Working Out the Details
Ryan Leak wanted to marry Amanda Roman and vice versa. But there was one catch. Her mother wasn't fond of the idea, and Ryan had the surprise wedding in Florida already planned. Ryan tells how he eventually won Amanda's mother over, and together he and Amanda talk about their surprise all-in-one-day engagement and wedding.
About the Guest
Ryan Leak wanted to marry Amanda Roman and vice versa. But there was one catch. Her mother wasn’t fond of the idea. Ryan tells how he eventually won Amanda’s mother over.
Working Out the Details
Bob: Ryan and Amanda Leaks’ story is an interesting one. He proposed, they got engaged, and they got married all on the same day. It was a surprise to Amanda, and the story was documented with a video that wound up going viral on YouTube. Amanda was surprised by the reaction that came from some of the people who watched their story on video.
Amanda: We, actually—on our YouTube documentary, people had the most issues with us not saying, “I love you,” for five years. We started to have this perspective of—you know, when I say, “I love you,” that’s not just a feeling or a temporary emotion—that’s a commitment to you / that’s me saying, “I love you forever.” That’s me saying, “I am committed to you.”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, November 1st. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine.
Now, wait! Before you go and watch the documentary of Ryan and Amanda Leaks’ engagement and wedding, which is on our website at FamilyLifeToday.com, stick around. You’re going to hear some things today that you won’t hear in the documentary. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. You know, there are some people who are kind of visionary—they dream big dreams—they get an idea, and they run with it. There are other people who are more planner-oriented, where they like to map out a strategy, know what’s going on. I’m trying to think of what happens when the two of those get put into one package—
Dennis: That’s what I was thinking.
Bob: —because it had to be the guy we’re talking to today—he’s got to have a little of both of those going to pull off what he pulled off.
Dennis: You know, I have to believe this is a part of being image-bearers of God—that God made galaxies—He brought all the elements together to make billions of stars, millions of galaxies, with just the very spoken word of His mouth. I think God, probably, had a big grin on His face when Ryan Leak proposed to Amanda Roman. I’ve got to believe that God just had a big grin, because you were kind of doing something galactic. [Laughter]
In case our listeners don’t know them, they have written a book together called The One: An Amazing Love Story Starts with You. They work together at a church called Covenant Church in Carrollton, Texas, just north of the Dallas / Ft. Worth area.
And if you didn’t listen to the earlier broadcast with them, you need to go back and hear the beginning.
Ryan, I want you to explain to our listeners, kind of, what you wanted to accomplish in one day.
Ryan: Well, my, now, wife, at the time—probably, five years ago, now—she wanted to get engaged and married on the same day. So—
Bob: She just mentioned that casually.
Ryan: She mentioned it casually to a friend, and I overheard it. I went to work to try and figure out how to make that happen. What I set out to accomplish was to do just that—to get engaged in the morning and to get married at night.
Dennis: And to do that as a surprise.
Ryan: Yes; like she doesn’t know.
Bob: And we should say—she also wanted to get married on the beach in San Diego, and then on the beach in Puerto Rico, and then on the beach somewhere else. I mean, this could have just been something that hit her spur of the moment; but you picked it up and ran with it like she might be serious about that.
Ryan: I mean, you just roll the dice every now and then; you know? [Laughter]
Dennis: This is a lifetime—
Dennis: —covenant. Why not do it right?
Dennis: We shared earlier that there was one minor problem with this dream that he had, Amanda. That was in the person of your mom, who had raised you, as a single-parent mom. She was not all that jazzed about Ryan.
Amanda: No; she was not that into it when he asked her if he could propose and marry me on the same day. He had a bit of a hurdle to get over with that one. Well, actually, Ryan had the hurdle to get over it—I had no idea what was going on. [Laughter]
Bob: She couldn’t call you after Ryan had showed up and asked for—
Bob: —your hand and say, “So, tell me more about this boy”; could she?
Amanda: Right. And he couldn’t call me either afterwards and say, “Hey, should I pull the plug on this?” because it was a surprise.
Ryan: Well, she could have; and that was the scary part.
Bob: That’s right.
