Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Putting a ring on it

For valley couple, a unique proposal sets the tone for the future

Express Staff Writer

Mat Gershater and Whitney McNees are scheduled to be married in September.
Courtesy photo

Falling in love is easy. Falling in love with the right person, establishing how you are going to seal the deal and holding to the contract, is hard.
    And somewhere in the middle, the pressure intensifies around the proposal, that moment that will be shared around family gatherings for a long, long time.
    Once mostly done in private, proposals have gone to extremes, and some proposers have been dumped in a very public way. It will be years before we can truly distill the consequences of such a public letdown. But there is no doubt that technology has put extra emphasis on what should be a life-affirming moment.
    The Knot and Men’s Health websites took a survey of 3,000 people and reported 26 percent of the brides-to-be wished for more romance, originality, or personal touches from their proposals. It also showed that the tradition was just as important for both parties, and the majority of the askers got parental clearance first. The biggest reported faux pas? Proposing after sex and/or without a ring.
    Soon-to-be married valley resident Whitney McNees was proposed to by the right guy, the right way, around this time last year. She and Mathew Gershater will marry in September in an intimate “all-day affair” at the Idaho BaseCamp, a facility the couple has built together. In a beautiful setting over Trail Creek Summit, the facility is “dedicated to education, creative expression and the development of a sustainable relationship with nature.”
    The couple has been together, and worked together, for five years. It helps that the couple shares a vision.
    “Our aim is to expand the understanding and create a working consciousness for the environment, community and self,” the organization’s mission statement says.
    But the couple also speaks the same love language, explains McNees, the translation of which can be better understood with a little history.

In their courtship, Mat Gershater and Whitney McNees developed their own language of love.
Courtesy photo

    McNees knows how it feels when someone doesn’t speak the language and how being swept into a seemingly perfect moment can come apart.
    “My saying ‘yes’ the first time was an important journey,” she says of the brief engagement that was a spontaneous reaction to getting back together after a breakup and distance. “I was 23 and he proposed out of the blue. It was like ‘Oh, yes, this is so great, yes,’ but deep down inside, I knew that this was not the way my future was supposed to go. I said ‘yes’ and then we called it off four months before the wedding.”
    The always athletic McNees says that while she had envisioned a happily-ever-after future, she didn’t have a master plan.
    Everything about her and Mat was organic from the beginning.
    “Without sounding too cheesy, there was a spark. I remember I didn’t have a sense of urgency with him and that everything would fall into place in its time.”
    The couple travels extensively and, both being videographers, documented heavily their lives together. She was having subliminal flashes that an engagement was imminent, the first time when he bent over to tie his shoe during a layover en route to Israel. What she didn’t see were the proposals he made in various locations.
    When it actually happened, “I had no idea.”
    His very elaborate scheme involved many hours in the home office cutting and splicing video. And, getting her family and his together at the Magic Lantern Cinema in Ketchum.
    As the credits rolled after the movie “Safe Haven” ended, the video proposal, set to the Lumineers “Ho Hey,” unfurled on screen and the steamy affirmation kiss was witnessed by a full house.
    Pretty intimidating, right?
    “So many have said, ‘Thanks a lot, way to set the bar,’” McNees says. “But what I say is this. Mati worked really hard to speak our love language and that is what made it so special. Not everybody has to make a movie. You find your love language and speak it with all your heart and you will create something just as unique and special.”
    And for those considering a proposal? Don’t abandon your intuition for anyone.
    “The thing I took away from that first engagement was, ‘This is one of the biggest decisions that you will ever make in your life and you really have to follow your gut and your instinct,’ and I didn’t in that scenario.
    “This is going to sound so Disney, but there is that real, raw love relationship built on trust and compassion and willingness to grow, and that’s what we should all have in our lives.”

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