Our Engagement Story

Five years ago this week, Ryan proposed. WHAT?! How was it that long ago? It’s a day and moment that I’ll never forget – even though I’m pretty sure that I blacked out while it was happening. So, I thought it would be fun today to share our engagement story!

Our Engagement Story fall engagement photos
First off, let me preface this with a little background. Ryan and I had been dating for four years at this point, and we also were living together. I graduated college in 2011, and Ryan was getting ready to enter his last year of pharmacy school (six total years). Talk of marriage was not a new conversation, and we knew that we were going to be together. But, I had ZERO clue that it was coming when it did.

It was a Friday, and I had put in for a half day of PTO from work. Ryan was getting ready to take his finals, and shortly thereafter he’d be leaving to go on his year of rotations. So, we wanted to spend a little extra time together before things changed for a while.

For whatever reason, Ryan drove me to work that morning so he also was going to pick me up. I stood at the curb waiting and waiting, until I realized that Ryan had been sitting there in the car for a few minutes. Except, it wasn’t his car. It was a Mustang. Huh? Once the confusion wore off, Ryan explained that one of his professors let him borrow the car since he drove her home from their pharmacy bar crawl/party the previous week. I’m pretty sure my response was, “good thing because I wasn’t going to be too happy if you bought a car before you bought me a ring!” Haha. I’m such a brat.

So, our day began. It really was like any other day. We ran a couple errands, and we caught an afternoon movie. Want to know what we saw? Disney Earth’s Chimpanzee. That’s right – the day I got engaged, I spent part of it learning about a group of wild monkeys. This still cracks me up. Come to find out, Ryan was pretty adamant that we go see a movie because he was anxious and didn’t want to end up spoiling his surprise. A movie was a safe way to occupy the time for a few hours.

fall engagement photos
We had dinner reservations that night at our favorite restaurant, Centro in downtown Des Moines, Iowa. This is where we had our first date, and Ryan officially asked me to be his girlfriend on the sidewalk right outside. We also celebrated numerous other special occasions there over the years, so it was a natural choice to head there for this last hoorah.

So, we headed to dinner and when we parked, Ryan said he would get my door for me. Being the lady that I am, I was like “what? I can do it myself! You never open the door for me!” I’m seriously laughing as I type this. I was so clueless. Ryan also grabbed his coat from the backseat and put it on before getting out of the car. Um, it was nearly 80 degrees outside. So, my first statement after he helped me out of the car was, “Are you cold? It’s hot outside! Maybe you’re getting sick.” I seriously don’t know how Ryan kept a straight face, but I guess he was used to me and my ways. Good thing. ๐Ÿ˜‰

This is where things get a little hazy for me. Ryan said some sweet things – what they were, who knows – and next thing I know he’s down on one knee holding a ring box up to me. I’m not even sure if I heard him say, “will you marry me?” but I assume that he did. I just kept saying, “oh my god!” over and over again. Obviously, you all know the answer that I gave! It was a few of the sweetest moments of my life that ended in me yelling, “WE’RE GETTING MARRIED!” to the entire street. Oh, did I mention this all happened right in the exact spot where Ryan asked me to be his girlfriend four years prior? The entire front of the restaurant is windows, so everyone in the bar area was clapping for us.

fall engagement photos Madison County, Iowa
As special as the whole moment was, I couldn’t believe that we had to sit through dinner before I could call my parents! In true Ryan and Karly fashion, we ordered pizza and I grilled Ryan on all the details of how he kept this a secret from me (we’re not good at doing that with each other). Our waiter also was sweet enough to surprise us with dessert since at that time, he was the only person that knew! Ha!

When we got back to our place, I told my mom that we had to FaceTime. I’ll never forget telling her, “so, guess what?” and holding up my ring finger. She started crying immediately! She went and got my dad, but little did I know that dad knew the entire time that this was happening. Ryan had met with him in person back in March to ask for my hand. Honestly, the whole story and planning behind it just kept getting sweeter!

The rest of the night was spent calling family and friends, and we even went to go visit a couple of our close friends in person to share the news. Again, they all knew so it wasn’t much of a surprise! I guess Ryan wasn’t shy about letting everyone know what he was about to do. It’s a miracle that it didn’t make it’s way to me! We also decided to drive home that weekend to share the news with Ryan’s grandma and some of his extended family, as well as my sister and parents. A deer ran into my car on that drive that resulted in extensive damage, but that’s a story for another time. Between the deer and chimpanzee documentary, I guess nature just wanted to be a part of our special time! Ha!

Our Engagement Story_Stacie Behrens Photography
This was so fun for me today. Thanks for hanging in there and letting me get all nostalgic. Our engagement story, even five years later, is still a fun one to talk about and remember. It was personal, low key and simple – exactly the way that Ryan and I like things!

I love to hear about engagement stories, so please share yours in the comments!

photos by Stacie Behrens Photography

Leave a Comment


  1. 5.19.17
    katie arnold said:

    Love this! What a sweet story and loved that the proposal happened in such a special spot, thanks for sharing!