Dennis: You know, I’m just going to interrupt this story for a second. I hadn’t thought of asking this question of you, Ryan; but one of my favorite questions to ask men and women guests on FamilyLife Today—is to ask them:
“Out of everything you’ve done in your life, what is the most courageous thing you have ever done?”
Bob: And you’re thinking, “Asking Mom had to be on the list somewhere.”
Dennis: I just wonder if this would be it or if he’s done something else in his lifetime that demanded more courage than what he did in asking her—and then, you, to marry him on the same day. What’s the most courageous thing you’ve ever done in your life, Ryan?
Ryan: You know, that’s an interesting question.
Dennis: I’ve been told that.
Ryan: Yes; it’s a very interesting question, because marrying Amanda was easy, actually—asking her to marry me. The planning was hard, but you just want to be with the one you love.
What most people don’t know about the behind the scenes of a surprise wedding is that there was more. There was a helicopter ride around Miami and where it said:
“Will you marry me today on the beach?” and there was a hurricane that came through Florida—one of the largest in Miami’s history. There were Lamborghinis under water. People don’t realize how horrible of a day it was, weather-wise, that ruined a lot of what was planned; but I didn’t care. That wasn’t what it was about.
One of the most courageous things I’ve ever done was I tried out for an NBA team. That was what I was trying to do in this thing called “Chasing failure.” I just started emailing NBA teams and said, “Will you give a guy you don’t know a shot?” That was scary, and one team gave me a shot. I walked into a place where I’m usually the tallest person in the room, and I became the shortest. I had to face a lot of fears. That was the most courageous thing in my life.
Dennis: Cool. Well, you told me you played basketball—that kind of fits.
Ryan: Yes; yes.
Dennis: Okay; back to the story.
Bob: And what I want to know is—what the day was supposed to look like. Again, Amanda has no idea this is coming. You’ve mapped it all out. Where were you guys living at this time?
Ryan: She was living with somebody at our church, and I was living in what would be our new apartment.
Bob: This is in the Dallas / Ft. Worth area?
Ryan: Dallas / Ft. Worth area.
Bob: And the wedding is planned for—where?
Ryan: Hollywood, Florida.
Bob: Okay; so, you’ve got to get everybody—your family, her family, and her to Hollywood, Florida, for a wedding that she doesn’t know is happening—
Dennis: —which is about a hundred people; right?
Ryan: Right. So, on June 6, 99 of us were there. Amanda was the only one not there.
Dennis: There was one detail—
Ryan: Yes—her flight got cancelled.
Bob: Was that supposed to be the day—June 6?
Ryan: No; the day was June 7, but she was supposed to get there June 6. She got there at midnight on another flight on another airline because her original flight got cancelled.
Bob: Under what pretense were you bringing her to Hollywood, Florida?
Ryan: Now, that is hilarious. During the planning of the wedding, obviously, I’m sure I had other stuff on my mind. We’re on a date night one night; and she says: “I really think we should help Norman and Shirley move—
“I really feel like we’re supposed to help Norman and Shirley move.” I’m like: “I don’t really care about Norman and Shirley right now. I’m stressed out of my mind.” I’m like: “Who’s helping somebody? They need to be helping me right now!” I’m freaking out.
I called them; and I was like: “Wait a minute! Hey, Norman, where are you guys moving again?” He’s like, “Miami.” [Laughter] I said, “When are you moving?” He said, “June 6.” I was like: “That’s too—that’s…” She got herself to Miami.
Ryan: I didn’t manipulate / I didn’t do anything!
Bob: So, God was your co-collaborator in this whole deal.
Ryan: Honestly, I tell anybody that has a crazy dream: “Do it!” because it makes you fall to your knees; and God has to orchestrate stuff for all of this to happen. There’s no one that can pull this off.
Dennis: So, what was going to be your best alibi for getting her to—that’s a short word for—
Ryan: No; I had a bunch of reasons to get her there, because I travelled a lot—travel and spoke. There were churches—
—I could say, “Hey, have us come speak.” You know, there are many ways to do it; but I hadn’t even gotten there. I was so stressed about everything else. But two months before the wedding, it was her idea to help our friends move. [Laughter]
Bob: Okay; so, you had planned that she was going to come in the afternoon of the 6th; right?
