From Idea to Action
About the Guest
Ryan Leak tells how he planned a surprise wedding for Amanda with the help of her friends and family.
From Idea to Action
Bob: Amanda Roman had been dating her boyfriend, Ryan Leak, for a couple of years when one day a thought popped into her head.
Amanda: I was actually chatting—we were over at his house, and we had a few friends over. One of them was a wedding planner/wedding coordinator. She was telling me about how stressful weddings are. She said: “You think they’re these fabulous things when you’re a wedding planner—that it’s like this movie-like job / but you think it’s a dream—and it is hard work.”
It just popped in my head—I said: “You know what? I would love a stress-free wedding. I would love to get engaged and married on the same day.”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, October 31st. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. So just how would that work?—having a proposal and a wedding all happen on the same day? Well, there’d have to be some elements of surprise. For Ryan Leak and Amanda Roman, there certainly were.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. There’s an article on our website at FamilyLifeToday.com that is “Proposal Stories to Remember.” Have you seen the article?
Dennis: I have not.
Bob: A great article of just some of the great proposals that we’ve heard about over the years. The sad thing is—the article does not have the story we’re going to hear today.
Dennis: This may be the story of this decade.
Dennis: No doubt about it. We have a pair of courageous, young Christian leaders.
Bob: Or foolish—is it courageous or foolish? [Laughter]
Dennis: I think they’re courageous. I think they’re courageous. Ryan and Amanda Leak join us on FamilyLife Today. Amanda, Ryan welcome to the broadcast.
Ryan: We’re happy to be here.
Amanda: We are very happy to be here.
Dennis: I’m just going to cut to the chase. Ryan, I want you to tell our listeners what you did to propose to Amanda Roman.
Ryan: —now, Leak; yes.
Dennis: Amanda Roman—you’d been dating for how long?
Ryan: We dated for about five years.
Dennis: Okay; that’s enough preliminary discussion.
Dennis: Explain what happened on a day.
Ryan: Okay; so three years into us dating, I overhear her say to a friend, “I think it’d be cool to get engaged and married on the same day.” Now, at the time, I was cooking or making some pancakes. She was in the living room with a friend.
It was a Saturday afternoon—we were just hanging out. I don’t really even remember all of those details—I just remember, in the kitchen, looking up, going, “What in the world does that mean?” I can’t talk to her about it, because obviously proposals are meant to be a surprise. So does that mean I would have to plan the wedding? I just started investigating what it would it take to pull off a surprise wedding.
Dennis: You actually—you said you went on recon.
Ryan: I did. I did some recon work. I began investigating, through her friends, what she would want in a wedding. I was also a pretty good friend in college—so I was in 11 weddings during this time. Weddings were a normal conversation. Obviously, we wanted to get married to each other; so we were talking marriage and wedding—what we would want in a day in the future—way future—but every time we talked, I was planning.
Dennis: Why so far in the future, by the way?
Ryan: She was in college. We wanted to wait until she graduated. She actually graduated college three weeks before we got married.
Bob: I wanted to ask you about that because I dated my wife for four years. We were at the outer limits of her patience at the end of four years; okay. [Laughter]
Dennis: She drew a line in the sand and said, “Buddy—
Amanda: —“now or never.”
Dennis: —“chucker [uncertain of spelling] up to the table.”
Bob: She didn’t do that—she wrote a letter and said, “I think I’ve found somebody who’s more interested than you.” And I went [stuttering]: “What; what; what?” [Laughter] But that’s another story.
Ryan: I want to hear that story. Wow! That’s amazing! Wait a minute.
Bob: But I just wondered about the whole five-year thing, because five years is a long time to date somebody.
Amanda: It is. It is a long time. I was guilty of seeing girls getting engaged on Instagram® and kind of giving Ryan the elbow sometimes, “When’s that going to happen for us?” But I think for us—we were just—we actually were really content with being single at first, so we didn’t really feel we were in a rush to get married. But we kind of felt like that was the next step to be taken.
Bob: So in this five-year window—at the end of the window, when he is—
Dennis: I’ve got to interrupt you though, Bob.
Dennis: This sounds horribly invasive to say this early in the broadcast—but you dated for five years, but you weren’t sleeping with each other.
