"We were at the beach [at Ocean City] with my family last June. Lauren was up on the beach sunbathing and I was out in the water with my family," he says.
"I see it and I'm trying to decide whether to pretend I'm asleep because I was almost positive that it wasn't his airplane. But what were the chances that it would be there?"
Michael picks up the story.
"I look up and saw this airplane and thought, Oh no, because my family had been giving her a hard time [about the proposal delay] all week," he says. "So, I started running out of the water, flailing my arms, yelling, 'It's not my plane, it's not my plane.' Then the plane starts circling us. And everyone's looking at us because I'm running, waving my arms and screaming."
"We finally convince everybody it's not us and get them settled down. And his 92 year old grandmother turns to me and asks, 'Well, did you say yes?' "
They never found out whose plane it was.
The real proposal: "I had known for months and months and months that I was going to ask her. I knew that it had to be sometime around November 11th. But I knew the only way I could surprise her was to jump the gun," says Michaeld.
He planned it for the morning after her birthday, October 23, 2011. He didn't sleep well.
"I ended up waking up at 5:45 in the morning and I had to wait 2 hours for her to wake up," he says. "I'd make little noises and get the dog to make noises. Finally I got the ring and poked at her until she woke up. I just couldn't wait any more."
After she said yes, the couple went out to brunch, where he surprised her with a big group of family and friends.
The ring: Michael worked with Steve Brown, a goldsmith and jewelry designer, and the father of friend Matt Brown. Three interwoven bands of pave diamonds surround the 1.25 gem.
The place: The couple plays kickball in Federal Hill and on the way to games drive by the American Visionary Art Museum.
"It's such an awesome funky place," Lauren says. "It's very much our personalities."
Two days after the proposal, they booked it.
Lauren and Michael decided they didn't want a strong theme, nor did they want something really traditional — not a whole lot of flowers, no bouquet toss, no garter. The bridesmaids dresses are a dark fuchsia. The groomsmen will wear charcoal gray suits. And the flowers are mostly greenery.
Instead of traditional centerpieces, tables are going to be tablescaped with all sorts of things — branches, candles, mixed metallics of silvers and bronzes, candle stands and candleholders.
"With sequins and glitter, making it really, really fun," Lauren says.
To keep the spirits up and the energy flowing, Chef's Expressions will have food stations set up, instead of a served sit-down dinner.