Bob: It turns out it’s not going to be until midnight. You had the next day all mapped out. What was that supposed to look like according to the plan that you had?
Ryan: You know, I honestly didn’t have it all figured out. I was—I mean, in hindsight, you have great ideas, and you’re polished, and you’re ready to go. But I didn’t have a handbook. I was freaking out—like: “Are you going to propose at nine? Is it going to be eight? Is it going to be ten?” I was like—
Bob: You didn’t have a schedule / an agenda for the day?
Ryan: I didn’t.
Ryan: I didn’t—no; I mean, I didn’t know how long it would take for her to do her hair and for the makeup artist to do that. I mean, it was—
—there were a lot of moving parts. And then, the storm came through—the storm came through on Friday. I knew Saturday was going to be a rough day. [Laughter]
Dennis: You actually flew her hairdresser in—
Ryan: —which is her sister; yes.
Dennis: Yes—to do the hair and the makeup.
Ryan: The makeup artist was a different person—but yes.
Dennis: Okay; alright.
Amanda: He knows the details now.
Dennis: He does.
Amanda: He knows the difference because he had to fly them in.
Bob: Amanda, you get there at midnight on the 6th on a delayed flight. It’s been stressful—it’s like you’re tired.
Bob: And you have no idea what’s happening the next day.
Amanda: Well, I was flying with two girls—one that was also going to help move and the actual girl, Shirley, who was moving. When our flight got cancelled, they just had this look of sheer panic on their face; and I’m fine. I’m drinking a latte, walking through the airport. I mean, who wants to hurry up and go help somebody move? [Laughter] I’m calling Ryan and saying, “Hey, our flight’s cancelled.” He already knew; because the girls were texting him, letting him know.
He is doing everything he can to get me on another flight with a different airline.
At one point, we actually had to split up—myself and the two other girls. I’m telling them: “I don’t want to split up with you guys. I’ll stay here with you, and we can just all fly out tomorrow. It’s not a big deal.” And they’re like: “You know what? I just feel better if you were there. Then, I can get myself there; but if you’re there, it would take a lot of stress off of me.”
In the back of my mind, I thought, “Is she pushing me this way because Ryan is going to propose today?” As soon as that thought clicked in my head, I said: “Okay, girl. I’ll see you later—I’ll see you in Miami! Let me go catch this flight real quick.” [Laughter] So, yes; I showed up around midnight. He picked me up from the airport. I was so happy to see him—hadn’t seen him in about a week. I just thought, “Maybe, this is the week I get proposed to.”
Amanda: And that’s how I ended the night.
Dennis: And so, Ryan, back to her mom—had she taken a chill pill?—because she was against this day occurring.
Ryan: No; there was no chill pill. What was interesting is—when you do a surprise wedding—for those listeners who are thinking about it / praying about it—[Laughter]—you can’t send out invitations; because if you send out invitations, what if she walks into one of their houses and sees it on a coffee table / on the refrigerator? That’s a bad sign. If she sees that she’s invited to her own surprise wedding—that kind of ruins it.
Bob: Save the dates don’t work here. [Laughter]
Ryan: Yes; you’re playing by different rules. I had tried to reach back out to her [mother]. I reached out to counsel—pastors—and just said: “Hey, here’s what I’m thinking. Maybe, we do need more time.” You know, you take heed to wise counsel—you don’t just think, “Everybody else is just an idiot, and I’m just a genius.” You ask questions: “Is there merit in this?” After praying about it, talking with others about it, it was like, “No; move forward.”
I had to ask Amanda—I said, “Hey, is it a deal-breaker if Mom doesn’t come to our wedding?”
She said: “I’m 50/50. I’m okay if she is, and I understand if she’s not.” I said, “Okay!” Well, I sent out the invitation via email and just said, “Hey, urgent message: ‘Delete this upon receipt,’” type of deal.
Dennis: That was the next communication you had with her mom?
Ryan: Yes; I tried to call her a bunch of times, and she was busy. So, I just sent the invitation; and I sent a pretty stern email that said a lot—I just said: “Hey, I love Jesus with all my heart; and I also love your daughter. On June 7, 2013, I’m going to marry her. You are more than welcome to come. I’ll fly you there—you and your husband / your family—whatever you need.”
