Married at Last
Surprise engagements happen every day, but surprise weddings? Ryan Leak, along with his bride, Amanda, tells how he pulled off a surprise all-in-one-day engagement and wedding, just as she had dreamed. The Leaks were joined by 100 of their close family and friends. They tell how their big day was the perfect start to their marriage.
About the Guest
Ryan Leak, along with his bride, Amanda, tells how he pulled off a surprise all-in-one-day engagement and wedding, just as she had dreamed.
Married at Last
Bob: Ryan Leak proposed to his future wife, Amanda, one morning at about nine in the morning. Then, he did something very unusual. He introduced her to the catering manager at the hotel where he had popped the question.
Amanda: And he said: “This is Ozzie. I’ve been talking to him for a while. You said that you wanted to get engaged and married on the same day; but there’s one thing that you’d really need to hear in order to do that.” And he kind of gives a little head nod to Ozzie. Ozzie opens the two double doors, and a hundred of my family and friends are standing there—they all yelled, “TODAY!”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, November 2nd. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. So, what’s it like to say, “Yes,” to a proposal and then, “I do,” to your new husband all in a period of 10 or 11 hours?
We’ll hear Ryan and Amanda Leaks’ story today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. I have talked to people who have gotten engaged before and said, “Did you have any hint that the question was going to be asked at this event or at this time?”
You [Dennis] just had this happen with the last of your children—your unmarried daughter. She had a young man who popped the question with her; right?
Dennis: Thirty-one years of age—she took a walk on the beach.
Bob: Did she have any idea that—
Bob: —this season was—
Bob: —that this might be the time?
Dennis: No. She was clueless about all that was going on behind the scenes.
Bob: Even with the photographer hiding over in the sea grass?
Dennis: Oh, that guy—that guy was—he was perfect / he was professional. [Laughter] She never knew anything was happening.
We have a couple who—well, I don’t know that I’ve ever heard of anybody doing what they’ve done.
Bob: It is one thing to be surprised about getting engaged.
Dennis: The proposal—that’s right.
Bob: It’s another thing to be surprised about your wedding.
Dennis: And if you haven’t listened to this week’s broadcasts on this story, you, maybe, ought to hit the pause button on your app—the FamilyLife app—or the station you are listening to and go back and listen to the previous two broadcasts. Well, I’m giving away too much here.
Let me just introduce our listeners to Ryan and Amanda Leak. They’ve written a book called The One: An Amazing Love Story Starts with You. They are both employed by Covenant Church, which is in the Dallas / Ft. Worth area.
And I’m going to begin with you, Amanda. This whole idea, actually, came from you originally—just an offhanded comment you made to a friend.
Amanda: It did. It did. I was talking to a friend one day. She happened to be a wedding planner, herself; and she was telling me about how awful it actually is to plan a wedding, and how much goes into it, and how stressed out the bride is, and [the bride saying] “I picked peonies, and there are roses!” It goes on and on and on.
She’s telling me all this, and we were at Ryan’s house. It was a summer day. He was in the kitchen, cooking something; and we were sitting on the couch. I thought: “You know what? I would love to get engaged and married on the same day.”
Bob: Just cut the stress completely out of it.
Amanda: Just cut the stress out. She [friend] said, “Well, that’s kind of a funny idea; but I mean, I guess that would work.” And that was it.
Bob: That was it because Ryan was in the other room—he overheard that.
You tucked that away in the back of your mind, and you jump ahead now a couple of years later.
Dennis: No, no, no—he engaged in Mission Impossible. [Laughter] He went on recon efforts and work that took thousands of hours, as a single man.
Ryan: It did take thousands of hours; yes.
Dennis: I’m not overstating it!
Ryan: No; no—not at all. Thousands of hours, dollars—whatever you want to throw out there. [Laughter] Thousands is a good adjective.
Bob: You had to arrange for a hundred people to be in a city away from where you guys live—
Bob: —because Amanda wanted to get married on a beach somewhere.
Bob: You decided, “Okay; Hollywood, Florida, is the place.”
Bob: You had to get her to Florida without her knowing what was going on—
Dennis: —in the midst of a hurricane hitting.
