WASHINGTON, D.C. - She said yes. Justin Sykes proposed marriage to Bridget Haley of North Plainfield on the North Lawn of the White House on May 20, and she said yes.
Sykes took her by the hand, and said, "Won't it be amazing to tell our children one day that we got engaged at the White House? Her face went blank ......"
Photographer Michael Kennedy said, "The President was away on international business and we 'almost' had the whole place to ourselves. He was nervous, she was completely surprised and I was almost tackled by secret service. A happy ending for this great couple."
In his own words, Sykes says:
So Bridget Haley, my now-fiance and I have been together for over five years. The first 2-3 of those years we lived in different states. Her in New Jersey finishing up nursing school and myself in North Carolina finishing law school. So we would drive back and forth between states at least once a month. Eventually we both graduated and decided that Washington D.C. was the perfect half way point between our two respective home states, not to mention we loved the city and had family and friends here.
I now work for a non-profit in D.C. and Bridget works at the Lombardi Cancer Center at Georgetown and is also enrolled in graduate school at Georgetown. So D.C. has become this symbol of our relationship, meeting in the middle, and creating our own life together in the nation's Capitol. Which is why the White House seemed like the best location to cement our relationship in a city that has given us so much.
So Bridget's cousin Haley works at the White House in the West Wing. She and her friend Matt, who also work in the White House, began planning the proposal with me a few months back. We did a dry run tour in February and chose the location. Haley scheduled the tour for 5:15pm, so now all I had to do was create a reason to get Bridget to go. So I made up a fake White House reception invite to a reception my organization was throwing, that Bridget thought was the reason we were going. I told Bridget as an added bonus her cousin Haley had been kind enough to offer to give us a tour of the West Wing before the 7:00pm reception.
My photographer, Michael Kennedy of DC, showed up at the White House Saturday at 4:30pm to do a run through with Haley and Matt. Michael posed as Haley and Matt's friend so no red flags would go off, and he would join us on the tour under that pretense. So Bridget and I arrived at 5:00pm for the tour, Michael was already inside and waiting with his camera set. We did the tour of the West Wing and as we exited the West Wing onto the North Lawn, and before we rounded the corner to go to the Press Briefing room (the last stop on the tour), I took her by the hand, and said "Won't it be amazing to tell our children one day that we got engaged at the White House?" Her face went blank, and then I dropped to one knee and said "Bridget Lois Haley will you marry me?" Overcome with excitement she stood choked up for a few seconds and eventually took the ring screaming "Yes of Course!"
Afterwards her cousin Haley brought out champagne bottles and Presidential Office cups and we popped champagne and toasted on the North Lawn of the White House. It was amazing.
The engagement ring was designed by Rose Bryant, owner of J.M Edwards Jewelers in Cary, NC.