White Lace and Promises, Part 2

You read about her first marriage, that first wedding. How she had all the feelings that it wasn’t right, except she just couldn’t bring herself to cancel it all and remain a “Miss” rather than becoming a “Mrs.”

At the time of that first wedding, she thought adult life was supposed to start with marriage, then a job of some sort, and then kids. That was the way it was back then, in the early 70’s.

But it wasn’t that way for everyone. And when you try too hard to make things work, you discover that if things are meant to be, they will be. And if they’re not, well, life has a way of letting you know.

And that’s what happened with her. Divorce. The first in her family. She was relieved it was over, but more concerned how her family would feel. But they loved her, and they reassured her that it was ok; things would work out. And that mistakes had a way of turning things right again. 

But sometimes it takes a while for that to happen.

The freedom she’d initially felt was quickly replaced by loneliness. Most of her friends were still happily married and having kids. A lot of her single friends were in relationships. She became restless, unhappy, and wanted a change. Any kind of change that would allow her to start her adult life over again. And hopefully not make the same mistakes.

So she found a new job in a different city, and made the big move, some two hours away from her hometown. Close enough to be with family when she needed to see them, but far enough away to start her life over.

And maybe, hopefully, she’d find the man who’d make her happy; the guy who’d sweep her off her feet, and give her the life she so desperately wanted. Who’d erase the loneliness she felt and want a life together with her. As a wife, and then eventually a mother. But she was careful to never voice those hopes and dreams to anyone, in case none of it came true.

She’d found a good job in her new city, and slowly met new people. People at work, and a few in her apartment complex. But no one really interesting. No one she could even begin to get close to. 

Had she made another mistake by moving there?

Then one day a young detective walked in her office. He was there investigating a break-in at a nearby business. They had a brief conversation about the case, and then ended up going to lunch together.

Over the next few months they casually dated off and on. She hadn’t really met anyone else. And they just sort of drifted into a relationship. 

It wasn’t one without problems, however, and as time went by there were arguments. But somehow they always worked them out. Eventually. And she figured all couples must go through times like that. 

Didn’t they?

They started talking about marriage. Something inside her started saying “be careful”. But surely she wouldn’t make another mistake, would she? After all, everyone has problems that need to be worked out.

And they did love each other. At least she thought so. And she accepted a ring. That later she found out he’d bought for someone else, and took back when they’d called things off. But of course that was something she didn’t discover until a lot later. 

Once again a wedding dress was bought, flowers were ordered, and a small reception was planned. Maybe she shouldn’t have another formal wedding, she thought, but she was determined this would be the one for keeps.

But the morning of the wedding they had another argument. And it took over an hour for him to apologize. That should’ve been enough to call it off, but she didn’t. She convinced herself it was going to be fine.

And it was. For about 3-4 weeks until the arguments started again. Over little things. She wasn’t home from work on time (never mind that traffic was backed up). He worked too hard during the week and was too tired to help her around the house (even though she worked full time as well). 

He didn’t like the way she answered one of his questions. He found something around the house that had her previous married name on it and accused her of wanting to get back with her ex-husband (really)??

Then he started pushing her around when he was mad. A couple times he pushed her so hard she fell on the floor. And he accused her of faking it. 

And of course every time he got mad it was her fault because she said or did something wrong. After all, he was the man of the house and what he said was what would be done.

She knew she had to leave, before she was seriously hurt, but was embarrassed to tell her family. And afraid what people would think. That she was to blame for another broken marriage. Surely something was wrong with her!

So she hesitated. Until the evening he got so mad at her he pushed her and she fell down the stairs. Fortunately she didn’t break anything but ended up in a cervical collar for several days, which of course he said she was only doing to make people feel sorry for her! 

That was finally enough. She secretly found an apartment away from where they were living, made arrangements to move her things, which was most of their furniture since he hadn’t had much of his own. She called an attorney and filled out separation papers.

When she confronted him about her leaving he was furious. She was scared he’d attack her again, so she’d arranged for a couple she’d become friends with to drop by and say they thought they’d see if they could all go out to eat. That most likely prevented her from being hurt again, because he stormed out and left. The people she’d arranged to get her things came by, moved them out, and she was gone.

She’d been married to him for eleven long months.