Bob: You had to get all of the family and everybody there, keeping the secret.
Bob: You had to plan out the whole day; and in addition to that, you decided that you were going to capture all of this on video—
Bob: —and not just home movie video—
—but you have a little videography in your background. You wanted this done right.
Bob: So, after Amanda arrives, late on the night before all of this is supposed to happen, you pick her up. Was this for breakfast? Were you taking her out to breakfast or where were you going when you picked her up the next morning?
Ryan: I was taking her to get engaged!
Bob: Well, I know—
Ryan: No breakfast / we didn’t eat. [Laughter] I don’t remember eating. Did we eat that day? What did we eat?
Amanda: I don’t remember eating that day either.
Ryan: I’m starving!
Bob: Where did you tell her you were taking her?
Ryan: I told her we were going on a drive. She saw the cameraman with me. So, she knew a proposal or something was happening. She just got in the car, and we were just going for a ride.
Dennis: Did the cameraman get in the car with you?
Bob: He’s in the backseat.
Ryan: He’s in the backseat.
Dennis: Now, I just want to stop for a second. Had the hurricane not hit the day before—
Ryan: So, it stormed really badly the night before. It cleared up for about three hours on the morning of our wedding.
And then, it was monsoon from that point on. So, the sun came out for the engagement.
Dennis: Had that not happened, how had you planned on proposing to her? Were you going to take the helicopter ride with “Will you marry me?” on the beach?
Ryan: Maybe. [Laughter]
Dennis: What do you mean—“Maybe”?!
Bob: This is a basketball player. He makes up the play based on what the defense looks like; right?
Ryan: I mean, at this point, you’re not as concerned about the engagement when you know you have a wedding in your back pocket. We could have gone to McDonald’s®—like it didn’t—at that point, I was so exhausted / I was so tired. I was like, “I just want to get married.” [Laughter]
Bob: “I just want to do this.”
Ryan: So, we went to where the wedding was supposed to be. There was a beautiful fountain right by the beach, and I asked her to marry me.
Dennis: Oh, no, no, no, no, no. You got out of the car. You walked over by the fountain, and what did you say?!
Ryan: We walked around for a little bit, because I knew that our family and friends were still getting up. They needed to be in the lounge for the big reveal that “Hey, we’re getting married today!” So, I was kind of stalling. I was just kind of walking around and telling her like, “I know I’ve been travelling a lot, and I’ve been kind of working on some stuff.”
Bob: And you’re probably sitting there going, “Will you get to this?”
Bob: “Come on!”
Amanda: That’s exactly what I was thinking.
Ryan: Yes; we were walking around. The funny thing is I was like: “I’ve been setting this thing up. Why don’t you come over here?” And we walk over, and there are these supermodels doing this photo shoot. Amanda’s like, “What in the world did you bring me to?” I was like, “Whoa!”—I didn’t know it. So, she’s like, “Where are we going?” I was like, “Okay, let’s just walk over this way.”
Amanda: It’s Miami; okay?
Ryan: Yes; it’s Miami.
Amanda: I’m thinking, “What did he sign me up for?” [Laughter]
Ryan: Yes; so, we start walking around. I got the text like, “Hey, we’re all in here ready to go.” So, I walked her over to the fountain; and I said, “Amanda Roman, you’ve made me so happy.
“Will you marry me?”
Dennis: That simple?
Amanda: Well, no! [Laughter]
Ryan: There was a little bit more to it.
Amanda: I’ll interject here.
Ryan: We’ll let her tell it.
Dennis: Another great story ruined by an eyewitness. [Laughter]
Amanda: Yes; right. [Laughter]
Dennis: What did he say?
Amanda: Well, he actually had two boxes in his hand; and he said—you forgot about that one; didn’t you?
Amanda: Two boxes in his hand—and he said, “I have two things for you.” He asked me which one I wanted first, and I don’t remember what I responded; but he went with the one he wanted anyway. [Laughter] He got down on his knee, and he said all that stuff. I mean, really, a lot of—I’m sure you can ask your daughter—you really don’t remember exactly what they say, because you’re just in a whole other world—you’re just so excited.
