Proposal season is upon us, so if you think an engagement is in your near future…consider not-so-subtly forwarding this article to your man. It’s an epic Jardin des Tuileries proposal with tips from Ryan, the most romantic groom-to-be you’ll ever meet. He surprised his love, Marianne of The M.A. Times with a moment she’ll always remember and we’re thrilled to officially kick off this wedding journey with them.
6 Proposal Tips from a Real Groom
Know where she wants to go or places that she loves
Marianne obsesses over Paris. Her books and decor screamed Francophile! I started planning a long time before to make sure that I could bring her here for the first time. Trips are expensive, so plan far enough in advance and that way you can pivot or adjust if anything comes up. It’s important to make the occasion one to remember…you can only propose to her once!
Talk to her family
I spoke with her Dad and got his permission several months before. Though Marianne and I knew that we wanted to be together and this is more of a gesture, I’d still recommend this step not only to show respect but because they can offer very useful advice and provide extra hands in planning the proposal. After I proposed to Marianne in Paris, we were having lunch and I handed her hand-written letters from our parents and that evening we had a planned Skype call to celebrate with family. The proposal should be special and you want to make it memorable not just for her but for those close to her too.
Know the style of ring she wants
Girls want you to know what jewelry they want, you just have to listen and pay attention. Some girls don’t want a diamond, some girls like silver, platinum and white gold over yellow or rose gold. Some girls want a simple ring, other want one that is more detailed. I knew she wanted something that was vintage inspired. That’s how I landed on Heidi Gibson’s site. Amazing hand-made Art Deco rings that any girl would die for. Don’t just go out and buy a ring (she’ll love it either way), make sure the ring speaks to her personality and personal style because she will be wearing this FOREVER.
Commission the help of others
Our friend Tyrone lives in France and helped me scout out the perfect place to propose to Marianne in Paris. I had no idea what the place would look like since I’d never been there, let alone whether the leaves would still be on the trees. Tyrone checked it out beforehand to make sure. For Marianne’s ring, I wanted to choose the center stone locally so I spoke with my friend Tessa who works in a jewelry shop and she set aside the best oval stones she could find. After choosing the stone, Heidi shipped me the finished ring and I had it set here in Raleigh. People are always willing to help as long as you ask!
Do NOT be predictable
I knew the key to surprising her was getting someone involved that she wouldn’t expect. I worked with Anthropologie and our local Anthropologie in Durham, NC to concoct a story to get Marianne to show up at the designated location at the right time. She thought she was showing up for a photo shoot. I looped in the photographer that I hired (Tala Nicole) and Tala emailed Marianne the same details that were planned with Anthropologie to close the loop.
Listen to her (the perfect proposal is in the details)
I didn’t just buy a ring and propose in Paris. I knew she didn’t want a hotel so I chose a HomeAway apartment in Le Marais. I knew the style of ring she would want, and the garden we got engaged was one she had talked about numerous times (Jardin des Tuileries). She was wearing a dress that I got for her that she had previously mentioned she loved from Anthropologie. Marianne read the letters from our parents at a restaurant I knew she wanted to go to (Carette). Upon returning to our apartment, there was a bottle of her favorite champagne (Veuve Clicquot) and a framed photo of us on the table (done with help of the property management company). We ended the night with a planned Skype video chat with her sister and sister’s husband, and parents. The day doesn’t have to be elaborate, but make sure that you listen to her and do things that show her that you listen. A girl that wants to marry you will drop all of the clues you need to pull off the perfect proposal, so absolutely take the things she says to heart.
“This will help you pull off a proposal she will love
and also prepare you to be the husband she deserves.”
About the proposal from Ryan… Since I had met Marianne in 2012, she had always dreamed of Paris. Everything in her apartment was French-inspired, and even her coffee table books were about Paris. I come from a camp that believes life is too short to wish and dream, and that you should always aspire to make dreams come true. I knew Paris was the perfect place for us to start our love story, so I cashed in my credit card miles to buy two tickets.
