Marriage Proposal For The Uncreative: How I Kept It Simple But Managed To Impress

There’s only one topic appropriate to follow my last wedding post: the proposal. That’s the moment that will be remembered with the engagement ring’s presentation so it was crucial to get right. I wanted to create a good memory for Tina of how the engagement ring got on her finger, and I wanted to propose in a way that was “us”. That meant it had to be memorable, but not cheesy or over the-top.

This is what happens when you try to be too creative with your wedding proposal

One tradition I thought necessary was to talk to Tina’s family before I asked for her hand in marriage. Guys, let’s not let this tradition die. Be respectful and ask if it’s okay to become part of your girl’s family. I did so by arranging a meeting between Tina’s older sister, her parents, and I for tea at a downtown Chicago hotel. The plan was to ask their blessing to marry Tina at the meeting. One catch: I had to ask in Korean (their language) because asking in English wouldn’t have the same impact.

I’m terrible with foreign language. Luckily I have a buddy whose lady is a native Korean and fluent English speaker. They are close friends that I knew I could count on to give me a translation I could trust. So I put together a few statements in English that were simple, sincere, and to the point. Then I asked Marc and Young to help me translate. Young translated each statement into respectful Korean and wrote it out in phonetics for me. Then she recorded each statement on my iPhone so I could practice with proper pronunciation. That was everything I needed to get my words out well. Thank God for their help!

Tina’s family knew beforehand why I asked them to tea. Even so I do believe they appreciated the gesture. Certainly they were stunned when I pulled out my practice sheet and began speaking formal Korean (I didn’t dare try to memorize). I don’t think I’ve seen Tina’s father smile as much as he did then. The pressure was off once I got through my phrases. I didn’t mangle too many words and they were happy for Tina & I. Nice words were exchanged.

By the time I arrived at Tina’s place she had the scoop on the meeting from her sister. What can I say? She was impressed with my Korean! Before I forgot how to say everything I read to Tina what I said to her parents. She cried. I was relieved. I wrote the date on my practice sheet and gave it to her as a keepsake. After that there was only one thing left to do.

At that point I  wasn’t sure how I would propose, but I did know when. I wanted to do it that weekend. When Saturday rolled around I put the engagement ring in my shirt pocket and waited for the right moment. When that moment came I whipped out the ring, said the few sweet words I wanted to say (in English), and waited for a reply. I got a yes.

Anticlimactic? Perhaps a little. The fact is our engagement memory is not only about my words to Tina but also my words to her family, all of which were about her. Little did I know how much my attempt at simple Korean would mean. Thankfully all went well, we’re happy, and Tina has a nice ring with a good story to tell.

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