Bob: Good thing there is video; right?
Amanda: Yes; absolutely.
Ryan: You’ve got it.
Amanda: And so, he got down on one knee, popped the first box open. It was an engagement ring. Then, he handed me the second box, and it was a pair of earrings; and they looked really, really familiar.
I just kind of gave him a curious look. He said, “I need to introduce you to somebody.” So, he kind of rushes me over—now, I’m thinking: “Why are we rushing this? This is our engagement!”
Bob: “This is our moment!”
Amanda: “What else do we have to do today that will top this?” [Laughter] So, he introduces me to the wedding coordinator at the hotel. He said: “This is Ozzie. I’ve been talking to him for a while. You know, a while ago, you said that you wanted to get engaged and married on the same day; but there’s one thing that you’d really need here in order to do that.”
Now, I’m super confused. I’m not sure what’s going on. I’m thinking, maybe, he means, a year from now, we’ll come back to this spot and get married. He kind of gives a little head nod to Ozzie. Ozzie opens the two double doors, and a hundred of my family and friends are standing there with a big sign that says, “TODAY?”—
—and they all yelled, “TODAY!”
Ryan: So, I had asked the question, not just “Will you marry me?” but “Will you marry me today?”
Bob: So, that’s the first point where it dawns on you: “I’m not just getting engaged today”?
Amanda: Well, it took me a while for it to kind of sink in.
Bob: I guess so! [Laughter]
Dennis: Was it when you were putting the wedding dress on? [Laughter]
Amanda: No; you kind of look at it—I still have this picture in my mind—it’s so vivid. You kind of look at the whole room, and these big signs, and everybody is yelling. Then, when I started to kind of focus in on each person—and it wasn’t just immediate family, but it was extended family and friends I knew had travelled from such far places—I just—then, it clicked: “Oh, this is really going down today.”
Dennis: So, when did you start crying?
Amanda: Oh, immediately! And not the little, cute cry—I mean, ugly cry / mascara on the—[Laughter]
Dennis: Sobbing crying?
Amanda: Sobbing. My friend had to physically hold my hand. It wasn’t until I felt like her hand—and she looked at me and said, “You are getting married today,” that it really sunk in. Then, I just lost it all over again.
The other thing, too, is that the first person I saw was my mom. She ran towards us, and she gave us a hug. You know, previously, she really wasn’t onboard; but it was just—
Dennis: You didn’t realize the small miracle that had taken place.
Amanda: Oh, yes. So, for people that watch the documentary, they think it’s a really cool love story—and I think it is—but the best part of it—for all of the miracles that God orchestrated in the midst of it—and seeing my mom was, by far, the biggest one.
Dennis: She had not liked him, initially, because she didn’t know him—
Dennis: —and was not for the wedding when, Ryan, you came to ask for Amanda’s hand in marriage. She wasn’t for it.
Dennis: She said, “No,”—said, “Change the date”; but you plowed on, and you both kind of had a standoff. You both went before Almighty God and said, “Either God’s going to change you, Ryan; or He’s going to change me.” And God changed her.
Dennis: And she was there.
Ryan: And she was there.
Dennis: And she was for it.
Ryan: And she was for it.
Amanda: —100 percent.
Bob: That morning, when you proposed, that was the first time you’d ever said to Amanda, “I love you”; right?
Ryan: That’s right.
Bob: To hear that for the first time?
Amanda: Yes. To hear that for the first time—he said it as we were driving towards the spot that he was going to propose.
Bob: He didn’t even wait until the ring was out.
Amanda: He didn’t.
Dennis: You’re dropping some cookie crumbs along the way; aren’t you? [Laughter]
Ryan: We’re just going for it. We’re just getting in the game; and we’re just taking a shot, and just we’ll see what happens. [Laughter]
Amanda: You know what’s funny?
As you were getting in the car from the hotel to head to the location, I hear him putting my bag in the trunk. And he didn’t know that I heard him, but he kind of puts the bag in the trunk. The camera guy looks at him and he goes: “Man, we’re just testing the waters today! We’re just testing the waters.” [Laughter] And I didn’t quite understand what that meant; but—
Ryan: “We’re just going for it.”
