{living in sin} A Most Engaging Weekend

by Rachel on April 2, 2012

Eric and I have known for a long time that we were going to get married some day. In fact, it was never really a question for us. So we didn’t have much need for a traditional proposal. I mean…why ask “Will you marry me?” when you’ve been asking different variations of that question for the past two years now?

 

And on and on and on.

Eric and I have talked a lot about what it means to be engaged in 2012. When you live together and intend to get married, you really have to think about what the point of a proposal and engagement is. We agreed that we had done too much work, gotten too much happiness and satisfaction, made too many plans, made too many sacrifices, given and accepted too much support, and rearranged our lives for each other in a way that most people don’t unless they’re planning to spend the rest of their lives together. We both knew that privately, emotionally, we’ve been engaged for a long time.

After some discussion, we decided that for us, an engagement doesn’t mean wedding planning. It doesn’t mean our relationship will suddenly change. It’s simply a new label. It’s an announcement. It’s a very efficient way of telling people what your intentions are. We decided that getting engaged wasn’t about what we’d been saying and doing privately; it was the moment when we talked about it publicly. So even though getting engaged was about us, we felt like it was really more about our families, friends, and communities. And we felt like yeah, there was a need for some sort of a ritual to go along with that announcement. So rather than either of us planning a surprise for the other, we decided that we would surprise them.

So along with shopping for rings for both of us (which is a whole other story for another day!), we started planning a way to surprise our families with the news. We don’t get to see our families very often, so seeing them in person for this was important to us. Eventually we were able to get his parents and my mom to plan a trip to Houston for this past weekend, under the guise of meeting each other for the first time. Once the plane tickets were booked, we started planning a surprise engagement party. My amazing coworker Jacob designed this evite (though it actually had a date, time, and address on it) and we sent it to all of our friends and even some family members — everyone but the parents.

It was hard keeping it a secret, and I was a lot more emotional and anxious than I expected in the last couple weeks leading up to it, but still — it was really fun. Even though I didn’t propose to Eric, I’m glad I still got to experience some of the fun of planning an engagement surprise like this because, well, planning surprises for people you love is awesome! I really loved having a role in it. Because it’s a big announcement and we wanted to give them some time to process it, we decided to tell our parents just before they arrived in Houston. So last Wednesday evening, Eric and I exchanged rings at home — after walking the dogs, while waiting for our DiGiorno pizza and “Psych,” our typical Wednesday night date night — and then we “made it official” by telling our parents and sending them a picture of our rings.

As we had anticipated, they were surprised (sort of — my mom and his mom’s coworkers were all suspicious that a big announcement was coming this weekend) and happy. They arrived in Houston just happy see us and to meet each other and eager to relax, hang out, and do a little celebrating. My best friend Beth flew in from Chicago on Friday night and it was awesome having her here (and that was another mini-surprise for my mom, who has known Beth since we were kids and loves her like part of the family). The rest of my friends knew what was happening and sent tons of love our way last week and throughout the weekend. We spent plenty of time relaxing and then on Saturday night had our party with friends, coworkers, and our families. It was incredibly chill — Beth’s (fabulous) champagne toast midway through was really the only engagement/wedding/bridal thing we had at the party — which made me happy. Sunday, Eric’s parents headed home, so we spent the day at the pool with my mom and Beth just hanging out and relaxing. It was an awesome weekend — everything I’d want from a proposal/engagement. It was so awesome, in fact, that we only stopped for one picture together the entire weekend, about midway through the party.

Which, I’m sure you know, means it was a very full, happy weekend.

So…I’m engaged! And…now life goes back to normal! Really, I doubt that our day-to-day lives will change very much any time soon. Eric and I both have a lot of things we want to accomplish before we get married, both personally and as a couple, so we aren’t setting a wedding date until we have a better idea of how long it will take us to check those items off of our list. I don’t think either of us expected some big change; I know that I’ve been noticing how we’ve been changing gradually over the past year in all sorts of ways and I’m sure we’ll live our way into being ready to set a date and being ready for marriage.

(And I hope we’ll eventually live our way into being comfortable calling each other “fiance;” for now, the most we can bring ourselves to do is occasionally write out the word “feyonce.”)