Ryan: Not at all.
Dennis: See, I think a lot of couples are cohabiting and think nothing of it today, because they’ve lost the standard of morality that the Bible spells out. The reason they delay marriage is they are already participating in some of the benefits of the relationship. You guys weren’t doing that.
Amanda: No; we weren’t—nope. That was a decision we made waaaay before we started dating. I think that’s important too.
Bob: Yes; but you know a lot of couples make that decision way before they start dating.
Bob: Three years in, four years in, five years in—that gets really hard. That had to be hard; wasn’t it?
Ryan: Yes; it was hard, but we decided to just make our relationship not about sitting around watching Netflix and watching movies.
We decided just that we were going to be an active couple—and that sometimes you can get focused on what you’re against instead of what you’re for. Sometimes, you’re—as a “pure couple”—you are carrying around this badge of virginity. It’s just like [others saying]: “Whoa! Whoa! We’re not a virgin.” “Well what are you? I know what you’re not, but what are you doing?”
So we decided that we wanted to make our relationship about generosity. We wanted to be so busy giving to other people of our time and of our resources. Before we were married, we said, “We want this to be the theme of our family.” We decided to start taking portions of our income—above what we give in church—to just give away.
Dennis: Like a married couple?
Ryan: Like a married couple. We decided to start practicing what we wanted our marriage to look like. I thought: “This isn’t the worst thing that can happen. What is the worst thing that could happen? We give to a widow, and she gets to pay a bill a month. Let’s say we break up:
“’Oh, man! We shouldn’t have given that to that lady!’”—we wouldn’t say that. [Laughter] We’ve had bigger regrets; you know.
I think it’s hard for millennials and for people that are dating for a long time to have a central focus. Ours did—we felt like we were on a mission from the beginning.
Dennis: Yes; that’s what I wanted to point out. You guys were a bicycle built for two. You weren’t in a committed covenant relationship yet—called marriage—but you were already heading in a direction.
Bob: That’s where I want to go back to—the direction—because, again, after five years, thinking, “This could come some time.” I know a lot of girls—who any time they are going to be with their boyfriend—they’re wondering, “I wonder if tonight he’s going to ask me.” Had that started to factor into your thinking?
Amanda: I’m not going to lie—a little bit / yes; a little bit it popped into my head. [Laughter] But like Ryan said—I wanted to finish school first. I was working, full time / going to school, full time—so I was hoping he would propose soon.
I had no idea my boyfriend was planning a wedding.
Bob: No idea? There were no tell-tell sign?—he kept the whole thing covert.
Amanda: Not only that—but had my entire family and all of my friends in on it.
Dennis: We’re going to find out about that, but I want to go back to when you said it. Were you hinting at him, flipping the pancakes in the other room? [Laughter]
Bob: —when she said, “I’d like to get engaged and married on the same day”?
Amanda: I just went up a level in volume?—no; I was actually chatting. We were over at his house—we had a few friends over. One of them was a wedding planner/wedding coordinator. She was telling me about how much—how stressful weddings are. She said, “You think they’re these fabulous things when you’re a wedding planner—that, you know, it’s like this movie-like job—but you end up—the bride is so upset at you, and you’re in a closet somewhere trying to eat a pretzel; because you don’t have any energy.” [Laughter] She said, “You think it’s a dream, and it is hard work.”
It just popped in my head; and I said: “You know what? I would love a stress-free wedding. I would love to get engaged and married on the same day.” And that was it.
Bob: And the pancake-flipper in the other room goes, “I heard that!”
Dennis: So that was all the thought you had given to that statement.
Amanda: About a week later, I thought it over again. Now, in my mind—I’m picturing us going somewhere, him proposing, and then we just put together a wedding—take my girls to a store, pick out a cute dress, play whatever is on our iPod® at the time.
Bob: Las Vegas wedding chapel—drive-thru kind of thing? [Laughter]
Amanda: Not quite Las Vegas!—[Laughter]—but just something really spontaneous. I have a big Puerto Rican family—so we can make anything a party. I just figured: “Less stress for me. Yes; let’s just do it that way.” I never told him that, but I definitely started telling some of my friends.
Dennis: Interesting. Okay; back to the recon work that you were doing, Ryan.
