So many swoons. One man went through incredibly romantic hurdles to pop the question to his longtime girlfriend on Thursday, November 16, just in time for proposal season. With the help of How He Asked, Joseph Balderrama of Los Angeles executed the moving gesture that left the love of his life, Mariah Robinson, in complete shock.
Balderrama anonymously drafted a love letter posted to How He Asked, which Robinson frequents as a fan. The pair first met as students at the University of Southern California. As an added precaution, one of her friends tipped her off to look at the site Thursday after the note was posted. The same friend then stopped by her home to advise Robinson to look inside her closet.
Awaiting the woman of the hour was an airy new dress from Show Me Your Mumu. Together, Robinson and her best friend got ready together for an epic evening ahead. “When we were planning this whole thing, I told the planners that I wanted to recreate a campy theme because our relationship sort of started there and grew there too,” Balderrama tells The Knot. “I told them that I wanted it to be classy and beautiful, but [for it to] still have hints of camp and outdoors.”
The significance of camp being that the couple joined a service organization in college—that involved the theme. “At this summer camp, the kids would constantly see us talking and immediately teased us for ‘being in love!’ and flashing ‘flirty fingers’ at each other,” Balderrama wrote in his original love note. “For their sake, we went along with it that entire week. On the last day, I decided it was time to take our ‘flirty finger relationship’ to the next level and I fake proposed to you; to nobody’s surprise, you said yes. The kids went nuts, chanting our names and wishing us the best (guess they had us pegged). Then camp ended a day later and that was that.”
The producers behind the proposal, The Yes Girls, worked with the Beautiful Mood to create a custom sign that read “Idyllwild Pines”—the very campsite where they spent their summers. “I figured since I couldn’t take Mariah there, I’d bring it to her,” he tells The Knot. “They put a lot of lights to represent the stars, many candles, fake trees and tree stumps. Then they also had an artist sing us a custom song acoustically, which fit the theme quite nicely. I could not have asked for anything better than what they delivered us.”
The entire moment took place at Malibu’s famed Saddlerock Ranch, where Balderrama patiently waited for Robinson with a ring—and a romantic sunset proposal. Musician Zach Churchill played a love song for the pair while photographer Brian Leahy captured the intimate moment in a stunning set of images.
“I was surprisingly calm until I saw her walking down the stone walkway with her dress flowing in the wind,” Balderrama concludes. “I had practiced my speech at least one hundred times, so I was pretty confident that I would get it right. Plus, I figured if I did forget something, my heart would take the lead and I would just improvise the rest. When I saw her, though, and she came to me and embraced me, I felt pure bliss.”
Balderrama says that while the proposal was public, everyone else vanished in that moment. “When I got down on one knee, I could tell she was anxious for me to just ask the question already,” he says, “because her eyes told me that she just wanted to hold and kiss me so bad! But I took my time with it and made sure that she knew that this moment would change our lives forever.”
He proposed to Robinson with a David Yurman ring—a twisted platinum piece with a perfectly round diamond featuring a tiny halo. “All our friends and family loved it,” he says, “and most importantly Mariah loved it too.”
Following the proposal, the couple’s families were ready to celebrate—on hand. “Everything went smoothly,” he says. “My family got to the venue right on time. I got there early. The only thing that was stressful for a minute was the fact that Mariah’s friends got lost trying to get to the spot where I was actually going to propose and we were losing sunlight. Other than that, the day went pretty much as I expected it to… Almost everybody cried because Mariah is the only girl and I am the only boy in our families.”
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