What does it take to pull off the perfect proposal? What about doing so when traveling to a new city, trying to catch flowers in peak bloom, and fielding unexpected changes — all without giving the plan away to your partner? It takes a sprinkle of hope, a dash of fate, and a whole lot of love. Just ask Cincinnati native Andrew Pope, who planned an elaborate proposal from afar to Kelsey Hoehn last March. Andrew and Kelsey met over Labor Day weekend in 2018. Their paths crossed at Mt. Lookout Tavern when they were meeting up with their respective friends. The two groups struck up a friendly conversation over football and beer. Eventually, Kelsey and Andrew broke off from the group for a one-on-one conversation. They ended up talking at the bar for hours, long after their friends had left. They exchanged numbers. A few days later, they enjoyed dinner at Cloud 9 Sushi. Soon, Andrew was falling in love with Kelsey’s intelligence and her bright smile. Kelsey fell for Andrew’s thoughtfulness and his devotion to his loved ones.
After 2 1/2 years of dating, Andrew and Kelsey planned to visit the internationally renowned Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C. The city welcomes the arrival of spring every year with a four-week series of events centered around the blooming of cherry blossom trees, which only bloom for a short period. The flowers are believed to symbolize love, renewal, and the beauty of life itself. Andrew thought it would be the perfect place to propose. He researched romantic and picturesque proposal spots. The extra challenge, he says, was that he’d never visited D.C. before. After quite a bit of Googling, he decided he would propose at the Tidal Basin — a small body of water surrounded by cherry blossom trees. He used the website Flytographer to arrange for a professional photographer in D.C. to capture the moment without giving away the surprise. Andrew also planned for dinner reservations after the proposal at a steakhouse, The Prime Rib. Since he and Kelsey would already be dressed to the nines for dinner, the timing would work perfectly for photos. The plan was both stealthy and sweet, if not a little nerve-wracking.
The pandemic, though, posed extra challenges that Andrew didn’t anticipate. Many of the festival’s usual locations were either closed, in-accessible, or limited in visitor capacity. This included the Tidal Basin, which threw a wrench into Andrew’s airtight plans. So while he and Kelsey enjoyed an electric bike tour around the city during the day, he quietly scoped out backup locations. Andrew had to calculate the distances between the hotel, the restaurant, and the proposal spot (wherever it would be) while keeping the photographer up to speed.
Luckily, the stars were aligned just right. They stumbled upon the Enid A. Haupt Garden during their bike tour, where bright pink mag-nolias were in peak bloom. It was a rare coincidence — the magnolias and the cherry blossoms don’t ordinarily blossom at the same time. An-drew recognized the sudden twist of fate and adjusted their schedule so that he and Kelsey could return to the garden before dinner. (It’s worth noting that among the many symbolic meanings of magnolias, persever-ance is one of them.)
The couple arrived at the garden and walked the long stretch of blossoming pathways. Andrew knew he only had a narrow window of time to pull it off, and Kelsey was making several stops along the way to snap pictures of the flowers. Andrew says his heart was going 180 beats per minute because he worried Kelsey would notice the ring box he had in his pocket. When they finally arrived at the spot, he spotted and sig-naled the photographer and made his proposal.
“I got down on one knee and told her I had asked both of her parents for their blessing,” Andrew says. “I told her that I knew since the day we met that we were supposed to be together and that I loved her. I asked her to marry me, and the photographer captured the whole moment.”
Surrounded by a garden of magnolias that were blooming at precisely the right moment, Kelsey said yes. Their photographer captured the mo-ment through stills and video, as did a small crowd of smitten onlookers. The couple enjoyed a romantic dinner and Champagne and spent the next few hours blissfully announcing the news to their family and friends.
Andrew and Kelsey will be married on June 11, 2022, with a cer-emony mass at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Anderson Town-ship and a reception at The Madison Event Center in Covington. They anticipate a guest count just shy of 200. Their wedding party includes 10 bridesmaids with one matron of honor, and eight groomsmen, includ-ing two best men. Because their ceremony includes Catholic marriage vows, they each plan to write their own vows and sentiments and have them filmed by their videographer before the mass — a heartfelt balance of honoring tradition and adding a uniquely personal touch. Kelsey says their decor aesthetic will feature modern and minimalist elements, along with greenery, floating candles, and fresh floral accents.