Laurel tells the story:
I don't quite recall when Kevin and I started talking about getting married, but it was a good long while ago. I wouldn't say "we just knew we'd be together" like so many couples say, because the early days of our relationship were a bit rough at times. But at some point I know we were both pretty sure of where we thought this relationship was going.
It might've been some time before that when we were out driving around some place and listening to a Twins game on the radio, that I remarked (without thinking) on a Shane Company commercial that if I ever got engaged, the ring "wouldn't have to be a diamond." Kevin teased me mercilessly after that, saying that I was "hinting" and stuff. It was at that point, we both began talking about "some sort of big celebratory event" occasionally and what we'd like to happen at it. The joke was that neither of us could say "wedding" or were ready to say that, though we both knew what we were talking about.
It was also early in our relationship (it might've even been before Kevin and I started dating, when we were just getting to know each other as friends), that I told Kevin a bit about my previous relationships and that I had "sorta been engaged" a time or two, but that none of those times ever really felt like an engagement because there wasn't a ring or anything. Again, I wasn't hinting at the time and really had no idea at the time that this comment would end up being important.
We never planned to live in the same house before we got married, as I'm a bit old-fashioned and for a number of other reasons. But when I needed to move back to Minneapolis so I could see doctors and get some health issues straightened out, it was logical that I move in with Kevin as so much of my stuff was already in his garage and he had plenty of space and I didn't have plenty of money.
Who knew there were so many real-life logistics involved in getting married (or engaged)? And who knew that my casual remark about "engagements not being real unless there was a ring" would come back to haunt me? We would've been engaged much sooner if Kevin could've afforded a ring, but he wanted there to be a ring and a decent one (complete with diamond) at that. We stopped at a jewelry store on a whim during the winter of 2004-05 and looked at rings. So while we've known we were going to get married for a while, we didn't make it "official" with a question and ring and everything until May 7th, 2005.
Kevin's bout of unemployment and my unemployment made finances tight when I first moved to Minneapolis. It just so happened that in the spring of 2005, we finally got caught up on bills and Kevin received a tax refund and so we both began looking at rings in earnest.
I remember how I spent most of one afternoon in April prowling around websites trying to figure out what kind of ring I would like. When Kevin arrived home from work, he asked me to guess what he'd done that day and it turned out he'd spent a little time that same afternoon looking at rings online.
Eventually I finally thought I found a setting I liked, which just happened to be available at the Shane Company. One day when I was out in Minnetonka killing time before I was supposed to pick Kevin up at work so we could go to a Twins game together, I went into the Shane Company to check out the setting in person. I liked it. I couldn't resist calling Kevin and he couldn't resist leaving work a little early and we went and both looked at the setting and then (since Kevin had just received his tax refund) we actually went ahead and picked out a diamond and ordered the ring and . . . it all happened very fast.
I still remember sitting there with Kevin as the salesperson was off settling details. The song that was piped into the room was Whitney Houston's "How Will I Know?" which I remember liking a lot when I was a teenager. That "How will I know if he really loves me?" bit of the song really appealed to me then, even though I'd never had a date and was painfully shy. Who knew that years later I'd be hearing that old song while waiting with my soon-to-be-fiance to order my engagement ring (and wedding band)?
The cool part is how sure I am about everything. I've been in love before and thought I was sure before, but there's a certainty this time and a degree of comfort that I never had before. This is it.
When Kevin and I were at the Twins game after we picked out the ring, we couldn't stop smiling. We were at the game with my parents and the temptation was so great to tell them what we were up to, but Kevin really wanted to wait so we could have that proposal moment and so we could each tell our families on Mother's Day.
I think we ordered the ring on a Friday and then it wasn't going to be ready until the following Tuesday and Mother's Day wasn't until the Sunday after that. Kevin asked me out to celebrate our (more or less) third anniversary on the Saturday right before Mother's Day. We both knew that's when he'd propose, but we played it coy a bit.
After Kevin picked up the ring on Tuesday, I was ready to get engaged right there. Certainly ready to wear the ring. The ring is gorgeous; I never thought I liked diamonds, but I love this particular diamond and setting and especially love what it stands for.
