work through the plan; Lynn was to invite Amber to her house to babysit for her and then they were going out to a nice restaurant together that night.
I said goodbye to Amber on the Friday morning to go to work and then and pretended to fly out on the Friday night. Just after my plane (theoretically) landed, I checked into Melbourne on Facebook and had a few of my friends comment and like the post. I even went so far as to visit a few bike stores to send Amber pictures of the bike I was meant to be going to look at.
My brother, Todd, flew in from Vietnam to help me with the proposal and be there for the night (which was awesome). On the proposal day, Amber and I had been together for 1860 days so Todd and I purchased 2000 tealight candles, just to be sure. That many candles sounded like a great idea - but with a 4 hour burn-life we needed to pre-light them to make sure they would light again quickly when needed. Todd and I pre-lit 2000 candles on the Friday night and finished at 2am.
On the Saturday morning I checked into the Hilton and left a change of clothes for Amber there. The day was a mad rush of confirming times with our families, touching base with Lynn to make sure the plan was going to schedule and checking that my good friend Mike was okay to put through the 'desperate call' to Amber to pick something up from the show ground for him at exactly 8pm.
At 6pm I organised for two of my best friends to join my brother and I for the final lighting. It took the 4 of us 2 full hours to place and light every candle in the hall. It was incredibly hard work but we had a strict 8pm deadline to motivate us. To make things more stressful, it was 40 degrees that day and we couldn't have the air conditioning on because it might have blown out the candles! The guys got so hot in the hall that I did an emergency run to the petrol station to get Frosty Fruits, just so no one fainted.
I received a text from Lynn saying Amber was ten minutes away. I sprinted to change into my suit, told my mates to get into position and scrambled back into the spotlight. I heard the door open and signalled to the guys to put on our song (Plans by birds of Tokyo).
It was weird; I had visualised that moment so many times and didn't think that I would get so emotional. I had a plan and a run sheet and crying was not part of it. But, as this gorgeous girl walked down the 90 metre runway towards me, I burst into tears. It all hit me; it wasn't an 'event' any more, it wasn't just a plan to execute, it was a beautiful girl that I was about to propose marriage to.
Struggling for words, I briefly talked about our past, how many days we had been together and what I think we could do in the future. I then talked about the 1860 candles and got down on one knee and asked if she would do me the honour of marrying me. She said yes. It was a epic moment and one that I will not forget in my lifetime. It all just felt so right.
After 10 minutes alone together I signalled for our closest friends and family to come in. We had some champagne and then went on for more drinks and afterwards Amber and I turned in at the Hilton for the night.
When I reflect on the proposal, there are a few key things I'd love to share:
1) You don't need to be a master planner - you just need to know the person you care about.
2) Think about what makes them happy and how you can use some of those elements to create a special moment.
3) Get your friends to help you - people love to help out for such a special occasion.
4) Don't be afraid to put yourself out there - it's a 'once off' so be proud of what you can do and show your loved one how much they mean to you."
Custom designed engagement ring by Camleigh Manufacturing Jeweller and photos courtesy of Vintage Bliss Photography.
Brian is (in case you haven't already guessed) an ideas man. He has also offered to help my blog readers here in Adelaide.
So if any of you would like to discuss ideas for doing something special for someone you love, Brian would be happy to sit down with you for a coffee and a chat. Let me know in the comments and I'll pass your details onto him.
Also, tell me your story in the comments: how did you/how do you plan to propose?