  2. 5.12.17

    Aw this is so sweet! I love that he asked you to marry him in the same place that he asked you to be his girlfriend. Sounds like he put a lot of thought into it! Happy engagement anniversary!

    Amy Ann
    Straight A Style

  3. 5.10.17

    oh my gosh, this is so freaking adorable. i loved reading it. the deer though?! jeepers lol.

    my engagement story is a lot less fun. obviously we were on a time crunch because my visa was ending, so i was like i literally (literally, legally) cannot stay unless we get married. so….. whatcha doing for the rest of your life? lol. we picked out a ring and then KC was gonna surprise me with the proposal part, but he waited ages, and i was like dude, i cannot tell my mum and the rest of my family like 2 minutes before i’m expected home. i was supposed to go home in december, i needed to give them time to process and grieve that i wasn’t coming back. we went on this awesome weekend away and i kept expecting it, then nothing! i was so mad, i was like what are you waiting for? we have stuff we need to do! paperwork to file! green cards to apply for! the perfect moment is not going to appear out of thin air if you don’t do anything about it. i was a wreck, seriously, way too much going on, and i dreaded telling my mum (much different than your story lol). the next day we were sitting watching tv and KC was like where is the remote, i went looking for it in the couch cushions, turn around and there he is on one knee. he said some super sweet words and i cried, don’t remember anything else. told my mum, she was… less than thrilled (sigh, understandable unfortunately), went to bed, woke up to a million facebook messages from all my friends and family congratulating me on the news. thanks mum. sigh.

    but your story is way cuter ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • 5.10.17

      Ummmm I think it’s pretty stinkin’ adorable, though that KC did it when you were least expecting it. BUT, I can understand how stressed you were about it since you had so much other stuff to worry about. Was your mom just upset because you officially weren’t coming/moving back home?

      • 5.10.17

        yeah, i mean she wanted me to be happy, just not on the other side of the world lol

    • 5.19.17
      katie arnold said:

      Kristen, I loved reading your story too!

  4. 5.9.17

    Ahhh I loved reading this! It’s so fun to hear your commentary throughout, and what a sweet story! It made me think of my own, and I was smiling (maybe tearing up a bit… maybe;)) the whole time! Chimpanzee- that’s classic. It’s crazy the little things that stand out so much. Loved reading this!!

    • 5.10.17

      Awe, thanks girl! I still die laughing when I think that we saw the Chimpanzee documentary that day. At least it was memorable, lol!

  5. 5.9.17
    Megan said:

    Aw what a lovely story! I can’t wait to have my own cutesy engagement story to share one day.

  6. 5.8.17

    Oh my goodness, Ryan did GOOD! I loved reading your story and it’s so sweet how surprised you were!

  7. 5.8.17

    I love reading engagement stories!!! Seriously, how do guys do it?! I would be a nervous wreck. And I’m dying that you guys saw a chimpanzee movie that day, such a fun part of the story!

    • 5.10.17

      Trust me, it still makes me die laughing to this day whenever I think about it or we tell people this story. I guess nothing else was in the theater, lol!

  8. 5.8.17

    Awwwwwww I seriously teared up. I love reading stories like this and so many memories now at that restaurant! I love the idea of this post. I think I need to add a few more throwback personalized stories like this.

  9. 5.8.17

    Such a sweet story! And lol at learning about chimpanzees that day! Too cute <3

    Green Fashionista

  10. 5.8.17
    Christina Sotherden said:

    I loved reading this!! Too sweet! I love how he did it at a place so special and now even more special!!

  11. 5.8.17

    I love hearing about other people’s relationship stories too because they’re always so sweet and yet each one is so totally different! I’ll tell you what I don’t remember one word that Chris said either when he proposed, I just remember being so happy and crying all of the tears! And don’t worry about being a brat when you said that you were going to be mad at him if he bought a car instead of a ring. I remember telling Chris about all the people that got engaged before us and how long they’d been dating. I was so mean lol!

    • 5.10.17

      Oh gosh, I did the same thing! I was about to be maid of honor in a wedding about a month after Ryan proposed, and I just kept complaining to him leading up to it how they hadn’t been together that long yet THEY were getting married and not us! Ha!

  12. 5.8.17
    Ashley said:

    This is SO sweet!! I know exactly what you mean- you totally blackout when it’s happening!

  13. 5.8.17

    Such a beautiful story and love the photos!

  14. 5.8.17

    Love this story! I love hearing engagement stories. ๐Ÿ™‚ I hope that you have a great day today too!!

  15. 5.8.17
    Debra Stachelski said:

    Such a cute story, and I remember it well! It was such an exciting time for you and for our familly, we’re so glad you said yes!! Of course you know the infamous story of how your father proposed on the sidewalk in front of Pizzeria Due in downtown Chicago, got drunk and passed out for the rest of the night! We’re still here 40 years later!

  16. 5.8.17
    Biana Perez said:

    You’re too cute with what you said after you guys got engaged!! I think I said the exact same thing to everyone right after we got engaged too!! Love the details that you remember from that special day! xo, Biana –BlovedBoston

  17. 5.8.17
    Mes Voyages ร  Paris said:

    Such a lovely post!! Thanks for sharing!
    Mรณnica Sors