Kevin would let me get one look at the ring each day before the proposal. Couldn't try it on, we'd just look at it. It was a silly, giddy, happy week.
On Saturday, May 7th, we both got dressed up bit and took a bus downtown to Buca di Beppo. A Buca had (in theory) been the location of one of our first sortof dates once upon a time. We had a lovely lunch there, even though Kevin had to run across the street to get new batteries for my camera. I took silly pictures (they're available from the photos page) of the food and of Kevin.
Every so often during the meal, Kevin would say something like "Laurel, would you" and then he'd pause and finish with "pass the garlic bread?" or something similar. We had been joking all along that we didn't know what was happening on Saturday, even though in the end we'd hinted so much that many of our friends knew what was happening.
After lunch, but before dessert, Kevin pulled a Homer Hanky out of his pocket. The hanky was wrapped around the engagement ring ('cuz a ring in a box wouldn't fit decently in his pocket without being bulky and obvious). He showed me the ring and asked "Will you marry me?" and I said "Yes" and he put the ring on my finger and we held hands and smiled and were giddy some more.
After lunch, we took the bus back home where we broke the news to the cats (heh). They adore Kevin, so I'm sure they'd be pleased if they understood what we were on about. I also called my friends Shaun and Al to tell them our good news.
Our next stop was that day's Minnesota Science Fiction Society (a.k.a. Minn-StF) party/meeting at the home of our friends Dean & Laura. I'm currently vice president of the club, Kevin's currently on the club's board of directors. We got to know each other through our work on Minicon and through Minn-StF; and many of our friends are active in Minn-StF. It seemed appropriate that some of the first people who heard the news (and saw the ring) would be at Minn-StF.
We had a great time at the party and had fun talking about possible wedding/reception ideas. Honestly, at this point we had mostly talked sarcastically about all the Worst Ideas Possible. Just as we'd often joked about the worst possible ways to propose (many of them involved hiding the ring in food and things going terribly awry, of course).
The next day, Kevin and I met my parents at the Red Lobster in Plymouth, Minnesota for a Mother's Day lunch. After we sat down in the booth, I think I may have given my Mom her Mother's Day presents first and then I said "We have some news" and told them and showed them the ring and my Mom was fairly flabbergasted (and really happy). She seemed distracted by the ring and the engagement all through lunch. I sometimes think my parents never thought I'd get married. I'm glad my parents really like Kevin and that he gets along with them too.
After lunch, Kevin called his parents and told them our news. Kevin's folks live in Arkansas, but Kevin's Dad did pass through town later in May so we got to have dinner together and celebrate a bit in person.
The proposal wasn't a surprise and the ring wasn't a surprise. We don't have an elaborate crazy showy proposal to tell you about or even a very romantic private moment. But I think our story is pretty darn cool anyway. We had fun with it, but then we always have fun when we're together (even when things are rough, we somehow manage to laugh a whole lot).
It's been really cool that our friends and family are so very happy for us. It's also a good sign that we're on the right track (not that we need one at this point). Thank you all for your support and for being happy for us.
What follows is what we put online here right after we got engaged:
May 08, 2005
We're thrilled. Joyful. Thankful.
We have not yet set a date, but we intend to get married in a year . . . or so. We'll set a date soon and will let you know as soon as we do.
[Click on the picture above to see some photos from our anniversary lunch where Kevin proposed. Sadly, we never did get a good close up picture of the ring; we'll try to get one eventually. Here's a link to the ring setting; the stone is a marquise shaped diamond.]
We also intend to use this nifty news as an excuse to throw or attend as many parties as we can manage over the next couple of years.
We'll be putting more stuff online here as we begin to pull together details. Watch this space for updates on our plans.
Right now we're both giddy over this shiny ring and all that goes with it. We're eager to share the news and start planning a party. We can't wait 'til we exchange vows and rings and the whole bit in front of our friends and family.
We are over the moon and very, very happy.
We're collecting congratulatory comments here, among other places [if you don't have a Livejournal account, you can still post; we appreciate it if you sign it so we know who you are].
Laurel Krahn & Kevin G. Austin