How We Met
September 2, 2012
On sophomore move-in day at Northeastern, our new neighbors were playing music with their door open. My roommates thought they seemed fun and suggested we go over and meet them. I tagged along, and we were introduced to Shane and his four roommates. That fall we all become close friends. Between studying in the library, movie nights, and going to parties together, we spent a lot of time together as a group. By the time the semester was over, Shane apparently liked me a lot and was trying to give me the signs that he was into me. Unfortunately, his "signs" were really subtle, and I was clueless about his feelings.
When January rolled around and we all came back to campus, Shane invited us all to his parents’ ski house in New Hampshire. Shane drove half the group in one car while his brothers Josh and Matt drove the other half. I ended up in Josh and Matt’s car and talked their ear off the entire drive to New Hampshire (which was over three hours in traffic on a Friday night)... they still make fun of me today for how chatty I was on that car ride. Eventually we all arrived in New Hampshire, met Shane's parents, and the weekend began.
Immediately I noticed something different about Shane when he was with his family. He completely lit up when he was around them. It was obvious how much they all loved being together; it was like they just thrived in each other's presence. Over the next few days I started to have a huge crush on Shane. While we were skiing, I even would try to get to the bottom of the trail at just the right time so that I would end up on the same chairlift as Shane. The last day skiing, I was completely exhausted and went home early with Shane’s mom. We had just missed the bus, so while we were waiting for the next one we started talking. It turned into a pretty deep, heartfelt conversation, which of course made me grow to appreciate Shane and his family even more. That night before we all turned in to go to bed, Shane, being the gentleman that he is, asked if he could kiss me. If I remember correctly, I think I nervously laughed a little bit because I was so surprised that he asked (but of course I said yes, and we had our first kiss). Looking back on it, it is so fitting that Shane's family is what brought out the spark in him that brought us together. Even now, Shane is the best version of himself when he is surrounded by family.
The next day we all went home and I found myself really sad to say goodbye to Shane (even though he literally lived in the apartment next to mine). We spent the next couple of weeks spending every day together: walking to campus, grabbing coffee before class, studying, starting a TV series together, whenever there was any free time we spent it together. On Valentine’s day we got back from campus pretty late and turned on the TV in Shane's apartment. I told Shane that my mom had recently been asking me a lot about him (if you know my mom, you know she is the queen of asking questions). My mom had asked if Shane was my boyfriend, and I remember telling her "he's not not my boyfriend." After I told him this, Shane smiled and asked, "Well what did you really want to tell her? Do you want to be my girlfriend?" Immediately I thought it was too cliché to have this relationship milestone happen on Valentine's Day, so I told him to ask me again at midnight. At 12:00 on the dot Shane asked again, and on that day, February 15, 2013, we officially became a couple.
December 24, 2016
I always knew I wanted to propose to Ellen surrounded by family. After we moved to New York, the opportunities to see our family became few and far between. The holidays were a perfect time to propose.
I spent the month leading up to Christmas having conversations with the jeweler behind Ellen’s back. We went back and forth through the design process, choosing the cut, the setting and many other details. After about the 15th iteration, I had created the perfect ring. It fit Ellen’s personality and style – elegant, simple and stunning.
On the Thursday before Christmas, I met my mom, dad and two brothers at the jewelry store to pick-up the ring. The next few days were a blur of sleepless nights leading up to the big day. On Christmas Eve, my family went to the Patriots game (with Ellen!) and watched the eventual Super Bowl Champs put a beat down on the Jets. To this day, I still can’t believe that we were all able to keep the secret from Ellen.
After the game, Ellen and I drove to Ellen’s uncle’s house to meet her family for Christmas Eve dinner. When we got there, Ellen’s cousin offered us a warm shower (we were both cold and wet from the weather at the game). Given that I knew what was going to unfold later that evening, I jumped at the opportunity and suggested that Ellen do the same. Ellen declined, saying that she didn’t need to shower or do her makeup because we were just having dinner with her family, or so she thought…
The Deninger family tradition is to have a Seven Fishes dinner on Christmas Eve. Little did I know, this meant that there was no “sit down” meal and that the food would come out in waves as people mingled throughout the night. My original plan to make a toast at the dinner table was shot. I started to get nervous. Would there be a natural time to propose? Would there be a lull in the evening for me to take advantage of? Would I have a random jolt of courage that would propel me to ask the biggest question of my life? The answer to all of these questions was… no. I kept telling myself “Wait 5 minutes, maybe there will be a perfect time.” The problem was, I kept that up for a few hours. Waiting for a “better” time. Towards the end of the night, I got a text from my dad. It read: “Just do it already”. That was the kick I needed.
I ran into the spare bedroom where I was hiding the ring, tossed it in my pocket and came back to the kitchen. The 20 or so people at dinner that night were scattered around the house. I had no idea how I was going to get everyone’s attention. I did the one thing I’m good at, I asked Ellen for help. She then did one of the many things she’s good at, she told me to do it myself. Back to square one. I proceeded to awkwardly walk around the house telling her family that I wanted to make a toast and that they should gather in the living room. Everyone gave me a hard time about it, but eventually I was able to herd them all into the living room.
I did a quick scan to make sure everyone was there, and then began. Surrounded by Ellen’s aunts and uncles, grandparents, cousins, parents, and brother I raised my glass and toasted family.
I then reached into my pocket. Ellen heard me say, “and with that being said…” and she immediately burst into tears. I hadn’t even asked her to marry me yet, and she was already standing in a puddle. I slowly got on one knee and asked Ellen to marry me. I pulled the ring out of the box and put it on her finger.