Ryan: That recon work was serious, because she had a lot of requests. Obviously, if you’re going to do a surprise wedding, you’ve got to do it right. You know, you can’t—
Dennis: It can’t be three-fourths of a surprise.
Ryan: Right—it’s got—you’re all in.
Dennis: It’s got to be a sting; yes.
Ryan: She had mentioned that she wanted to get married in San Diego on a beach.
Bob: [Laughter] She—she—she—I’m sorry, I’m just thinking, “This is—we just went from Las Vegas wedding chapel to San Diego on a beach.” I’m thinking, “You’ve got your work cut out for you, Bro!”
Ryan: Oh yes. I had a friend that worked at a large church in San Diego. I said, “Hey, can I come consult you for free?” He said, “What are you talking about?” I said, “I need a legitimate excuse to come to San Diego so I can check out wedding venues.” He said, “Yes; we actually need some help with small groups.” [Laughter] I went there / consulted for a day. I told Amanda, “Hey I’m going to San Diego.” I travel, doing consulting; so that was very normal.
I’ll never forget—I went to this wedding venue on the beach in San Diego. I said, “Hey I need to speak to your wedding coordinator.” She said, “Okay; so you’re thinking about getting married—when?” I said, “I’m not sure.” She said, “Okay; where’s your fiancée?” I said, “Well I don’t have one yet.” She’s like, “What do you mean?” I said, “Well, actually, I’m going to propose the day of the wedding.” She was like: “What?! What are you…” She couldn’t get it in her brain.
At the time, I couldn’t really get it in my brain. I was like, “Maybe this is crazy.” So then I went to the second venue—told her the exact same story. This girl got up and started running around the couch. She was like: “This is the best thing I’ve ever heard in my entire life! We’re going to make it happen.” I was [hesitant], “Okay.” [Laughter] Emotions are just everywhere. [Laughter]
I’m on the phone with her and she said, “Hey Ryan, you know what I was thinking?” I was like, “What?” She was like, “I think it would be really cool to get married on a beach in Puerto Rico.” [Laughter]
Amanda: I’m a woman! We change our mind.
We’re talking like dream fantasy wedding.
Ryan: She doesn’t know.
Dennis: Did you realize you had pulled the pin of a grenade and just rolled it in to him.
Amanda: No; that’s not the only time either. That happened on several occasions.
Dennis: So did you move it to Hawaii? Where was the next location you chose?
Amanda: I think, after that—probably about the fourth time that I changed my mind—he said: “You know what? We’re doing it in Miami. She’s going to just have to deal.”
Ryan: Yes; I ended up just having to make a call. I just—and I knew that, if we did it in Hollywood, Florida, she wouldn’t expect it; because that wasn’t on the list. So you just had to make decision.
Dennis: But there was a gamble—there was a bit of a gamble in that.
Ryan: The whole thing’s a gamble—I mean, you’re proposing! [Laughter]
Bob: She might say, “No.”
Bob: You were pretty sure this was not a girl that would say, “No,” to you if you proposed.
Ryan: Yes; I knew she would agree to marry me. That does not mean she would agree to marry me that day.
Bob: Whether what she said over pancakes a few years ago was serious or not; right?
Ryan: Right. What if she was like, “Well that was two years ago”?
Dennis: You also had just one minor detail that we haven’t talked about here. In my mind, I figured, “How’s he going to negotiate that?”—that was your [Amanda’s] mom.
Amanda: Oh yes.
Dennis: She didn’t like him.
Amanda: She—no! She didn’t. [Laughter] I’m trying to sugar coat it—no; she didn’t. I was raised by a single mom—so she kind of played mom and dad for us, growing up. She was extremely overprotective and didn’t want to see my life go down the same road that hers had.
She gave Ryan a very hard time when it came to dating me. Then, he shows up to her house one day to ask her blessing—not just to get engaged—but also to get married on the same day.
She had a hard time with that; but yes, we were able to work through it. It actually was one of the best parts of our story—I would say—is just seeing the kind of full circle that happened in my mom’s heart towards Ryan.
Dennis: So Ryan, were you nervous when you went to meet with her to ask for her daughter’s hand in marriage?
