Here’s the story as Andrea thinks it is: she’s flying from New York, where she lives, to Seattle, where she grew up, for her mother’s retirement party. Her boyfriend Carlos really wants to go, as he loves loves loves her family, but he just can’t tear himself away from work. So Andrea and her mom are to arrive at 6 at the Columbia Tower in downtown Seattle before the dinner starts. And woah, there’s a photographer there who wants to take her mom’s picture for the newsletter. And then her mom has to go give a quick interview, but none of the family is there yet, so Andrea has to wait in this nice little private dining room to the side while mom is being interviewed and the larger room is being set up. And this weird photographer sure is bossy, trying to keep her in the room by herself… What could be taking the family so long to park the car??!!

Here’s the story as Carlos knows it, and what is really going on: He wants to propose to his girlfriend, who he just thinks is the bees knees. For months, he and her family has been lying like crazy to get Andrea to fly across the country so that he can propose to her in her home town. He flew to Seattle right before she did, nearly running into her at the airport since his flight was delayed, and was lucky enough to be able to stay with Andrea’s sister while taking care of all the final details. He has the whole Columbia Tower staff in on it- there is even a sign at the entrance to the Tower Club that states what ballroom the “United Airlines Retirement Dinner” is in! With months of careful planning, and a whole lotta nervousness, Carlos finally enters the room.

Andrea is quite confused about the whole thing- first to see her boyfriend there. Then, that he’s proposing to her during her mom’s retirement dinner. Then, that there is no retirement dinner and the family really isn’t looking for parking, and finally, that yes, she got all dressed up just for this. There is no dinner, no retirement even. Just a guy asking his girl to marry him, holding a stunning and sparkling marquis diamond ring, what she’s always dreamed of.

Here’s a slide show of the moments leading up to the big one, a mini impromptu engagement session right afterward when they’re still all aglow with happiness, and finally, the brunch with the whole fam the next morning.

Thank you Carlos and Andrea, so so much, for letting me document this incredible moment for you. It was so exciting being in on the big secret and watching the events unfold, especially Andrea’s confusion at it all. And I’ll never forget what you said, Andrea, when Carlos pulled out your ring, “Where DID you get THAT?!”

Because, alas, Andrea does work at Tiffany’s, so she KNOWS rings 😉