Ryan: “We’re just going for it.”
Amanda: So, we get in the car. He starts telling me how much he cares about me and all of that. And then, he dropped the L-bomb. [Laughter] And I was just—I knew, then, that he was going to propose. It was a really cool moment for us, personally. A lot of people that viewed the video on YouTube wanted it to be a lot more cinematic and picturesque; but to me, that meant more in that moment than anything else. So, yes, leading up to it just kind of sealed the deal.
Bob: I have a friend who just recently got engaged. One of the first things on her list of things to do was to find the dress.
This is a big deal—finding the dress you’re going to get married in. You picked out the dress for her?—is that right? [Laughter]
Ryan: I did not.
Ryan: Almost—I almost picked out the dress.
Bob: Who picked out the dress?
Ryan: Amanda picked out her own dress.
Bob: On the day you get married, you picked out the dress? [Laughter]
Amanda: Not quite; not quite—no.
Bob: Explain how this worked.
Amanda: Okay; so, this is another one of those “Only God” moments in this story. Since he had kind of brought in my family on all of this, my sisters were making me believe that it was actually a really good idea to start looking for a dress pretty early on. They said: “It takes, sometimes, a year to order a dress. You, at least, need to know what you like.” They had me fully convinced that this was not a crazy idea to go and just look for a dress [before] you are engaged.
So, a friend of mine—
—we went wedding dress shopping. Before we went in, I said: “I’m not buying anything. They’re not going to sell me on anything. I cannot be the girl who has not gotten engaged yet and has a wedding dress; okay?” [Laughter] So, we get in; and I ended up finding the dress—it was a really great price. I just thought: “Okay, to sound less creepy, I have to convince Ryan with the numbers—that I’m getting a very good deal on this dress. Ryan’s a numbers guy, and that’s the only way that he’ll think this is not totally creepy.”
So, I called him. I’m going through all the numbers: “It should be this much—exactly this much—the trunk show and this and that.” He said: “Yes; I mean, go for it. What do you have to lose? Just go for it.” So, I remember hanging up the phone and looking at my friend and saying: “Oh, I totally got this one. [Laughter] I totally—I totally hit the mark with the numbers.
“I got him onboard!” [Laughter]
Bob: So, the dress had been picked out, pre-fitted, ready to go.
Amanda: The dress had been picked out. The—
Bob: Is that it on the back?
Amanda: That’s it!—yes.
Bob: In fact, I kept thinking, as I looked at your book, which is called The One: An Amazing Love Story Starts with You, “Where is the photo gallery in the middle of this book?” I was looking for all of the pictures—a dozen wedding pictures. I know—okay; so, you got a montage here on the flap, which is very nice. There’s a great-looking picture on—but I just wanted to see all the family and the whole thing. So, I’ll have to come to your house in Dallas sometime, and you’ll show me that; alright?
Bob: Okay! [Laughter]
Amanda: And YouTube—30 minutes of it.
Ryan: There is that 32 minutes—yes.
Bob: And we should point folks, again, to the website, FamilyLifeToday.com, where there is a link to the YouTube video. You can watch from getting in the car and saying, “We’re just going to test the waters,”—you can watch from there—all the way to the “I do,” and beyond with these guys as they go through their day.
Dennis: Let’s rush ahead to the wedding.
Ryan: Let’s do it!
Dennis: Who walked you down the aisle?
Amanda: My mom walked me down the aisle.
Dennis: Good for her!
Amanda: Yes; it was a very special moment for her and for me as well; but, yes, Mom walked me down the aisle to Ryan.
Dennis: And so what about the vows? Did you write her vows for her?
Ryan: She actually had written in her journal, years ago, vows to her husband, sitting in a church during one of her quiet times. I don’t know where she pulled it from, but she pulled it out—
Amanda: —from my iPhone®.
Ryan: —from her iPhone.
Dennis: You know—
Amanda: You know—technology.
