Ben & I met on the dating app Hinge in December 2015. We chatted through the app about the MLB, our hobbies, and when we would meet up. Ben being a few years older, was already graduated from college while I was still living in my sorority house at USC. I was so scared to go out with someone I met online, so we decided that we would meet up at the Starbucks right down the street from my house. As I was walking through the Starbucks parking lot, Ben came out of his car and asked: “Are you Amannda?”. I was not prepared to have to meet him so quickly! We ended up laughing over the fact that neither of us drinks coffee, but chose a coffee shop to talk at. After getting our chai tea lattes, it was noticeable to Ben that I was beyond nervous. In all honesty, one of my friends was across the street at a bar ready to swoop in and save me if it went badly. Thankfully, that was not the case at all! Ben & I ended up staying at Starbucks much longer than I had anticipated and talked about when we would see each other next. I was about to head back to the Bay Area for holiday break for 4 weeks and was nervous that not being able to go on another date would put me at a disadvantage. Over those 4 weeks, Ben & I were on FaceTime almost every day and became very close.
Once I got back to Los Angeles in January 2016, we went on our first official date at The Farmer’s Market. As anyone who knows me know well, I do not eat much when I am nervous. And man was I nervous! Ben took me to a crepe stand in the Farmer’s Market and insisted that I eat something before going into a movie. I agreed to take a bite of his crepe thinking it would be a sweet treat. Within seconds, I spit the crepe out of my mouth and yelled “HOT!”. The crepe was piping hot and my tongue felt burnt. It hurt pretty badly, but was a funny moment that we look back on and laugh about now! Once we had some food, we went to go see a movie. Ben did not try to kiss me during the movie, which was honestly a breath of fresh air. On the same night, he asked me if I would like to see his home. Although I was hesitant to say yes, I wanted to spend more time with him. We ended up just snuggling on the couch and watching another movie. Ben leaned in towards the end of the movie and we shared our first kiss — which I was patiently waiting for all night. I vividly remember Ben driving me back to the sorority house and thinking that he was the sweetest man I had ever met. I knew that night that I wanted him to be in my life forever.
Leading up to the proposal, Ben had been telling me that we wanted to visit Vista Hermosa Park in Downtown Los Angeles for a picnic. This was one of our first date locations and was the very first place we have ever taken a picture together. On February 23rd, 2019 we made plans to go to the park. On that day, I was very lazy and just wanted to stay home and relax on our couch. I was dressed in yoga pants and a simple white t-shirt, and little to my knowledge was making Ben’s plans harder. While I was sitting out the couch, Ben got dressed in a fancy button-down shirt, nice jeans, and a classy watch. He was telling me he wanted to get a great picture for Instagram, so naturally, I changed into something that would match him. After about 45 minutes, we made it to Downtown around 3 pm. It was a beautiful sunny day, and I knew that this date was going to feel extra sentimental as we just passed our 3-year anniversary. The famous bench that we had taken our first photo together on was under construction, so Ben had made a point to tell me that we could just walk around and find another great spot.
As we were walking around the park, we came across a full-blown photo shoot. Male model and all! I felt weird having to ask them if we could pass by them, but Ben suggested that maybe the photographer would take our picture for us. Me being the more reserved one was a little hesitant to ask, but Ben went up to the photographer and asked her if she could shoot some images on my phone for us. So Ben and I started doing our go-to poses, and then he stepped back and told me to look away into the city-scape for a great shot.
I stood facing away for about 15 seconds and noticed that I didn’t hear the camera snap. I turned around to see what was taking so long, and there Ben was on one knee holding a box. He looked up at me and said, “Amannda Armanini, will you make me the happiest man in the world?”. I was so surprised that I said, “No. Babe, no way. I mean, yes!”. I couldn’t believe the word ‘no’ even came out of my mouth — he knew what I meant.
I could barely see the ring through my tear-filled eyes, my hands were shaking, and I could barely form words, but it was the most special day of my life and I can’t imagine it having been any different. At that point, I knew that the photographer was in on Ben’s plans as she was capturing some extremely emotional moments between Ben and me. I am so grateful to have had such an intimate proposal, with only a couple key people capturing these memories. I look at my ring every day and am reminded of the love I felt on this day, and will never forget the first time I saw Ben cry.