On Sept. 23, 2010, the day before her 30th birthday; Alison Elizabeth Taylor agreed to marry me, John Bernard Semtner.

The story begins when Elizabeth and I decided to take a trip to Barbados for her birthday. It was her first trip to the Caribbean and her first passport stamp. Before she could even begin planning for the trip, I told her I wanted to plan a birthday party with her friends for the day before her birthday and another party with her family on her birthday. We would leave for Barbados, thru Dallas, the day after that.  With the trip looming, things busy at work, and lots of party to-do’s, I had a perfect storm to distract her.

The night before the party with her friends (and the proposal), I slipped away to make a grocery store run and pick up wine glasses from her mother. I used the opportunity to ask Alison for her permission to ask for her daughter’s hand in marriage. She gave me her blessing, we shared a glass of wine and planned our strategy for the next day, which would not have gone so smoothly without her help.

I casually mentioned to Elizabeth that I had dinner reservations before the birthday party with her friends. Dinner was at the Museum Cafe at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. (The museum rooftop was where I first asked her on a date.) Dinner was great and we ran into a few friends as usual. At the end of dinner, I asked the waitress if she would come take a picture of the two of us. Elizabeth began to be suspicious when I had actually brought a camera.

The waitress took two photos of us in front of my favorite piece in the museum, the Chihuly Waterford Crystal Chandelier that hangs from the second floor, near the theater. (The photos below show how nervous Elizabeth swears I was the entire dinner.) After the first two photos, I asked the waitress to take one more. I turned to Elizabeth and told her I love her and want to spend the rest of my life with her. As I went down on one knee she tried to follow. Luckily the waitress just kept taking photos as she was just as surprised as Elizabeth. I asked Elizabeth to marry me and she said YES.

Afterward, we hurried to her mother’s house to share the news (and so Elizabeth could show her mom her new ring) and then to my house for the birthday – turned – surprise engagement party with our friends. Her family party with her mom, God parents John and Kathy Griffin and their son Jay (Jay and Elizabeth have been friends since birth) and his wife Katie, the following evening (her actual birthday) was even more special. We toasted the engagement and Elizabeth’s dad (who passed away in Jan 2008). And then we were off to Barbados… or so she thought, there was one more surprise…

The plan was to drive to Dallas the day after her birthday, stay overnight and fly to Barbados the next morning. What Elizabeth didn’t know was that I had planned a dinner with her best friend Bethany and her husband Josh the night we were in Dallas. What Bethany didn’t know was that I was going to pop the question.  Although Elizabeth called Bethany about the engagement news, Bethany kept our little secret about dinner. It was great, we were watching football at one of the local sports bars and in walked Josh and Bethany. After the initial shock and a few tears, the girls settled in to talk about the proposal and wedding plans, while Josh and I watched football. It was a great evening. The next morning we left for Barbados on what Elizabeth likes to call our “engagementmoon,” a perfect retreat to plan a wedding!

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