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My wedding planning journey: Our engagement

02 Jan 2020

Bride-to-be Ashleigh Tuttle begins her blog series by sharing the moment she got engaged to her partner of six years, John McNicholas

I wanted John to propose from the moment we both said 'I love you' to one another. Yes, I was one of those girls – the ones that drew their wedding dress on the backs of binders, and fantasised about what song I would walk down the aisle to. I had my bridesmaids all picked out, and my colours and flowers, now all I needed was the perfect groom.

John was just that. I met him at a nightclub in Nottingham when we were 18. We had both moved from our respective homes in King’s Lynn, Norfolk and Enfield in London for the first time in our lives. He was taking the same course as my flatmate, Tom, and one night we ran into each other.

We didn’t fall into each other's arms straight away, it took him four months to finally ask me out on a date, and we ended up going back to the same nightclub where we met. He was shy at first. Surrounded by some of our close friends (including one of my future bridesmaids, Emma), I asked him: "Are you going to kiss me or what?" and the rest is history. 

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We were together almost six years before he proposed. I had talked about marriage for a long time; hinting at rings, talking about what our wedding would be like, but it seemed as though it was never going to happen. I didn’t want to force it, but I did want to know that it was on his mind.

We had planned a trip to Disney World with his family, where we’ve been a few times before. We are both huge Disney fans and we actually went to Disneyland Paris only a few months after we met. This would be our third trip to Disney World in Florida and I was so excited.

I have terrible nails so I arranged an appointment to get my acrylics done before we went. "Do you think he’ll propose?" asked Michelle, my beautician. "I really doubt it," I replied. I didn’t want to get my hopes up, and besides, we’d been twice before, surely if he was going to do it he would have done it by now?

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As we settled down on the plane flying across the Atlantic, a proposal didn’t even cross my mind. I was just so excited to see Mickey and Minnie, and to ride the rollercoasters until I threw up! And of course I was practically salivating at the thought of all the American food I was going to devour. I had been waiting for this for months, every pulsing thought was ‘Disney Disney Disney Disney Disney’.

On our first night at the parks we stayed up to watch the Magic Kingdom firework display, which was absolutely beautiful. Even after seeing it so many times, it still never fails to bring a tear to my eye.

Around half way through the holiday we decided we would go to iHop to have pancakes for breakfast. As we were getting ready that morning, John went to get our breakfast drinks as he usually would while I got ready. I was bustling around the room when I realised one of my earrings he’d bought me was missing, so I was flapping and getting myself in a state trying to find it. I was ready to pull the plumbing out of the sink, when I thankfully found it on the floor. Just as I did, John walked through the door, a bit out of breath and looking frazzled. 

"Sorry the queue was really long," he said. "I hadn’t noticed, I’d lost my earring but now I’ve found it,’ I said, looping it through my ear. I was dressed as Ariel from The Little Mermaid, and was super ready for my pancakes. 

I ordered masses of chocolate pancakes and a chocolate milkshake with all the trimmings, while John, his sister and his parents ate what is considered a normal breakfast. ‘Go hard or go home’ was all I could think.

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We headed to Magic Kingdom, where we jumped on our first ride (and my personal favourite), Space Mountain. As we got off, we looked to see where our next Fast Pass was, but it wasn’t for a couple of hours.

"Shall we go shopping?" I suggested to John. His parents groaned and said they would head off to try and get on another ride. As we walked back towards Main Street, John stopped me and said: "Shall we go and get a picture in front of the castle? I don’t think we’ve had one there yet."

"OK, sure," I replied, "We have, but I’m happy to have another."

As we walked to where the line of photographers are set up along the street, John seemed to be stretching to find something. John was starting to get restless, then it was our turn to step in front of the camera.

I stood smiling, waiting for him to cuddle up to me, but he seemed to be around three feet away from me. "Are you going to stand next to me or what?" I asked irritably. "Yeah, yeah," he replied, still not moving any closer. I sighed and smiled again: "Well, I’m getting a good picture," I thought.

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"Ashleigh," I heard from beside me, so I turned to look. There was John, down on one knee with a ring in his hand. I looked from him to the ring, to him again in complete surprise.

My hand flew to my mouth as I burst into happy, albeit ugly, tears. I cried out "Yes!" as I flung my arms around him and cried, as the photographer continued to flash shot after shot. She asked to see my ring, and when I walked over to her I realised she was crying too. People around us were clapping and cheering, and taking pictures with their phones. I just could not stop crying, I was so incredibly surprised and ecstatic. 

Once I calmed down a bit, I rang my parents in England, who similarly burst into tears. My mum and I just stared at each other on Facetime for a few minutes with our hands over our mouths as we couldn’t quite believe it.

Choruses of ‘"Finally!" echoed between my family and friends when I told them. Admittedly, six years isn’t that long, but I’ve felt like I’ve known John a lifetime. I found out later that he’d actually rang my dad when he’d been ‘caught in a queue’ that morning to ask him for permission, and had quickly ran into a nearby shop to buy me the most exquisite ring. It was my absolute perfect proposal and shows that he really knows me better than anyone ever could.

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Now, we’re settling into wedding planning, and of course we wouldn’t pick anywhere other than Norfolk to get married. My family all live here and it’s such a beautiful setting that I couldn’t imagine getting married anywhere else.

So I’m hoping you’ll join me in my wedding journey, I’ve loved every crazy second of it, and I’m so excited to tell you all about everything else to come...

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