Having successfully planned and executed a completely unexpected secret engagement, Andrew “Quack” Montgomery is a master secret proposer. Even as Andrew and Abbie walked up to the gazebo where he was to ask her to marry him, she didn’t even realize what was happening until he was right about to hit a knee. From initial plotting till the final moment, Andrew had planned out complete and total secrecy. I asked him to share with me some tips on how he accomplished this, and in typical Andrew fashion, he went COMPLETELY above and beyond, giving me intricate detail about his process. Below I have copied and pasted this for you to read, giving my own summarized bolded bullet points at the end of each paragraph.
“There are many portions of planning and prepping an engagement that require covert operations, much like a secret agent. Though I am much more closely correlated to Steve Carell’s spy character in “Get Smart” than James Bond, this panned out well for me. The first step that I decided to make was TALK TO HER ABOUT IT. I didn’t want to completely surprise her in the sense that she needed time to really ponder it.
Make sure she wants to marry you.
“So, after that happened and realizing our end goal of marriage was the same, I did a lot of prayer and intentionally looked at who we both are and how we were similar/complimented each other. This was done while we were apart for the summer (I was working and she was at StudentLife). Finally I pulled the trigger mentally, and decided that I want to ask her to marry me.
Before diving into engagement, make sure that you align on the things that are most important to you. Some examples questions include: Do you want kids? What kind of lifestyle do you imagine having in the future?
“I wanted to talk to her father beforehand and ask for his approval, so I started looking for a good time to visit without her being there. Luckily, she needed a ride home from the airport in ATL and I volunteered to pick her and her friend up. Before meeting them, I went to meet with her dad.
Find a time when you can swing by to talk it over with her parents. You may have to get creative to make this happen.
“After being given his blessing, I started to look for rings. I found one that really matched what I knew she liked and bought it. (Side note: I ordered it and it was dropped off by FedEx to my house in Madison less than an hour before Abbie arrived at my house for a couple days to visit. Talk about stressful. AND delete your browsing history after ring shopping online or all of your ads will be about rings) OH, also finding out a ring size is almost impossible. Try using her friends/mom/whatever else.
Make sure to cover your bases. Delete your web history after you finish ring shopping so advertisements don’t pop up. Also, employ friends and family to sneakily figure out her ring size.
“Once the holiday ended, I began to scheme with two of Abbie’s best friends about how I should surprise her. Keep in mind, the only people who knew were my parents, her parents, two friends, and me. (Do not make the mistake of telling a bunch of people! It’s really hard because excitement but you can wait!!)
Only tell people who need to know. It’ll be tough, but otherwise word spreads REAL quick.
“We all liked the idea of proposing in the park (TownCreek) where we had many dates and loved to walk/swing at. So an interesting part about this is figuring out who all she will want to celebrate with that night. I knew Abbie would want to see her family and friends, but not be too overwhelmed. So, I coordinated with her and my family to make to Auburn that night just in time for all of us to eat dinner together at our favorite restaurant, The Hound. I had to be very sneaky in calling/texting her family and the two friends that were helping to coordinate the upcoming events, so I made sure to keep my phone on airplane mode when I was around her so that she wouldn’t accidentally see a text that would ruin the surprise.
Even the best of plans can be ruined by a random text. Make sure to block all attempts my Murphy’s Law to ruin a well planned surprise.
“Monday Once I set a date (Thursday, Jan the 19th) and told her family when to be there, I went into more logistics-planning mode. Lucky for me, we have a running date night on Thursdays (Called Crazy Thursdays – cute side story) so she wouldn’t assume anything was weird about going on a date then. If I had told her to dress extra fancy or something, she may have guessed so this was the best plan. Then also she had been saying how we spend too much money on going on dates every week. I thought about it and a light went off in my head. I volunteered to do a FREE date night; listing off our agenda of walking (free), the museum (free) ((my backup rain plan was proposing in here so double win)), me cooking (pancakes – free), and then Netflix (kinda free?). Another covert portion of this is that i wanted to propose near sunset time and she doesn’t get out of class until 4:45. With rain looking decently likely on the radar, I told her that I probably should pick her up directly from campus for our walk. (This meant picking her up in the morning from apt and taking her to campus. Stressful but fine.) This would mean that when I took her to campus, she would already be ready for date night aka looking pretty for surprise later on instead of needing to go home and prep and mess up the night’s timeline. (Another side story, I had rolled my ankle the week earlier and knew I was going to propose in the park. So I lied and told Abbie that walking on it helped with swelling so we walked the previous 3 days before I proposed – further making it just seem like a normal walk.)
In order for her to suspect NOTHING, you must make everything seem as completely natural as possible! If you must endure a little physical plan in preparation for the date, know that it will make a fantastic story later!
“Tuesday I began to talk with her two friends that helped me plan everything about getting people to help me setup the lights/pictures/and take pictures. Once knowing what I needed, I talked to a few others. Know who you’re talking with. If they can’t keep a secret, wait until absolutely necessary. So we got a small group of people set to help with that. (Realize that still, only a very small portion of people knew about this. This is the main reason I think she had no idea.) I also told her roommates on Tuesday. Wednesday With proposing the next day, I needed to get the word out to people so that they could plan on celebrating the next night for a little bit at a small party. I waited until after 8th Street (WAY too many people there to ruin that) and then sent the Facebook group (make sure its private) out.
Only involve as few people as possible and make sure all groups are invite only.
“Thursday I played it cool. Picked her up. Took her to campus. Went to my own class. Then went to the park and checked that everything was ready. (Changed shirts in the parking lot). Went to pick her up and took her the park.