“Proposing on the beach at sunset” may be a popular idea for popping the big question about marriage. But not many can say that they were on bended knee in the middle of a tropical storm on the Florida coast.
Twenty years ago this summer, that’s where I found myself, on Carrabelle’s beach with Tropical Storm Beryl barreling down on the two of us.
My wife, then Beth Shaw (a native Floridian), and I met in college, at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. We started dating almost as soon as she arrived on campus back in 1991. We were pretty sure we’d stick together forever, even through long distance dating while I went to Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and she transferred to Florida State University to save money and be closer to her sister, an FSU doctoral student.
Midway through my studies at Marquette, I came down for the summer to Tallahassee, Florida in 1994 to see her and began to plan the big proposal. I had all kinds of plans: popping the question at Disney in Orlando, on the Small World Ride, or a nice place on the Ichetucknee River in North Florida. But all of those ideas just didn’t work out.
Then I thought about something grand: a proposal on a beach, just before sunset. My sister-in-law helped me pick the ring. And I picked the beach, along Florida’s Emerald Coast, and the date: August 14, 1994.
There was one problem: we didn’t have Cable TV. If we did, we would have seen the Weather Channel warning us that Tropical Storm Beryl was headed for the Florida Coast.
It was windy. The rains started to come down in buckets. Beth was wondering if I lost my mind when I took her out on a rapidly disappearing sandbar. But when I got down on one knee and asked the question, she gave an enthusiastic yes…and not just to get out of the storm.
When we came back, Beth’s sister had prepared a nice meal. We telephoned everyone. And on July 1, 1995, we were married in Tallahassee.
I’m hoping this summer to take our two little ones, ages nine and six, to that special spot in August. But I promised my wife I’d check the weather forecast first.