Fortunately he never looked for her, and surprisingly didn’t try to go by where she worked. Probably he knew she’d have told the security guards what happened, and they’d be on the lookout for him. And thankfully she never heard from him again.

“Now what?” she asked herself. “Where do I go from here?” Once again, the white lace and promises had been forgotten. In fact the lace had been ripped apart and the promises smashed under her soon-to-be ex-husband’s heel.

Be sure to read White Lace and Promises, Part Three, to be published on February 10.

Asking Dad First…It’s Still the Thing to Do

Call us old fashioned…but the tradition of the guy coming to his girlfriend’s dad and asking for her hand in marriage, well, as outdated as you may think that sounds…we still like the idea! After all, this is a big step. It’s more than just dating. It’s a commitment. A lifetime commitment. And no matter how close your future husband is to your parents, and/or your dad in particular, we can guarantee, that almost always, the guy is going to be nervous!

Sure, dad always tries to put forth that “no guy is ever going to be good enough for MY daughter” attitude. He jokes around that he’s always got the shotgun ready. He talks about buying a t-shirt that has some saying on it about “50 reasons for not dating my daughter”. He probably even has one of the humorous “application to date my daughter” papers that someone gave him when his little girl was old enough to start dating…you know, the one that asks the guy if he has life insurance, if he’s ever been arrested, if he plans on getting her home every night at 8:00, and ends with “I’ll let you know if your application has been approved in ten years or so!”
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Yeah. That’s her dad. And since you love her more than anything and want to marry her, well, you have to go to him and ask HIS permission. Asking her might be easier. Because you’re fairly sure she’ll say YES! Dad may be a different story.

Before we go any further, yes we know that times are different now. There are lots of cases where she lives with her mom, rather than her mom and dad. Dad may or may not be in her life. Or if he is, he may live out of town and you may never have even met him. (In which case, a trip out of town may definitely be in order! With your soon-to-be fiancée of course!) Or dad may have passed away, and her mom is the one you have to talk to. Or maybe an uncle or a stepdad.

Gets a bit complicated here, doesn’t it?

Bottom line is, unless there’s a really, REALLY good reason…there’s almost always someone that she looks up to whose permission you should get before you propose! Not only are you making the first of many public statements of how you feel about her by asking permission to marry her, you’re also showing your respect. And believe me, even though you may think it’s not that important, trust us…it is. And it also establishes the tone for your new relationship. You’re no longer going to be regarded as that boy who’s dating his daughter. You’re going to be a family member. A son-in-law as well as a husband! You’re taking on a whole new responsibility.
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So what’s the best way and time to do this? Definitely BEFORE you propose to her. There’s that asking permission thing. Just be sure that she has the same feelings that you do! Because you don’t want to get her dad’s permission, and then find out SHE has no desire to marry you! But that situation is few and far between, as the saying goes.

Having recently gone through this, we do have some good advice for any young man who’s made up his mind that he’s going to propose. (And let me add one part here…our future son-in-law Chris did everything the right way – we were out of town on vacation, and he drove over an hour to get to where we were staying to ask Ben’s permission, even though we were coming back the next day! He’d made up his mind, and already had the ring, so he wanted to make sure all the pieces were in place, even though the actual proposal was some two weeks away!)

So you’re scared? Nervous? Don’t be. Well, if you haven’t been around her dad a lot, we can sort of understand your being a bit apprehensive, but still… And by all means, don’t do it over the phone or by text message or email! Don’t tweet it or post a message on Facebook to him! Unless you’re on two different continents, and there are no plans to be together any time soon, well, in that case you can hook up your Skype and do it that way!

You need to do this face to face. Eyeball to eyeball. In private. You don’t want an audience. This is one of the most important conversations you’re going to have. And guess what. You have to start the dialogue, because chances are, her dad is going to know immediately why you’re there! And he’s going to wait until YOU start talking, because he wants to maintain that last bit of control that he’s getting ready to lose.
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You may have rehearsed what you’re going to say a hundred times in your own mind. But guess what…when it’s time to actually say those words to your future father-in-law, you may forget everything you’d planned to say. Which is fine. Because you really need to speak from your heart. This is the time to tell him how much you love his daughter, and how sure you are that you want to spend the rest of your life with her. And if you stumble over the words, well, that’s ok, too.