Then, she called, obviously—caught her attention a little bit. You know, we got into a debate about this.
It was one of the coolest debates I’ve ever had. Here’s how the debate ended—it ended with: “Well, you know what? Ryan, I will be at this wedding, but I’m not giving you my blessing. I’ll be at the wedding, but I won’t be there with my blessing.” I said: “You know what? I’m going to pray that God changes your heart on that.” She said, “Well, I’m going to pray that God changes your heart.” Then, she said something I’ll never forget—she said: “Well, Ryan, we both serve a God of miracles. One way or another, He is going to have to do one for me to have a blessing at your wedding.”
Like I said—three weeks before our wedding, Amanda graduated from college. Her mother comes down to Dallas; and of course, I pick her up and host her. We’re out to eat—all of that. She gets to see me a little bit more; and obviously, I have an iPad full of pictures of venues, and food, and everything that you want to show your future mother-in-law.
You want her to be excited about this; you know?
I show her everything—we kind of go through the trip. It was copacetic, so to speak. We’re driving her to the airport to go home—she says, “So, Ryan, when are we going to see you next?” I’m like, “What in the world?”
Bob: This is with Amanda in the car.
Ryan: Amanda’s in the car; yes.
Ryan: I’m looking in the rearview mirror—like: “See you next? You know I’m going to see you in like two weeks at the wedding.” And I’m just like, “Is she trying to spill the…” and she’s trying to hint, “I’m in.”
Ryan: I wasn’t getting it—I was like—
Dennis: You were thinking the worst!
Ryan: Yes; I’m like: “I’m preaching in Chicago in July. I guess we’ll see you then.” She’s like: “Oh, okay. That’s cool.” [Laughter] I was like: “Okay; she’s acting super weird. I don’t know what’s going on.”
So, we pulled the bags out of the car.
She hugs me goodbye, and she holds me tight. She’s like, “Hey; hey…” I was like, “Yes?” She said, “You have my blessing, Ryan.” What was crazy is—the day before, I was praying for a miracle. It was cool to see things come full circle. Literally, since that day, we’ve been tight.
Dennis: Okay; June 7th—you went to bed very early on June 7, because you got to the airport at midnight.
Dennis: When he picks you up the next morning, and he’s taking you to go get married, did you sense anything was going on in him?
Amanda: He picked me up from the hotel, and he had a camera guy with him. He had told me that we were there to help our friends move, but they were also youth pastors. So, we were going to be filming a video for the youth service.
I figured that that was who that was; but he was a little—I could see a little spark in his eye. He just kind of looked like he was trying to hold back on being really excited. I figured we were going to get engaged that day.
Now, the other thing, too, is that we had never said, “I love you,” to one another. So, we’re in the car—
Bob: Whoa, whoa, whoa!—five years you’ve been dating?
Amanda: Five years.
Bob: I mean, you’ve told us earlier that in that five-year period, you had maintained purity and not slept together. You hadn’t said, “I love you,” to one another?
Amanda: We hadn’t / we hadn’t. And it wasn’t something that we—when we first started dating had set out and said, “Okay, we’re not going to say this word.” It was just kind of—it kind of just happened. I think the other thing, too, is we—actually, on our YouTube documentary, people had the most issues with us not saying, “I love you,” for five years.
More than anything else in the documentary, that’s the one thing that they had commented on.
I think it’s because we have this fairytale idea of—you know, you say it in the rain after a really great date; and it’s a picturesque kind of scene—but I mean, if you really get to the core of it / if you really bring the Bible into this, it’s so much more.
Dennis: That’s what I wanted to ask Ryan here. Ryan, you guys were on a spiritual mission, as a couple, who were dating. It wasn’t as though God was asked to show up at the wedding and that’s the first time He’s been in the relationship.
Ryan: You know, we sat with a couple a couple of days ago. We started to ask them about what they wanted their marriage to look like. They couldn’t answer the question—they struggled: “I want her to cook.” “Okay. What else you got?” [Laughter] “You know, it’s like—well, if we could go to the gym together.”
