We are proud to pronounce that Tiana and Eric are engaged!
On Thursday, October 20th, 2005, Tiana Reinhardt agreed to marry Eric Lee as the sun set behind them on the cliffs in Ocean Beach, San Diego.
Eric devised a rather elaborate plan to surprise Tiana that night. The proposal included convincing her that he had locked his keys in his car on the way to a dinner reservation, convincing our friends to hide out on the beach until Tiana accepted Eric’s proposal, and asking our friends to bring flowers as well as well wishes to write on shells that were to be delivered to Tiana afterwards.
After Tiana arrived in Ocean Beach to give Eric a set of keys to get into his car, he lured her down some steps to a small, secluded beach, convincing her that there were some dolphins to be seen before the sun disappeared too far into the night sky. Turning around at the foot of the cliff, he had to tell her that there were no dolphins, but more importantly, he had to tell her of his love for her not only with words, but also with an engagement ring and a very important question.
During the three months prior to this night, we had our engagement rings fashioned by a jeweler who agreed to do custom work for us. After Tiana accepted Eric’s proposal and let Eric place her ring on her finger, Eric also allowed Tiana to place the ring that they had made for Eric upon his finger.
After a few short moments, a group of our friends started cheering from the sidelines of the beach, further surprising Tiana. They greeted us with hugs, and they placed their sea shells down at a pre-placed flower arrangement.
By sundown, everybody was gone, and we were allowed to share some time alone before going out to dinner to celebrate and read all of the well wishes from our friends.
This whole week, I’ve been going crazy with plans to propose to Tiana Reinhardt, and last night, it all went down, pretty much without a hitch!
This is me asking her to marry me, and asking if I could marry her. She said “yes,” and I in turn, said the same.
But now, as people tend to want to know “so how all did you ask her?”, I’ll start from the beginning.
On May 28th, 1980, Eric Lee was born into this wor— wait a minute! That’s too far back.
Okay, now seriously. Tiana and I have been talking seriously about marriage for the past 6 months or so. We decided that is the direction our lives should go. We began talking about engagement rings around the same time. After shopping around a few places, we made the decision to go with this place in Pacific Beach (PB) called SilverSmith to get some custom rings made. About three months ago, we walked in there, and after meeting with one of their jewelers about three or four times over a period of three weeks, we finally felt that we “clicked” with them and Tiana left all further communication with them up to me. From that point on, all else was to be a surprise.
Two weekends ago, Tiana and I were up at San Simeon to take a tour of Hearst Castle with Tiana’s dad, his wife Denise, and my parents. I forgot to bring my cellphone charger, so my cellphone battery expired by Saturday. While it was dead, I got a call from the SilverSmith letting me know that our rings were done! I waited until the following Thursday or Friday (I forget) to pick them up after assembling some “cash money.”
Until then, I had been rather ashamed of my inability to come up with any proposal plans cool or plausible enough for Tiana. (An aside: At one point, when Tiana confessed that she had already bought a couple of bridal magazines, I told her that it was okay as long as she could find me some magazines on how to propose! There’s plenty of magazines from our culture on “how” to look all perdy-ed up for one’s wedding, but the only thing that I could really find that’s available to guys for how to propose in this culture is a bunch of crappy website with STUPID ideas.)
Despite my apprehensions about feeling like I had lost my creativity, once I picked up the rings (and after a well-deserved veggie burrito from a nearby Cotija’s), the ideas just seemed to start flowing. On Saturday morning in the shower, the gist of the Idea came to me (where many of my decent ideas come from, oddly enough). Over the next few days, I talked to Jenn Tracy, Jamie Gates, Jaimie Augustine, Chelsea Klaseus, and David Overholt for advice on fleshing out the proposal. The many pieces of the puzzle were glued together rather well with their suggestions.
