Our Engagement Story


What’s up everyone!? My name is John Michael, I’m Lauren’s fiancé. I help out behind the scenes on occasion with Plan With Laur. Lauren must trust me a lot (re: too much) to turn the blog over like this and let me loose. I could say anything – anything – about her and us and our story. But I promised to behave, and I promised to share the story of our engagement with you. Specifically, I promised to share the plan behind our engagement. Because if there’s anything I’ve learned in six years with Lauren, it’s how to make a plan.

Lauren and I met in college in 2015. She joined the Student Activities Board, an organization where I was a member. We planned events for students. From day one, you could just tell Lauren was serious about planning. Maybe a little too serious! The beginning of our relationship played out orchestrating these events for others, and then orchestrating elaborate plans for ourselves. The more I got to know her, the more I came to understand it’s just how Lauren is wired. Growing up in a military family, she was constantly on the move, every 18-24 months. The world makes sense to her in terms of times and dates and commitments.

We started talking about marriage in 2019, but always with a multi-year time horizon. Even before the pandemic, we had targeted 2022 as the year we wanted to get married. Lauren is honest and forthcoming about her expectations about…practically everything. Our engagement was no different. I think a test of any relationship is how well you listen to your partner. So I diligently kept mental notes and started to create a plan around her hopes and dreams.

Most of Lauren’s asks were straightforward, and I tried to incorporate all of these into the grand plan. Some examples of things she wanted:

  • Location: In the backyard of her parents’ house
  • Timing: Sunset
  • Who: Our best friends and family. Once we got our puppy, Minnie, well – she had to be there too!
  • Ring: A stackable design and oval setting, size 6.25. (I technically had a “choice” between two designs. But with enough nudges in one direction, you take the hint.)

Lauren also wanted fireworks. And I’m sure a grand gesture, like if I strode in atop a stallion, would have gone over well. But you can’t get everything you want! And I don’t know anyone with a stallion.

The first decision I made was on a date. It couldn’t happen on her birthday in early June, so I decided on Friday, June 11. Once I chose a date, I contacted all of the people involved; this process happened in January, about five months prior. The benefit of forward planning is you get first position on schedules!

I rented a condo for our friends to stay in during the weekend, and I got the ring hidden securely at her parents’ place. I arranged clandestine meetups with a photographer to scout the location and determine the best angle to capture the proposal–the proverbial “spy shot.” Lauren’s parents helped tremendously by landscaping the backyard, hanging fairy lights and placing tiki torches, Lauren none the wiser. Her friends were immensely helpful thinking through all of the scenarios and giving suggestions they knew Lauren would like. Lauren, always trying to push the agenda, bought Minnie a bandana that said “Best Dog” and wanted Minnie to wear it for the engagement. Lauren loves these little details, as minute as they seem.

Our opportunities to coordinate were limited. Lauren always seemed to be within earshot. When she left the house we discussed logistics. I farmed out tasks to her friends (to buy sparklers) and family (to chill the champagne). My best man arranged to come in at the last minute and I tasked him with spreading the rose petals (he did an exemplary job). We coordinated an entire itinerary of events after the engagement and packed Lauren a bag.


The perfect day for me isn’t one that goes perfectly according to plan. In the southeast, summer thunderstorms are par for the course. A week out I saw a 20% of rain, 3 days out a 50% chance of rain, and the day of showed a 90% chance of rain around sunset. We had a decent rain plan in place, but no one really fleshes that out, do they? I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. Sure enough, it rained – hard while we were at dinner eating outside. We narrowly missed the worst of the rain, but it set the restaurant back a good 30 minutes. We were hard pressed to make it to the engagement location on time.

And yet…we made it in the nick of time. Lauren didn’t realize what was happening until she saw Minnie tied to a stake and rolling around in the grass. After I asked her to marry me, everyone popped out of the bushes. My greatest surprise!

The wedding planning process has stretched our planning capabilities to the max. But it’s easier when you have your partner with you to make the tough decisions. We look forward to sharing more with you in the coming months.

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