Our Engagement Story

by Elizabeth on April 9, 2013

Hello again…I’m back! I promised you all in my first post that I would write a dedicated post describing our engagement story. Elizabeth thought it would be fun for everyone to hear the story from my side.

To set the scene, it was April of 2009 and Elizabeth and I were in our third year at Texas A&M University. Every track season, the distance runners looked forward to the UCLA Jackie Joyner-Kersee Invitational in Los Angeles, CA. It was the perfect meet for distance runners because the weather was always in the low 60’s at night, there was always a great competitive field to race against, and we loved getting the chance to travel to California. Every year we stayed at The Westin in Pasadena which was a beautiful hotel surrounded by a mountainous national forest and stone’s throw from the Rose Bowl (a famous football stadium where a college BCS Bowl game is played each year). When I started to think about how I wanted to propose to Elizabeth, I couldn’t think of a better place than California where we had enjoyed so many special memories together. (Side note: both of us have PR’s from the UCLA meet. Elizabeth’s was in the 10K and mine was in the 3K steeple chase)

Let’s take a step back before we get into the actual proposal story. Before proposing to Elizabeth, I wanted to get her parents blessing. Being that we were in college and our schedules were pretty packed with running and academics, we didn’t have the chance to go home very often, so I was unable to get their blessing in her home town Willis, TX. I had to think of a way to get Elizabeth’s parents alone while they were in College Station for one of our indoor track meets. I very awkwardly called Mary, Elizabeth’s mom, and asked if she and her husband, Leslie, would join me for dinner after our meet. (They had no idea why I’m sure…haha). The next thing I had to do was convince Elizabeth that I needed to have some “private” family time with my parents (who were also in town for that meet) for dinner so that I could exclude her from the dinner plans. Elizabeth’s parents then told her that they had to get back to Willis right away and they could not stay for dinner. So one thing lead to another, and I dodged enough awkward questions about why the heck I needed to have a private conversation with my parents (I am a terrible liar…just can’t do it), and I met Elizabeth’s parents and her sister Lisa at Cheddar’s for dinner (Lisa had come from Willis to watch the track meet too, so she came along for the dinner…a small detail I forgot to prepare for, but we made it work). Obviously, there was an elephant in the room from the get-go, so I wasted no time to ask for their blessings. There was a moment of silence as I waited for their response that seemed to last an eternity, but I was overcome with joy when her parents fully supported me and Elizabeth’s marriage. Certainly more nerve racking than any job interview, but I will always cherish that moment with Elizabeth’s parents…and Lisa haha. Thanks for giving me your blessing too, Lisa ;) The next question I asked them caught them by surprise though. I told them that I wanted to propose to Elizabeth in California, and I wanted the family to be there as a surprise! God works in mysterious ways because they just so happened to have won a church raffle for a vacation so it worked out perfectly!

I immediately contacted my family and invited everyone to California. The way I decided to work the plan, was to tell Elizabeth that my family was coming for the UCLA meet to watch us race. We have some family in Los Angeles anyway so it was not hard sell. The next thing I had to do was make sure that our distance coach was on board with the idea. He was actually thrilled for us, and he thought it was a great idea to propose in California…all of the stars were starting to align. I won’t bore you with the details on finding her ring, but I will tell you that I had that baby insured before I ever took it out of the jewelry store! Toting the ring around through airport security and keeping it with my carry-on luggage was stressful to say the least. I was excited and nervous at the same time, and I was doing my best to act normal around Elizabeth… yeah right!

We landed in California and got to the hotel before dinner. I made us reservations at Houstons Restaurant which was a few miles down the road, but I convinced Elizabeth that we were going to walk over to the seafood restaurant on the other side of the courtyard from the hotel. We always traveled in nice clothes, so I didn’t have convince her to dress up (thank goodness…probably would have been a sweatshirt and sweat pants ). The courtyard outside of the hotel was filled with beautiful flowers and fountains, so it was the perfect background for the proposal. I staged Elizabeth’s best friend on the balcony to snap some action photos, and I took off in the elevator to meet Elizabeth at her room with the enormously bulky ring box in my pocket. When she reached for my hand she was shocked to find it cold and clammy since I was usually the one to warm up her hands. As nervous as I was, I led her to the courtyard and stopped her in front of the fountain. I got down on one knee and asked Elizabeth to spend the rest of her life with me. She broke down in tears and immediately went to hug me without even acknowledging the ring (I knew I picked a winner)!


We started walking back to the Taxi Cab to head out to Houstons, and she immediately realized that my family would be present for the special weekend and hers would not. I tried my best to console her, and of course she was still ecstatic from the proposal, but she was definitely disappointed that her parents and sisters were not in town to celebrate with us.


