By Maggie Reimherr
4 years ago, I met this guy in class. He was wearing a wristband from large-scale yearly conference for 18-25 year old Christians called Passion. I was too, so I did the most logical thing anyone in this situation would. I turned to him - a complete stranger - and held up my purple wristband exclaiming like a mega-dork, “You went to Passion?! Me too!”
The crush came fast. A few months later, I worked up the courage to ask him to my sorority formal. A few days after the formal, he decided he liked me too.
2 years ago he said, “Hey, let’s like each other forever!” Not quite. Here’s how it happened…
Derek was living in California, and he came to visit me in Athens, Georgia for MLK weekend. I was living in Athens, and it’s also where we met at The University of Georgia. He told me he wanted to have a date day that Friday. He asked if I wanted to be surprised by our activities, and duh, of course I did.
Lunch first. We both got the best sandwich in the world from Big City Bread – if you don’t know what I’m talking about/haven’t had their ham, brie, and peach preserves sandwich, 1) plan a trip to Athens, GA and 2) go there immediately. Order it with a cup of rabbit gumbo. You’ll thank me later.
Afterwards, we strolled around the University of Georgia’s campus and reminisced when we passed the building we met. He totally planned this knowing I’d get gushy. Guilty as charged.
Derek had only one clue for the next stop: “You’ve suggested we do this before, and I’ve always said no.”
We drove away campus and rolled up into a mega-Kroger parking lot. I was PUMPED because this Kroger has wine and cheese tastings and yes, I’ve wanted to do it for quite some time. (Sidenote: I’ve still never been to a wine and cheese tasting at Kroger, and I feel very deprived of this experience.)
So I asked, guessing our next activity, and he said, “No… wine and cheese is after this.”
He drove past Kroger and parked in front of a nail salon. I had suggested pedicures together before because: 1) You can’t beat that foot massage, and 2) Everyone’s feet need a little TLC - I don’t care if you’re a manly man. Your callouses are gross.
My first thought was “Can I get a gel manicure?!” in addition to the pedicure I presumed was part of the plan. I’m sure this filled Derek with glee, because I’d recently clued him in that girls like to have their nails done for proposals. I’m not even a person who regularly paints her nails, but I knew they had to be on fleek for those ring pics.
So I sat there getting pampered while Derek enjoyed his first experience with the massage chair and the foot rub. The ladies at the salon asked me if I wanted my eyebrows waxed, too. (Respect the upsell, ladies) I declined until they said, “Oh, you need it.” THANKS Y’ALL. I left the salon with great nails but with my general eyebrow area BRIGHT red. Case in point, from this photo taken of us later:
After making me look like a bear clawed across both of my eyes, the salon ladies asked Derek some rather pointed questions: “Are you going to marry her? Are you proposing today? Her nails are done.” Derek, who I now realize was panicking, replied, “Not today!”
Derek’s surprise: 1. Maggie’s hopes and dreams: 0.
Next, we went to a pub called The Globe for the promised wine and cheese plate. Y’all, it was probably the largest cheese plate I’ve ever seen. Of course, I was giddy over this because cheese is my favorite food group. I would literally eat cheese and crackers for every meal if that was even remotely healthy. While we were there, Derek was checking his watch a lot. Like a lot. He kept saying, “We have to leave in time for sunset,” because apparently we were going to watch the sunset by the river at the nearby Botanical Garden. The Botanical Garden is special to us - we had our first date and first kiss there and spent a good bit of time there in college. I should’ve suspected something at this point, but clearly I am the most oblivious person on the planet.
When we got to the Botanical Garden, Derek walked me over to the gazebo where we first kissed - pause for “awwwwww”s. An iPad and bluetooth speaker were laying on the bench. Wait, what?
My stream of consciousness: “That iPad looks like Derek’s. That’s weird. Wait, why is he touching it? ARE YOU STEALING A STRANGER’S IPAD? Oh, wait, this seems intentional. Whaaaaaat. OH MY GOSH AM I GETTING ENGAGED RIGHT NOW OR IS THIS THE MEANEST FAKEOUT IN THE WORLD??!”
He pulled up a video. “Hung the Moon” by Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors started playing. My parents’ faces showed up on the screen. Ohhhh, snap, it’s happening. Cue the tears.
Derek had somehow covertly coordinated a video shoot from all the way out in California. The video had messages from my parents and grandparents, Derek’s parents, and some of our friends. They all talked about memories with us and seeing our relationship grow. When the messages were over, they each held up a chalkboard, spelling out, “So Maggie, Derek has a question to ask you…”
Spoiler alert: he asked me a pretty important question.
…And then he got choked up. Derek only cries in exactly 3 circumstances: weddings, baptisms, and asking me to marry him. We were obviously both there in that moment, but neither of us has any idea what he said during the proposal. Because emotions. What we do know is that he did ask me to marry him, and to no one’s surprise, I said yes. Like a good millennial, he had a surprise photographer hiding in the bushes (probably for the #socialcontent).
But wait, there’s more!
After the proposal, we went to dinner at an upscale Cajun restaurant that sadly no longer exists. RIP, NONA. If y’all thought the surprises were over, think again. Both of our parents were waiting to have a celebratory dinner with us.
After dinner, Derek and I went out to a bar, where I flashed my ring to literally every single person with whom I was even remotely acquainted with. Sat next to me in class once? Friend of a friend? Sorority sister 3 years younger than me who I’ve never spoken to? CHECK OUT THIS DIAMOND, GUYS!!!
The next day, we spent some time in Athens and went to one of our favorite breweries. Then we headed to Derek’s hometown because his grandparents were visiting Georgia from upstate New York. We had always planned to go see them at Derek’s parents’ house that evening.
We rolled up to the house. I was totally unfazed by the dozens of cars lining their cul de sac (“Neighbors must be having a party!”). When we opened the front door, SURPRISE!!! Oh, a promise of eternal love and a nice dinner with your parents wasn’t enough? Here, have a surprise engagement party! But seriously, it was fantastic. Surrounded by people I actually knew, I kept flashing that left hand. Engaged and married women out there, you know.
It’s 2 years later, and we’re coming up on a year of marriage. A lot of other things have happened since that engagement weekend: new jobs, a move to Boston, our first apartment, and this #MillennialMarriage blog. I’m grateful that on January 16, 2015, Derek asked me if I wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. In my humble opinion, we make a pretty great team. Life’s more fun with you, babe. Oh, and thanks for the bling.