{ 90 comments }

1 Leslie April 2, 2012 at 12:35 pm

What wonderful news! Congratulations to both of you.

2 Claire @ Live and Love to Eat April 2, 2012 at 12:35 pm

Congrats Rachel – I love the way you planned it all, and the description of being “engaged” in the relationship. :)
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3 Andrea @ Run, Eat, Date, Sleep April 2, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Congratulations :)

4 Jenn April 2, 2012 at 12:38 pm

that’s fantastic :) best wishes and congratulations to the both of you!!

5 Melissa April 2, 2012 at 12:39 pm

Congrats, doll. You guys look so happy.
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6 Annie Rorem April 2, 2012 at 12:40 pm

Thanks for sharing this wonderful story, and congratulations on making public such a lovely commitment.

While there’s a lot to like about this entire engagement, one of the things I like most is that you’re BOTH wearing rings!

7 deva at deva by definition April 2, 2012 at 12:41 pm

congratulations! You look very happy, and I’m excited to see where you go from here.

And, for the record, The Boy and I still refer to each other as “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” and our wedding date is set. We decided when we got engaged that if we wanted to continue to use those labels until we were ‘husband’ and ‘wife,’ that we were fine with it :-)
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8 Chrissy (The New Me) April 2, 2012 at 12:42 pm

Congrats! We had a similar engagement story, minus the surprise party. :) And even though we’re engaged, I still call him my boyfriend are partner – fiance is weird and way too formal.
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9 Chrissy (The New Me) April 2, 2012 at 12:43 pm

That should read “boyfriend OR partner.” Oops!
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10 Chrissy (The New Me) April 2, 2012 at 12:44 pm

Oh, and one more thing. I will be interested to hear about your engagement rings. I told my partner I didn’t want a ring, because I’m not a big ring person, because I thought it was silly that I would wear something that says I’m taken by he wouldn’t, and because after ten years and two dogs, I don’t really need him to “prove” anything to me. Looking forward to hearing your thought process!
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11 Keri @ Iron Mountain Movement April 2, 2012 at 12:43 pm

Congratulations Rachel!
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12 Dori April 2, 2012 at 12:44 pm

Mazel tov to you and Eric!!!!!! You look happy, glowing and gorgeous in the one photo you took (and your hair looks awesome) and having been imaginary friends with you for a few years now, I am just so happy for you.
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13 Tish April 2, 2012 at 12:44 pm

THIS is my perfect engagement…It ain’t happening for me though. My dude is bent on that whole surprise thing…which makes my butt twitch (hate surprises and don’t like public displays of affection) but my friends all say I have to let him have his girly moment. Sigh…

CONGRATS!

14 Emily @ Perfection Isn't Happy April 2, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Congratulations! Being engaged is such a nice feeling, and so much fun!

15 Caitlin @ This Bride's Joyride April 2, 2012 at 12:48 pm

Congrats congrats congrats! Whether it’s surprise, planned, boy asking girl or girl asking boy — it’s still about one thing, LOVE. Even though it probably won’t be any different, it’s still worth celebrating! :)
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16 Mel April 2, 2012 at 12:49 pm

So even though, this was one of the best things I have ever seen on Facebook at 1 in the morning — this post was even better! I love how you described the way you already felt engaged after going through all the other questions that were really subpoints of one big question. MAZEL TOV!! And the rings are brilliant!

I’m sure you know this but back in the day (ok..not that long ago..my stepmom told me this about her era’s engagements), an engagement was not always the spectacle it is now. It used to be an engagement was an announcement to friends and family about the couple’s decision..and they would announce it with “a ring and a date.” So I think it’s kinda cool how, on one hand, your method decision was very progressive and unique, but on the other, it hails to another long standing tradition. Sounds like just what you guys wanted. Congrats again!!!!!!