Your heart is what’s important. And trust me, he’s going to know where your heart is as soon as you start talking. And he’s going to keep picturing that little girl playing dress up, while you’re picturing your future wife walking down the aisle in her wedding dress! Two totally separate pictures!

Chances are by the time you’ve said all that, you’re finally going to be able to breathe again, because you probably won’t be breathing too well when you start the conversation.

Then you have to wait for his answer. And please be sure you actually ASK for his permission to marry his daughter. Because if you don’t ask the question, how can he give you his answer???!

Now you also have to remember there are a lot of things going through HIS mind as well! (And possibly one day you’ll be on the opposite end of this conversation!) He’s realizing that his baby isn’t a baby or a child any more. He automatically thinks about all the days with her when HE was her main guy! That’s sort of hard to take as a dad…or a mom. And there are a lot of thoughts in his head that he doesn’t know how to deal with either. And I don’t mean thinking about paying for a wedding, because that’s the last thing on his mind at that point!
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Bottom line…this is the time you and your future father-in-law really start to connect. Forget all the stereotypes you see in the movies, like where the dad yells and throws the guy out of the house, or threatens to have him disappear, or says something sarcastic like “I hope this time she actually goes through with it, instead of dumping you at the last minute like she did the other guys, because I think I actually like you!”

As much as you imagine in your mind all the bad ways this could go…it won’t. You’ll be fine. Her dad will be fine. Just be sure you make him promise not to say anything to his daughter until you actually get up your nerve to ask her!

Photo Sources: 1st Row: ebay.com.au- 2nd Row: miabridalcouture.blogspot- 3rd Row: stgeorgeutah.com- 4th Row: manynamesofamandablogspot.com; tressugar.com – 5th Row: deeprootsathome.com via tumblr

The Proposal

March 20 was National Proposal Day. Somehow we missed it until it was a bit too late to get this written and posted on Proposal Day. But better late than never, right?

We’ve heard a lot of great proposal stories….at the ball park with the announcement on the big screen (what if she’d said NO???), in Disney World with Mickey Mouse in the background, on the beach while fireworks were shooting off on the 4th of July, dropping the ring in a glass of champagne (and worrying that she’d swallow it by accident!), etc. We particularly like one in which the guy had t-shirts made for a bunch of their friends, each with a word from the phrase “I love you. Will you marry me?” and everyone putting them on at the same time and lining up while he got down on one knee. These are actually all real stories we’ve heard from friends or actually been a part of.

There are as many stories about how he proposed as there are engaged couples. Think about it. To be engaged, someone has to ask someone else. And yes, it’s almost always the guy asking the girl.

Now the trend is for someone to secretly photograph the event. Which is usually a bit tricky, because if she sees a photographer or someone with a camera and all of a sudden her boyfriend starts acting a bit strange, well it’s almost a giveaway that there’s something getting ready to go down. And usually the next step is him going down on one knee, and well, you know the rest!

I love hearing stories of how our grooms proposed. It’s one of the first questions I ask. It helps to get to know the couple better, and really gives a lot of insight into how they want their wedding to be.

The trend today for getting engaged, is not just for the guy to buy a ring and present it to her at the right time. Today a lot of proposals are very well thought out and planned in advance. Lots of wedding planners even get involved in planning proposals! While we haven’t done that yet, there’s always a first time!

But back some thirty years ago when my husband and I got engaged, these special event proposals weren’t the trend. In any way, shape or form.

But then again, I do have to say, that my husband has always been very creative, and a bit on the cutting edge, shall we say. And his proposal to me was something I never, ever expected. Sure we’d done the customary looking at a few rings (after all, we’d met at a local mall, and there were a lot of jewelry stores there), but we’d not really talked much about getting married.

The “engagement day” started out like any other typical Monday morning at my office. I was working as a property manager in the Washington, DC area then, and Monday mornings were always office days to catch up on any disasters from the weekend! Monday morning meetings weren’t unusual, either, although I didn’t know there was one scheduled that morning. And I thought my boss was in an unusually good mood, not typical for a Monday morning at all!

But I thought nothing of it. So when he came over to my desk and said we were all getting together in the conference room for a quick meeting, I didn’t think anything about it.


