the story – from Mark's point of view

Sooooo only a few weeks after the fact, but still good right?

Where to start? There’s so much to tell! Let’s start at the most interesting part:

P1100626.JPGAnd she said “yes” yay!

The history

But how did it come to pass? Let’s rewind to almost exactly 4 years ago: Halloween 2003. Rose and I had both recently started working at Microsoft – our first jobs out of college – and we were at my office-mate Nate’s house for a party. My friend from college, Lee, introduced me to Christine (Rose’s high school friend, turned Seattle roommate), who introduced me to Rose. We were both in ridiculous costumes; I was a “fireman” (although all I had was a thin plastic fireman’s hat that I had found on the floor) and Rose was “tank top girl” – which I think meant she was wearing all of her tank tops at the same time. I’m not ashamed to admit that I liked Rose from the second we met (not sure if the feeling was mutual though :O )

Two days later, we bumped into each other at church. God’s plan no doubt!

And then…

We started dating a few months later, and it’s definitely been a non-stop adventure 🙂 Just check out all the photos:

Banff.9.2.2005 082Sonoma and Napa 9.24.2005 071P1050445P1080243Banff.9.2.2005 101P1030991.jpgHiking, sight seeing, traveling, snowboarding, and more! When I found out Rose was as adventurous and spontaneous as me, I knew I had found someone special. (Especially since we don’t always fully plan our adventures hehehe but that’s another story!)


Two and a half years ago, I moved to San Francisco. Problem was, Rose was still in Seattle. 😦

I guess they say “what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger” but man, easier said than done! Over the year and a half Rose and I were long distance, it was tough. Most of the time we spent together was over the phone and every couple of weeks one of us would fly to meet the other for the weekend. But during this time, I came to realize that Rose wasn’t just adventurous and fun-loving, but also extremely dedicated and faithful.

Then about a year ago, I tricked Rose into moving to San Francisco too. 🙂

See, we had decided that it was time to end the long distance thing and live in the same city again. So we made a deal, the first person to find a job in the other person’s city would move there. I sent my resume out to many companies in Seattle and Rose forwarded me her resume to send around to companies in Silicon Valley. Of course it was a bit unfair since I used my network to get her an interview a few days later and she had a job offer within a few weeks, but now we were in sunny California! 😀

The realization…

About 6 months ago, I was doing some thinking (a rare occurence I know) and I started to put all the pieces together. The “random” meeting at the Halloween party and then at church 2 days later. The way we both loved to go on adventures, travel, and try new things. The realization that the last three years with Rose had been the best years of my life. And so it clicked. I knew God had brought us together and that I wanted to be with Rose for the rest of my life.

I guess God just knew exactly what I needed. Best… gift… evar!

So then began the engagement planning…

Planning to pop the question

First the ring. This required quite a bit of reconnaissance. Along with being adventurous, spontaneous, fun-loving, devoted, and faithful, Rose is also slightly contrarian. We both love to be a little different, a tad unique 🙂

We had casually gone ring shopping a long time ago and also in other conversation Rose had mentioned that she liked tension set rings. I had to be sure, so I enlisted the help of Erin, one of Rose’s college friends. During a little vacation Rose and some of her friends took in San Diego, Erin steered them to a ring store, narrowed down the field, and reported the results back to me.

Excellent!… except that wasn’t enough info. So I dragged Rose to a few stores to look at different rings and to make sure I knew what she wanted. When we had finally narrowed it down, I was pleasantly surprised: the specific tension setting she wanted would only accommodates a 0.50 carat diamond max. (for all the guys reading out there, join me in a collective “nice!” & *high-five* )

Then I was unpleasantly surprised. Not only are there only a few manufacturers of tension set rings in the world, but the specific style Rose wanted was especially difficult to make and pretty expensive. So I started my journey of finding the best diamond, picking a jeweler to have it sent to the manufacturer, and waiting for the ring to come in.

In the meantime, plenty to do!

I had to get permission from her parents of course so I gave them a call well in advance to get their blessing. Check!

I also had to talk with my parents. My dad and grandpa made it easy, when we visited them in Shanghai, my grandpa was very direct: “when are you guys getting married?” I assumed that was a affirmative. Later my mom visited me in San Francisco and we chatted too. Check!

Finally, to plan the actual engagement event.

I knew I couldn’t just do the cliche (take her out to dinner, have them hide the ring in the desert, and have the string quartet pop out of the background right as I drop to one knee). All our friends had done things that were so much more elaborate.

I had originally thought I could do it in San Francisco, but it took so long to get the ring (almost 3 months for the entire process!) that summer was coming to a close before I got all my stuff together. Then came the perfect opportunity: Rose’s friends from college, Gene and Sharon, were getting married in Houston and all of her friends would be there.

I again enlisted the help of Erin and we devised a “texas reunion after wedding brunch” which would be the cover for my proposal. Tip for guys: enlist Erin to help you – she’s awesome! Erin helped scope out locations, put together the guest list, and ran interference all without breaking a sweat.

