Future Mrs. Foley · I'm getting married!

“Will you be my bride?”- The Proposal Story

On March 25, 2016, as we celebrated Good Friday and the Feast of the Annunciation, Timothy Foley asked me to marry him. Following the two greatest examples of obedience to God’s will, Christ and our Blessed Mother, I said “yes.” 

{Surprise, Timmy is co-writing with me! His parts will be in bold font and mine in regular font! }

If you’ve ever read my blog before now, then you know how much Timmy and I love Good Friday (if you’re new, first off Hi!, and second take a look at this post and this one). Good Friday, to us, represents everything that marriage is supposed to be. Marriage is the mirror of perfect love, the sacrificial love of Christ for His Bride, the Church, on the cross. Christ’s total gift of self on the cross constitutes the vocation of every spouse – it is the love that we are called to imitate. So it is no shock, really, that Timmy would pick this day to ask me if I would spend the rest of my life mimicking that sacrifice with him. 

I actually didn’t know that it was also the Feast of the Annunciation until that morning, and I excitedly texted Timmy about it because it is simply amazing. He, little did I know, already knew that. Mary has played a gigantic role in our relationship. We would not be where we are today in our faith lives, both individually and as a couple, if it wasn’t for her role and intercession in our relationship. So it is really fitting that our engagement would also occur on a Marian feast day – and it is perfect that it was the Feast of the Annunciation, when we celebrate the great humility and faith Mary displayed in saying “yes” to God’s will for the Incarnation. The Annunciation and Good Friday are the two defining moments of salvation history, and never could I have imagined that they would fall on the same day and that it would be this day that Timmy would ask me to also say yes to God’s will. 

Okay, okay, so here is how the day went:

The day before Good Friday I asked Timmy if we could pray the stations of the cross before the Good Friday liturgy, to which he said yes. He also, then, said that he wanted to go pray in our favorite chapel in the Basilica, called “Mary Queen of All Hearts” (I’ll explain why it’s our favorite in a bit!), and he wanted to pray a rosary in Mary’s Garden. Praying in our favorite chapel didn’t make me suspicious, we do that often, however going to Mary’s Garden did – while we have done this numerous times in the past it isn’t something I would think he would immediately think of nor had I mentioned anything about it. When I gave him a weird look he explained that I had said I wanted to see the Cherry Blossoms and he knew Mary’s Garden had them – so I thought to myself “okay, okay, not that weird.” Brooke was absolutely right to be suspicious of me wanting to pray in Mary’s Garden. Several hours later at about 1:00am on Friday March 25, I was pulling into the Basilica parking lot to finish my preparations. My roommate Barry was with me and I walked him through how I wanted everything to be set up in Mary’s Garden. I told Barry that Brooke and I would be coming to the garden at 7:00pm that night, just in time for sunset. When it actually came time for the proposal, Barry was going to have the help of our friends Ian and Mark to set everything up. My sister Meghan very generously offered to be our photographer. After our walkthrough, Barry and I didn’t get back to our house until after 3:00am, which did not bother me at all because I knew there was no way I was going to be able to sleep anyways.

Friday comes and we go to pray the stations. We went to Caldwell Chapel and it was completely empty, so it felt like we had our own private stations of the cross chapel and it was lovely. We prayed a stations of the cross for relationships, married couples and families that we’ve been using for the past three years and just love. In hindsight, praying with a reflection on the cross specifically for married couples was a really beautiful way to get our hearts in the right place for what was about to happen later in the day. And for me, the stations really helped drive home the significance of the conjunction of Good Friday and the Annunciation. Seeing the station of Jesus meeting Mary on the road to Calvary reallllly hit me. We finished in perfect time to go to the Good Friday liturgy, which was incredibly beautiful. Again, in hindsight, having the opportunity to venerate the cross before I said yes to taking mine up in the vocation of marriage, so spot on. 

After the liturgy, I start walking toward the Basilica to go pray in our favorite chapel. Timmy asks me where we are going and our conversation went something like this:
Timmy: “Where are you going?”
Me: “You said you wanted to pray in the Basilica?”
Timmy: “Oh, right, right…yeah, we can do that…”
Me: “I thought you wanted to do that? We don’t have to…”
Timmy: “no, no, I want to!”
Me: “Are you sure? Again, we don’t have to…”
Timmy: “yes, yes, lets go!”
This is when I realized I had made my first mistake, I had not thought through how I was going to keep Brooke busy from 4:30 until 7:00. If we don’t stay busy then Brooke will most likely change out of her dress, and I don’t think it’s anyone’s dream to be wearing pajamas in their engagement photos.

