A Christmas Story

Scott Wooten & Shannon Schultz-Wooten

When Shannon and I first got together, she made it pretty clear she had no intentions of ever getting married.  Of course, I knew she didn’t mean it and it only took me about 5 years to convince her otherwise.  Once she made her mind up, there was no turning back and after many conversations, I soon realized that she wanted to be engaged … like tomorrow.  This was a little faster than the timeline I had in mind. Not because I didn’t want to be engaged, but because engagement rings are expensive and I had no idea where to begin.

No one really warns you how hard it is to pick out an engagement ring.  When I sat down to start the daunting process of ring shopping, it dawned on me that the whole system is flawed.  While I know any ring would have been great in the eyes of Shannon, it didn’t sit well with me that something she had to wear EVERYDAY of her life was something that I would pick out.  I knew that she wanted a princess cut diamond with a white gold ring.  Do you know how many variations of a princess cut diamond there are?  It was mind boggling. After a few trips on my own, I decided I was going to bite the bullet and take her to see rings with me, after all she has to wear it, why shouldn’t she get to choose what she wants?  On a Saturday afternoon we were in the mall and I basically just asked her to come “show me” which rings she liked in a couple of jewelry shops.  I thought I would have a couple of different options to pick from after it was all said and done but in the end I knew she had her heart set on just one.

It wasn’t long after that trip that I purchased the ring; and Shannon knew about it.  The trick now becomes, how do I make this engagement special?  How can I still make this a surprise?  It was important to me that she gets the engagement story she deserves.  If I was going to make this woman my wife, I was surely going to do it in a way so she could be proud of the story.  The last thing I wanted was some mediocre “and then he asked me to marry him” ending.

It’s important to note that it was December while all of this is going on. Shannon’s favorite time of the year is Christmas.  Ive never met anyone that loved Christmas more than Shannon, in fact its rubbed off on me so much that my nickname at work has been deemed “Scotty Christmas.”  This particular year we were exceptionally busy because Shannon was away on business quite frequently and we had plans to visit my family in Charlotte, NC for a couple of days the week of Christmas.   We spent most of the weekends with her family, which wasn’t out of the ordinary but it was especially important because family is so important to both of us.  Shannon had mentioned before that she would love to get engaged with everyone around, not to mention I had been told a bijillion times “you HAVE to ask my Dad!”  Not asking Mr. Bob Schultz was never an option as far as I was concerned anyway.  Not only was it the right thing to do, he had and HAS done so much for me since Shannon and I got together, I couldn’t imagine not doing it.

I had two weeks before we left to go to Charlotte for Christmas.  The first week Shannon was away on business again so I took the opportunity to go ask her Dad while she was away, this way she would never suspect anything.  I was surprisingly calm and not nervous at all about doing it … until I got to the front door.  Shannon’s Mom answered the door and immediately started asking me what was wrong.  Her main concern seemed to be that I may have wrecked the car, which obviously I had not.  Her Dad came out of his office and I mustered up the strength to form sentences.  Asking both her Mom and Dad at the same time seemed much easier and once it was finished and I got the approval I felt much better.  I also asked for their help planning the “surprise.”  Now, just to make sure I was in the clear I made two phone calls afterwards, one to each of her brothers to make sure I had their permission, as well as their help planning the surprise.  Like I said, family is extremely important to us and I wanted to make sure everyone was in the “know.”

Shannon already knew I had purchased the ring, however she didn’t know how or when I would ask her.  We had many conversations about it and I had pretty much convinced her it would be after the New Year even though she had repeatedly told me that she wanted it to be before Christmas so we could enjoy it with both mine and her family.  I told her it was getting sized and it would take at least two weeks to be done (which was true only I was two weeks ahead of schedule). I had to work really hard to convince her that it was out of my control and it would have to be around the New Year at the earliest.  She was disappointed but accepting.  I pretended to be bummed about it too.

Once Shannon had returned from her business trip on Friday, December 16th, we had until Thursday, December 22nd before we left for Charlotte. We went about business as usual visiting her parents over the weekend to watch football and just generally spend time.  Unfortunately, her brother’s couldn’t be there because they were “Christmas shopping.” I had put them up to staying away for the weekend. She was bummed about it because it was the last time we would see her family before we left for Charlotte.  The entire ride back to our place I got another tongue lashing about how I had to ask her Dad for permission and how she couldn’t believe I had not done it already.  It was unacceptable in her eyes.  I smiled on the inside because now I knew she really had no idea.

I spent the following Monday and Tuesday with her brother Jacob setting up for the surprise while Shannon was at work.  Of course it rained all day both days while Jake and I worked diligently in the back yard. I put Shannon’s Dad up to planning a dinner on Wednesday before we left for Charlotte so everyone could see one another before Christmas and Shannon wouldn’t think her brothers were just being selfish by not spending any time with us before we left. Shannon could have easily said there was too much going on to do a dinner if we had just seen everyone over the weekend and I needed everything to fall into place correctly for this surprise to work.

Wednesday finally rolled around.  I drove Shannon to work in the morning (this was normal for us to avoid the expensive parking fees in downtown Pittsburgh) and  picked her up after she was off to head straight to her parents house.  No one ever tells you how big the box for an engagement ring is.  How anyone could ever put that in a pocket inconspicuously is beyond me, luckily it was cold out so I could wear a jacket. Having a loose engagement ring without the box wasn’t something I felt comfortable with.  Even with my jacket on, it was pretty apparent there was something in my left pocket I made sure I always kept my hands in my pocket to avoid her noticing.

Her brothers made sure to beat us to her parents house so everyone was already there and waiting.  I couldn’t wait to do it.  Mostly because I was nervous and wanted it to be super special.  I asked her Dad to videotape and her brother Robert to take pictures so we could capture everything on film. If you’ve ever been around the Schultz’s you would know that having camera’s around is the norm.  It’s almost like we film our own reality show on a daily basis.

Shannon’s Dad was won awards for his Christmas light display the past two years in a row.  It was nothing out of the ordinary for him to say “Hey guys come check out these new lights I put on the back gazebo.”  Everyone hurries out because they know what’s going on so that Shannon is only ahead of me walking out.  She first sees the icicle lights on the gazebo but then notices the other lights in the yard.  She seems to struggle reading what it says.  “Will you … Marry … Me?” she says slowly.  After finally realizing what was happening she turned around to find me on one knee.  I ask her again “Will you marry me?”  She looks around stunned at everyone EXCEPT me and asks “Is this really happening!?!” She asks it so many times that finally Robert comes to my rescue saying “Well are you going to answer? You’ve got a man on his knee here.” She finally says “YES!”

Being engaged before Christmas in front of both her family and mine was a blessing and I couldn’t have been happier!  I had successfully surprised her and made an engagement story I hope she can be proud of … and then we lived happily ever after. :0)

TIPIf you’re going to write “Will You Marry Me?” with Christmas lights here are a couple of tips.  Write in cursive, its impossible to do it any other way.  Cut some wire coat hangers into small “U’s” to push into the ground, holding the lights in place.

Their special dates

Scott Wooten & Shannon Schultz-Wooten were happily engaged on 12/21/2011 and celebrate their anniversary on 11/30/2012.

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