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Jim C.

About a year and a half into our relationship, I was getting worried about how exactly to do the proposal. I was first planning on proposing while we were on a cruise for our two- year anniversary. As we started getting closer, my instincts told me that Kate would be expecting it during the cruise so I decided to hold off. I wanted the proposal to be out of left field, so I paid particular attention to emphasizing the idea that we were going to date for a while before getting engaged to make it seem like it was never going to happen.

So, we went on the cruise and had a blast. It was there that the real plan started taking shape. While on the cruise, I wanted to make sure we went shopping in Grand Cayman to see some of the jewelry shops that were there. My goal was to gauge her level of interest in some of the particular stones that were available. One particular stone that we discovered while on the cruise was the rare Alexandrite. As a result of the rarity of the stone, a person that owns one is truly a "one in a million " owner. The story of the stone is really unique, so it immediately resonated with me.

Once we returned home, I immediately began my search for a one carat or larger Alexandrite for the engagement ring, which I ended up finding at an estate auction. I made the plan to propose on our NYC and DC trip in June. On the run up to our trip, just about everyone knew about the proposal so I had all of my bases covered. Like a good Catholic, I got permission from Kate's father. The original plan was to propose on the balloon ride, but our pilot called the night before and said that it would be a rainout so we couldn't fly that day.

I hadn't thought of a plan B so I had to scramble for ideas. I thought of proposing at Rockefeller Center, but I wasn't entirely satisfied with the idea. By the time we had gotten there, Kate convinced me that we should try to book the balloon flight for the next day. I'm not really a fan of heights, but I didn't think much of being up in a balloon. The ride itself was about an hour long, and I told the pilot to let me know when we had reached the maximum height so I could pop the question there. However, the ride was extremely shaky, and by the time we had reached maximum height, we were over a prison. As we were nearing the end of the ride, I popped the question and upon receiving the answer, I resumed my tight grip on the side of the balloon. Considering the level of angst involved during the flight, it was ironic that we had more trouble landing than we did in the air. We ended up landing in someone's backyard and scraping the side of their house. The best news was that I had suckered Kate into saying yes, so I'd say that it was an overall successful flight.

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