On Tuesday night, I was up till 4:30 in the morning working on sketching out the full details of the plan. Like the nerd I am, I presented it on a webpage (I even wrote a small script to generate all the image links!). In the e-mail I sent out to everybody, I linked to the following, which contains a full description of the plan, with an accompanying map and sketch of the scene itself:
The gist of the night is: Tiana thinks she is going to her weekly house meeting on Thursdays while I supposedly have dinner plans with my friend Dr. Jamie Gates and Chelsea Klaseus for a Center for Justice and Reconciliation get-together. Chelsea lives in Ocean Beach (OB) and I offered to be their ride. In picking her up, though, I supposedly lock my keys in my car and have to call Tiana to swing by my apartment, get the keys from my roommate, and then deliver them to me in OB. When she comes out to give me the keys, I lead her down some steps to a secluded beach where I propose to her at the end of some cliffs while a grip of my friends are waiting on the beach disguised regular people hanging out on the beach with the proper attire. After I place the ring on her finger and we kiss, they all reveal themselves and come forward with notes for her written on sea shells. They also bring forth sea shells pre-written with notes from our friends around the country (and globe!) and lay those down by a cornucopia of flowers that included flowers brought by me and just about everybody who came. By this time it is sunset and everybody is asked to leave and we enjoy the sunset together and go out to dinner.
In a very bizarre twist of events, it actually went down exactly as planned. I was incredibly surprised that there were no major hiccups. The only difference in the above from how it actually unfolded was that it was a bit cloudy so it doesn’t quite match up with the sunset I drew in my silly sketch of the scene on THE PLAN.
There was one time during that day that completely freaked me out, though. I seriously thought “the jig was up”: On Thursdays, Tiana often has to drive downtown. My office is on her way to downtown. She decides that day, as she often does, to be kind and to stop by to say “hi” and give me a slice of chocolate chip banana bread that she made the night before. It just so happens that when she walked in, not only was I dressed nice for that evening (for her!) but I was also telling a co-worker, in detail, the full plans for that night!
Just as she walked in, my co-worker (another dude named Eric, in fact) turns his head as he sees her come in the door, and tells me that I have a visitor. When I see who it is, it just so happens that Tiana turns her back to us to receive a phone call just as I mouth the words “HOLY CRAP.” When Eric leaves, I beckon for Tiana to walk through my bead curtains (heh) and we talk about a few things, including how cute she thinks I look. I try to weave it into the night’s [false] narrative about how I’m dressed up for my dinner with Jamie and Chelsea, and she seems to buy it.
Tiana also asks about an e-mail I wrote to her earlier that day. When I went to go retrieve it, I realize that I have a copy of THE PLAN up on FireFox, and in another browser tab I have my webmail open to my inbox which just happens to be filled with e-mails from all my friends with subject lines pertaining to that night! I waver a bit, claim that I’m not thinking straight, and say, “I’ll just tell you what I wrote you; I know what I wrote!” (My claim to having a hazy mind worked well because I happened to have to go into work the night before on Wednesday at midnight for 3 hours to work on pushing some client work live. Phew!)
As she was leaving, I thanked her for the banana bread and told her, “I hope your house meeting goes well tonight, and that you have fun carving pumpkins!” Planning on the activities for her meeting that night in mind, she responded, “Thanks — I have the pumpkins in the trunk of my car, ready to go!”
When she said that, I knew she had no idea what was going on —still. A sigh of relief passed through my body and I had a very difficult time working for the next couple hours before I ditched work early (with permission, of course) to go set up. 3:40pm: I arrive at Chelsea & Renee’s apartment after stopping by OB proper to pick up a nice shawl/wrap cloth upon which to put the flowers and shells and to also get some markers for writing on these shells. Tony and Carl Wright were already there, ready to help out! Jamie Gates arrived a few minutes later with a Santana’s burrito in hand (don’t temp me!), along with a large bag of beautiful shells he brought with him from South Africa when he used to live there. We began writing the notes for Tiana on the shells as well as just took the time to enjoy each other’s company a bit before things turned into a mad rush.
