LGBTQ Engagement Tales: Ashwin and Bobby, Dallas, TX
Ashwin Kannan never thought that a few offhand comments about Italian designer shoes would lead to one of the most meaningful moments of his life. But his boyfriend, Bobby Kiser, paid close attention each time Ashwin mentioned he’d always wanted a pair of Ferragamos. “I don’t have tons of shoes, but I tend to buy nice ones that I love,” explains Ashwin. “He’d say they were so nice, but so expensive,” remembers Bobby.
When Bobby started thinking about proposing to Ashwin last November, his mind kept returning to those shoes. “I didn’t know what his thoughts were about wearing an engagement ring,” he recalls. But he felt sure that Ashwin would happily wear engagement Ferragamos. The beginnings of a plan were under way.
The couple, who live in Dallas, met about four years ago, when Ashwin was 23 and Bobby 21. “I came home to Dallas for a weekend before I graduated from Boston College and went out for the night to celebrate,” Ashwin recalls about his evening at JR’s Bar & Grill in Oak Lawn. There he struck up a conversation with Bobby and learned they’d both grown up in Texas and shared several common friends. Both were also headed for careers in accounting—Ashwin works for PricewaterhouseCoopers as an auditor and Bobby for EY (formerly Ernst & Young) as an IT and finance consultant. “It was pretty much an instant connection,” says Bobby. And while they tried not to get ahead of themselves, “it gets to the point where you can’t picture yourself with anyone else,” says Bobby. This past November, he felt ready to propose. “With all the chaos from the presidential election, I wanted to move forward.”
Bobby’s proposal plan had three key elements. The first was the Ferragamos, which he had to special order to get the correct size-13 monk-strap shoes—of which there were apparently only three in the country at the time. The second was to propose on Christmas Eve, Ashwin’s favorite holiday, and also the day Bobby’s parents got engaged. The third concerned Ashwin’s mother, who was temporarily living in Phoenix. “When I called, the first thing she asked was, Is everything OK? I don’t call often,” says Bobby. “But she was excited about the engagement and the chance to come to Dallas for that weekend so she could be there for it.” Bobby secretly booked her a flight for Christmas Eve.
When the couple arrived at Bobby’s parents’ house to celebrate that night, Ashwin’s mother was the first surprise of the evening. The family went out to attend a performance of The Book of Mormon and have dinner, and when they returned, Bobby informed Ashwin that it was a family tradition that the kids each open one present on Christmas Eve.
I was so nervous that instead of taking one knee, I took both of them.
Ashwin sensed that something was up. “In the last three years, I don’t remember y’all ever doing that,” he said.
Bobby and his sister each opened a present in front of the Christmas tree, and then it was Ashwin’s turn.
“At first, I was just shocked that I got such an expensive pair of shoes,” he recalls. Then Bobby told him to look inside the left shoe, where he’d tucked a little black box containing a “very simple” (according to Bobby) platinum engagement ring, intended only to convey the significance of the moment. “I quickly realized what was happening. Thankfully, I was sitting down for this realization,” says Ashwin, adding, “I was surprised—we’d talked about getting engaged, but we’d never had the ‘when’ conversation.”
Meanwhile, “I was so nervous that instead of taking one knee, I took both of them” recalls Bobby. “I realized about halfway through my speech that it probably seemed as though I was begging at that point,” he adds with a laugh. Ashwin accepted, and the family shared a champagne toast.
The pair are set to marry on November 18 this year, at the historic Adolphus Hotel in downtown Dallas, and they’re expecting about 120 guests. It’s a property with a great deal of personal and family resonance for each of them. “In addition to us just liking the hotel, when Bobby’s parents first moved to Texas, they lived there for a week and have celebrated some of their anniversaries there,” says Ashwin. “Also, my dad passed away when I was little, but that was one of his favorite buildings in town. It just fit. It fit in just the same way things did when we first met, and we clicked so easily.”
During the course of selecting the venue, they learned that they could capitalize on each other’s individual strengths. “Bobby is very much a person who doesn’t want to see a million different options, but knows exactly what he wants,” says Ashwin, “whereas I’m someone who wants to see every option I can—I love to do legwork—but I can’t make up my mind once I narrow it down.” So it was Ashwin and Bobby’s mother who ventured around town to look at multiple wedding venues, narrowing it down to five possibilities, and Bobby who looked at the final candidates and found choosing the Adolphus to be a no-brainer.
It fit in just the same way things did when we first met, and we clicked so easily.
The two are taking a small leap of faith, since the historic ballroom they’re using for the reception was under renovation during the first half of this year. They’re waiting until then to finalize some of their planning details. But they’ve decided on a celebration that will be “classically elegant—nothing too formal, nothing too trendy,” says Bobby.
About that basic ring, Ashwin says, “While he never meant for me to wear it every day, thinking it would be more of a symbolic gesture while proposing with the ‘engagement’ shoes, I do wear it every day to remember that moment. Once we’re married, I’ll replace it with the wedding bands that we choose together.”
One thing they’re both sure about: on the big day, Ashwin will definitely wear his engagement Ferragamos.
For more planning tips, visit our Dallas-Fort Worth Gay Wedding Vendor Guide.
Featured image: Illustration by André Bergamin