Bob: And if you weren’t, you’re a fool—I’m just telling you right now.
Ryan: It’s a tough conversation to go to a mom and say, “Can I marry your daughter?”— and she’s like, “Well I’m not so sure,”—“Well, I already planned a wedding, and she doesn’t know about it. You can’t tell her.” The layers of complications there are—
Bob: How did you leave that day?
Ryan: O, man; yes—I mean, you think about all the plans of a surprise wedding and all the things that can go wrong. But the number one thing that can go wrong—
Dennis: No, no, no; I don’t have any idea what a surprise wedding—[Laughter]—and what it looks like when it goes wrong.
You know, I don’t have any idea.
Ryan: Well, what could go wrong with a regular wedding? I mean, think about catering, think about chairs, think about rentals, you think about the food, you think about the cake, the dress. You think about all of those details that you have to, if you’re planning a wedding.
But the biggest thing in this particular scenario is—all it takes is you slipping and telling her. Every person in her world that loves her deeply has the biggest secret of their life—you’re one friend away from it being completely over. I’m threatening people every day—it’s crazy.
Bob: You can see one friend, just going, “I am so excited!” because, every time they see you, that’s what they’re thinking.
Bob: And they’ve got to bite their tongue.
Here’s what I’m thinking—the one thing that can go wrong is—having a man plan a wedding by himself—[Laughter]—because I’m thinking, “If somebody put me in charge of planning a wedding, it would turn out to be the world’s worst wedding.”
Ryan: Yes; I had some really great friends, and her friends and family.
I pulled them in the office the first day that she had even mentioned it—I said, “Hey, I’ve got something crazy. Just tell me what I need to…” Their eyes just lit up; and they’re like, “We’re going to help—we’re going to help you do this.” It was a team effort—it wasn’t a just me thing at all.
Dennis: So Amanda, back to Bob’s point—not a hint? / not a slip?
Amanda: Not a hint, in retrospect, I think people were acting very funny around me—[Laughter]—but no! Even my seven-year-old niece was in the wedding.
Dennis: Oh, wow.
Amanda: I visited my sister and saw her. I said, “Lele, one day, when I get married, will you be my flower girl?” She looked at me and said, “Yes, I’ll love that!” She had her flower-girl dress upstairs in her room, already planned—hair, bow tie, shoes—the whole nine. Even the seven-year-old was in on it. They were just holding their tongue.
Bob: So miracles do still happen; right?
Ryan: That was the biggest miracle—when talking with her mother, you’re leaving obviously dejected. Every person you tell is floored: “This is going to be amazing,” or “Maybe not; but it’s going to be a sight to see if she says, ‘No,’ or ‘Yes.’ No matter what happens—
Bob: —“I want to be there!”
Amanda: —“This is going to be entertaining.”
Ryan: —“This is reality TV no matter what happens.”
Dennis: You know, one minor detail that I left out is that you had been in a career of media and film making. You’re kind of all over the whole concept of story to begin with.
Ryan: Yes; honestly, I never wanted to have this extravagant love story or that I needed to be famous or anything. I just wanted her to be happy. I wanted her to have what she wanted.
Dennis: Okay; now wait a second. I just want to pick up the book you guys wrote.
It’s called The One: An Amazing Love Story Starts with You. So you ended up being a part of one; didn’t you?
Ryan: Absolutely, but it starts with you—you being the person that you would want to be with. You can’t expect somebody else to just be awesome and that they’re going to love you if you’re not—like you can’t expect, “Okay; I want to marry a wealthy person”; but you don’t handle your finances well.
It starts with you: “I want to be with someone who’s driven,”—“Are you driven? If he’s driven and you’re not, why would he want to marry you?”
Dennis: “I want to marry a man of God.”
Ryan: Yes; “Then you’ve got to be a woman of God.”
Ryan: It goes down a line. So—but we never—I didn’t need it to be extravagant. There were several times—just because of the stress of planning a surprise wedding—where I asked her—I said: “Hey, how would you feel just eloping? Like—let’s just go to a courthouse.
I just want to be with you. I don’t need a viral wedding like if—
She was like: “Aw! I don’t know.” She was like, “Obviously, I want to be with you; but I think I would miss having a day where my family was there. I think I would regret that.” I went, “Okay.”