So I’m a little suspicious at this point because he was the one who said he wanted to go do this and now is acting like he doesn’t have a plan at all and is just doing whatever. Which, don’t get me wrong, I am the planner in the relationship so that isn’t totally uncommon, but something was off.

We get to the Basilica and their liturgy is still going on, so we sit outside under the Cherry Blossom walkway and just talk for a bit. All I remember is Timmy asking me “What are you thinking about?” And in my head I’m like, “That you’re being weird and oh my gosh what if you’re going to ask me to marry you,” but obviously I can’t say that, so I simply talk about the Cherry Blossoms over and over again. Honestly though, it was a really peaceful time to just sit and be with him. After about 20 minutes we go inside to check to see if the liturgy is over, its not…so we go back outside. I cannot explain how happy I was every time we were delayed. Each minute that we spent waiting got me another minute closer to sunset with Brooke still in her dress. As we’re waiting we decide to pray a Divine Mercy Chaplet, and by time we do that most everyone has cleared out of the Upper Church. We go back in, but there are still quite a few people around the chapel we wanted to pray in. I look at my watch and realize it’s only 5:00 and sunset isn’t for another two hours. Timmy then asks me if I want to just walk around, and I agree. I was 100% just trying to stall a little longer.

As we’re walking around the Basilica I quickly realize that Timmy is more or less just wandering and trying to make up things to talk about. This is accurate. We’re talking about our favorite chapels, favorite images of Mary, when the last time we did this was, different groups that come to the Basilica…literally anything and everything related to the Basilica. I began to take note of Brooke’s growing impatience as we wandered; this was my first clue that she was on to me. I realized that she probably thought that I was just too nervous to propose and was trying to push it off. However, realizing she was suspicious of a proposal came in very handy when we got to our favorite chapel. As much as I love the Basilica and love wandering around Churches, I was getting a little irritated because in my head I’m like, “What the heck are we doing? He doesn’t have a plan…we’re literally just wandering…”. We finally get back to our favorite chapel, Mary Queen of All Hearts and kneel down to pray.

{ side note, let me tell you why this chapel is our favorite: This chapel is dedicated to St. Louis De Montfort, who is one of the great saints who encouraged Marian Consecration. Above the image of Mary holding the baby Jesus is the inscription, “I am all yours O Jesus, and all I have is yours, through Mary your most holy Mother.” This inscription is typically shorted to “Totally yours,” or in Latin, “Totus Tuus.” You’ve probably noticed that this is what I sign my blog with! It is also how Timmy and I sign our letters to one another, or write on things we give to one another, etc. We started doing this after we did a Marian Consecration together and began very seriously surrendering our relationship into Mary’s hands. }

So we’re kneeling in this chapel, and I’m a little suspicious and thinking that this would be a very good spot for him to propose. I knew that she probably thought that I was going to propose, and would wait for me to make the first move. So I didn’t move for as long as possible. I decide, then, that I am not moving until he moves. If he is going to propose, I’ll wait and let him do whatever he has planned. About 5 minutes go by (we’re kneeling on concrete mind you) and he hasn’t moved. My plan is going great. At this point I’m praying to Mary to give him some courage if he is going to do this because my knees are hurting. He then stands up and tells me he just needs to stretch his knee.  Internally I’m freaking out and thinking stretch his knee or get down on it??? My knee actually just really hurt. But then he kneels back down and nothing happens. I decide that I’m going to finish my prayers and stand up and if he was planning on proposing he will have to figure it out from here. But alas, he stands up to and says he is ready to go. So we walk out, and I almost start to cry. I felt terrible when she told me later that she almost cried. If it helps, I wasn’t too far from tears myself, seeing as how after all of my efforts it was only 5:30. Almost immediately though, he says, “Don’t forget I still want to pray a rosary in Mary’s Garden later.” Hoping that she would get the hint and stay in her dress, however, she immediately says “okay well I’m probably going to change then”.

Me: “Oh okay, well what are you going to wear?”

Brooke: “I don’t know, probably jeans and a hoodie.”

My mouth actually dropped open. I was convinced she was just trying to make my life more difficult. I ended up saying I wanted to ask someone to take our picture when we got to Mary’s Garden so she should keep her dress on. I know that’s a stretch, but it was enough to convince her not to change out of her dress! However, the thought that everything was working out had barely entered my mind when I got a text saying Meghan was stuck in horrible traffic and wouldn’t be there until after 7:00. I felt as though a truck had hit me. It was incredibly important to me that we have pictures taken to capture this enormous moment in Brooke’s and my life together. However, I decided that living the moment was more important than waiting to take pictures in the dark, so I chose to go forward without a photographer. I texted Barry and told him that Meghan was going to be late and that I needed everyone to do the best they could and take pictures on their phones.