17 julie @ peanut butter fingers April 2, 2012 at 12:49 pm

ryan and i had the HARDEST time saying “fiance.” for some reason it sounds like such a pretentious word to me! i love “feyonce.” fabulous. and congratulations to you both!
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18 Caity @ Moi Contre La Vie April 2, 2012 at 12:49 pm

CONGRATULATIONS!!! Such an exciting announcement, thrilled for you both.
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19 Jasmine April 2, 2012 at 12:55 pm

Yay! Congrats!

And, somehow… it is very Rachel Wilkerson-esque to get engaged over April Fool’s weekend.

I wish you SO MUCH happiness, friend.
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20 Alicia at Poise in Parma April 2, 2012 at 12:59 pm

Hurrah!! What a wonderful way to celebrate an engagement in a new way. I love it. So happy for you!

21 Christina April 2, 2012 at 12:59 pm

I’ve been a lurker for a few months, but an engagement seems like a very appropriate time to come out of the shadows. Congratulations! My husband and I had been seriously talking for months about marriage prior to our official engagement so I didn’t feel any different once the event took place. Calling it an event is kind of misleading because, like you said, how can you really propose when you both already know the answer? I think yours and Eric’s idea for a surprise party for your parents was brilliant and inspired! And I went to great lengths to avoid calling my significant other my “fiance” (now “husband”, which I also feel a little awkward saying even after almost two years) so you certainly aren’t alone in that!

Congratulations again! And great writing! I love reading your posts!

22 Emily April 2, 2012 at 12:59 pm

Congrats, Rachel! I truly admire the way you and Eric are writing your own relationship rules. It’s rare to see such authentic people these days. How refreshing! Thanks for inspiring the rest of us to live authentically and best wishes!

23 Samantha M. April 2, 2012 at 12:59 pm

Congratulations! What a fun way to announce your official shift from “live-in lovahs” to “engaged”, and how wonderful that you celebrated with a party for your family and friends! I love that you guys re-define “engagement” and “proposals” for yourselves, it’s so cool. =D
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24 Kavi @ Lab to Fab! April 2, 2012 at 1:06 pm

Congratulations! Rachel, I’ve been following your blog for a few years and you never cease to be a source of inspiration and introspection. This post is no different! It seems like you guys had the perfect engagement for the two of you, and so I’m happy and excited for you!
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25 Lisa @ I'm an Okie April 2, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Congrats. Love that big smile on your face—it says everything.
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26 Shaba April 2, 2012 at 1:15 pm

Congratulations!
I gave my husband a ring when we got engaged, just like you! Also, my e-ring is a marquise as well! You have splendid taste ;)
Much happiness to you both!

27 Frances April 2, 2012 at 1:22 pm

Congratulations on the engagement! Even though as you say, you’ve been privately engaged for some time, it deserves some celebration!

28 Ebbs April 2, 2012 at 1:34 pm

OMG…….Congrats. I’m Happy for the both of ya’ll
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29 Sabra April 2, 2012 at 1:37 pm

Sounds perfect – I’m happy for you guys! And yeah… fiance is definitely a strange term to get used to! I still use boyfriend most of the time.

30 erin April 2, 2012 at 1:51 pm

the rings are amazing!

i don’t think i entirely got used to calling my husband fiance, and he definitely didn’t. though calling him husband was a whole ‘nother ball game!

i’m glad you were able to celebrate with the family and friends. a very unique twist on things!

31 Renee April 2, 2012 at 1:51 pm

Congratualtions!!! I love the Evite!

32 Jacki April 2, 2012 at 1:53 pm

I love the invitation, the way you guys did this, the whole deal. Congratulations FEYONCES!! :)
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33 Emily Susan April 2, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Congrats! So happy for you, although I am not surprised, the posts about relationships recently kinda pointed to this, still so happy! I think your low key engagement was awesome. I always think that big engagement parties are “okay, so we celebrated your commitment and happiness” do we really need a wedding?

On a side note: I love your nail color in the picture, it is elegant and understated, letting your rings and their symbolic meaning shine. Love.

34 Heidi Nicole April 2, 2012 at 2:21 pm

Congrats! Sounds like an amazing weekend.

We had a similar engagement, minus the surprise to the parents. Life progressed and we continued to make decisions that slowly led us to a life of togetherness and happy “old married couple” stage of living long before we were even engaged. The engagement was really more of a formality and we had a great, small wedding that was really just an excuse to make it legal – the signing of my name was really the only thing that changed!

