01/07/2014 11:34 am ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

Wedding-y Wit and Wisdom: How to Propose to a Princess (Part 1)

I had given her a cute little promise ring (made from a coconut with a turtle on it -- in Hawaii; don't judge, because she loved it), but it was time to get the real one on her finger.

When she saw the little red box by the side of her place setting at dinner, I said, "I hope that you will join our family. This is just a promise of what is to come ... in the future." She opened the box and a smile overtook her face. "Yes, of course I want to be part of your family. Of course I will say yes when you ask me." A quick kiss and then back to our lasagna and salad with sweet corn. The kids were excited to be a part of this. I was excited. Everyone ate happily. You see, the next day, she was leaving, and I couldn't put together a proper proposal as fast as would be necessary.

A month earlier, the US Supreme Court had changed our world in one fell swoop. Well, two really. Two decisions all of a sudden meant that we could marry and have a life together. We went from being in love to having a future with a way forward. But it all happened very fast and I couldn't get my act together to give her the kind of proposal you can brag to your friends about. So she went home with a little promise wrapped around her finger. (This post isn't about the pain of missing her, so I will skip over what happened each time she "went home.")

The cute, little, golden, sparkly promise ring allowed the conversation. I asked her to send me some engagement rings that she was particularly fond of. That was a delightful task for my femme! Before I knew it, I had about nine images to peruse. I settled in on a couple that I liked the most and talked to my friend the diamond buyer. It is a very good time to have friends like that! We designed the winning ring and she started the process of making it for me. I started thinking, "How do you propose to a princess in a way that will live up to her expectations?" Right? Remember, people: Femmes are women who used to be little girls -- little girls who likely grew up planning their weddings, with Barbies in gowns setting the stage for fantasy proposals and dream weddings to go with those dream houses.

Early in our dating relationship I asked her how she saw a wedding "someday." This was neat because we were very, very far from that for us, and so I was able to get a peek at her fantasies without raising suspicions. It also means, obviously, that I was in love and fairly sure fairly early on. My reconnaissance had shown me she is a romantic. For real. And, I mean, like if I could float in on a cloud, propose on bended knee and we gallop off on a unicorn, that would be just fine. I love this about her. The rose smeller, cloud watcher, star gazer. Sigh.

Anyway, I needed to find a way to propose that would make her feel very special -- a way that would give her a nice story to share. It's clear to me that this requires it to be 1) thoughtful, 2) well-planned, and 3) hard. HARD. Women need to know that you put lots of time into it, that you didn't just stumble through dinner, pull the ring out of your pocket and blurt out, "Will you?" Obviously, plenty of proposals shake down this way and result in amazing marriages. I am not judging you. I promise. I am talking about the ideal, right? If I have the opportunity and can keep it together, I want to do something other than that. But what?

In the middle of all this concentrated thinking, she flew into town and surprised me for my birthday. I was really surprised! The day after she arrived, my diamond buyer called me and told me that the ring was ready. I sprinted down to pick it up, and as soon as the little leather box was in my pocket, I knew there was no way I was going to be with her for four days and not propose. I needed a plan, and stat!

It's butch to upgrade the coconut ring to something more sparkly. "Be Butch."