Imagine my surprise when I walked in, and the ENTIRE office was in there. And I was pointed to a chair in the middle of the room full of people and told to sit. Uh oh….what have I done now? Then I saw someone with a camera. I was really worried then.

All of a sudden, the door opens, and here comes a man in a white tux, complete with white bow tie and tails, a white top hat and a cane! (His name was Mr. Wonderful, and was from a company called Eastern Onion! I have a certificate saying that somewhere!) And he came over to me, asked if I were Deborah Chapman, and then said, “I have a message for you from Ben Newell.” Oh. My. Gosh! What now? And before I could even react, he started singing to me about how much Ben loved me, did some dance routine, and then got down on one knee in front of me and said Ben sent HIM to ask if I’d marry him! And he handed me this beautiful ring that we’d been looking at! Do I remember the song? Heck, no! I was in total shock, and speechless, and for those who know me well, you KNOW that is a totally unusual occurrence!

Of course there were pictures being taken, and to this day I have no earthly idea where in the world they are! I would really, really like to see them again!

He ended his routine telling me that Ben was waiting for his answer, and then bowed, and left! While I sat there in shock, and embarrassment (yes!), and wondering what I was supposed to do next, while everyone in the room was applauding and congratulating me! They’d all been in on it, and how they kept it all a secret, I have no idea.

Naturally when I walked out of the conference room, I expected Ben to be there. Well, wouldn’t you? I mean the man had just asked me to marry him! But no, he wasn’t anywhere to be found. OK. Maybe he was at my desk waiting to surprise me. No. OK.

Since it was prior to the days of cell phones and instant contact, all I could do was try to call him at his office. And of course his secretary put me through. I could tell from his voice he’d been expecting my call. And what’s the first thing I say? “Where are you?” Uh….you called me at the office so where do you think I am? “Why aren’t you here?” Why should I be? “I just got a visitor. The one you hired.”

I could hear the smile coming through the phone. “And did you like the visitor?” Of course I did! But why aren’t you here? “Well, I figured you’d call me after he left. What’s your answer?” Well, it’s yes, of course, but did you think I’d say no so you decided not to come in case I that’s what I said? And the ring is beautiful but it needs to be sized!

Oh yeah. I said that. How romantic!

But the rest is history, as the saying goes.

We both still laugh at that story, and it’s been almost thirty years. Ben was certainly ahead of his time in that one. And it’s never been a dull moment since! I may pick on him a lot, but yes, I still love him!

And I’m glad I said “YES!”

Photo Sources: 1st Row: Claire Durkin Photography via weddingsonline.com; via flickr- 2nd Row: diamondsbyeyal.com; jonathonivyphoto.com- 3rd Row: Otta Vianucccio.com; ascotformalwear.com-

A Very Special Cake

Over the last several years I’ve made a lot of towel and diaper cakes for some very special recipients, including one of my daughter’s best friends whose wedding I planned and coordinated a few months ago.

But last week when I made one of my mini towel cakes with a beach wedding theme, complete with an “engagement ring” and a champagne cork couple designed after the recipients, it was the most special one I’ve done….because it was for our daughter Ashley and her now-fiance Chris!P1000226

It was most definitely a labor of love, but I do have to admit I had a lot of conflicting emotions running through me as I designed and made this particular cake. Excitement, absolutely, because her dad and I knew he was going to propose, and we knew he was going to ask her on the beach during the fireworks! Ashley, on the other hand, had no idea, as it should have been!

His plans were all in place, and as Ben and I sat at a restaurant on the 4th of July waiting for her excited call, we were almost as excited as we knew she would be! And of course, their first engagement gift was to be that special creation I’d made just for them! I only hoped they liked it.

Of course, when Ashley called, I could barely understand a word she said, she was so very, very happy! It’s the moment all moms and dads think about as their daughters get to that certain age, and also wonder how they’ll feel. But I have to say, we were almost as excited as they were! And very proud to welcome our future son-in-law to our family.P1000228

So Ashley and Chris, this is for you. The first gift of many as you begin to plan for your big day, and for your new life together. Dad and I wish you two nothing but the best…..and now, my role as Mother of the Bride/Wedding Planner begins in full force! Sure hope Ben has his checkbook ready……the ring enhanced