Again, congrats – enjoy being an engaged woman!!
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35 Erin April 2, 2012 at 2:25 pm

Congratulations! That sounded like an awesome, fun party.

Also, that invitation rocked!

36 [SMASH] April 2, 2012 at 2:30 pm

Okay, I’ve congratulated you two on Facebook, twice… but here’s one more time because I’m SO excited for you two! CONGRATS RACHEL & ERIC! :D

This is my favorite: “So…I’m engaged! And…now life goes back to normal!” I love how you two did this thing and surprised your family/friends. And I like that Eric is wearing a ring, too… I’m excited to read that part of things because I’d enjoy Joel wearing one when we get engaged.

37 Andi April 2, 2012 at 2:37 pm

Congrats!

I’ve been married six months (as of yesterday) and still sometimes have to mentally step through “boyfriend…fiancee…husband!”

38 nic April 2, 2012 at 2:37 pm

It is really refreshing to hear engagement described this way. I only know one person who was truly surprised about her proposal (they’d only been dating three months). Long-term commitment happens long before jewelry enters the picture. Congratulations to you both and I love your ring!

39 Manon April 2, 2012 at 2:41 pm

Awwww…….I love everything about this. Congrats! You just look so HAPPY…..and I’m so happy for you!
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40 Rachel @ Healthy Chicks April 2, 2012 at 2:42 pm

Biggest congrats to you and Eric Rachel! I love the way you went about the engagement – so unique and yet simple at the same time. I wouldn’t expect anything less from you :) So glad you were able to celebrate with all the people you love, including the parents. You two make a beautiful, now ENGAGED couple for sure
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41 Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic April 2, 2012 at 2:46 pm

Congratulations Rachel and Eric!! I love the story and the cute evite!
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42 clare @ fittingitallin April 2, 2012 at 2:46 pm

ahh congratulations to both of you! SUCH a fun story! So unique and personal!

43 Hannah April 2, 2012 at 2:47 pm

Congrats! Your ring is gorgeous!!

44 Savannah April 2, 2012 at 3:12 pm

Congratulations!!!

45 Amanda @ Once Upon a Recipe April 2, 2012 at 3:21 pm

Beautiful, in every way. Congratulations!
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46 Holly April 2, 2012 at 3:21 pm

Congratulations!!! So very, very exciting :o)

47 Bess @ I Dream of Greenie April 2, 2012 at 3:28 pm

The thing I like most about this post (well maybe besides the word “feyonce”) is that this whole process is so authentic to you and Eric as a couple. Even though you were still a new couple when I met you two, I remember leaving Houston and knowing “Eric and Rachel are a sure fire bet!”
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48 Danielle April 2, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Congratulations!!

49 Shane April 2, 2012 at 3:33 pm

CONGRATS Rachel! I can’t wait for the ring post. Yours are both lovely.

50 Brittany April 2, 2012 at 4:00 pm

Congratulations to you both!!

Isaac and I were in the same boat in knowing that we were going to get married. We have been together 7 years and lived together 4. The engagement made it official, but nothing has changed. :)
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51 EricaLS April 2, 2012 at 4:11 pm

Congrats! You guys are so adorable and surprising your parents is a really exciting way to do things!
HOORAY!

52 Sarah April 2, 2012 at 4:21 pm

Congratulations! I’ve been reading your blog for awhile and I love how you are able to put into words how I feel about a lot of things. I’ve felt like my bf and I have been engaged for awhile. We had the discussion about our future in the fall and we talk about aspects of our wedding all the time. I know he really wants to suprise me with a ring, but Im like “hurry up already”. I hate suprises just because I am so observent and inquisitive, that I’m rarely suprised. I feel like I’ve figured out his plans but I dont want to ruin it for him so I’m trying to convince myself that I’m wrong!

53 Mary (A Merry Life) April 2, 2012 at 4:23 pm

Awww, congrats! I’m so happy for you!! :)
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54 Megan C. April 2, 2012 at 4:25 pm

Congratulations!! My husband and I surprised his family with our announcement of getting married. It is fun to do! Although in our case we told them on Friday and got married at his family reunion on Saturday.