A few minutes after Brian Becker and Jenn Tracy arrived, it was time to call Tiana and convince her that I needed her to come out to OB to rescue us (5:25pm). Simultaneously, we all were walking towards the beach. By the time we arrived at the cliffs, another group of friends was there waiting for us that consisted of Shannon and Stevie Reinhardt, Chelsea Klaseus, Renee Robertson, Sarah Scott, Jeffrey Tullefson, Jarrod Taylor, Roscoe and Colleen Cook, and Jaimie Augustine. After briefly greeting each other and expressing my thanks to them all (brothers and sisters don’t shake hands, they gotta hug), I showed them the lay of the land and gave them a run-down of the whole plan. Once everybody was in place, I went back up to the street to wait by my car for Tiana while those who had just arrived took time to do some shell-writing.
Foreground: Roscoe Cook writing on a shell for Tiana. Background: Jaimie Augustine, Renee Robertson, and Chelsea Klaseus kick it.
By this time, my roommate and friend David Overholt hadn’t yet arrived. I know it was rush hour traffic, and I was getting slightly worried. I received a phone call from Tiana wondering which end of Santa Cruz st. I was stranded on. After I told her and hung up, I immediately called Dave-O to let him know that Tiana was just a few streets away and was coming very soon. In a couple of seconds while still on the phone, I could see her car approaching, and by this time Dave-O was already running from his saved parking spot to rush over. I told him that he was going to have to just follow us down the stairs and not to worry about potentially being seen. Sounding a little unsure, he says, “okaaay.”
As it turned out, everything really did go down without a hitch. As we were walking towards the steps, David turned the corner and could see us. The initial pictures he has are from a very high vantage point, and they look amazing. He took about sixty really good pictures that appear in this Flickr set. Concomitantly, Jenn Tracy was borrowing my camera to take pictures from another angle. Those pictures are in this Flickr set.
As we walked down the steps to the cliffs, I held Tiana’s hand, convincing her to check out the dolphins before the sun went down that weren’t really out there. When we got to the cliffs themselves, Tiana asked, “So where are the dolphins?” I looked up, saw a flock of birds on the water out in the distance and pointed, “they’re out there where the birds are.” We took another fifteen steps or so, just as she saw all the flowers laid down on the ground. After I tried to brush them off as, “that is just some stuff” (which she thinks is hilarious looking back on it as me trying to say it’s “just some stuff”), I turned around and stopped.
“Tiana, there aren’t any dolphins.”
It was at this point when I began to recite a speech to her which I also wrote down on a large shell down by the flower arrangement, just in case I choked up and had to use it as a “cue card.”
I knelt down during the “Tiana Lin Reinhardt, will you marry me, and may I marry you” part of the speech, and as I did so, she was so shocked by the entire thing that all she could do was kneel down with me and barely contain herself, asking me if this was real and if I was serious (not in the sense where she was really wondering if I was serious–it’s just something she says when she’s trying to sort out reality!).
After she said yes, I placed the ring on her finger, and then I gave her my ring to place upon my own.
We stood there for a few seconds, and she was giggling and trying to make sure that it was all real as I told her, “We’re engaged now!”
After we embraced and then exchanged a kiss, a few seconds later, a crowd of our friends revealed themselves, to Tiana’s total surprise!
Please consult the picture galleries mentioned above (here and here) and for the full details along with a grip of pictures please check out THE PLAN for a better representation of what all was involved. A big thank you goes out to David Overholt for having to run to catch up with us who, because he is most skilled, nabbed great shots of us despite probably being a little out of breath. And of course, a big thank you to everybody who was able to attend, and for those who were not able to attend, a big thank you to our friends and family who sent their well wishes our way. You all are important to us, and I hope we were able to express that back to you in some small way with this proposal to my girlfriend (now “fiancée”!).
For all the craziness and fun that we had yesterday, I have to remember: this isn’t even our wedding, yet! We’ll get to spend much, much more time with our friends and family that time around, for what will be an even more important event.
(Thank you for those last few pics from a distance Dave, I didn’t know you were taking them–I was lost in Tiana’s eyes 😉