Proposal in Central Park: Congratulations Erica and Matt!

Matt surprised Erica with a romantic proposal in Central Park. Details including a rain backup plan, a birthday candle wish, a knee drop, and two surprise photo shoots are all below!

bethesda terrace central park

Matt and Erica are both single parents with very busy schedules, but were able to find each other online. They met for a round of chip and putt golf back on September 15th. Matt shares, “We both truly experienced love at first sight. It was the perfect day with a crystal blue sky offset by a soft breeze. We also actually had the entire course to ourselves. Since we were casual, we could just be ourselves. We were at ease (well, as far as first dates go). We had a total blast! We laughed just about every step of the way (and gazed quite a bit too). Everything was as it should be. And, after walking Erica to her car, I capped the date by giving her a lavender rose I’d stowed in my car.

Everything since that day and the proposal a few weeks back has been all we could possibly hope for. We flat-out love being together. My son Jake (16) and her daughter Greta (12) get along great too. We’re really lucky.

Now, fast-forward to April 22nd – Earth Day! I’d been planning the engagement for weeks. It was Erica’s birthday that following Tuesday, so I had the perfect cover for a special weekend in NYC. As it happens – up until then – neither of us were very familiar with “The City.” I got show tickets and booked the hotel some weeks in advance as well as made reservations for a special restaurant.

The one detail I hadn’t pinned down up until the day before was finding the right photographer to capture the moment. I corresponded and spoke with no less than 10 photographers. The options were all over the place. I didn’t get to speak with Jessica until late in the day, but it’s an absolute fact that I was hoping she’d be the one that came through. For one, I pretty much set my sights on proposing in Central Park and liked that she was close by. But, more than that, I did take notice of the sincerity in her voice when I left a message and then I really connected with how she presented so genuinely on the website. Everything fell into place late in the day with her being the final part of my big plans.”

There were a number of reasons why I wanted to go with the park, not the least of which that doing it at the restaurant wasn’t original enough and that I probably wouldn’t hold out having a ring in my pocket while waiting to do it at some point before, during or after our 8pm show. It was looking to be a nice day and I totally had set my sights on the image of leaning forward and having my knee on the back of a rowboat following the reservation I’d made at The Boathouse restaurant just before.

Jess was awesome in helping with the details. She actually sent me a map about how to get into that part of the park with a mark on it where she’d be standing in proximity to the boat and right down to how I’d angle the boat to get the best shot. That was it. I was ready. Everything was set. Then, to my near disbelief, it turned out to be a rainy day. So there I was, throughout brunch, looking out the window at all the rowboats lined up along the pond – not being rowed – and realizing my main plan washed-out right down the drain. All that planning and I’m suddenly coming up empty. Needless to say I was feeling a bit discouraged. Ok, I was totally sick to my stomach. But the one thing I knew is that I wasn’t going to let this stop me. This is when I had decided to do it and it was going to go down one way or another.

I found the opportunity to text Jess and try to work out Plan B. Actually, there were more than a few texts and emails throughout lunch while struggling to keep Erica clueless. Then I actually was able to sneak a quick call with Jess, which ironically led to the best option among all the others I’d painstakingly researched and arranged. She directed me to the Bethesda Terrace on the other side of the pond. I’d never been there. We worked it out that Jess would be wearing a red scarf so I’d recognize her and that she’d be standing where she thought would be the perfect spot to lead Erica. It was.

There – by that iconic stone railing and the arches a few feet behind her with the drizzle and fountain for ambiance – I turned to face Erica under her umbrella, still holding her other hand. She felt so right. I eased into the moment by telling her that I was wondering what it was she’d wished for when blowing out her birthday candle in the dessert I’d arranged minutes before at The Boathouse.

She looked at me almost shyly and said something along the lines of wishes told don’t come true. I asked her to try me and she admitted that she’d like to be my wife someday. It was then I looked more deeply into her eyes than ever before. I said that sometimes told wishes do come true. I was more in the moment than ever. I gave her a comforting smile and eased my right knee down to the ground. I had her.

She, of course, knew what was happening but somehow couldn’t quite process it at first. Perfectly confused, she softly asked, “This is it?” and I confidently replied, “This is it.” I think her saying “Oh my God” was somewhere in there too. The box remained hidden, clasped in my right hand while I took my time telling Erica how much I love her and why and that it would make me the happiest man on Earth to spend the rest of our lives together. I savored every moment knowing she was now doing the same. Here’s where I think we’ll leave words to be told by Jess’s work.

Of course, it wasn’t enough for me to just pop the question. I’d spent months working on a poem about our first date titled, “Foretold by a Lavender Rose.” It ended up being 22 verses, so that gave Jess plenty of additional time to photograph the moment. It wasn’t until about 2/3rds of the way through my reading that Erica later admitted noticing a photographer that seemed to have her sights on us. I honestly couldn’t have planned it any better, except for one last thing …

That Sunday turned out to be a perfect day for us to be back in Central Park to enjoy being on the grass field across from Tavern on the Green where we had brunch. I’d planned for us to make our way to the scene of the Fountain Terrace to reflect on the day before AND over to the rowboats which were now in full row. It wasn’t until about halfway through the hour that Erica noticed I’d teamed up again with Jess to do a second shoot of us in the boat this time.

I admit that I kind of needed the fulfillment of seeing through at least part of my original plan. It wasn’t quite the same without a knee to drop, but we definitely got some amazing shots with double thanks to Jess for capturing these moments we’ll cherish forever. She actually sent us an advance copy of our special moment, which we posted online. It got well over 1,000 “likes” and took us the entire train ride home to simply “like” the more than 500 comments we’d already received.

central park row boat central park row boat

Matt says, “Of course, everyone is eager to know when that next big day will be. Our current answer is that it will happen on a beach somewhere, sometime in 2018. For now, we’re fully enjoying simply being engaged.”

Congratulations, you two!

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