4) The Bachelor Gulch Surprise Charlie's Proposal to Adya on January 12 2006

I have always dreamed of one day getting married and have anticipated the perfect proposal plan and delivery. Though I have had several ideas, all of them pointed to two very important factors: that the actual proposal be a surprise; and that it would be memorable given the setting and circumstance meaningful to us both. My story recounts my truly remarkable proposal to my now fiance’, Adya.

Element of Surprise-

Adya and I have dated for nearly four and one half years, so she has certainly suspected that I would propose on one of the many upcoming vacations we take throughout the year. Timing would be a critical factor in this surprise if I were to pull it off, so I needed help. I discovered that you can use other events as cover so I discreetly put my plan into motion. Adya is Ukrainian and though I have had a great relationship with her parents over the last couple of years, I wanted to be as traditional as possible. I researched some of the older traditions and planned to have dinner with them a week before Christmas 2006. Typically I would travel to spend Christmas with my family in Tennessee and they would have their family come to the DC area. During this particular week, 20 December to be exact, Adya had a Bar Exam review class in preparation for the actual exam in February. The class was held in the evenings and since I was not going to be in town to spend Christmas with her family that weekend, I invited her parents to dinner to "start the holidays early."

The Blessing-

Following tradition, I met them at their home bearing gifts, though they missed the significance of the bottle of Ukrainian vodka. Old customs called for the suitor to visit the parents and ask for permission to wed their daughter, bearing a bottle of horilka, or home-brewed vodka, as a gift. Though her parents do not even drink hard alcohol, they did not pick up on the gesture until later though they were impressed that I was able to find truly Ukrainian vodka in the U.S. We had a lovely dinner and near the end I confessed my love for their daughter and asked for her hand in marriage. They were delighted and impressed that I took the time to ask in person and research some of the older traditions of Ukrainian courtship, though admitted that some have not been passed through the years to the U.S. Finally, I also suggested that I had an idea for the actual proposal and that I needed to enlist their help, to which they swore to secrecy and agreed to assist. To make up for the some of the family not being together for the holidays, there was a trip planned for early January for the whole family to go skiing. This would also be the first time Adya’s father would get to ski after recovering from bypass surgery three years earlier. As an avid skier it was torture for him to not take his family on their traditional ski trip. This trip was already a very meaningful trip for the family and would soon be the ultimate vacation.


The ski trip to Beaver Creek, CO would be the perfect cover to execute my proposal plans. The fun would now begin as I would initiate the final plans for the deed itself. I had been in the market for a diamond for several months, using any means possible and including regular searches of online stock, trips to the diamond district in New York City (NYC), and local browsing of "working" diamonds. I became very particular in my search and new that she wanted a solitaire round brilliant cut stone in a classic platinum setting. I wanted the very best so I was quite patient in my search. However, now as the plans were getting solidified, I needed to secure a stone. Literally in the final days before we were to leave, two interesting diamonds became available. I had them shipped to a local broker and though I had my heart set on one of the two after seeing the certificates, when I saw them in person I was disappointed in the one and how the color compared visually to its actual rating. Then, on Friday of that week, a spectacular stone (on paper), became available. Though I called my broker, they were not able to respond until after the weekend. Amazingly they were still able to get the stone, ship it down to the DC area and show it to me against the first two. It was unbelievable! First we realized that the first stone wasn’t weak in its color, but the second of the first two actually was strong for its color. However, the new stone, a 1.74 F VVS1 with ideal ratings across, was simply remarkable. The only problem that remained was that in two days I would be in Colorado.

Immediately the newly purchased stone was sent to NYC to get set into a Tiffany style, six-prong half round platinum setting – the perfect classic style. I had secretly borrowed one of Adya’s rings several months before in order to get it sized and had gleaned other information about her ring desires through casual conversation about friends at work that were getting engaged. To continue, I was told that the jeweler in NYC would drop ship the finished product to CO and forward a tracking number so that I would know that it is on the way. Now I had to work on the site location for the proposal. I knew I wanted to propose on the mountain itself, and anticipated that we would want to ski down the mountain and then celebrate. Where to do that led to many questions so I set to work.

First, I picked the location by looking at the trail maps for Beaver Creek Ski Resort. The perfect place jumped right out at me – Bachelor Gulch! The Bachelor Gulch was perfect and at its base is a spectacular Ritz Carlton resort and hotel. I called the hotel looking for tips and was amazed at how helpful they were. They offered to reserve a small library off of the main ski entrance for me, called the Fly Fishing Library. It too was perfect and I arranged through their concierge to have champagne, strawberries, roses and a special cake. The Ritz was so accommodating that they even recommended that I get flowers delivered and go to a local bakery instead of risking limited availability or options with their own flower and bakery services at the last minute (two days and counting).

Next, I called Mountain Flour, in Eagle, CO to arrange to have a cake made at the Ritz’s recommendation. These guys were fabulous and they had a three layer double chocolate mousse cake ready for me to pick up on the Thursday. The cake said "She Said Yes! Congratulations Adya and Charlie" and would prove to be a nice touch, as well as delicious.

Finally, I also called 1800Flowers and had four dozen roses scheduled for delivery to our condo for Friday 12 January, the day of the proposal. Everything was now set, I just had to get to CO.

