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When Danielle Roesch’s friend invited her to “an event” at Chicago’s Adler Planetarium on Aug. 19, Roesch didn’t bother researching it online.
And when a member of their group was “running late,” and the friend suggested they kill time down by Lake Michigan instead, she didn’t suspect a thing.
But when they "ran into" a group of about 50 friends and family members, some of whom had traveled from as far away as London, she wondered what was going on.
That's when they pointed her toward a giant screen that began rolling a video of her boyfriend, Josh Schmitz.
And when he proposed to her 30 minutes later, she said yes!
But let’s rewind a bit, shall we? Roesch and Schmitz, both 29, met on Tinder in October 2014. In her profile picture on the app, Roesch stood along the same patch of Chicago lakefront. To break the ice, Schmitz commented that the spot had one of his favorite views in the city.
“Guess it wasn’t too creepy for her to go out with me,” he told TODAY.
The two quickly became serious, and by the following summer, Schmitz knew Roesch was the one. He began mulling over creative ways to pop the question, and was inspired by the couple’s tradition of leaving notes for each other on days when their schedules didn’t overlap.
“I loved going back and reading those notes, seeing what was going on in our lives,” Schmitz said. “I wanted to do something that would let her rewind and say, ‘Oh yeah,’ I remember that.’”
Finally, Schmitz hit on his big idea: He would film a short video every day for a full year. In each clip, he would hold up a whiteboard with a “note” for Roesch, culminating in a proposal.
Schmitz quietly set about filming the clips: at work, at home and around town, sometimes with Roesch in the background. He somehow managed to keep the project a surprise, even as the two lived and traveled together. “I always appreciated a bathroom break,” he joked.
A year is a long time to sit on such big news. If it was hard for Schmitz, it was even harder for Roesch’s best friend, to whom Schmitz spilled the beans last September. “She was mad at him for telling her so early!’” Roesch said. “But I never suspected a thing.”
The friend kept the secret, as did the 50 others Schmitz reached out to last month for the screening party. Roesch loves surprises, and when she realized there was no event at the planetarium, she had an emotional reaction.
“Apparently I looked like I was going to pass out,” she said. “I started bawling while watching the video … on the last slide, he said ‘Meet me by the lake,’ and I walked down there shaking.”
Schmitz, meanwhile, was cool as a cucumber. “We had never even talked about getting married, because I didn’t want her to have any idea that this was in the works,” he said. “But I knew she would say yes.”
Roesch did say yes, and the group made their way to a nearby rooftop bar to celebrate, joined by another 40 local friends and acquaintances. “And this was just the engagement party!” said Schmitz. “It was cool to see how many people we have in our life who cared about us and wanted to be there.”
Though the planning has just begun, the couple is hoping to wed in the fall of 2017. Schmitz hopes others will feel excited and inspired by their story.
“It’s a happy ending,” he said, and then corrected himself: “It’s a good start to a happy ending.”