And I said Yes: Our Engagement Story

Dan and I had just finished our junior year of college and had been dating one year. I knew we were going to get married and I was hoping(and wishing, thinking, and praying)  we would get married right after we graduated, but I was sort of leaving it in his hands. I didn’t know when we would get engaged, I was thinking maybe the fall. I definitely was not expecting early June.

I was living in Steubenville for the summer, taking a class and babysitting. Dan was also in Steubenville, working the same landscaping job he had all throughout college. My friend and housemate for the summer, Janell, and I decided to drive down to my parents lake house in NC one weekend for a fun getaway. We had a great time relaxing, eating, talking, getting some sun, etc.  I remember my mom was just extremely giddy and happy we were there visiting. My dad was so excited we came down, he baked a chocolate cake. Saturday night my dad offered to take us on the boat for a sunset cruise. But first he said he had to change out all of the light bulbs along the outdoor walking path. Ok. (He was actually on the phone with Dan finalizing plans.) Once the lights were changed, we joined my mom and brother for the ride. DJ Alex had fun changing the music on the radio. At the end of the ride, Kelly Clarkson’s “A moment like this” came on and my parents started to dance and got really goofy and sentimental.  Meanwhile, Dan and his best man Jarad, had arrived and were hiding in the bushes, waiting for us to return and head back inside.

We went in and had some cake. We talked about all sorts of things and I was also patiently waiting for Dan to call. He had told me earlier that day that he wanted to have a phone date with me. (The problem with the lake house was that there was only one main phone in the kitchen and the cell phone service was awful, so I had to wait for him to call the house phone, then I would walk outside down to the wharf and call him back. I know this seems like a random  detail…but it is needed. Stick with me.) So finally he called around 10:15, and I said good night to Janell, who was going to bed and I grabbed my phone and a blanket and walked down the pathway to the wharf.

When I got to the beginning of the walkway, I suddenly stopped because there were candles lit along the walkway on every post and there was a curtain hanging at the entrance of the wharf. I was a little creeped out. And by a little, I mean I thought that some strange people were out there using our dock. Earlier that day my parents were telling me that they thought that people had been using our canoe and wharf when we were not around. And I thought it had to be them. What would they have been doing? I don’t know, but my thoughts make no sense sometimes. Any normal person would have thought- oh it must be Dan and I am getting engaged tonight. Not me. I slowly kept walking to the curtain and I was scared to look through and finally I said, “hello…hello…”. No one answered. I peeped through and there was no one. Then I thought, maybe my parents thought it would be funny to do that because I was on my phone date. So I turned around to leave.  As I was turning around, I heard Dan call out, “Lauren, come here.” I turned back around and I saw Dan and he looked amazing.  I walked through the curtain and he took my hand. And then I actually looked at the beautiful set up:



I was in shock. I just wasn’t expecting it at all (obvi) and couldn’t believe that Dan was there. The thought just didn’t cross my mind- that he would come and surprise me. He led me to the table and picked up the ring. He held my hands and got down on one knee and said some beautiful things and then proposed.  I kissed him and said yes and just started to giggle. No tears from this girl, I was too surprised and excited. Even before he could put the ring on my finger, I heard fireworks go off and I ran to the side of the wharf to see, leaving Dan still on one knee. And when I looked out toward the water, there was Jarad. In the canoe. Trying to stay afloat and set off the fireworks (despite the fact the canoe kept drifting and right when Dan got on one knee, a post blocked his view and he had to guess when to shoot them off). And I am sure it was completely safe.  This sight made me giggle again, I loved it all. Dan walked over and put the ring on my finger and Jarad began to row back in…

A few seconds  later, a man walked out, casually dressed, and with a gun in a holster. It was just the sheriff. And he kind of reminded me of this guy: (seriously mustache and all)


(pic from here)

He came out and said. “Excuse me, but what is going on out here? He walked through the curtains, he saw Dan and I were standing there holding each other’s hands and the candles lit everywhere. But he acted like he didn’t notice any of it. First he asked us if we were the ones shooting off the fireworks and Dan replied saying we did shoot off one.

Then the sheriff asked, “Well is  that your car parked on the hill on the street.?” Dan said it was and then the sheriff asked, “Well why the heck did you leave the door open, and the windows down, with your wallet and phone in the front seat? It scared the neighbor whose house you’re parked in front of and that is why I am here!”  Dan was very apologetic and explained that he was so nervous because, well, he had just proposed. And then the officer looked at us and looked at the set up and said, “Oh. Well… what did she say?”  He also asked us how old we were and after we said 21, he was curious why we were getting married at such a young age, he said that “statistically marriages don’t last unless you get married over the age of 26 or something like that”. I surprisingly spoke up and said, “well this one is going to last.” And then the sheriff said, “Well, please move your car, but take your time, and no more fireworks, and (with a little smirk) have a good night!”

Once he walked away, Jarad came out from hiding in the shadows. He took some pictures for us, like any best man would:

And then we headed inside and were greeted with cheers and champagne from my parents and brother. All of the commotion woke up Janell and then we screamed and giggled some more:

And here is a fun little reenactment:

We were engaged on June 17, 2006. We got married the following year on June 2. And that’s another story, for another time.


  1. Grammy Johnson

    Oh my goodness…no matter how many times I hear this story or watch the video of your wedding dance, or look at our amazing grandchildren, I am moved to tears and so thankful that God’s hand was on all of us, gently moving our lives as families so that Jack and Jamie’s daughter and Phillip and Vicki’s son could be in the right place at the right time to make sure you met each other and became one! As Fr. Dave would say…can I hear an AMEN!!!

  2. Oh I love this story and even though I love the romantic parts, my favorite part is thinking about Jarad and the canoe and the fireworks and the boat wake… :)

  3. This story never gets old!!! I love the part where the Sheriff comes… I always for get that that happened! You are so great, and I miss you so much!!! Thanks for sharing:) This made me smile!

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