Bob: So wait. If she had said—how would—if she said, “Yes,”—[Laughter]
Ryan: If she said, “Yes,”—
Bob: —would it have been the courthouse that afternoon?
Ryan: —it would have been the courthouse—not that afternoon, but probably the next weekend for sure. [Laughter] We would have made it happen.
Bob: So you were ready to ditch the wedding dream.
Dennis: The airplane tickets had not been purchased.
Ryan: Oh, yes; I mean—obviously, if you watch the video, this didn’t cost me a hundred dollars, you know. This was a pricey deal—so for her to go, “We’re just going to elope,”— I would have gladly called everybody: “Hey, guys; it was a good idea—let’s do it next time. It’s not going to happen.” [Laughter]
Bob: I’m thinking there may be some of our listeners, even though your video has been watched by how many people?
Ryan: 1.4 million.
Bob: So that’s a bunch of people, but we may have some listeners who have not seen the video—
Dennis: A couple.
Bob: —of your wedding.
Bob: You can go to FamilyLifeToday.com—we’ve got a link there. You can watch the video and see what this looked like and how it got pulled off. It’s not just fun to watch, it’s—
Dennis: Don’t give it away, Bob.
Bob: Oh, I won’t; but it’s moving—right?
Dennis: I wept. I told them, when I met them earlier today—I said, “You made me cry today. I watched your video.”
I want to go back to the elopement invitation.
Dennis: How much of a temptation was that to you?
Amanda: I would have done it, but my family would have just never—
Bob: —would have killed you.
Amanda: Yes; yes!
Bob: Your seven-year-old niece would have been out of being a flower girl!
Amanda: Destroyed—crying in her dress. [Laughter] Yes.
Ryan: Well, at that time, she didn’t have the dress—we were fine. [Laughter] And again, if I have to reimburse a dress or pay for—[Laughter]—trust me, I’ll take the dress any day of the week. [Laughter]
Dennis: Well, folks are going to have to tune back in to hear the rest of the story; because this love story really does get accomplished. You want to hear how this happened; because I’ve got to tell you: “Love does find a way. Ryan did outstanding recon work.” I’ve watched the video; and I thought, “Yes; he’s a pretty good film maker—he made a great story right there.”
Bob: Again, you can go to FamilyLifeToday.com to see the video and if you’d like information about the book Ryan and Amanda have written—it’s called The One. You can request a copy when you go online at FamilyLifeToday.com or you can call to order at 1-800-FL-TODAY.
Again, the toll-free number is 1-800-358-6329. Or you can order the book online at FamilyLifeToday.com.
As fun as this story we’re hearing today is, every couple knows that the romance, and the spontaneity, and the excitement of an engagement and a wedding can pretty quickly turn to discouragement/disappointment. A lot of couples have had that experience. Here at FamilyLife, our assignment—the thing God has called us to do—is to remind husbands and wives of what the Bible says is true about marriage. God’s plan for marriage works. It’s a good plan. He not only gives you a plan, but He gives you the power to make a marriage work.
I want to take a minute here today to say, “Thank you,” to the listeners who make it possible for us to help couples, all around the world, understand and embrace God’s plan for marriage and family.
Our goal here is to effectively develop godly marriages and families who change the world one home at a time. When you invest in this ministry, you’re actually investing in the lives, and the marriages, and the families of hundreds of thousands of people—who tune into this program, who go to our website, who attend our events, and use our resources. You’re helping build stronger marriages and families when you invest in the ministry of FamilyLife Today.
If you can help with an investment today, we’d love to send you a resource that Barbara Rainey has created that declares your home is an embassy of the kingdom of heaven. That’s our thank-you gift when you go online to donate at FamilyLifeToday.com; or when you call 1-800-FL-TODAY to make a donation; or when you mail your donation to FamilyLife Today at PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; our zip code is 72223.
Now, tomorrow, we’re going to hear more of Ryan and Amanda Leak’s story. In fact, we’re going to hear tomorrow about how Amanda’s mom said, “I’ll come to the wedding, but you can’t have my blessing,” and what Ryan did when he heard that. That’s coming up tomorrow. I hope you can be with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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