Dennis: You not only did recon—you did a lot of con work too. [Laughter]
Dennis: You broke into her apartment to get the diary. I mean—
Ryan: No, she had it! I didn’t take the diary—she had it. [Laughter]
Amanda: That would have been another level.
Ryan: I didn’t do it.
Amanda: That would have been another level.
Ryan: Although her friend did steal her dress to get it to Miami, though.
Bob: If somebody came to you and said, “We’re thinking about trying what you guys tried,” would you say, “Go for it”?
Dennis: Oh, I’m sure they’ve already had people come to them.
Bob: Yes; would you say, “Go for it,” or would you say, “You have no idea what you’re getting yourself into”?
Amanda: I would say, “Go for it,” because I was stress-free that day. I didn’t have anything to do but enjoy it. [Laughter] But the real question is Ryan—if he would.
Dennis: I’m looking at a picture of you at the end of the day—you had to be whipped.
Ryan: Yes; I think in terms of like talking to somebody else that’s thinking about doing something like this—I think it comes down to motive—like, “Why are you doing what you do?” I did not do this because I thought it would make me look awesome. I did it because she asked. Again, people are giving me kudos like, “I can’t believe you did this!” It’s like, “It was her idea.” It wasn’t like I sat around and thought: “Oh my gosh! You know what would be romantic?—if we got engaged and married on the same day.” It’s not my idea—it was hers.
I would encourage any groom or any groom-to-be:
“Listen to your woman and just listen to God and be obedient. That’s all you can do.”
Dennis: I think there is something in the Book of 1 Peter about that: “Husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way”—
Bob: Even your fiancées—
Dennis: That’s exactly right.
Bob: —you go ahead and listen to them.
Dennis: Listen to them and listen to them well.
Dennis: And I pray God’s favor upon you two.
Ryan: Oh, thank you.
Dennis: There is one thing left to be done here—
Bob: Hang on. I’ve got to point people to the video first before you do whatever your “one thing” is.
Speaking of the one thing—your book is called The One: An Amazing Love Story Starts with You. We’ve got that in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. You can go online to order a copy if you’d like. And if you haven’t seen the video—well, we’ve got a link to the video at FamilyLifeToday.com as well. So, go to FamilyLifeToday.com to order the book or to watch the video; or if you’d like a copy of the book, call 1-800-FL-TODAY—that’s 1-800-358-6329—and you can order from us over the phone.
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Dennis: We’ve been talking this week with Ryan and Amanda Leak, and it is an amazing love story. But the drama was added to this romantic love story because of your mom, Amanda.
I thought what would be really cool would be to ask both of you to give your mom, Amanda, a tribute on air.
Dennis: Just seat her across the table. She’ll be listening to these broadcasts on the day they are aired—we’re heard in Chicago. I want to let you go first, Ryan; and, Amanda, you go second and just speak to her in first person.
You know, I think you challenged me at a time in my life when I really needed an even bigger challenge. You were the only person that wasn’t in awe of what I was trying to do. You were the only person that made me fall to my knees and make sure I was hearing from God. Everyone else was caught up in the entertainment, and the awe, and the story, and the secret.
You made me seek God and wise counsel to make sure that what I was doing was the right thing. Had you not had your hesitation or your caution, I wouldn’t be the man I am today. Thanks, Mom.
It wasn’t until I became a mother that I fully understood why you were so protective and cautious with the decisions that I made; and knowing that you did it by yourself—raising two children by yourself—makes me further know that everything that you did was truly out of love and out of care.
I also think that I really had this moment with God one day when we were driving to your house, and I was with Ryan—we were married. I just stepped back and I thought:
“Oh, my gosh! I never thought this moment would happen, where I’m with my husband and we’re going to your house. It’s a good thing, and you’re excited to greet both of us at the door.”
I just had this overwhelming feeling of God’s speaking to my heart and saying: “Although you didn’t understand it, I used your mom to set the timing for you and Ryan. Had you guys gotten married a year after dating, when you really thought you wanted to, your lives would have been on a completely different path today. So, be gracious to your mom and be thankful to your mom.”
For that and for all you’ve done for us, I want to say, “Thank you!”
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