Our friends, Jon and Amanda had been texting us for weeks to make sure we were going. They seemed very, very excited and so, despite being a little tired, we knew we had to be there.
There was a good turnout for the hunt and we broke up into teams of five (Jon, Amanda, Bethany, Jeff, and Jessica).
The hunt included three categories.
There were people (a woman with an animal tattoo, a person wearing a local shirt, a biker, a butcher, etc.). You need their picture and signature.
There were items (a child’s toy, a coaster, etc.) that you had to collect.
And there were places listed based on their address and a hint. So a pizza place might be listed as “Grab a slice at 2380 Agricola Street.”
Starting at 1 p.m. we tore through the Scavenger Hunt and were already heading back to the church by 2:30. Drew and Kyla, two of the organizers, met us at the door telling us that there was a Bonus Sheet for the first team back. This sheet had one more place (Catch a show at 2203 Gottingen Street), one more item (a piece of wood), and a chart revealing that if you took all of the first letters of the stores we visited, it spelt out a secret message.
Jon grabbed the sheet and started running to the new location with Bethany and the rest of us in tow. It was the Bus Stop Theatre and was just up the street. When we arrived, he gave her the sheet for her to figure out the mystery message. I took the sheet we’d been writing on and read her the organizations while she filled in the chart. Here was the result:
Purchase Used items at 2468 Agricola St – Makeanew Curated Thrift Shop – M
Sip coffee at 2193 Gottingen St – Alteregos Café & Catering – A
Grab a slice at 2380 Agricola St – Randy’s Pizza – R
Sample French food at 2082 Gottingen St – Ratinaud French Cuisine – R
Get employment help at 2269 Gottingen St The YWCA Y
Read a comic at 2091 Gottingen St – Monster Comic Lounge, though we took a picture of the Independent Mercantile Co. – M
Eat, drink, nourish at 2053 Gottingen St – Edna Restaurant – E
Catch a show at 2203 Gottingen St – The Bus Stop Theatre – B
What Actually Happened
I knew that Bethany loved surprises and since we’d been looking at wedding venues for months prior, making the proposal a genuine surprise would be difficult.
The only way to do it – I figured – was to plan an event that I, for all intents and purposes, couldn’t be planning.
In March 2015, I came up with the overarching plan and in June 2015 I spent a few hours researching businesses in the area and brainstorming items to be collected. I created three scavenger hunt sheets; on each the businesses were different and spelt out something different. While one spelled out “Marry Me, B” the other two spelled out “Families” and “Congrats.”
I contacted Kyla, the PAX Administrator, and ran through the plan with her. I got Drew on board to host. I talked to Jon and Amanda and encouraged them to play up their excitement and made them responsible for inviting Bethany to the Scavenger Hunt. Everything in place, it was only a matter of time.
We’d decided for a September date to make it a “Back-to-School” event. However the wait nearly killed me! There were so many times I wanted to propose and why I hadn’t yet started to be a common question. However, I always stuck to, “There’s a plan!”
A week before the event, I printed the hunts and put them in different folders, putting our unique version in a distinct blue one. I purchased Tim Horton’s gift cards for the winner. Emails had been going out about it for the month leading up to the event.
I gave my sister the ring in a drift wood box to bring to the Scavenger Hunt and have in her purse for the big moment.
Everything was ready to go!
What Happened According to Bethany
A Saturday spent in the city…basically unheard of this summer full of fun and adventures. I was genuinely excited to sleep in, go to the market, relax, and even go to a scavenger hunt that I was hoping wouldn’t get rained out. It was looking like a great day to do a whole lot of nothing in particular.
In retrospect I can tell you funny little things that happened but at the time I was oblivious as they get. Things like Jeff being overly affectionate, and me responding by wondering what was wrong with him today anyways… He even at one point, when discussing whether to get bubble tea, asked me what would make my day better. I did think that was a little over the top but I thought he had just recognized I was tired and being supportive.
We made it to the scavenger hunt and I was excited to see so many of our friends around. I may have been tired beforehand but I was quickly on board and getting into my competitive self. I was excited to be with our team and ready to go! We rocked it too! It helped meeting friends along the way and getting their help. We were back in record time, sans a comb.
Back at the church we had a bonus round and between the excitement of maybe finishing first and Jon yelling at us to get going, we were off running to Gottingen.
I was in the zone and confused why Jeff was trying to get me to not stand in the middle of the street and “just take a minute to figure out the puzzle.”
He was calling out addresses and I was writing down the letters: “M. A. R. R. Y. M. E…”
I made it all the way to the E before I realized what was happening. Even then, I thought, “Oh, Jeff is just telling me that’s what they spell, not what they really do, he’s just teasing me again.” Then I looked and he really was getting down on one knee in front of the Bus Stop Theatre. My eyes welled up as I realized what was actually happening.
I do however remember two thoughts. First was that I wanted to just be in that moment with him and not with my head somewhere else. So I quickly threw all the Scavenger Hunt items on the ground. Second, was when it all just hit me: Jeff was proposing! This was my friend and now he was my love. It was really beautiful to think of all the different relationships I’ve had with this one man, from acquaintance to friend and now as the man proposing marriage, and everything in between. I pray I will love him to the best of my ability for the rest of my life and knew I wouldn’t want it any other way. So, I said YES!
The rest was perfect, right down to surprising everyone at the Scavenger Hunt that was as clueless as me. I was presented with a bouquet of flowers made from flowers returned on the scavenger list. We all enjoyed the happy moment we were in; we even got ice cream to celebrate. Before I started making calls to family and friends, I enjoyed the beautiful day that is just one in the many that we will have over our lives.