I wish you two all the best!!
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55 Olivia April 2, 2012 at 4:35 pm

congrats!!
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56 Stephanie April 2, 2012 at 5:11 pm

Congrats Rachel and Eric! I love the invites and the word “feyonce” is forever in my vocabulary.

57 Amanda @ Click. The Good News April 2, 2012 at 6:47 pm

Congrats! It’s still awesome to be engaged- no matter how it happened. Can’t wait to follow you through all the wedding planning & see what types of fabulous adventures and advice come from it!
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58 Katie April 2, 2012 at 6:48 pm

Congratulations!!! I got chills and teared up… signs of a problem? But really, I am so happy that you are happy–you deserve it! And you’re an inspiration to me as I’m finishing up college–there are REAL men out there and there is REAL love. YAY :)

59 Elizabeth April 2, 2012 at 6:54 pm

Congratulations! Love your blog and I love your engagement story.

60 Jen April 2, 2012 at 7:04 pm

I have to say, I really love how you are totally ok with the non-traditional proposal. Youtube is littered with proposal videos and there are a proliferation of tv shows not to mention magazines dedicated to weddings that only serve to conflate the traditionalist view. So congratulations to you two, not only for getting engaged but for also marking your own path! This is absolutely thrilling. And the rings are gorgeous. :)

61 Melissa April 2, 2012 at 8:13 pm

Congratulations! I’ve been reading your site for a long time and you seem so happy & grounded with Eric! I wish you both all the best!

62 Nicki April 2, 2012 at 8:48 pm

Congratulations! What a fun way to get engaged. I was actually discussing with my (male) roommate why guys don’t wear engagement rings last weekend and I argued that I believe they should – since it shows a commitment on BOTH sides. So excited to hear your story about your and Eric’s rings!

63 Megan @ MegGoesNomNom April 2, 2012 at 9:01 pm

Your ring (and his) is incredibly gorgeous – classy and blingy, love it. Congratulations!

64 Kelly April 2, 2012 at 9:55 pm

I have never commented on your blog, although I have stalked for a very long time…this post was just TOO GOOD. Love every single thing about your entire plan. Congratulations does not seem entirely fitting…so, ummm, instead maybe it’s appropriate to say way-to-go-on-planning-things-really-really-maturely-all-along-the-way-thus-leading-to-this-next-culturally-logical-step-in-your-already-super-great-relationship. right.

65 April April 2, 2012 at 10:20 pm

Great idea to surprise the family! Super excited for both of you!

66 Sarah | The Cyclist's Wife April 2, 2012 at 11:52 pm

Congrats! What a creative and unique way to do it. I found day to day life did not change much after engagement/marriage either. But, something deep within what makes us “us” did shift, in a good and wonderful way. It’s subtle, but there. I hope you both feel that too. :)

67 Becca April 3, 2012 at 1:17 am

Ahh! An actual modern engagement. This is very refreshing! In my mind these choices are made by couples, together, over a long period of time. The idea of being “surprised” by an engagement is horrifying to me. If you’re still at a point in your relationship where the engagement is a surprise, chances are you shouldn’t be getting married! And if it isn’t going to be a surprise, why don’t you just talk about it together like adults? It’s marriage not your 7th birthday party! Congratulations on the engagement and on being a wonderfully modern woman!
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68 Christina April 3, 2012 at 3:16 pm

^What she said.

AND I love that he’s wearing a ring as well!!

Congratulations :D

69 Gavi April 3, 2012 at 5:19 pm

I don’t meant to be nit-picky, but I don’t entirely agree with this statement: “If you’re still at a point in your relationship where the engagement is a surprise, chances are you shouldn’t be getting married!” I think for many couples (including me and my fiance), the HOW and WHEN of the proposal/engagement is a surprise, not the proposal itself. My fiance and I had been together for five years when he proposed and we’ve known since our first date that we would spend the rest of our life together (and had talked about it openly and honestly many times). The proposal itself–how, where, and when he proposed–was a complete surprise to me, and it was very, very special. I agree that if the proposal/topic/idea of marriage comes out of left field for a couple, it might not be the right time. But there is often much more behind a surprise proposal than might meet the eye!