Sneaking About-

The day after our arrival, Thursday 11 January, was the day of sneaky planning and also when Adya’s parents played a vital role in the plan. I had not heard from the jeweler so I was worried that there had been a snag in the plans for the ring. However, on the way to the mountain to ski for the day, I received an automated call from FedEx declaring that my package had arrived and was awaiting pickup in Eagle. Check. After a couple of hours of skiing, I had a problem with one of my boots (for real) and decided that it was time to make the run to Eagle. Adya’s father secretly called her mother, who does not ski, to pick me up while I went to change out my boot. After I switched boots, I threw my gear into the awaiting truck and we zoomed to Eagle. We found the bakery and picked up the cake, to which the guys asked if she had indeed said "Yes?" I reminded them that I would know the next day to which they wondered if they should have a "backup" cake. Not necessary! Then we zoomed to FedEx but found that it was closed. ARGH, the first glitch! It seemed quite unbelievable as it was a staffed FedEx office and it was only 2 pm in the afternoon. Afte
r repeatedly banging on the door, a munching attendant having a late lunch emerged and was not impressed at my enthusiasm even though I exclaimed that it was an engagement ring. "Eh, congrats" was the dry response. Oh well, onward!

We almost drove off of the road when we first peered at the amazing ring and it is truly a stunning site to behold. We raced to the Ritz and dropped the cake off at the restaurant where they would hold it until presentation the following afternoon. I then grabbed my ski gear and rushed to the lift on Bachelor Gulch to reunite with Adya and her dad, skiing higher up on the mountain. All told, mountain to mountain, it was only a one hour and thirty minute "boot change," so not too bad. Adya never had a clue, though I inadvertently dropped a clue when I stated that I knew where we were to meet her mom that afternoon, which I would not have known! The other slip was that I stated that I grabbed a "quick lunch," which does not really exist at a ski resort.

The Big Day-

Friday 12 January arrived. In the morning, while we were getting our ski gear on, Adya’s mom snuck in and handed off the ring that she had hidden overnight. We all piled into the truck and headed off to Beaver Creek. The conditions were excellent as it had snowed a great deal overnight. We arrived at the parking area at the base of the mountain and as I was getting my boots on, Adya tried to shove a granola bar snack in my jacket, into the pocket with the ring! I snapped back abruptly and then relaxed, realizing that there would be many tests of patience for keeping everything a secret all day. I made it through that close call and we were off to ski. The day was relatively uneventful, though periodically I received text message updates on such things as the roses arriving or the Ritz being set up and ready. At lunch time I secretly sent a message to Adyas dad, though she was sitting right next to me, that he needed to get scarce after 2 pm and that I would then meet them at the Ritz. Consequently, her dad declared that he had received notice that he had a conference call for work at 2 pm and that he would ski down by himself and meet us later. Because he had a real call for work the day before, Adya did not suspect anything. However, it was tricky trying to negotiate where to meet when Adya had no idea that the meeting place had already been arranged.

After we were alone, I suggested that we head back over to the other side of the mountain (towards Bachelor Gulch) because I saw a place I wanted to take a picture. It was late in the day, around 3 pm, by the time we were on the Larkspur lift heading to the top of the Primrose run (above Bachelor Gulch), and we were tired. At the top of the lift there is a single restroom and I said that I need to go one last time before we headed down. It was there where I quickly and discreetly prepared the ring and made it easily accessible (through layers and with gloves) and looked one last time at the speech I had prepared the week before. I wanted to capture everything just right for this was the big moment, and writing it was a great way. The sentiment truly came from my heart and I had read it dozens of times but as the actual deed was getting near, I was having a hard time remembering everything. I emerged and we started down the Primrose path, literally!

The Proposal-

About 50 feet down the Primrose run I stopped her and she posed for a picture. I claimed to again have boot problems so I took one ski off. When I took a second ski off she got confused but before I could come up with a good story, I accidentally knocked us both into the deep snow. As I regained composure, I picked her back up and brushed off a bit while I started to describe our never-ending friendship and my deep and true love for her. I became quite emotional but knelt down on one knee, and spoke from my heart and soul as I delivered my speech, finally presenting the ring from my pocket. I asked Adya if she would marry me and be my wife and best friend forever, and without hesitation, through tears of joy, she proclaimed "Yes!" We hugged and kissed and were the happiest couple ever. She was taking it all in and overjoyed that it was really happening. All the while a few skiers were cruising by yelling congratulations. I shared my speech with her and we read it together so that she would see every last word and after we hugged and kissed some more, my text messages began to buzz again, incoming from her anxiously awaiting parents. I alerted her parents that "We were engaged and on the way!" and told her there was another surprise waiting.

The Reception-

We skied down through Bachelor Gulch and to the Ritz. After taking off our skis, the staff had seen us and were waiting lined up to the entrance with the open doors guiding us to the Library. They applauded as we entered in true red carpet fashion, with cameras going off from her parents. Champagne was waiting with strawberries and the special cake had been elegantly prepared with fine silver and china. The four dozen red roses were delivered to the condo and Adya’s mother brought and arranged them in the Library as well. We relaxed and enjoyed the occasion with her very proud parents and told of the actual proposal on the mountain and all of the fun things that happened. Unannounced, the guitar player from the lodge actually came over and serenaded us to a beautiful rendition of Bob Dylan’s "Make Me Feel Your Love" and everything was absolutely impeccable. We followed up with a wonderful and romantic dinner on the mountain, after getting out of our ski gear and getting cleaned up, of course! It has been so fun to see how happy Adya and I get when we tell the story and she shows her ring. Everyone wanted to know if I proposed on the mountain and were quite impressed when we told them that I had, on top of Bachelor Gulch. Though it is still so fresh, we still cherish how truly perfect everything was in this proposal and she still asks how I managed to make everything work! Fate I suppose, but all of the effort was well worth the experience. For the rest of the week we joked about all of the activities leading to the proposal and how Adya had been completely surprised. It was exactly what she always dreamed of and I am very lucky to have her! Enjoy and good luck!

Proposal Story By:

Charles Joesten

Arlington, VA


The founder and president of Diamond Cutters International, is one of the worlds top diamond experts, as well as a three-time Guinness Book record holder in jewelry design.
Fred The Diamond Guy
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