After our romantic dinner, we walked around Pasadena as a newly engaged couple, and she called her family and friends to share the good news. Little did she know, her family was in town at a “beach resort” [more like a cockroach resort] across town, and they had to pretend to be surprised! We went into our team meeting that evening, and all of the girls were gawking over her stories and her new rock! It was a proud moment in my life.

The next morning, the plan was to grab some breakfast with my family before we started getting ready for our race later that evening. We walked hand-in-hand into the lobby that morning only to find both of our families waiting to greet us with their love. The surprise went perfectly, and I will never forget the look on Elizabeth’s face to see our whole family waiting in the lobby that morning!

I love you Elizabeth, and I am thrilled to be your husband

Tell me about your engagement or any cool ones you’ve heard!

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 SW April 9, 2013 at 7:08 am

Oh goodness, there’s dust in my eyes. That was just too darn adorable and thoughtful :)


2 Karen @ Runner Girl Eats April 9, 2013 at 7:12 am

My engagement was about 2 months ago during a day trip to St George Island for biking and relaxing on the beach. We climbed to the top of the lighthouse and he got down on one knee. He had arranged to have a room in a B&B on the island so we had the whole weekend to enjoy it. It was perfect :)
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3 Becky April 9, 2013 at 7:37 am

Great job Joe!!! I couldn’t help but smile reading this – it so thoughtful!!! You two are lucky to have each other :)
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4 Carly @ Snack Therapy April 9, 2013 at 7:38 am

Adorable. I LOVE hearing other peoples’ love stories. So romantic <3.
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5 Alyssa @ See This Girl Run April 9, 2013 at 7:38 am

I am tearing up! That is sooo soo sweet and thoughtful! Good work, Joe!

I like my parents’ story. My dad was gone to the Caribbean for a scuba trip with a friend and he arranged for my mom and a friend of hers to go to a concert (he knows the musician). He flew home early (through a hurricane!) to surprise my mom by coming out on stage during the concert, calling her up on stage and proposing while the musician played their song. Pretty great if you ask me :)
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6 Cori @ olivetorun April 9, 2013 at 8:30 am

Could you be any cuter??
” She broke down in tears and immediately went to hug me without even acknowledging the ring (I knew I picked a winner)!” SO funny… I didn’t look at the ring until at least 10 minutes after (and that’s even after it was on my hand). http://olivetorun.com/2013/03/30/proposal-at-mile-9-5/
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7 Karla @ myhighonlife April 9, 2013 at 8:44 am

This is so precious! What a beautiful story. Thanks for sharing, Joe! I can’t wait to have my own perfect proposal story someday :)
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8 Susie April 9, 2013 at 9:57 am

Such a sweet story! And so lovely to hear from Joe’s perspective. Super cute photos guys :)
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9 Amy April 9, 2013 at 10:01 am

He took me Old Alexandria where we had our first day. After we went to walk on the pier, like we usually do and he got down on one knee. I don’t even remember what I did or if people were around.

So cute! I love that you got the parents there.


10 Debbie @ Deb Runs... April 9, 2013 at 10:19 am

So sweet, Joe! You know that you set the bar really high for other guys! My husband proposed to me while we were on a hike (with the ring loose in his pocket). I had no idea that he had it planned for that weekend, and was totally surprised!
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11 [email protected] April 9, 2013 at 10:41 am

This is adorably sweet!! I love it :)
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12 Brooke April 9, 2013 at 11:03 am

Yay for four year proposal anniversary! Can’t believe it has been 4 years! And 4 more will fly by before we know it! I always feel weird answering your questions bc you always already know my answers ha! But in case you forgot Mitch took me on a surprise trip to Albuquerque, NM and proposed to me in a hot air balloon! And best surprise was seeing my mom run towards the balloon when we landed! He flew her in for the whole thing too and I had no idea! Best day ever!


13 Lyric April 9, 2013 at 6:45 pm

This is adorable. No engagement story yet ;) I think I will at least wait until Im in my 20′s ….. But its stories like these that make me wish I was that little bit older! To cute.
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14 Danica @ It's Progression April 11, 2013 at 7:20 am

This is just so sweet…love it!


15 court April 11, 2013 at 10:57 am

i’m not engaged, but a story i love is:
a super-active couple (the wife is a huge runner) were going out for a winter hike around here. it’s gorgeous– you get views of all the local mountains (i live in vermont), and one of the overlooks is a huge lake where there are often people ice fishing in the winter (honestly, it’s even more beautiful in the summer). the couple stopped at the lookout to gaze over the water, and the (now)husband had spelled out “will you marry me?” on the lake, using logs. he had to put a good deal of effort into it– the view is pretty high up, so to be able to read the message, it had to be written out largely. the rest is all happily ever after from there. i hope my engagement is that good!!! =]


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