Here's Why (and How) Leslie Proposed Back to Jonah

A real life fairytale, on our own terms.
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As much as I love romantic comedies—put me in front of a Nancy Meyers anything, and I will be thrilled—I've never been able to get fully behind proposals. Yet at the same time I accepted that Jonah would be the one to propose to me, I still dropped hints to lessen what I saw as practices being a bit old-fashioned.

The symbolism of dropping on one knee is beautiful, but I asked Jonah not to do it—I didn't need him to kneel before me in deference, as a man to his future wife. I also asked him to please share the expense of any ring with me (he declined), and to not propose in a way public enough that others would catch on (I didn't want strangers applauding, even though I always love to applaud for others...). At the same time, I spent a great deal of my adolescence dreaming of my proposal; the fairytale is, despite my best efforts, deeply ingrained.

I talked to Jonah openly about these mixed emotions as it became clear we were on a path towards marriage. I even asked him, just a month before his own proposal, if proposing to me was important to him—or if we should just shake on it, together. It became clear to me that, as equal as our partnership is, there are still some unshakeable male and female roles at play in it.

All this is to say: I wasn't sure how to approach our engagement—with him having the opportunity to propose to me, while feeling like we were entering into an equal partnership—until I came across the concept of proposing back.

A few months after my friend proposed to his now-wife on a secluded beach in a National Park, she formalized their engagement by proposing back at a restaurant in the city they've lived together for the past five years. At a fancy sushi dinner in New York, she conspired to hide a ring in a box that was served as one of the first omakase courses, then got down on one knee in the middle of the restaurant. The ring, technically a wedding band, was a family heirloom from Ukraine, where she's from. He wore it for the duration of their engagement, as an engagement ring, then removed it for one day before their wedding, and placed it back on as a wedding band during the ceremony. I loved the balance: They both proposed, they both said yes, they both wore rings. 

About a month before I suspected Jonah would propose, I reached out to an illustrator I've long-admired, Alessandra Olanow, and asked if she would create a sketch I could propose to Jonah with. She graciously accepted, and worked closely with me, through several iterations, to figure out the exact right scene—and Beatles quote—for the occasion. At the same time, I asked my mom if it would be possible to copy the gold wedding band she and her three brothers wear, a replica of my great-grandmother's wedding ring. And then, I held onto both, hiding them away in my winter boots, until tucking them into my suitcase for Big Sur. 

After Jonah proposed, I knew I wanted to propose back shortly afterwards, to return to Los Angeles as an engaged couple. The day after Jonah proposed, we were sitting on our patio at Post Ranch Inn, and Jonah brought a bottle of Champagne outside. I excused myself, and grabbed a wrapped notebook I had prepared, and tucked the ring into the pocket of the bathrobe I was wearing (Side note: Champagne and hotel bathrobes—does life get any more luxurious?). 

I handed him the wrapped notebook, which opened to an envelope. Jonah opened it to discover a card with Alessandra's illustration. As he was processing it (he literally said, "Wait, this looks like us..."), I got down on one knee. And, spoiler, he said yes!

I asked him if he was comfortable wearing a wedding band as an engagement ring, offering him an out, and he responded that he would be honored to wear it. And the rest, as they say, is history! 

Read the full story of Jonah's proposal to Leslie here!

What are your thoughts? Would you or have you proposed to your husband or wife? 

The patio I proposed to Jonah on

The patio I proposed to Jonah on

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Thank you again to Alessandra Olanow for her help! This proposal wouldn't have been the same without her beautiful art—give her a follow at @aolanow.