To Have and to Hold

6 Jan 2014 is a very special date for me and for The Girlfriend. It marked the two years where we got together to enjoy dim sum and tea appreciation (See Yum Cha Dim Sum (飲茶點心)), and it was there that I confessed my love to her (See Prologue to the Relationship).

But more importantly, this date is of very special significance to us as it marked the date where I proposed to her and she said… YES! And from that day on, she became The Fiancée!

So here’s the story of the entire preparation and setup, and of course, the day of the proposal!


The Plan

The original plan went like this: I would invite The Girlfriend over to my home and we’ll have a little dim sum lunch and tea appreciation, just like we did two years ago.

Just to make it a little unique this time, I bought three dim sum baskets from Daiso. Two of the baskets would be used to serve dim sums.

The third basket would be in hiding, as it’ll be used to conceal the engagement ring. That way, she’ll only see two dim sum baskets the entire time and not suspect a ring in there when I finally decide to serve it.

And, to sweeten things up a little, the engagement ring would be sitting on a heart-shaped ceramic plate inside the dim sum basket (you can see the photo later below).

Now, to create the right magical atmosphere, I wanted to set up a bubble machine so that bubbles would fill the air when it was time to finally propose.

I could have built my own bubble machine, but time was not a luxury. Thankfully, I found a bubble machine from Toys R’ Us!

A hideous looking bubble machine!
A hideous looking bubble machine!

Unfortunately, this bubble machine was hideous! And for that matter, it would have been very easy to spot this in the house, as it was so brightly coloured. So instead, I took it apart and hid the bubble machine in a brown box.

But I wasn’t just satisfied with hiding the bubble machine. I need to control this from a distance. So, I wired up the bubble machine to an Arduino bluetooth controller (it’s known as the Annikken Andee if you’re curious) so that I could use my smartphone to turn on/off the bubble machine from afar. And the best part was, I could use an NFC tag to activate the bubble machine. All I had to do was to hide the NFC tag underneath the table cloth. And when the time came to propose, I could just move my smartphone over the NFC tag and the machine would start producing bubbles. The Girlfriend would not have suspected a thing as it’d look like I’m just moving my phone around.

Here’s the bubble machine in action!

Pretty cool right?

And if that’s not all, I even had a bouquet of flowers hiding in a corner, so that once all is revealed, I could present her with it.

One small problem though: I wanted to record the event, but I had nowhere to hide the camcorder. So unfortunately, I could only place it behind the Wifi router and sit her in such a way that she wouldn’t see it from where she sat. It was risky, but I figured it was quite unlikely that she’ll notice it.


The Proposal

Everything was set in place and ready to go!

I tested the bubble machine and it worked perfectly. The ring was hidden in the dim sum basket, hidden away from sight. The food was warmed up and ready to serve.

The table too, was all set up, with my special gongfu tea set assembled!

2014-01-06 11.04.20

The Girlfriend finally arrived to the house and it was show time! Not to arouse suspicion, our yum cha dim sum session started like a normal meal. First, I served the har gao (prawn dumpling) and the siew mai (pork dumpling), and together, we made gongfu tea using my special tea pot!

2014-01-06 11.14.41

Once we had consumed those dumplings and the tea, it was time for the second round of dim sum! Out came the wu tow kou (yam ball) and the char siew sao (sweet roasted pork pastry).

2014-01-06 11.36.42

So far, everything was going according to plan.

There was still one more round of dim sum to serve! By then, she didn’t suspect anything. So I brought out the basket with the engagement ring in it.

It was the perfect timing too! The Girlfriend needed to use the loo. This gave me time to open the dim sum basket and check that the ring was in place. I even tried to rehearse what I wanted to say to her.

Best of all, I had the time to make my computer play a song that is special to both of us.

So far, everything seemed to be working according to plan.

Or so I thought! (Remember Murphy’s Law?)

While I was loading the song, The Girlfriend came out of the toilet and saw me at the laptop. She turned to ask me what I was doing. And at that moment, SHE SAW THE CAMCORDER!!!

“Are you recording us?” she asked.

She freaked out. I freaked out too.

I suddenly didn’t know what to say or do. I quickly changed the topic. I wanted to propose now, but I was just freaking out inside.

Worse of all! The bubble machine wasn’t generating bubbles!

I freaked out even more!

In fact, I freaked out so much that I forgot everything I wanted to say to her. I began to stutter!

I thought to myself: Ok, stop freaking out Jon!

I took a deep deep breath, opened the dim sum basket, and got down on one knee.

“Will you marry me?” I asked, as I showed her the ring on the heart-shaped ceramic plate in the dim sum basket.

2014-01-05 20.54.39
“To have and to hold: Will you marry me and grow old together with me?”

And she said…


Hurray! I put the ring onto her finger, hugged her, and we kissed.

I then went to some hidden corner of the house and brought out a bouquet of flowers for her.

And of course, I was quite puzzled as to why the bubble machine didn’t produce any bubbles. I took a look at it. It turns out that I tested the machine sooooo much before she came that I finished all the bubble solution, and forgot to top it up! Silly me!

Well, with that, I refilled the machine, and let it run, this time as she held her bouquet of flowers while wearing the ring.

Though the proposal was kinda chaotic and quite hilarious, the moment bubbles filled the air, the atmosphere nonetheless transformed into something so magical in the end. You should have seen her face. She was sooooo happy, grinning from cheek to cheek. There she was, the lovely lady, trying to catch the bubbles floating in the air with her hands.

The Fiancée with her beautiful bouquet and the engagement ring.
The Fiancée with her beautiful bouquet and the engagement ring.

From that day on, The Girlfriend became The Fiancée.

And now, a new chapter of our lives has begun. And we’re looking forward to great memories and experiences together as we slowly and steadily prepare ourselves for The Big Day and the rest of our lives together.