If Patrick Leonard learned just one thing over the weekend, it was this: "It takes a village to make an engagement come together."
Patrick wanted to come up with a unique way to propose to his girlfriend, Sarah Grossman. He had the ring, but until 10 weeks ago he didn't have the plan.
Every couple has a "thing" they like to do. It may not be glamorous. It may not be glitzy. For Patrick and Sarah, it was playing the Word Dojo touch-screen game at their old local bar, the Townhouse Tavern in Dupont Circle.
That gave Patrick an idea. Why not have the proposal pop up on the screen while she's entranced in the middle of a game?
The idea sounded great, so Patrick got the wheels turning. Long story short: Sarah played the game Sunday night, the proposal popped up and she said yes.
Oh, but the longer version is so much better...
Patrick first had to get in contact with the company that makes the game, Megatouch.
"They really rallied around it," Patrick said. "I was amazed."
The company, which was in the middle of creating a new software release, realized they had to create special code in order for Patrick to pop the proposal. That took time (even more since one of the developers was pulled away when his wife had a baby), but as they finished they realized the computer running the game couldn't hooked up to the Internet. So a new machine had to be delivered. One of the company's employees eventually drove it from AMI Entertainment Network's Philadelphia office to Dupont Circle himself for the weekend, with wife and kids in tow.
Game programmed? Check.
So it looked like Patrick was ready to do his thing on Sunday. But another problem came up -- the Townhouse Tavern is usually closed on Sundays.
Not to worry, however. The bar owner came through, offering to "open" the bar for the special event. He even brought his friends in to serve as "patrons."
Location secured? Check.
So how about that ring? Turns out the key to the lockbox the ring was in was in the car Sarah had been driving. He couldn't get it on Friday, but luckily he was able to grab it Saturday. He was also lucky that the bank was open on a weekend. If not, the whole thing might have been postponed.
Ring obtained? Check.
So everything was in place. Now the only thing left was getting Sarah to the bar. Patrick told her they should stop there before heading home to Clarendon for the evening.
"He said, 'Oh, let's stop there. We haven't been there in a while,'" Sarah said. "And then the bartender said the game was free the next two weeks, so we should play."
During their regular game, Patrick entered a "special" answer that brought up a screen with Sarah's picture and the "Will You Marry Me?" proposal. Sarah looked taken aback by what she saw on the screen.
"It was a total shock," she said. "When it popped up it took me a minute to register what it was."
Sarah said yes and started to tear up. The bar "patrons" cheered. The owner, manning the bar on a Sunday, handed Sarah a napkin to dry her tears.
Oh, and there just happened to be a guy standing there with a video camera to get it all on tape. The guy? None other than the Megatouch employee who drove the game down from Philly.
"I didn't even notice that," Sarah said. "I looked at him (after saying yes) and there's a camera."
For Patrick, 10 weeks of planning worked to perfection. And it's something neither of them will forget.
"I can't believe everything that went into it. It was crazy," Sarah said. "He's a pretty good planner, but he's never done anything like this."