Carolina Bride

She Said Yes! Caroline & Ely

Caroline McMillan & Ely Portillo

Miczek Photography

It’s not supposed to happen: A guy, sitting at a table far from the high-heeled single ladies vying for the bride’s bouquet, shouldn’t wind up with a hand full of flowers. But the bouquet I was trying to catch bounced off two girls’ hands and plopped into Ely’s his lap at his table. The women groaned and called for a re-do. Ely just smiled at the good omen: he’d already set in motion plans to propose to me the following day.

We’re both business reporters at The Charlotte Observer, where we had met two and a half years earlier. I never imagined our first casual office “hello,” followed quickly by a Facebook friend request, would lead us where it has.

After returning from the Charleston wedding late Sunday night, Ely lured me to his apartment with the promise of a quick pasta dinner. But when I walked through the door, dozens of Carolina blue and white balloons lined a path marked by candles. Pictures of the two of us were taped to the balloon strings with hand-written messages on the back of each.

A bottle of champagne was chilling in a bowl of rosebud-filled ice cubes, surrounded by delicacies from Amelie’s French Bakery, all set up by my roommate as we were traveling back.

Ely’s roommate had left music playing from a Frank Sinatra Internet radio station, which almost backfired; “Hit the Road Jack” played when Ely got down on one knee.

But I didn’t even hear the music. Just my voice getting out a teary “yes,” as I thought to myself, this is precisely how it’s supposed to happen.

-As told by Caroline

Caroline and Ely were married September 28, 2013.