We picked a place at Erin’s sister’s suggestion (La Strada restaurant in Houston) and had everything set. During the planning, we had to let a few people in on it but almost no one knew and no one spilled the beans either 🙂

So we had a great time at Gene and Sharon’s wedding the night before and the day was upon me.

Obstacle number one: getting Rose to get up and get ready to go to the brunch without being suspiciously nervous. This proved difficult, but we did get there eventually (an hour late).

Obstacle number two: bringing the ring (which came in a HUGE box) without letting Rose see it. This was accomplished by my extremely baggy cargo shorts. Although it required a bit of elbow grease to get the box in and out of my pocket.

Obstacle number three: setting everything up with the restaurant staff. Right after we got to the restaurant, I said I had to go to the bathroom. I took the chance to talk with the manager and other staff to get things set.

Another interesting side note we found out later: La Strada (the restaurant we were at) is well known in Houston for being the place you go after getting totally drunk the night before to have brunch and then proceed to get hammered again. Thus, the restaurant had a DJ playing music and two full service bars. :O

So everything was set! Here we go!

The main event!

Here’s the play by play:

  • A little early, the waiter came out with a huge platter of champagne. Everyone at the table (aside from Erin and I) was like: “what the?” Erin grabbed her camcorder and I was like: “it’s showtime!”
  • Halfway through passing out the champagne, the waiter dropped the remaining half of the champagne glasses and it was everywhere. :O No worries, the show must go on!
  • I had prepped Vincent (one of Rose’s photographer friends) the night before and told him to bring his Canon 10D. I now gave him the signal
  • I signaled the DJ to turn down the music
  • Rose had been mingling at the other end of the table, so I asked her to come over next to me
  • I delivered a speech which I had practiced in the car. As I started, everyone realized what was going on. Rose and some of her friends started crying
  • I struggled for a little bit to get the massive ring box out of my pocket.
  • I got down on one knee and proposed. She said yes.
  • I actually didn’t know what to do next until someone told me to put the ring on her finger.
  • Champagne and pictures followed.
  • The DJ came over and we took a round of kamikaze shots with him
  • Case closed!

After the brunch, Vincent took some engagement photos of us in the surrounding area. They turned out really well:

Thanks Vincent!

And that was it. We were now engaged.

Longest… blog post… evar!


21 Comments on “the story – from Mark's point of view”

  1. rosekwok says:

    yay for elfy! thanks chica 🙂 *muah*

  2. Henry says:

    Oh man… I’m really sad to see one of my friends get married. I am also very happy for you at the same time. It’s a great story… something to remember and nothing too cheesey to tell the kids. Oh crap… you’re going to have kids too!!! I’m too young for this Sh*t. =) H

  3. Don says:

    Congratulations! Wish you two all the happiness in the world.

    /from random guy you don’t know

  4. Swaroop says:

    Congrats for both of you… Get married soon.

    The post was quite lengthy.. but saved it with the romantic proposal tho !

  5. Congrats to both of you. The ring looks beautiful!

  6. Joseph Smarr says:

    Really nice story Mark, and told in excellent “unfiltered Mark-Jen-ese”. I could imagine you excitedly telling me this out loud as I read it. 😀 Congrats to you both!! js

  7. markjen says:

    Thanks everyone!

    @Henry – you’ll be married soon, it’s only a matter of time!

    @Joseph – hehe yeah, I think the length of this blog post takes after Terry! So much left out though, I’ll have to post some more later 🙂

  8. Congrats Mark and Rose!! How exciting!

  9. Clarence says:

    Congrats! Best wishes.

  10. John Lin says:

    Awesome story, great photos! I’ll have to congratulate you in person the next time I see you at a Lunch 2.0 event.

  11. erin says:

    You give me too much credit, marky Mark. Glad to be a part of it 🙂

    and of course we cried. it was so sweet!

  12. Allen says:

    Wow. Congratulations Mark! So much has changed since our days LANing and playing video games just talking about girls… hah.

  13. strimble says:

    I’m so happy for you two! 🙂 …and I can’t wait to see the ring.

  14. david says:

    great story 🙂

  15. Antony and Donna says:

    Congrats you two! The story was put together nicely. We were wondering when you two would get married since we’ve only seen the two of you at weddings recently. 🙂 What fun it will be to organize a wedding!

  16. Erika says:

    Mark, I just came across this – I love how you didn’t know what to do post-proposal. I guess no one really thinks about that. Congratulations on the engagement!

  17. Hasan says:

    All the best to both involved and congrats to both families!

  18. markjen says:

    Wow Facebook really works 🙂 Thanks for all the well wishes everyone. We’re working on some follow up posts too!

  19. Steven Kwan says:

    Dude, awesome story! Mark, you are such a great story teller! Best wishes to true romance. =)

  20. Lucy Chang says:

    omg, both of your stories are insanely long!! 🙂 yay!

  21. Kenneth P. Chang says:

    That made me smile!

    Now let me read Rosie’s story.

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