For my 30th birthday, Ginny conspired with my friends and family to throw a surprise party for me at our house. Weeks of planning, a house piled with decorations and food – all was ready. Even the ice storm that had begun hadn’t dampened spirits or attendance that much. While my best friend Pete kept me busy, Ginny put the final touches on the party and waited for the surprise. Only, the surprise was not what she thought….

Rewind a couple of months. I knew I loved Ginny and wanted her to be mine always. So, I went to our good friends Pete and Ashleigh with an idea that was just forming: steer her toward throwing me a surprise birthday party so I could turn the tables on her and surprise her with a proposal. Amusingly enough, Ginny came to them shortly thereafter with…the idea of throwing me a surprise birthday party! She had a decidedly easy time convincing Pete and Ashleigh to help! As the weeks ticked by, Pete and Ashleigh served as double agents for me, letting me know how the “surprise” party preparations were going. I began to think about exactly how to spring my surprise at the party and had a moment of inspiration.

The prior year for Valentine’s Day I had given Ginny a large red and white stuffed dog, which we affectionately referred to as “Love Puppy.” I mused that he was her guard dog when I was away from the house. Love Puppy was a wonderful reminder of our love, so he seemed a natural fit for this task. I decided on making a video slideshow of Love Puppy travelling all over Springfield to find a gift for Ginny so she wouldn’t feel left out on my birthday. At the end, the true gift (and the gift giver) would be revealed. I set about planning what storylines to do, how to set up the photography, and how to edit and assemble the final result. Just one problem – I had to accomplish this under her nose in the same house!

As the day got close and the slideshow remained incomplete, I began to worry that time would run out. To add to the difficulty, Ginny was already paranoid that I would find out about the surprise party and thus was scrutinizing my moves. Finally, she had to work one night that I did not and, with Pete’s help, I set to work. We photographed Love Puppy all over the house, in the car, about town, and finally at Denney Jewelers. As we took pictures at the intersection of Wabash Avenue and White Oaks Drive, it happened to be rush hour. We got several honks and a few bewildered stares as Pete held the dog overhead and I snapped away! Brian at Denney Jewelers was a good sport, even posing with Love Puppy as though offering advice on ring selection. With all the pictures in hand, I worked clandestinely late at night assembling the final product.

About the same time, I was selecting the real “surprise” from Denney Jewelers. I finally found the perfect stone and setting with the staff’s help for a one-of-a-kind engagement ring. After the approval of Ginny’s best friend and Pete and Ashleigh, all was ready.

Back to the day of the surprise party…I’m busy rehearsing one of the biggest moments of my life while Pete is keeping me “busy” at his house. Finally, all of Ginny’s preparations are complete and she gives Pete the signal to bring me to the house. I walked in and was “surprised” by Ginny and a kitchen full of our friends; she really did a great job putting it all together, which made it easier for me to do a good job of acting surprised! Once everything died down a little and everyone was there, Pete mentioned to Ginny that he had put together a little something to show to the crowd on the TV and asked for her help getting everyone in the living room. Pete started the slideshow I had actually made while I sat next to Ginny. As she watched the show and giggled, I tried so hard not to make it obvious that I was hanging on her every little reaction and gauging when the jig was up. In a stroke of good fortune, she still didn’t quite realize it was a proposal!

l until I turned to her at the end of the slideshow, told her how much she meant to me, and got down on one knee. Her reaction was priceless: a mixture of surprise, excitement, joy, and bewilderment! She had to process the proposal and the fact that I knew about the party the whole time simultaneously! When I asked her to make me happy the rest of my life by marrying me, she could barely get the answer out between the squeals and the tears!
I guess Ginny forgave me for spoiling her surprise – we were married in August of 2010. Love Puppy still keeps watch over things when I’m away. And I still think of my favorite double-cross every time the light catches, just for a second, my bride’s ring.

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Last updated February 5, 2017