I was determined not to let the moment be ruined, after all they’re just pictures and I’m about to ask the love of my life to marry me. But just before Brooke and I left to go to Mary’s Garden I got a text from Ian that said, “there are two photographers here that just took someone’s engagement photos, we explained everything and they’re willing to stick around and do yours for free”. I could not believe it. God is truly too good to me.

So with the promise of photographers I was ready to walk Brooke over to the garden at exactly 7:00. The only thing that could have made it better was my sister…

Flash forward an hour and a half, we’re walking to Mary’s Garden. Timmy convinced me to stay in my nice dress by enticing me with random strangers taking our photo in front of the Cherry Blossoms and the possibility of us taking selfies. But as we are walking over, I am freezing, like shivering freezing, and so I’m walking as fast as humanly possible. Meanwhile, Timmy is walking as slow as humanly possible. At one point I’m pretty sure I actually asked him, “Can you walk any slower?” The reason I was walking so slowly is because as we were leaving Brooke’s dorm I saw Meghan’s car go flying past us towards Mary’s Garden, and I knew I needed to give her some time so that she could get to the garden before us.

We get to the hill overlooking Mary’s Garden and I see four figures sprint to get behind bushes. I wasn’t even mad, I was just happy Meghan was amongst the people sprinting to hide. Also it was pretty funny to watch Barry to dive to the ground, thinking that he was concealed by a bush, but in reality was still in full view of Brooke and me. At this point, I’m pretty positive its happening but I’m thinking “okay, maybe its some weird Easter egg hunt…you don’t know.” Yeah, because grown adults always have Easter egg hunts, right? Then we get to the entrance of Mary’s Garden and I see picture frames with photos of us from every year we’ve been best friends / dating, with roses and candles set up along the benches leading to the statue of Mary. I have to admit, Barry did an incredible job setting everything up exactly the way I wanted it! At the very end, in front of the statue of Mary, is an empty picture frame with a bouquet of roses in front of it. To really paint the picture, also imagine the sun setting, which is perfectly illuminating the fully bloomed Cherry Blossoms. Timmy then leads me to the spot in between the fountain and the statue of Mary and turns me to face him. He said exactly what I also imagined him saying, got down on one knee and asked me to marry him! I have never been so nervous in my entire life, even though I had a pretty good idea she would say yes, it’s hard to put into words the feeling of standing across from the person you are in love with and asking them to spend the rest of their life with you. I said yes, kissed him, let him put the ring on my finger (which I almost dropped because I was so nervous) and then yelled “WE’RE ENGAGED!” 

After Timmy stood up and kissed me again, three of his roommates, my best friend, Greta, and Meghan emerged from the bushes. Despite the fact that I saw them running for the bushes, I was still really shocked to see them. The professional photographers also emerged at this point – I had no idea that they had just agreed to do this not even 30 minutes before hand! We snapped a few photos with them and then a few with Meghan! Timmy and I talked through all the photos of us he had set up and just spent time with everyone there. Then, out of nowhere, Timmy’s brother (and my future brother-in-law!) Jimmy came walking up the hill to Mary’s Garden! He had spoken with Meghan earlier in the day and, on his way home from Baltimore with his wife, Molly, and daughter, found out where we’d be and stopped to see us! This was a huge shock to us and we were so happy to have another person to tell the good news to! 

And then we all went out for a drink to celebrate! 

We are so incredibly thankful for everyone who played a role in our engagement. To Timmy’s roommates – Barry, Ian and Mark – thank you so much for coming to CUA at 1:30 am on Thursday to scope out Mary’s  Garden and figure out how to set things up, for actually setting everything up on Friday, for waiting around for us to get there, and for celebrating with us! To Greta, thank you for being an amazing friend and being there to witness and celebrate this moment with us! And to Meghan, thank you for driving all the way up here to capture this for us and for celebrating with us afterwards! I can’t wait to be your sister-in-law! 

It meant so much to us that everyone came to support us and be a part of such an important day. Barry, Ian, Mark, and Greta did an incredible job setting everything up! And it’s safe to say that Meghan won the sister of the year award after she spent over five hours stuck in traffic so that she could photograph our big day! I could not think of a better way for Brooke and me to start our journey together!

To see the story in photos click here! And to see the professional photos click here!

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