70 K @ The Chic Teach April 3, 2012 at 6:08 am

YESSSSS!!!! This makes me so happy. I’ve loved watching your guys’ relationship evolve over the last little bit, and this is just such great news. :-)
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71 Kehinde April 3, 2012 at 7:57 am

Awwww, Rachel! Congratulations to you and Eric! =D

72 Kia April 3, 2012 at 8:01 am

Congratulations Rachel and Eric! I love that you things your own way, and chose to suprise your parents.

73 Andie April 3, 2012 at 8:15 am

This is so wonderful and inspired. I’m very happy for you, Rachel! Congratulations :)

Andie
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74 Kate April 3, 2012 at 9:06 am

Congratulations! I’m so excited for you! Looking forward to hearing how you navigate this next awesome phase of your life! Thanks for sharing.

75 stef April 3, 2012 at 10:17 am

Congrats!!!

I’m always so confused by adult women who are “so surprised!” when they get engaged. I love that your engagement was planned by both of you and is the next logical step in your partnership. Such a refreshing and awesome perspective.
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76 Nicole @ Giraffelegs April 3, 2012 at 10:39 am

Congrats on being publicly engaged! Please humor me with wedding related posts concerning cake choice, dress shopping and flowers. I know it’s cliche, but like I said humor me.
The ring is beautiful, and your hair looks fab.
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77 Jessica April 3, 2012 at 10:59 am

This is so awesome- congratulations! Sounds anxiety-free and pure fun and happiness. Best wishes to you guys while you head into the future together!

78 Paige April 3, 2012 at 10:59 am

Congratulations on making it officially official. :)

79 Lindsey April 3, 2012 at 12:18 pm

How exciting, congratulations! I love the idea of suprising your family, I bet they were just so happy :)
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80 Mandi April 3, 2012 at 12:48 pm

Congrats Rachel– you guys seem like such a great couple. Excited for you! Oh yeah and nice rings :)

81 Tenecia April 3, 2012 at 1:06 pm

Congrats!!!

T.
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82 Shannon April 3, 2012 at 1:09 pm

I’m really interested in the thought process behind the engaged man ring–I really like the concept. Very excited for you guys and glad that you are really personalizing this process. I bet you’re enjoying the sh*t out of Say Yes to the Dress this week! :)

83 Kari April 3, 2012 at 2:49 pm

CONGRATULATIONS!! What a wonderful way to announce it and share with family and friends!
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84 Brittney April 3, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Congratulations! I think this is what my husband and I actually should have done- great idea! We too are not that traditional and lived together for about 4 years before getting married and talked about it a lot along the way- it was kind of a natural progression. My husband’s proposal was kind of awkward because he’s not really a big romantic and we’re not big into surprises. It actually kind of happened in the middle of an argument… Anyway, I think this was a great idea and way to still celebrate the event of deciding to get married so good for you guys!
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85 Meghann April 3, 2012 at 4:41 pm

I told you your parents would be a teeny bit suspicious of a big announcement. ;) Once again, the invitation is the cutest idea ever (going to Pin it as promised as soon as I press publish) and I’m so very happy for both of you. Enjoy this time as a (publicly) engaged couple!
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86 Rachel April 3, 2012 at 8:06 pm

I love this!!! And I love that invitation – beyond perfect. Oh, and I’m totally on board with bringing back yellow gold!!!

87 Kate April 4, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Congrats!! So heartwarming to see this especially after all your awesome relationship advice :)

88 Jessica @ How Sweet April 4, 2012 at 8:07 pm

congrats! I am so thrilled for you. and I could never do the word “fiance.” Just doesn’t roll off the tongue.

89 Melissa April 6, 2012 at 8:59 am

Congratulation! I love the story and the way you handled everything, especially with your parents. I wish we had thought to do something like that.

90 Nicole April 7, 2012 at 5:03 pm

Aww congratulations. The evite is super cute and now you have a unique story to share. Love it!
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