She said yes! (in Aruba)

red line

red line

Three cards by the hotel door: 1) ‘I will,’  2) ‘love you,’ 3) ‘forever.’ Photos by Julien at One Happy Photographer

Three cards by the hotel door: 1) ‘I will,’ 2) ‘love you,’ 3) ‘forever.’ Photos by Julien at One Happy Photographer

She: ‘Can't believe this is happening.’

She: ‘Can’t believe this is happening.’

He: ‘Will you marry me?’

He: ‘Will you marry me?’

By Keith Guirao & Joanne Baniqued

I told her the night before that we had a brunch reservation… at 7:30 in the morning.

J: Who has brunch at 7:30 a.m.?
K: I’m not sure but we just do because we’re special guests. We’re “Elite” members remember?
J: …good night.

The next morning, I leave in the middle of her shower around 6:50 telling her I’ll be right back. I left a sticky note on the mirror that read, “Get ready by 7:30… wait for the knock!”

The series of events is scheduled to start at 7:45.

I walked over to the Ritz where I met with my contact who helped me organize all the moving parts since I didn’t know anyone on this island (sound, generator for power, stage, 2 pillars with arrangements of her favorite flowers, etc.). It was great to find an Aruban native who knew the local businesses.

The location: Beach front on a sunny day in Aruba. You can only imagine what the water looks like this early.

While the stage was being set up, I had less than hour to learn what I could. It was a good thing I brought an extra shirt to change out of because the hot weather made it even more challenging. At this point it was 7:45. The series started. I was so nervous and shaking.

Everything went according to plan.

Joanne’s perspective:

Keith and Joanne shared their ‘secret proposal’ essays on Facebook,

Keith and Joanne shared their ‘secret proposal’ essays on Facebook,

I told him he didn’t need to get me a ring. I’d marry him no matter what, but I’m absolutely in love with it. I have no intentions of returning this.

I told him he never needed to go big. I told him I’d spend my life with him no matter what. He heard all that and did the opposite.

He told me we were going to brunch at 7:30 a.m.

Me: Isn’t that breakfast?

Him: No, we out to brunch! Dress up!


I woke up and got ready. I heard a knock on the door. I was wondering who these guys were taking photos of me. I knew right then and there that this was about to turn into a proposal. I had no idea, however, what was in store for me. Did my best to not get lost and somehow found the place.

Still can’t believe he set all of that up and rehearsed the dance in under an hour. He told me he had to go ask the front desk questions.

At the end of the proposal, I asked, “So….there’s no brunch? I’m hungry.”

Him: … Let’s go eat.

Keith, founder of in Tenafly, New Jersey, and Joanne, a Nurse at Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck have known each other since she was in 6th grade and he in middle school. By her recollection, she had no interest in him whatsoever.

They met again several years later at Mitsuwa Japanese grocery in the company of mutual friends. Instead of asking get-to-know-him questions, she asked if he wanted a bite of the chocolate she was eating. He did, said it was delicious. Thus began Keith and Joanne’s love story in the spring of 2013 over a piece of chocolate.

Here’s a link to the proposal video.

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