A self-confessed Francophile, Marianne already knew ALL the places she wanted to go in Paris, but I wanted to choose a surprise location for the proposal. The Pavilion de Marsan in the Tuileries Garden at the Louvre Palace was a place I had seen online when planning our trip and I loved the way it looked. As a photographer, I always capture surroundings that interest or inspire me. It was important to me to have this moment captured too, so I began researching photographers in Paris. Standards held high, I was thrilled when I came across Tala Nicole Photography. I sent her pictures of Marianne, introducing myself and my plan, and she responded almost immediately, saying she would LOVE to shoot my proposal. I also arranged with Tala to shoot our engagement photos following the proposal at several of Marianne’s favorite spots in Paris.
I told Marianne that I would take care of our accommodations and I wanted it to be a surprise. I knew she wanted to be in Le Marais, and had dreamed of lavish details like hardwood floors and a balcony with a view. I had booked several beach houses and cabins through HomeAway in the past, and I knew I wanted to stay in something like that…a home away from home, but I wasn’t sure if they offered properties overseas. Luckily it turned out HomeAway had several thousand properties to choose from in Paris; which eased my hunt for the perfect property. I was able to narrow down properties in Paris by the location, the number of bedrooms, number of guests, etc. After sorting through hundreds of options, I found a property in Le Marias that was that not only 2 minutes walk to the Metro stop, but also had a wrap-around corner balcony with the most amazing view. Without hesitation, I booked.
Getting Marianne to Paris was easy (I mean, who wouldn’t jump on a plane if handed a ticket?), but how was I supposed to make sure she showed up to a given location and not get suspicious of a photographer on the grounds? Marianne partners with our local Anthropologie at The Streets at Southpoint, and after she helped host a fashion show with them, I got the idea to use Anthropologie as a way to get her to show up. With the help of Ashley and Carey at the SouthPoint Anthropologie and Kelly at the corporate office, we began crafting a master plan. I had Carey text Marianne to say that home office reached out and wanted to shoot with some of their blogger partners who had upcoming travel plans, and Marianne (as I suspected) replied that she’d love to do a shoot in Paris. Anthropologie told Marianne if she would be in Paris with a male friend to have him wear a suit, as he may be needed for some of the shots. I feigned reluctance to the idea, but eventually “caved.” To top it off, I worked with Carey to make sure Marianne had her dream Anthropologie dress to wear that day. Every little detail was coming together.
Finally, on Wednesday, November 2nd at 7:30 AM CEST, the time was finally here! We headed over to the Tuileries Garden to meet Tala and started shooting; just Marianne at first and then Tala told me to step in. While we were shooting, I turned to Marianne and started saying sweet things to her, but she tried to ignore me because she thought she needed to remain professional for the shoot. She seriously had no idea. I got her attention though and turned her toward me, grabbing both of her hands. In that moment she realized what was happening, and couldn’t hold back tears. The next little bit was a blur, and the only thing I can remember clearly after I asked and she said ‘YES,’ was that, in all my excitement, I couldn’t figure out which finger the ring went on! After soaking in our engagement at the Tuileries, we continued our journey around Marianne’s favorite places in Paris: the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, Pont Alexandre III, Palais Royal and then the Trocadero view of the Eiffel Tower. This wasn’t just important to me so that we would have photos together but each spot and each photo helped to capture the feeling of that day.
The day wasn’t over after parting with Tala. I had both of our parents write letters to Marianne which were tucked in my jacket pocket. When we arrived at Carette for a late breakfast, I gave Marianne the letters from our parents – cue the waterworks again! We savored our tea and pastries and then headed back to the HomeAway. While we were out, I had our property manager set up a framed photo of us and a bottle of champagne so we could come back and celebrate our engagement. I’d also coordinated with Marianne’s family beforehand a time to do a Skype call so that they could be a part of the excitement. It was the perfect ending to the most perfect day. And that’s how Marianne Verrilli made my dreams come true and became my fiancé.
Photography: Tala Nicole | Engagement Ring: Heidi Gibson | Apartment: Marais HomeAway Apartment | Bride-To-Be: Marianne Verrilli | Center Stone: Diamonds Direct | Groom-To-Be: Ryan Sides | Housing: Rutherford Private Estate | Ring Box: The Mrs Box