Let’s start by saying that Keenan is not your typical planner; he tends to go with the flow and plan as he goes. Shauna, on the other hand, quite enjoys a set and structured schedule. That’s probably part of the reason why they’ve made it this far.
Now fast forward to Keenan’s critical role of proposing - it requires massive planning. We know what you’re thinking, “for someone who isn’t a planner, wasn’t it obvious to Shauna that this surprise was coming?” Keenan sweated about this too, which is why he had to not just plan, but also appear to have no plan. A plan hiding in plain sight; a meticulously thought through plan filled with seeds planted weeks in advance.
Following Keenan’s honored (and spontaneous) photographer role at two of his cousins’ weddings, who had to change their plans due to COVID, Keenan strategically explained to Shauna that he was bit by the photography bug and was excited about using his camera again. He began to go on photo shoots and invited Shauna, who never turns down being in front of the camera lens. See, his plan was to desensitize a photo situation. Keenan the Gardner had begun to work.
Keenan discretely reached out to Laury, the Czarnik family friend and jeweler, to design and obtain the ring.
Next came bringing people into the fold, most notably Shauna’s parents, Ray and Kathy. Keenan humbly asked for their daughter’s hand and enjoyed more than a few crown royal cocktails with Ray afterwards.
Keenan then chose to reveal his plan to Shauna’s friend Lisa, her cousin Ally, and his friend Joey to help him execute it. Keenan had another trick up his sleeve - he not only wanted to surprise Shauna with the proposal, but also surprise their friends with it, as well. With Shauna’s birthday right around the corner, it was the perfect cover: a surprise "birthday" party.
On August 20th, 2020, as both families, Lisa, Ally, and Joey prepared for the fake party, he moved forward with the actual proposal.
Keenan pinpointed Northwestern University, where he and Shauna enjoyed many days on the lakefront while she attended grad school there. He picked "their spot" and recruited his father to photograph and Lisa’s boyfriend (also Chicago Police Officer), Scott, to secure the location.
Keenan casually planned to have lunch in the city, a photo shoot at Northwestern, and dinner with the family in Niles. It was an easy, laid back sell considering it was a weekday. After barely eating, Keenan nudged their way to the Evanston lakefront (after MANY attempts by Shauna to try and plan this casual go with the flow “plan-less” day).
They arrived at the Lakefront, with the spot secured by Scott, and began their “shoot.” After a few pretend photos of Shauna looking at the skyline, Keenan dropped to his knee. After 9+ years of dating and waiting, Keenan asked Shauna to marry him. An enthusiastic “YES!” and short photo shoot with Tom Connelly followed. The first surprise was accomplished.
Now came the family surprise. Keenan explained they would be going to her parents to celebrate, but wanted to show his grandma the ring at his parents’ house first. Upon arrival, Shauna and Keenan were greeted with open arms by their entire families (+ Ignition Remix playing in the background). The second surprise was complete.
Unaware of the engagement, some of their closest friends patiently waited down the block to surprise Shauna for her "birthday. " They made their way over to the Connelly's backyard where they surprised Shauna... Who surprised them right back! The final surprise was done and everyone celebrated in style... On a Thursday!
Keenan’s layered onion of a day was a success and he is as thrilled as can be - he gets to marry Shauna Czarnik, his dream.
If you made it this far, thank you for bearing with us. If you skipped to the end, then the short version was for you. We are excited to have you celebrate our day!