It’s like they didn’t have the vernacular. I asked them a question—I said, “Have you ever seen a successful marriage?”
He’s 33—his parents divorced—dad left when he was eight. He said, “No.” He said, “Every couple I know has gotten divorced.” He goes: “And my uncle, who is a pastor—he was married 25 years. He’s in the middle of a divorce right now. So, I’ve never seen it.”
For a lot of people, I think they are almost stuck; because they don’t have a model. It’s like asking a person to go be good at basketball—but doesn’t watch the NBA / doesn’t watch college—in fact, “Don’t watch it anywhere—just go figure it out. Just go in the gym and be awesome.” How are they going to do that if they don’t have a model?
I think, for me and Amanda, we chose to surround ourselves with mentors / around other people. We said: “We want this—this is how we want our home to feel like. We want people to walk in and feel the presence of God in our home.” That’s not going to happen on accident. That’s not going to happen—that’s not going to start when we get married. If I don’t invite the presence of God into my apartment when I’m by myself, what makes me think it’s going to happen when I get married?
Dennis: Marriage was designed by God for a husband and a wife to reflect the transcendent nature of Almighty God to a fallen planet. A part of reflecting who God is, I believe, is to be on His mission for your lives. I feel that that question that you asked that young couple ought to be asked of every young couple that are getting married today; because they need to know—not only what it is we feel for one another—but “What are we about?
Dennis: “Where are we going? Where are we headed?” It’s not some kind of trite, little saying—or like a song, The Bicycle Built for Two—because you are at war.
Amanda: That’s right.
Dennis: You’re heading out into a spiritual battlefield together—where, if you don’t know what your mission is and who your Commanding Officer is—you’re going to be casualty.
Bob: Well, and I think most couples—
—and I was like this when we got married—most couples are thinking, “We want God to be in the middle of what we’re doing here in getting married,” instead of thinking, “We want our marriage to be in the middle of what God is doing here.”
Ryan: That’s great.
Bob: And that’s a whole different perspective about marriage when you stop and think, “Okay, we want the two of us in what He’s doing,” rather than “We want Him in what we’re doing.” It really shifts—
Bob: —the focus. Amanda, you mentioned the YouTube documentary that tells your story and all of the comments you’ve gotten about it. We’ve got a link to that documentary on our website at FamilyLifeToday.com. I hope our listeners will go and watch your story. Mary Ann and I sat down and watched the whole thing together recently—it really is a great story. You can see it when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com.
We also have copies of Ryan and Amanda’s book called The One: An Amazing Love Story Starts with You. You can order that book when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com as well; or call to order at 1-800-FL-TODAY.
So, online—it’s FamilyLifeToday.com. The toll-free number is 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
You know, as fun as it is to talk about engagements, and proposals, and weddings, I think all of us recognize that hard part of marriage comes after we say, “I do.” We have to figure out how we live together, as husband and wife—for better / for worse, sickness and health, rich or poor. We remember what we said; but some days, that’s hard to do.
And here at FamilyLife, one of the things that we’re committed to is providing you with the kind of practical biblical help and hope for your marriage so that, when you hit a bump, you’ve got a place to turn where you can get help and hope. I want to take a minute here and just say, “Thank you,” to the listeners who share our vision of seeing strong, healthy marriages and families, worldwide.
We want to effectively develop godly marriages and families; and we appreciate your partnership with us as, together, we pray for every home to be a godly home.
If you are able to help with a donation today, we’d love to say, “Thank you,” by sending you a resource that you can use with your children or your grandchildren—especially if they are young kids—maybe, early elementary or even preschool-aged kids. It’s a set of 12 ornaments designed for kids that age. It’s called “The Twelve Names of Christmas.” Each ornament will help your child understand something new about Jesus.
It’s our thank-you gift to you when you make a donation online today at FamilyLifeToday.com; or when you call 1-800-FL-TODAY—make a donation over the phone—or you can request the ornaments when you mail your donation to FamilyLife Today at PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; our zip code is 72223.
And I hope you can join us back tomorrow when we’re going to hear the details of the big day—the day that Ryan Leak proposed to his fiancée Amanda and then, a few hours later, they got married. That story unfolds tomorrow. 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.
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