Probably the biggest news to come out of our big trip to Europe was that we got engaged there!
The whole time we had been planning our vacation Chris was researching rings. We decided on Australia for a while so Chris researched getting a ring there, we changed to New Zealand, Chris diverted his research to New Zealand and on and on (Guam, Hawaii, Colorado, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, all of Europe, and Hong Kong were all places we looked at going and thus Chris looked at engagement rings there.)
After we booked the airline tickets and there was no going back Chris found a few options he liked in Germany. The interesting thing about Germany is that engagement rings there are usually made with a semi-precious stone like topaz or morganite (or often a birthstone). The engagement ring is not as important as the band you get on the wedding day. So he struggled to find something he wanted/I would like.
In a discussion a long long time ago I mentioned I liked a website called “Etsy” that sells hand made things so Chris started searching for a seller located in Germany so he wouldn’t have to ship a ring from the US/elsewhere. Turns out if you ship a ring into Korea you pay an 80% tax on it which gets very expensive very quickly. Even Germany had a pretty high tax so it made sense to buy a ring in Germany.
He got in contact with a goldsmith/jeweler who lived outside of Berlin. He exchanged around 50 emails with her about how he wanted the ring made, what stone he wanted, and all the fine details.
It was arranged that she would ship it to Karlsruhe after we got there but she was actually still making the ring while we were in Karlsruhe. So she shipped it to Oldenburg while we were staying there. Chris kept it secret for about a week until we went to Berlin.
I have to interrupt our story to mention that we had been having some problems with people being mean/rude/malicious or whatever you want to call it. It seemed that some people were mean for the sport of it to see what kind of reaction the would get – for instance people riding bikes straight at us then only moving at the last second and laughing at us. Maybe we’re more sensitive coming from Asia, maybe it’s not what we remembered from 5 years ago, or maybe people have just changed. Either way we had a couple strange days there because of people’s rudeness. Chris really really didn’t want us to have a bad day because of the seemingly-cruel-for-sport attitudes on the day he proposed. So he made 2 choices
- he would propose early in the morning
- he would propose very early in the Berlin part of our trip in case Berlin (being a capital city) was more stressful.
On the train ride into Berlin he spotted a nice green, open space next to Museum Island.
Museum Island is an island in the middle of the Spree River. It has 5 art and history museums on it. Between all the statues, architecture and coifed shrubbery it’s a very beautiful spot. Chris and I have visited it twice before on our trips to Berlin. We like it not only because it’s pretty but because we’re interested in the history. All along Museum Island and nearby (the banks of the river, bridges and the Berlin Dom church) there is a lot of damage from World War Two that you can still see. For instance many columns on Museum Island are riddled with bullet holes. There are blackened parts and whole chunks missing (that have since been replaced) from explosions and bombings.
After the war the Soviets inherited Museum Island and basically left it completely destroyed. Some parts of the museums didn’t even have a roof anymore so the art and historical pieces were rained on and further destroyed. After the wall fell, a huge budget was put together to restore all the museums to their old glory. In fact some museums are still being restored and will continue to be so until 2025. The cost is unimaginable, the Neues Museum alone cost $255 million.
So, obviously, given the past 2 paragraphs we typed up from memory we like the place and it has a historical side that interests us.
The first full day in Berlin we were going to see the German History Museum and Chris knew we would walk through the Museum Island to get there. We stopped on a bridge to look over the island and a crazy gypsy woman came and begged for money from us in 4 different languages which we pretended not to understand. At this point Chris was considering aborting his plan. The last time we were harassed by a gypsy in Berlin we had an ipod stolen. Beware the gypsy curse. Fortunately she left after a while and Chris made the good call to go through with his plan. We walked into Museum Island it was pretty, like always…
“Let’s go over there…” Chris suggested casually. I was a little suspicious but had been suspicious for no reason once before in Bremen. So I let it go. We went “over there” under a little pavilion in a column-y area I don’t really know what to call it.
I was looking at some graffiti and was feeling really bummed out that people would carve their stupid names into the rock when all of a sudden Chris disappeared (went down on one knee). I was completely surprised! He asked if I would marry him, I started crying and he felt so concerned that he just got right back up to give me a hug. I said yes by the way…. obviously.
By now I had barely seen a flash of the ring so he opened it up again for me and put it on my finger. He was shaking and was nervous and I was still happy crying off and on. It was really wonderful.
If anyone wants to know it is a bespoke (which I thought was a brand name initially, I’m not fancy enough to know that means custom made) white sapphire ring with white gold. Kate Middleton made sapphire rings cool plus our generation is pretty anti-diamond given all the conflict diamonds. I couldn’t be happier with it.
We talked some and then began the fantastic tradition of taking pictures of my ring in front of stuff (this seems to be a tradition given how many pictures I’ve seen online – here’s my ring holding my car keys, now here’s my ring with a starbucks cup!)
So here’s my ring in front of all angles of the great Museum Island proposal spot
After the proposal we still went to the German History Museum, the only change we made in our day was skipping all the Nazi stuff because we’re not going to sully our proposal day with … that …
Unfortunately I didn’t really focus on the interesting museum because I was pretty distracted by this new and great thing on my finger. We saw Napoleon’s actual hat – Chris want me to put the picture here – I just want to put ring pictures here but we’ll compromise haha.
Isn’t that a nice hat? Anyway, for the rest of our vacation we constantly revisited our little spot. In the sunshine finally and sometimes at nighttime. It was really nice. I also continued the tradition of ring-in-front-of-stuff. Please enjoy Berlin’s most famous sites – the Berlin Wall, Bundestag, and Brandenburg Gate (but not really, look at that ring!)
Not much else can be said about the proposal other than it was a perfect day for us – history museum – in a perfect place for us – Berlin, bullet-hole-riddled-museum-island.
We’ll just take advantage of this blog post to answer a couple questions real fast
Why did you propose in Germany when you are just going to be in Korea for another year (why do we have to wait for the wedding, guys?)
Because Germany is far more special to us than other places, especially Korea. A Korean ring probably would’ve broken in half and the stone would fall out or something. Also nowhere in all of Korea would be 1/100th as special as a port-a-potty in Germany could be (Chris’s words, I do agree though).
When is the wedding?
We have no idea. We’re really loving being engaged – things feel different and wonderful enough for us as it is. We only just got back from our vacation a few days ago and have just started teaching again. We haven’t even talked or thought about it. Give us a little time.
Obviously it will be sometime after we get back from Korea in 2017. We accidentally told some of you February but that would be the same month we make an international relocation from Korea to the US and I really can’t foresee a wedding mixing well with that. So it will be sometime comfortably after getting back to the US.
Where will the wedding be?
If anyone thinks that we would have a destination wedding in Germany or god forbid some of you have actually thought we would get married in Korea – rest at ease. We can 100% say we will be getting married in Colorado.
Took you guys long enough
Thats a comment not a question.
Can we see a picture of the ring again?
Oh yes of course, thanks for asking. In fact there has certainly not been enough pictures of the ring here so here’s four more.