Saturday, September 6, 2008

News from Ronald Leong...

To you our dear family, friends, classmates, colleagues and acquaintances who have become a significant part of our lives, I wish to share our engagement story.

The Planning

I wanted to propose to Charlotte in a place memorable to us and where we could be alone just the two of us, so that we could really cherish the moment together and I would be able express what my heart truly feels without being conscious or distracted. I had always have in mind Madinat Jumeirah because we had one of our first dates in Dubai there and we had always been captivated by the clear, clean waters surrounding Madinat where abras (or small motor-powered boats made of hardwood) silently glide through. The only thing is it is a quite touristy place, so the "alone just the two of us" will never be. Another option I had in mind was Burj Al Arab obviously because of its splendor and stature, but it would have been an obvious give-away to Cha. A beach proposal over the weekend would have been romantic but Dubai temperature outdoors in August is still very hot to permit it.

So to further my options, I had invited her to our first-time dinners in two "prospect" restaurants during the last week, my hopes high that one might provide the romantic ambience. But they are also always packed with customers, which is again another setback. It turned out that these somehow helped in surprising her because on the night I proposed, she thought it was just going to be another one of those dinners.

The Engagement Ring

My search for Charlotte ’s engagement ring has been a challenge and fun at the same time. I have been researching, inquiring and canvassing for over a month together with my colleague who was also searching for an e-ring. We have gone from the high-end stores that have ridiculously high prices to local stores that offer very affordable prices and even to one of the local jewelry factory in the Gold & Diamond Park where they demonstrated how an e-ring is made. There are simply so many choices available, but ultimately I decided on one that is elegant but not too flashy, one that I earnestly believe she would always be proud wearing and most importantly, one that truly symbolizes my love and commitment to her. Because Cha has been, is and will always be very special to me, I chose for her a platinum De Beers solitaire ring.

The Proposal

August 27th was our 129th monthsary and by then I was so ready to ask Cha the magic question. Yet somehow, part of me is saying to let this day be special on its own.

The following day (28.08.2008), Thursday, the last working day before weekend, St. Augustine ’s Feast Day, our special day because she said yes to be my girlfriend on a Thursday, were all very good reasons to propose on this day. By this time I have decided to propose in Madinat Jumeirah, and I have made reservations in Al Qasr so we could have the opportunity to ride the abra. I was picturing the scene from the movie “My Best Friends Wedding” where the boat they were riding passed under the bridge and “the moment passed by”. I knew the abra ride going to Al Qasr would also pass under a bridge and my plan was when we see the bridge ahead, I would remind her of the movie scene and before the abra could pass under the bridge, I would have already gotten down to one knee and asked her to marry me. But as in life, there were some unexpected twists and turns – the abra driver was also Pinoy and he did not waste time asking us questions and telling his life story throughout the trip; the abra was moving faster than I expected and it might not be absolutely safe when I get on one knee (and I really intended to do so when I propose); and the scene of the lighted villas and hotels we were passing through were in itself a majestic beauty to behold.

Before we went to dinner, we strolled around the area and happen upon a wooden footbridge where the view to the picturesque Burj Al Arab by night is splendid. Normally, only hotel guests are allowed to go through this footbridge and there is always a security man manning the entrance, but this time there was none. So we took some pictures with the Burj as the background and I almost did propose during this time. But I realized we were already running a little late for our dinner reservations.

Our dinner was quite wonderful; our conversation was light and casual, a sign that she was not expecting anything grand to happen that night. I was a little worried though about the e-ring being left in her chair whenever we get food from the buffet table. You might be wondering how I was carrying around the e-ring. Well, I had put it inside a sunglasses box and I put the sunglasses box in a “Beyond Optics” paper bag, so when she asked what’s in the bag, I just nonchalantly told her I bought a new pair of sunglasses.

After dinner, we decided to stroll outside and once again enjoy the breath-taking view. We had reached again the wooden footbridge and were pleasantly surprised that there was still no security man. At that moment, I took it as a sign that in the absence of the security man, we are meant cross the other side of the bridge. On the other side we were amazed by the water of the swimming pool which was so still and peaceful. We strolled further to the beach where we could hear the gentle waves and breeze, then retraced our steps to check a gazebo-like place full of beautiful, colorful lights. When we got there, on the floor was a giant chessboard and the chess pieces were waist-level. There were several comfortable benches on the sides but surprisingly we were alone at this time. I felt like that place was reserved for us that night and everything was starting to fall into place.

Charlotte was sitting on the bench busy taking pictures when I approached her, knelt down on one knee, gave her the ring, sincerely told her I love her very much and asked her to marry me. The moment she said “Yes!” I was the happiest person on earth.

I got this message from Ronald Rey B. Leong last September 1, 2008. Watch out for their Vatican Wedding this coming 2009. If you can afford, then automatically you are invited... hehehe :) joke! Start saving about AED 1,000.00 per month now!

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