This is the first story in a series about my experiences planning a wedding in the Woodridge area.
Mondays can be a pain. That's why I've decided to post an edition to a new column, "My Woodridge Wedding," every Monday to give you a quick break.
WARNING: This column will contain cute stories, the occasional wedding planning freak-out and the musings of a 23-year-old in love. I hope these are all things you will enjoy reading as my fiancé and I plan our 2012 wedding.
Zach and I have been together since Feb. 3, 2007. That's when he asked me to be his girlfriend.
We were both freshmen at Northwestern University at that time. I graduated in 2010 and took a job as the local editor of Woodridge Patch. Zach stayed for another year as part of the engineering school's co-op program. He will graduate in June.
My boyfriend (now fiancé) Zach proposed to me last Saturday, April 16.
He's from Iowa. I grew up and currently live in Darien. We'll be married at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Downers Grove and have the reception nearby.
There's a lot to plan, but for the first edition of this column, here is the story of our engagement:
Zach told me in March he wanted to plan something special for my birthday. He told me that we would go to the Shedd aquarium, Navy Pier and a fancy restaurant in Evanston for dinner.
At Navy Pier, we would ride the Ferris Wheel, something I've wanted to do since we started going out but haven't been able to do.
He planned the day for April 16, e-mailing me a rough itinerary of our day. That itinerary ended with our dinner.
We went to breakfast in Evanston and took the Metra into Chicago to go to the Shedd. As is common on a Saturday, we waited in line for about 90 minutes before we could buy tickets to the aquarium. I had just bought myself a new camera for my birthday, so I had fun chronicling the line and taking photos of the Chicago skyline.
Once inside, we bought tickets for the aquarium's special exhibit on jellyfish. We watched two trainers work with the dolphins, practicing tricks and calls. We saw the penguins, the Beluga whales and, of course, the jellyfish.
At this point, Zach started texting a friend pretty regularly. He told me his friend was having trouble with his computer science homework.
It started to rain.
At Navy Pier, we couldn't immediately go on the Ferris Wheel because of the weather. We hung out in the stained glass museum and some of the Pier's shops. Zach kept texting his friend. The rain stopped, and we went back to the Ferris wheel to see if it would start running again.
We were told to wait 15 minutes while they cleaned it. We were the first in line after and played a game I like to call, "Why I like you." Each person gives a reason why you like the other person (any guys reading -- girls love to hear about this stuff).
On the Ferris Wheel, Zach noticed that a couple in the next compartment had started making out pretty profusely. Turns out that they had gotten engaged while riding the Ferris wheel, something they announcement after stepping out of the compartment.
We went back to Evanston and had dinner. The texting continued. At this point, it was cold, and after a walk that seemed much longer than it was, we finally got back to the warmth of his fraternity house.
Then he told me there was one more thing he had planned for the evening. He wanted to go for a walk along the lake on Northwestern's campus -- an area we call the lakefill, since the university created the land by filling in the lake in the 1970's.
Along the lakefill, there are dozens of slabs of rock that students paint. Zach brought to one he had painted for me, with the quote, "Remain true to yourself, but move ever upward to greater consciouness and greater love! At the summit you will find yourself united with those who, from every direction, have made the same ascent. For everything that rises must converge. Z+M, 4-16-11."
He told me that while we said we were lucky to find one another, our experiences in what we had overcome had brought us together. He got down on one knee and proposed to me. And then, his friend popped out of nowhere to snap a photo of the moment.
It turns out his friend had been re-painting the rock he and Zach painted earlier. The rain had smudged some of the writing. This friend also had helped pick out the ring.
Photos from that day are posted to the right of this article.
Want to hear more? Check back each Monday for another edition of My Woodridge Wedding -- sure to be packed with wedding planning conundrums and decisions.
Have some advice? Feel free to share in the comment section or on Facebook or Twitter. I welcome any advice you have!